Into Ghana: The Reconciling Love of Christ
newsroomadminJuly 21, 2013
Executive Director of the South Chicago Regional Center Dr. Michael Reynolds led a team of 10 to Accra, Ghana, and the surrounding region from May 24 through June 4. The team sought to learn more deeply about the practice of reconciliation within the church, as well as the opportunities for theological education there.
Reynolds was joined by his wife Erica (MA Urban Ministry ’09), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) Adjunct Professor Dr. David D. Daniels, Trinity Senior Admissions Counselor Joshua Edmon, Trinity student Amethyst Moye, and prospective TEDS student Doug Adams (whose experience on the trip confirmed his decision to attend TEDS).
Reynolds said their team had many expectations for the trip, but their main one was to listen and learn.
“Our goal was to be become more familiar with Ghanaian culture in order to better prepare us to minister in that context,” he said.
Ghana was the first country in Africa to gain independence British colonial powers (1957), and has since made further strides toward independence, according to Reynolds. This includes a desire to achieve independence from foreign oil and other forms of non-renewable energy, and, given the importance of this endeavor in Ghana, the team visited the Akosombo Dam, which supplies power not only to Ghana, but also to Togo and neighboring West African countries.
The team also sought to become more aware about the theological education opportunities in Ghana, and were able to do so with theologians from Trinity Theological Seminary, the leading seminary in Ghana. After each day, a team of theologians from different disciplines would meet with the team to debrief and help them interpret and understand what was happening in the surrounding culture.
The team also fellowshipped with many different churches in Ghana. They visited an African Independent Church, which Reynolds described as a church that worships deliberately according to its Ghanaian roots and cultural flavor. For Joshua Edmon, getting to visit with many different churches was an encouraging experience.
“The body of Christ represented in Ghana is made up of Spirit-filled people who are faithful witnesses to Christ. And I sensed that when the Ghanaian Christians gather together, they know they are going to meet with the creator God of the universe,” Edmon said.
One of the more difficult experiences of the trip for the team was visiting the forts where slaves were held before they were taken to North America. According to Reynolds, there were many team members that knew that at some point in their lineage their family had traveled through these forts. Seeing the shore from where the ships left to go to America and envisioning what their ancestors went through was an emotional and educational experience for everyone.
“You see the coastline from which you’re being pulled away, as beautiful as it is, and you’re being taken by a ship in chains to be a slave for the rest of your life. It was a very emotional experience, a heavy learning time and a great opportunity to understand the fervor of Christianity and the hunger for justice,” Reynolds said.
Another moment of impact for the team was the opportunity to visit two different orphanages, including one that was run by a woman who felt a burden to feed God’s “little ones” after a near-death experience. She went from the hospital to seminary and then to one of the poorest regions of Ghana to start an orphanage.
“She went from a life that would have been ‘successful’ in Accra to one of the poorest places in Ghana,” Reynolds said.
The team, made up entirely of African Americans, also highlighted what they learned about cultural differences. While surrounded on every side by people of the same color, Reynolds said that this was a bonding experience, but also one that helped him understand the differences between African Americans and Africans.
“You realize quickly that when you get dropped into a place where everyone is black you’re not a minority anymore. You are who they are,” Reynolds said. “[This trip] also made me recognize that my American identity is deeper than even the biology that connects me to Africans.”
Ultimately, the trip provided many people connected with the Trinity community the opportunity to witness God’s work in Ghana and learn about and practice reconciliation and restoration in a biblical manner.
“It was life-changing because it was an opportunity to see a vibrant Christianity where nobody was ashamed of it,” Reynolds said.
Photos provided by Joshua Edmon