The first Christian Witness in the Public Arena Seminar of the Institute for Christian Impact (ICI), was held on the 10th of July to the 16th of July 2016 at the Hephzibah Christian Centre in Kitase, Aburi, Ghana. Hephzibah Christian Centre, in partnership with ICI, provided accommodation and all necessary meals for all the participants. 64 persons in all, including delegates and speakers from twelve different nations, participated in this preliminary seminar with West Africans being the most predominant group represented.
There were about 41 male and 21 female delegates, with 47 being from Anglophone nations and 17 from Francophone nations. Registration for all participants began Sunday 10th of July where delegates paid for their registration, received their name tags as well as folders containing all necessary information for the seminar.
Welcome & Introductions
The welcome and introductions took place on the evening of the arrival day, 10th of July. During this session, Rev. Dr. Femi Adeleye, the Director of ICI warmly welcomed everyone and briefly introduced and explained the mission and vision of ICI and the purpose for the July event. He explained that the theme for the week-long seminar, Mission for a Bright Africa was chosen to address the pressing challenges that our continent, Africa, faces. These include but are not limited to corruption, politics and good governance or lack of it, ethnicity, race, job creation and developing agendas for further Christian and Church involvement in society. The anticipated outcomes of this seminar are to equip professionals and younger people from all work fields with knowledge skills to apply their Christian minds to bear on issues within their sphere of public engagement. After the welcome speech was made, delegates were given the opportunity to introduce themselves in turns.
Worship, Scripture Reading & Engagement
For each day of the seminar, daily worship and praise sessions were led by Mrs. Diana Hopeson from Ghana. Mrs. Hopeson chose some of the worship songs and allowed delegates to bring songs originating from their various home countries. Worship and Prayer times were followed by Scripture reading and reflection led by various speakers.
Plenary & Interactive Sessions:
Several plenary sessions were led on relevant topics by various speakers during which delegates interacted actively.
3.1. Integration of Faith and Life: Lost ground and path to Recovery: Bishop Zac Niringiye
Bishop Zac bemoaned how Christians have consistently separated their faith from the rest of their lives. As many factors accounted for this, he encouraged all delegates present to live an integrated life.
3.2. What Kind of Leadership: Public and Private?: Professor Stephen Adei
On the second day, explained how leadership requires both integrity and skill according Psalm 78:72 Professor Adei made it clear that Christians are called to be more than transformation leaders but rather to be transformation spiritual servant leaders.
3.3. Between Worship and Witness: Contemporary Issues Facing Professionals in the Public Arena: Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam
This Session was to help professionals have a biblical view of worship and witness and how their profession could serve as a vehicle or tool for ministry impact in the public arena. Delegates were to understand that worship and witness were vitally linked or inter-connected in professional public life in the eye of God and society. He encouraged participants to view worship and work as service to God and humanity without separation or compartmentalization. He therefore established that worship involves the whole of life and witness is the outcome of authentic worship.
3.4. Money Matters and Corruption: Mr. Mahama Baba
Mr. Baba Mahama stressed the fact that one’s treatment of money is the most decisive test of his character. That Jesus devoted much attention to the issue of money in the New Testament shows how important the issue of money should be taken. He emphasized that as much as the Bible supports making legitimate riches and not to live in poverty, idolizing money is unacceptable. He drew principles from Matthew 25:14-30 to aid us in handling money well and stressed the fact that Christians are called to be effective stewards of money, which are part of God’s resources.
3.5. Ethnicity, Race & Christian Identity in Contexts of Conflict: Mr. Emmanuel Ndikumana
Mr. Emmanuel Ndikumana from Burundi made it clear that a cursory look at the multiplicity and complexity of the past and present conflicts across Africa raises the question of the role of ethnicity in these conflicts.
This is just a summary of all that took place there. There was so much more we covered including a pilgrimage to the Elmina Castle and a talk by young entrepreneurs.