A letter from Josh Heikkila in Ghana
One Sunday a few weeks ago I crossed over the border from Ghana to Togo to attend church in a village called Badja. The congregation there, part of the Eglise Evangélique Presbytérienne du Togo (EEPT),has a friendship with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, congregation in Nima, Accra, 150 miles to the southwest. Nima is the closest congregation to my house, and I often worship there when I’m not pulled elsewhere for work. As a result, I had met some Badja church members in Accra, and I was now looking forward to seeing them in their home village.
I have to say, I was amazed by this small church and its congregation of about 75 people. Their deep faith, the hospitality they extended to me and, most of all, their wonderful worship and music gave me a renewed sense of peace and hope that I really needed at that moment in time.
Throughout Ghana and Togo, there is something I really like about small rural and urban congregations, both of which are perceived as insignificant within their denominations. In these congregations, people are so grateful to see visitors from far away. They express a gratitude and affection to those who simply take time to visit them. It’s as if just showing up is enough to make you a saint.
I’ve also especially come to like the Togolese Presbyterians for their commitment to justice and compassion ministries. This past year, the EEPT chose as its annual theme “Life in Abundance: Preserving Human Dignity.” The denomination seems unique in West Africa for the central focus it places on this aspect of Christian faith and practice.
As more and more churches in West Africa are influenced by a hollow charismatic prosperity gospel, let’s pray that the EEPT can be a model of something different and better. Pray that others will follow their lead, being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, who live joyfully, trusting in the promises of God and who serve others with Christ-like love and compassion.
It surely is a striking contrast to what has become so common these days — those who shout Jesus’ name loudly, who make empty promises of wealth and prosperity and who do everything in their power to appear as a strong “man of God,” claiming to predict the future and perform “miracles and wonders.”
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 48
PC(USA) mission worker Josh Heikkila in Ghana sent this video with his March 2011 letter. The youth in Badja, as in all Togolese Presbyterian congregations, are a vital part of the church. During the week, they gather on two nights -- once for Bible study and once for choir practice. Here you will see them singing in Sunday worship.
PC(USA) mission worker Josh Heikkila in Ghana sent this video with his March 2011 letter. After worship, the members of the Badja, Togo, Presbyterian congregation process out of the chapel and greet one another. You could call it their version of coffee hour, just without the coffee. The church choir continues to sing during the time of greeting.