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June 29, 2009

Ghana, a Country Profile & Prayer Guide

Filed under: Country Profiles and Prayer Guides,Ghana — TimMc @ 2:17 am

ghana

With over 100 ethnic groups residing in this beautiful country, Ghana is truly a melting pot of African cultures. Traces of the country’s rich history can be seen everywhere, especially along its palm lined beaches and lagoons. Ghana boasts 42 European forts and castles, UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, including Elmina and Cape Coast Castles—poignant reminders of the Ghana’s importance as an unfortunate way station for African slaves.

Ghana has a rich natural heritage too. It has a narrow grassy plain that stretches inland from the coast, widening in the east, while the south and west are covered by dense rainforests which are being developed into nature parks, such as the national park at Kakum. In spite of Ghana’s national parks and game reserves being relatively small compared to other African countries, species of antelope, monkeys, lions, and elephants can be seen here. Birds and butterflies are particularly numerous in Ghana’s forests.

A few interesting facts about Ghana:

  • There are 72 known languages spoken in the country. The official language is English and there is a 70% (very high) literacy rate.
  • There are 8 languages with full versions of the Bible available, 20 with the New Testament, and 26 other versions that are “works in progress.”
  • Ghana is a secular state with religious freedom.
  • There are approximately 26 million people living in Ghana. The capital, Accra has a population of 2,250,000. Other main cities: Kumasi 992,000, Sekondi-Takoradi 400,000 and Tamale 270,000.
  • Ghana contains Africa’s largest man-made lake, Lake Volta which covers 238,000 sq. kilometers.
  • Its main exports are cocoa, gold and timber. Early government overspending, mismanagement, and corruption reduced this once-prosperous land to poverty, thereby greatly reducing living standards. Since 1984 there has been a slow, but steady improvement through greater government discipline.

Specific ways to pray for the country of Ghana:

  • For years, Christianity has had a large following in the more developed south. Over 64% of Ghanaians call themselves Christian, but only 40% have any link with a church and only 12% attend a church regularly. African traditional worldviews and practices have gone hand-in-hand with the claim of being Christian. The deadness and formality of many older churches have stimulated rapid growth of the African Independent Churches, which offer excitement, involvement and miracles, but not always salvation by faith. The number of these denominations may be in the thousands! Pray that the true gospel may shine into the hearts of those who call themselves Christian but who are not born from above. Pray that a decisive break may be made from all fetishism and occult bondages, and true liberty in Jesus be found.
  • Over five million Muslims and followers of traditional religions still need to be reached.
  • Plant new churches for northern peoples in the East and West Upper regions, the Northern region, and for northerners in the South. This goal has yet to be attained, but at least eight churches and agencies are actively and vigorously planting and multiplying churches in each of these regions.
  • Develop and foster active, witnessing churches in villages, towns, urban centers and ethnic communities.
  • Mature Christian leaders are in short supply in this time of rapid growth, economic stress, and doctrinal confusion. There are two diploma-awarding schools – Christian Service College (CSC) in Kumasi started by WEC and Maranatha Bible College (SIM). Trinity College awards degrees predominantly for mainline churches. There are over 30 other accredited denominational and inter-denominational Bible schools as well as a range of TEE and lay training programs run by different denominations and agencies.
  • The vision for missions by the Ghanaian church has grown, with agencies and workers increasing in numbers. Gradually the reluctance of more sophisticated southern Christians to go to the ‘backward’ north is being overcome.
  • Young people are in the forefront of the move of the Spirit. Praise God for the impact of SU on the secondary schools; GHAFES(IFES), Navigators and CCCI on the universities and colleges; and CEF with a number of workers among young children. Pray that the influence of converted young people may be decisive in church, mission, and national affairs. May many hear God’s call into full-time service. Very few churches have an effective program for young people or children. Youth under 15 comprise only 30% of the church-going population, but 45% of the total population.
  • Missionary personnel to serve as Bible teachers, translators, media experts, and pioneer evangelists are still needed. A key area for prayer is that there might be healthy, helpful partnerships between indigenous church leaders and missionaries. Pray for missions serving the Lord in this land; the largest organizations being SIL, SIM, IMB-SBC, WEC.
  • The less evangelized peoples of Ghana have generally never been so receptive as now. Ghanaian and expatriate workers are needed for the reaping. Of the more than 35 peoples of the north, only one is even nominally Christian. In the remaining people groups, less than 2% are Christian of any variety. Churches have often been small, weak, and largely illiterate with many leaders having basic training only.

Pray for the less evangelized sectors of society:

  • The cities – which have grown by absorbing many ethnic groups. The 2.5 million northerners in southern cities easily turn to Islam. Pray that both Ghanaian and expatriate workers may be used of God to increase the number of northern-language congregations in the southern cities.
  • Southern traditionalists are especially strong in the Volta Region and among the numerous Ewe people and their sea and river-fishing colonies all over Ghana. The 20,000 trokosi (women enslaved by fetish priests) gained international attention in the 1990s and pressure to end this wicked system has yielded fruit. Pray for the liberation of all in bondage to the fetish system. The Ghanaian Volta Evangelistic Association has significant outreach in the area.
  • Islam has grown significantly through Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women and through migration to cities. Now 63% of Muslims live in the non-Muslim southern seven provinces. Confrontations and violence between Muslims and Christians have escalated. Pray for peace, a lessening of animosities, and for the Lord Jesus to be so lifted up as to attract Muslims to Himself. A number of Muslim imams have turned to Christ – one factor provoking Muslim ire against Christians.
  • Abandoned, homeless street children have increased during Ghana’s economic stresses of recent years and now number over 45,000. Few have taken up the challenge to minister to them.
  • Bible translation has made great strides over the past 20 years. SIL and The Bible Society are presently working on 17 language projects. There are still definite NT translation needs for 10 languages, and research required for a further 18. An increased use of Bible cassettes is bearing fruit – especially in illiterate Muslim peoples such as the Ligbi.
  • Literacy programs have often been too slow, too late, and too limited to make good use of newly translated Scriptures. Pray for many programs now under way that they may inspire both young and old with zeal for reading.
  • Use of Bible cassettes in over 17 languages where literacy is low. This has proved effective, but needs to be increased.
  • The Bible League’s church planting literacy project which has been successfully used to help plant churches in some areas.
  • Literature. A chronic shortage exists due to lack of foreign exchange and printing materials. Pray for the importation and economic distribution of Bibles (UBS) and Christian literature by agencies such as Book Aid in the UK and Challenge Enterprises, an indigenous organization backed by SIM which handles 90% of all Christian literature in Ghana. There are 13 Christian bookstores in Ghana. Africa Christian Press publishes a range of good Christian books for distribution throughout Africa. Problems in running an economically viable, indigenous publishing ministry are enormous. Bible Correspondence Courses have been most successful (SIM, ICI/AoG).
  • Christian films (SIM) are used with great effect. The mobile ‘cinevans’ of Challenge Enterprises have a total audience of over 1.5 million annually and over a period of 14 years an estimated ¼ million have responded to an invitation to come to Christ. The JESUS film is being widely used in 20 languages and a high proportion of the population has seen it. A further 19 language versions are in preparation.
  • GRN has increased its range of gospel cassettes to cover 67 languages.

These are a few requests that we know of at the moment. As we begin to identify specific ministries within Ghana that we will be visiting and ministering to and with, we will add those prayer requests to the blog.

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