It is an early August morning in Ghana, where the daily temperatures will average a warm 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Although students are on summer break, today they are walking to the local public school to attend Vacation Bible School. The children, most of whom range in age from 10–12 years old, arrive early to help clean the classrooms and compound.
By 9:00 a.m. the classes have started and the cheerful sounds of the children’s voices can be heard as they participate in the songs, games, crafts, and Bible stories that will make up this week. Some have brought friends with them, others come on their own, but all 300 students attending will make new friends before the week is over. Over the course of the next three weeks, 130 volunteer teachers will interact with 3,022 children at nine different locations throughout Ghana.
While the large number of students and the various locations might seem like a logistical
nightmare to us, the leader of the VBS, Dr. Ohene Kumi, takes it in stride. An OMSC resident during the 2010–2011 academic year, Ohene has been working with children for more than 20 years. Although his wife, Jane, and children, Ama and Kwesi, were not able to accompany him to OMSC during his sabbatical, he counts himself blessed to have made many friends while in the United States.
In addition to participating in seminars with fellow Christian missionaries from Myanmar, Nigeria, Kenya, Philippines, Canada, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States, he also had time to work on a book to help further his ministry. Not only does he keep in touch with many of his fellow OMSC alums, some have even visited him in Ghana, lending financial and moral support to his ministry.
Of his time at OMSC, Ohene says, “Meeting with different missionaries and mission scholars at OMSC and listening to their stories of how God’s work is being carried on in their countries inspired me to continue training others for the children’s ministry.”
In fact, the summer VBS program is only one facet of Ohene’s ministry to children, which also includes a public school discipleship program held in 262 schools across the country. “When we started the public school’s discipleship program many years ago, it was very difficult. We did not have trained chaplains and some school principals did not welcome us,” Ohene says. “However, over the years we have witnessed students’ lives changing and some students moved on to become teachers and principals. They are the people who are now recommending our program to other schools across the country, and into countries like Togo and Liberia.” Ohene himself travels to two schools every week to lead the 45-minute discipleship training
His wife, Jane, is also involved with Christian ministry and recently organized an overnight event called the “Virtuous Women’s Leader Retreat.” Studying the fruit of the Spirit were thirty women who, although they all represented local churches, did not know each other before the event. After studying together and sharing in the food prepared by the retreat center staff, the women felt renewed and inspired to share what they learned at their local church women’s group meetings.
Both Ohene and Jane are humble, unassuming people, so it is easy to underestimate how many lives they have impacted during the course of their ministry. But for the thousands of children who have attended VBS and the thousands more who learn of Christ in the public schools, the impact is very real.