September 2013 – For most American children, September means sharpened pencils, a fresh box of crayons and new books.
Now, children in Ghana will have the same experience at Concordia Preparatory School in Bawku, including receiving a new textbook: A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, translated by LHF into their own language of Kusaal.
“The children will love to read this book,” said Rev. Nicholas Salifu, a Lutheran pastor in Ghana and lead translator for the project. In addition to teaching the children the faith, A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories will be used as a reading textbook.
“I am convinced that when the students enter Primary 2 (second half of first grade), they will be able to read Kusaal by themselves,” he said.
A seed is planted
In 2007, when Rev. Salifu attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., he saw how the Lutheran school system worked and was impressed.
“I saw this was something Ghana needed, urgently,” he said. “The Scriptures are clear: ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22: 6). All of northern Ghana has not even one Lutheran school, even though northern Ghana has the majority of Lutheran churches and members.”
When he returned to Ghana in 2010, Rev. Salifu decided to donate a large piece of land he owned, fencing it in to make it safe for the children. Donations from supporters in the United States allowed him to purchase the materials for building a school house, and church members provided the free labor.
Classes began for four classes on Sept. 12, 2012, with just a handful of children. But soon, word about this new school spread.
“This year, we begin classes with 162 students in four grades,” reports Rev. Salifu. “The uniqueness of the school lies in what the children are learning, which is different from any other school in the region.”
What makes the difference? Unabashedly Lutheran teaching, Rev. Salifu says.
By the end of their first year of school (preschool), 4-year-olds have memorized the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and parts of the Apostles’ Creed from the Kusaal Small Catechism LHF published three years ago.
“Like Luther’s time, I think memorizing the catechism is a good thing,” said Rev. Salifu, who directs the curriculum for the school’s religion classes. “It must be part of our lives, and we want all the children – including the Muslim students – to memorize the catechism.”
Muslim children attend a Lutheran school?
Most definitely, affirms Rev. Salifu.
“The population of our students is almost 50-50, Christian and Muslim or traditional religion,” he explained. “Muslim parents don’t object to their children coming to a Christian school, because they know their children will receive a better education. So they gladly send them. The policy of the school is that every student must learn and know the Christian religion, but no one is forced to become a Christian.”
As each year passes, additional classrooms are added on to the school to accommodate a new grade being added. The schoolhouse began with three rooms for preschool and kindergarten. With the construction that’s going on now, the school will have seven rooms in 2014.
“Several of our church members have provided free labor for the construction,” said Rev. Salifu. “The church is happy about the school as the children are learning about Jesus and His love for all mankind.”
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.