Opening the Frontier of Ghana

Opening the Frontier of Ghana

On Monday, July 25, 2016, my wife Jerilyn Renfroe, and I, MLS missionaries in the Ghana Kumasi Mission, and Gayle and Joan Heckel, Area Literacy Specialist Missionaries, spent three days with Thomas Abanga, a newly baptized member the Church.  On Monday, he escorted us to the governor’s office where we were introduced to Abdallah Abubakar, the governor of the Northern Region of Ghana. I greeted the governor and presented him with a book containing the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, and explained that the book is a compilation of scripture describing the dealings of God with ancient and modern people on the American continent, and records of the visit of Jesus Christ to them; it is another testament of Jesus Christ. I also presented pamphlets that describe the history of Joseph Smith, his vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ and the restoration of Christ’s church.

Renfroe with Chief

The Governor cordially accepted these gifts and remarked that anything that tells of God is of importance to him. We spoke together of the common ground we have as Muslims and Mormons. He quoted from memory passages from the Quran, which emphasized our common belief in God and in peace and tranquility. He was particularly interested in how LDS youth are taught and the principles of life that will assist the youth of Tamale and Ghana and asked that we meet again and talk more extensively about our activities in Tamale. In the midst of our conversation, the mayor of Tamale, Hanan Gundadow, joined us in the governor’s chambers.

Renfroe group

The next day, we traveled about an hour west of Tamale where we were introduced to the chief of Gua, Guo Naa Sulemana, who presented us with a gift of pigeons.  Thomas showed us the extensive farm land on which the chief had granted him a 99 year lease. The project is an effort by Thomas to help the people out of poverty by plowing the land for them, loaning seed for planting, and teaching them better ways of farming. When harvested, he will purchase the rice from them at market prices. The chief recognizes the potential value this will be to his people and is encouraging him to proceed. While visiting with the chief, he asked the missionaries to pray for him, whereupon I stood and gave him and his village a priesthood blessing pronouncing on them health, prosperity, and the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to be taught in their village.

On Wednesday we traveled east, the opposite directions we had gone on Tuesday, to Thomas’s home town of Yendi and the residence and palace of the King of the Dagomba tribe, Yaa Naa Abdulai Andani, the paramount chief of  the Northern Region of Ghana. Again we were greeted by friendly gestures and ushered in to see the king of Yendi and his advisers seated in front of him. We were presented with kola nuts to chew while we had the audience with the king, the same kola that is mixed with sugar, and carbonated water to make Coca Cola. Wanting to appear gracious I decided to follow the lead of the Africans present so I took a bite out of a kola nut. Encountering the most bitter taste I had ever experienced, I was left unable to speak for several minutes. 

When I recovered I gave the king a copy of the triple combination of The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, explaining its contents as I had in the presentation to the governor. He asked if we were doing any humanitarian work as part of our mission. Elder and Sister Heckel described some of the things our Church is doing in Ghana, such as literacy training and water projects, as well as other areas of service. He graciously accepted all of our gifts and asked 3 times when the Church would be establishing a branch in Yendi. He also asked for a blessing, which I pronounced on him and the community with my authority as a holder of the Melchizedek priesthood.

Afterward, we toured the Yendi Hospital where Thomas, as a baby had spent almost a year struggling with asthma. We saw a waiting room full of patients, and were told that most needed treatment for Malaria. When we saw the laundry facilities we were struck by the inadequacy of the equipment.  One small washing machine had to handle the linens for more than 200 patients each day.

Next we visited the Yendi Primary School, which Thomas attended as a child, and we were swarmed by children wanting to get a look at us silmingsis (white people in the Dagbanli language). There we found a partially-built classroom that was meant for computer training, but the not only was the building unfinished, there were no computers.  

In just a short time the needs of this community had become very apparent to us.  We were able to meet with the most influential leaders in the northern half of Ghana and communicate to them our desire to be of service and make the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a source of strength and growth for all. We were well received and plan on continuing to cultivate these important relationships with the people of Northern Ghana.