Way back in 1530, Philipp Melanchthon presented the Augsburg Confession, an exposition on 30 points of the Lutheran faith, to Charles V, who had been crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Clement VII.
Would Melanchthon ever have guessed that nearly 500 years later, junior high students in Ghana would study his words, now translated into their Kusaal language?
On the plains of northern Ghana sits Concordia Preparatory School (CPS), a Lutheran elementary school established a decade ago by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Salifu.
While studying at St. Louis’ Concordia Seminary in 2006, Rev. Salifu had been impressed by seeing Lutheran day schools in action. In 2011, he established the first Lutheran school in his area of Ghana and immediately began introducing even the youngest students to Luther’s Small Catechism, translated by LHF into their Kusaal language.
“The children, they can learn!” exclaimed Rev. Salifu. “In our school, children in nursery school and kindergarten memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed and the Ten Commandments. In grades 1-3, they study the Small Catechism enchiridion and read A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories.
“In grades 4-6, teachers lead their students in a deeper study of the Small Catechism and the accompanying workbook, and they memorize the Bible verses. So students in the junior high are ready for the Augsburg Confession.”
As each year has passed, families in the region have vied to have their children attend Concordia Preparatory School, which has a reputation for excellent academics.
Most amazing of all, half of the 1,000+ students come from Muslim families.
Rev. Salifu and his teachers don’t shy away from teaching the Lutheran faith in all its richness. As they delve into the Augsburg Confession, the students and teachers have meaty discussions.
“You know students! They have a lot of questions to ask,” laughed Rev. Salifu. “In studying the Augsburg Confession, one must be prepared to answer questions. Questions that their teachers cannot answer are passed on to me to help them understand.
“For example, when they read the ‘First Article: Concerning God,’ they discuss the Islamic view of God, what traditional worshipers (idol worshipers) believe, and what we believe teach and confess,” he continued. “When it came to the Son of God, the Muslims would not understand why God has a son. Here we provide the explanation. They often have questions on the Trinity, which we also sometimes have. The Holy Spirit will help each and every one of us to understand the Word better.”
Evidence of students growing in the faith at CPS soon becomes apparent.
“A lot of changes are seen in the children who attend CPS,” reflected Rev. Salifu. “For example, they learn to be punctual, attending school on time and avoiding unnecessary absenteeism. Every morning before assembly, they hear the Word of God. Students are given the chance to pray before classes begin, and before they eat a meal, they give thanks to God for the provision. For our Christian students and for our Muslim students, they are reading the Bible, studying the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession, where they are learning the truth about who God is and what He has done for us.”
Leadership training classes
Of course, the Augsburg Confession isn’t studied only by the youth. Because of pastor shortages, Rev. Salifu serves 13 separate congregations – making it physically impossible to lead Bible study and adult instruction classes at each site.
Therefore, he has identified lay leaders from each congregation who attend leadership classes, where the men are prepared to teach Lutheran faith and doctrine. The Augsburg Confession is an important part of their study.
“Every Ghanaian knows that there is God and there is sin, but they are ignorant of Jesus and justification. The Augsburg Confession makes it clear who Jesus is, and that we are not saved by any human merit or work, but by grace alone, through faith in Him.
“Every Lutheran should read the Augsburg Confession,” advised Rev. Salifu. “In fact, the Augsburg Confession is not a book for Lutherans, but rather a book for all Christians because it is the concise summary of the Bible.”
LHF is at work in a half-dozen different languages in Ghana, and requests continue to pour in! To help provide good Lutheran books like these for CPS and churches in Ghana, click here. Every $5 you send prints a book about Jesus!