From January 27 through February 11 I traveled to Ghana, West Africa with my husband, Rev. Dr. Carl Rockrohr, to provide training to Sunday School teachers and church leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana (ELCG). Some congregations do offer Sunday School for the children, but many do not, and they did not have a curriculum that is accessible and sustainable. So, this really was a two-part challenge: find a curriculum that could be used in both rural and urban settings throughout the ELCG; then, introduce it and train the teachers on its use.
Two sets of workshops were held: at Nakpanduri in northern Ghana, and at the ELCG seminary in Sasaabi, greater Accra.
The back story to all of this began in the 1990s when Pastor Rockrohr was an LCMS missionary, and we lived in rural northern Ghana. Relationships forged in those years have continued, and Pastor Rockrohr has returned to Ghana numerous times to provide ongoing training for pastors and evangelists. The older back story, however, is that there have been several attempts to start a Sunday School program 20, 30, and even 40 years ago. Each time it lasted only as long as the local missionary remained in Ghana. ELCG president Rev. John Donkoh and Evangelist Matthew Maclean, National Director of Children’s Ministry, both came into the Church through Sunday School. These men are passionate about the need for a national Sunday School program for the ELCG. “The children are the foundation of our church,” was repeated many times during the workshops.
Lord willing, this time will be different. The ELCG now has a church-wide license from Concordia Publishing House for a reproducible curriculum that is multi-grade level and customizable to the local situation. All materials can be printed locally, and each lesson is flexible so that it can be taught at Nursery through Middle School levels. A schedule for teaching each lesson has been established, so every location will teach the same lesson at the same time. Evangelist Maclean will be writing quiz questions based on the lessons for periodic competitions among the students to determine a Northern and a Southern “best student.” He will also be visiting the areas to provide support and encouragement to the teachers.
Teachers were asked to conservatively estimate the number of students who may attend the Sunday School classes. The estimate at this point is 1,756, but we know that quite a few of the teachers were unable to attend the initial training workshops. It was suggested that this number might reach 2,400-plus quite quickly.
While in northern Ghana, we visited two pastors with whom we had worked closely in the 1990s. Rev. Matthew Bisianin provided wise counsel on multiple occasions, and assisted with some of the larger baptism services when whole villages were welcoming the Gospel message. Rev. Samuel Konlaan completed his vicarage in our area, and worked alongside my husband after his ordination in 1997. We also visited with church leaders and friends in Gbintiri, and even slept in the mission house that we built 30 years ago and now is used by Lutheran Bible Translators missionaries. This was my first visit back to our “home area,” and we enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our brief side trip “down memory lane” was both meaningful and fun. But the real highlight for us was the excitement and eagerness of the Sunday School teachers at both workshops. Children ages 0-14 make up 37% of the population in Ghana. These children need to learn and know Jesus from a young age. Many of the Sunday School teachers who attended the workshops are in their 20s and 30s. They want to bring the Gospel message to the next generation. We pray that the Lord of the Harvest will richly bless their work!
I would like to thank the administration of CLHS for allowing me to say “yes” to Rev. Donkoh’s request. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Ghana have been close to our hearts for many years, but the Lord has always planted my feet elsewhere. Twenty-five years later, almost to the day, I saw many of them face to face again.
Deaconess Dr. Deborah Rockrohr,