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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Columnist: Terry Mante

Church – Ghana’s instrument of hope

Terry Mante, author Terry Mante, author

For a long time, I have held the view that the church holds the key to Ghana’s socio-economic transformation. Although government and other segments of society play important roles, the church could be the single most influential factor in the nation’s quest for economic transformation.

Educational impact

In the area of education, we have seen how the involvement of the church has made a huge mark on the country. Almost all the educational institutions that were first established in the country were initiated by churches.

At the senior high school level, many of the best-performing schools across the country have their roots in one missionary entity or another.

In the private tertiary education space, the contribution of the church has been monumental. One wonders what would have happened to the thousands of people who the existing public universities could not absorb due to their limited capacity. Apart from establishing universities, the church is known to have established many teacher training colleges, nursing training institutions, vocational training facilities across the country.

As for the basic education level, the footprints are all over. In every village, one is likely to find a school or schools built by the Presbyterian Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Church or the Catholic Church.

In my own case I have been a beneficiary of the church’s exploits in education. Part of my basic education was in an institution built by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, my high school education in a Catholic mission school and my post graduate qualification in the university established by International Central Gospel Church. Many Ghanaians will attest to having had a Christian or church-based educational experience at a stage in their lives.

Health sector

THERE are many health facilities that have been built by churches across the country. The Christian Health Association of Ghana alone comprises over 300 health facilities and health training institutions owned by 25 different churches. There are many more health facilities that are not members of this association. If the church had not established these facilities, can you imagine what the state of health care delivery in Ghana would be? We should never underestimate the power of the church in our quest for national prosperity.

If…
If the church had not invested heavily in the provision of social services, what would be the state of education and health in Ghana? If the church had not massively engaged in the charitable works such as contributing to orphanages, providing educational scholarships, and helping the poor pay medical bills, don’t you think the affairs of Ghana would be much worse than many perceive it to be?

Economic empowerment interventions

IF the church were to actively get involved in promoting economic empowerment of its members and Ghanaians in general, the transformation that this nation will witness will be phenomenal. As a matter of fact, many people would be so empowered that they may not need the social interventions offered by the church. Why? I believe that if individuals are economically empowered, they will be in a position to cater for their basic needs and those of others.

If people are economically empowered, they will be able to take care of their families. If we empower people, they won’t need handouts to be able to pay medical bills. If people have reliable source of income, they will be able to pay their rent. If and only if…

Seeing how influential the church has been in the provision of social services, I move that corporate social responsibility initiatives of the church must begin to focus on economic empowerment. The church, as an agent of transformation in society may begin to directly mobilize the skills and resources within its domain to equip members with business support services, soft skills development and other requirements for setting up and running businesses.

CEM Ability Village

Laudably, Charismatic Evangelistic Ministries (CEM) under the visionary leadership of Rev. Steve Mensah recently launched the first phase of an ambitious real estate project to provide sustainable livelihood for people living with disability in Ghana. Dubbed the Ability Village, covering a land space of 2000 acres will offer free or subsidized interventions such as training, education, accommodation, medical services and more. It’s a complete city to be fitted with playgrounds, residential facilities, police post, schools, an industrial complex, so much more. This first phase is valued at $85 million.

The project builds up on the Day of Help initiative which was launched by the church in 2016. The program offered medical screening, food, clothes, toiletries, and other supplies to persons with disability once every year. The Ability Village has been conceived to offer a more sustainable and empowering intervention to these people.

It is estimated that about 10% of Ghana’s population is comprised of people with disability. Can you imagine the difference the Ability Village will make when completed? I anticipate that it will reduce incidents of alms-soliciting among the disabled, give them a new sense of dignity and empower them to be able to contribute more meaningfully towards the nation’s development. Additionally, economic activities that will take place in this village will contribute economic growth through job creation and taxes to government.

If the church fully embraces the economic empowerment mandate, the nation’s development drive will certainly be quickened. The church holds the key. Let’s embrace it.