Illuminating the Dark Continent

An Amazing Fact: When the European colonial powers embarked on conquering Africa, they labeled it the Dark Continent. They saw it as a vast and dangerous place full of savage people. This could not have been further from the truth, as Africa and her multihued people have spawned some of the world's most advanced, colorful, and exotic civilizations-it is well established that African cultures were among the earliest to employ iron, build cities, and develop trade routes. However, in the 7th century, Islam replaced Christianity as the dominant religion, steeping the continent into a Christ-less darkness.

Hope for a Hemisphere, Amazing Facts' evangelistic outreach to Africa, has officially begun. In March, graduates from our College of Evangelism and I arrived in Accra, the capital of Ghana in West Africa, to conduct 27 evangelistic meetings. We praise God for the 2,000 newly baptized members, but this is only the humble first fruit of a more far-reaching work God will do later this year through Pastor Doug Batchelor's satellite evangelistic meetings in Africa.

From November 8 to 30, Pastor Doug will preach in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, in West Africa. From this location, his meetings will be up-linked by satellite to all of the Eastern Hemisphere! Even viewers in North and South America will be able to participate in this stirring overseas mission trip by watching it on Three Angel's Broadcasting Network. Judging from the response of our groundwork meetings, we anticipate that God will do extraordinary things through this series.

Africa has long been known as the Dark Continent. But the plethora of unsatisfying religions and crushing poverty have prepared the African people to be exceptionally receptive to the bright beams of truth. Amazing Facts has sensed God telling us that now is the time to shine light into the darkness. Already, 500,000 sets of the Storacles of Prophecy lessons are being used in 31 African nations in preparation for Pastor Doug's meetings. This literature is quickly being devoured by truth-starved souls.

As with most of our ministry's projects, we don't have any wealthy donors financing this mission. Instead, we depend on the sacrificial gifts of many donors. So we have stepped out in faith, believing God will move the hearts of His people to partner with us in reaching these children of God. If you feel led to participate, please let us hear from you. Write Pastor Doug to assure him that you are praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If God impresses you to help financially, you can simply mark your gift "Africa."

Africa urgently needs the gospel. Islam has a powerful grip, especially in the north, and is seeking to extend its stronghold. Paganism also has millennia-old roots that run deep. While our fellow African brothers and sisters know Bible truth, they are still very much dependent on the assistance of western churches to advance the gospel. Often in America, we find it difficult to capture the attention of the secularized; however, Africans come in droves to hear the Word of God. As you will see in the following report, now is the time for us to aim the spotlight of truth into the Dark Continent.

E-Postcards from Africa
I sent the following e-mails to our office as our evangelistic meetings were in progress. In this inside look at our mission there, you'll read about a demon-possessed lady, electrical failures, Sunday-keeping pastors converting, and miracles performed by God. In a companion article by Annie Kjaer, you will thrill with the exciting adventures of our College of Evangelism graduates.

E-Postcard #1: Not Ready Minutes Before We Start
Our meetings are held outside in a dusty park near the Salvation Army Church. This is the exact location where Amazing Facts' founder Joe Crews first preached the gospel in Africa 15 years ago. Providentially, our African coordinator is a convert from Joe's meetings! Formerly a pastor of a Sunday church, he is now a leader in the Sabbath-keeping conference. We drive to the meeting site through an area of extreme poverty, where naked children bathe in the streets, women cook over open fires, and ramshackle huts lean on each other like falling dominoes.

On opening night, I arrived at the site at 5:00 P.M. The word "surprise" doesn't adequately describe my feelings at what I saw. The stage was still being assembled. Our office was under construction. The sound system wasn't set up. There was no screen. And chairs were being placed. The meeting was scheduled to begin with a song service at 6:30. A flurry of activity continued up to 7:15 to get everything ready. But through all this, and even though I worked and sweated along with everyone else during the frantic set up, the Lord blessed me with a heavenly calm when I finally stood to speak.

It is interesting to preach here. Two translators simultaneously interpret my sermon into the Ga and Twi languages. I animatedly speak with few pauses, and they translate without much delay. They are only adding about 15 minutes to a 45-minute sermon. The audience is arranged according to languages, so all of those on one side hear their language and those on the other side hear the other language. All of them can hear me preach in English.

My meeting is hosting 2,500 people. Many of those coming saw our advertisements but had no previous contact with our sponsoring churches. The people here are starving for truth! One young man told me that he made a first-time commitment to Christ during the appeal tonight.
On Sabbath morning, we graduated several hundred people who took the Storacles of Prophecy lessons in preparation for the meetings. One of these graduates is a Presbyterian pastor. He said he is now keeping the Sabbath. I also led a 21-year-old man to Christ. His father is a foreign diplomat and has threatened to disown his son if he follows his convictions on the Sabbath. Please pray for him.

E-Postcard #2: A Taste of Pentecost!
It is so hot here! After preaching, my dress shirt, and tie are soaked with sweat! Tonight, we had a reprieve from the heat when it rained during the first 30 minutes of the program. Those in the front seats are not protected by canopies, but they didn't move to shelter during the rain-they wanted to keep their choice seats!

I'm thankful for our team. Pastor Alan and Nicole Parker, a talented and dedicated young couple, are assisting my work here. Alan works hard and is a gifted organizer. He is joining our college faculty and will begin teaching this fall. Annie Kjaer is doing an excellent job coordinating all of the college graduates in their meetings.

It is exciting to preach here, because the people like dynamic presentations and much interaction. It is very unlike America, where preaching often seems tame and lifeless. Ghanaians also welcome the gospel appeals. Every night, I ask attendees to give their lives completely to God and accept His salvation and truth-and each night we have people responding.

On Monday, we saw evidence that our crowd is growing-to nearly 3,000! Another Sunday pastor visited with me to say he wants to join our Sabbath churches. He's resigning his current pastoral position because his beliefs are not in harmony with those of his members. I also prayed with a young lady who is convicted on the Sabbath. There are so many like her-they've learned what the Bible teaches and want to walk in the light of truth.

E-Postcard #3: Torrents of Rain
Last night, 10 meetings were rained out. When I stood to speak, the heavens opened with a torrential downpour. People scrambled to get under the canopies, only to find that these were merely sun canopies that didn't hold out the rain.

We waited for the shower to stop, but when it did, all the chairs were wet and were imbedded in mud. So we were forced to cancel the meeting. The topic was baptism-fitting, considering the rain. During the night, the enemy also caused fierce winds to blow our stage apart. The backdrop was damaged, the screen blew over, and the canopy was toppled. It took our crew most of the next day to get everything back in place in time for the evening program. God helped us overcome in a mighty way.

Tonight, we returned to the topic of baptism since it was rained out last night. More than 200 seekers came forward for the altar call and then stayed for the baptismal class.

Sabbath morning, 5,000 people attended! Before the worship service, 1,000 who wanted prayer for healing joined us at the altar. Many of their medical problems could probably be solved with proper medical treatment, but this is not readily available to them. So they are truly dependent on God's miraculous interventions. It really tugs at my heart as I pray with them. One lady brought her three-year-old daughter, who has never spoken. We prayed and then also helped her find proper medical aid.
God also powerfully blessed the sermon on how to conquer personal sin. During the altar call, 2,000 people came forward to claim victory over specific sins and bad habits that Satan has used to enslave and discourage them.

E-Postcard #4: New Light on the Sabbath
The meeting on the Sabbath topic went very well despite the devil's opposition. An electrical blackout struck the neighborhood 15 minutes before the program was to begin. Alan Parker and our team scrambled in the pitch-black to get the wires connected to a generator. Praise God, they were able to get everything arranged, and we proceeded with the meeting.

It is a joy to preach about the Sabbath here in Ghana. Their word for Saturday is Memenada and literally means "I AM THAT I AM's Day." (See Exodus 3:14.) Their word for children born on Saturday is Kwame and means "God's Day." However, children born on Sunday are named Kwasi, meaning "White Man's Day."

The people of Ghana have had the Sabbath truth for thousands of years. The true gospel was probably carried to them by the Ethiopian Eunuch and Simon the Cyrenian (Acts 8:27; Matthew 27:32). It wasn't until the missionaries from Europe arrived in Africa that they were taught to keep Sunday instead of the Bible Sabbath. The connection of the counterfeit Sabbath with the confused white missionaries is even immortalized in their language. In fact, to this day, every white person is called Kwasi. I've relished the opportunity to show how the language vindicates which day is God's true Sabbath.

E-Postcard #5: Demon Possession, Harassment, and the True Church
Tonight's topic was on the true church. We fought more with Satan tonight than in any other meeting thus far. Since most of our guests have not completed our studies, this sermon was especially crucial.

The electricity went out again just as we began, and the entire region was blanketed in black. Now ready for these attacks, we started the generator and electricity returned. But as I stood to speak, a fuse in the extension cord tripped! We repaired it, but it continued to trip every few minutes. Yet during this annoying routine, 2,500 hungry seekers waited patiently. I remarked that the night's message threatened Satan and he didn't want them to hear it. Together, we all prayed for God to overrule and allow us to continue with electricity. He then performed a miracle and gave us reliable power! (More on this in a moment.)

The devil then launched his next salvo! A demon-possessed woman seated on the front row began singing in a piercing tone. I had spoken with her many times and noticed something unusual about her. Demon possession is a common occurrence in Africa, and it often manifests itself at religious revivals. Soon her singing was so disturbing that I had to stop the sermon and call for help. With ushers firmly holding her, the woman was removed from the meeting as she cried and dragged her heels in the dust.

By this time, I had completely lost the attention of the audience. Again I explained how the devil was trying to attack the sermon. With this commotion and my simple explanation, the people were even more interested in hearing the presentation. What the enemy intended to cause defeat, God turned into an opportunity to bring victory.

But our troubles weren't over! Soon, I discovered that one of my regular translators had lost his voice. The translator who replaced him strained to understand my English and often missed translating what I was saying. (Preaching with a struggling translator is like driving a boat with the anchor down!) Tonight, I really needed someone who could present the message in a clear and convincing manner. However, all through the sermon I found myself waiting for the translator to catch up with me. It was unnerving!

With all the interruptions, distractions, and now poor communication, I wondered how anyone could get anything out of the message. But I kept preaching in faith and with conviction. By the end of the sermon, I made the altar call in faith. I didn't even finish my call when the people started flooding down to the front. The first man down was one who had been hesitating to make a decision. The second was a Sunday-church pastor. And soon, more than 300 people stood at the front, desiring to join God's remnant church.

This spontaneous response was extremely reassuring. This was clearly a time when I knew that God had directly given us victory over the enemy! One excited church leader exclaimed, "That was powerful! God spoke in a mighty way!" It was obvious to me that the Holy Spirit is the One who made the meeting so dynamic.

As we examined the equipment after the meeting, we discovered how God had performed a miracle to provide electricity. Because the fuses in all of the electrical lines kept blowing, we had to run all of our equipment-a sound system, lights, a 2,200-lumen projector, and a computer-running through one cord! According to all laws of electricity, its small fuse should have blown with this much power surging through it. But it didn't-praise God! If it had, we would have been out of commission for the evening. The plug got so hot that it actually melted; but the Lord kept us going.

E-Postcard #6: Sunday Pastors and Baptism Surprises
We've just completed our evangelistic series! It has been thrilling to see God work exceedingly in the lives of so many. This morning, participants in our 27 meetings and sponsoring churches converged at a river for the baptism. There were 10,000 people present for this extraordinary service. One of the baptismal candidates remarked, "I never imagined there were so many Sabbath-keepers living here!"

The pastors baptized a steady stream of people for two hours. Even though they had been in the blistering-hot sun for hours, they later praised God with laughing and happy faces! This was the most people baptized in Accra in a single day and for any evangelistic effort!

Today, I was blessed with several inspiring conversion stories. A courageous lady was baptized even though her husband evicted her and their children. She is now homeless and is living with one of the church families that had never met her. I also met the wife of one of my translators and learned she was not a member  of the church. She and a friend came to each of the meetings, and today they were both baptized.

Pastor Addis Rembrandt-Addo, a Sunday pastor that was baptized, told me he was most captivated by our focus on Bible prophecy. He had been unable to find a satisfactory explanation of prophecy, so he decided to attend our meetings in his quest for truth. Several times during the series, he greeted me after the sermon by saying, "Pastor, I am very pleased with what I am learning here! This is the truth. I want you to know that I intend to join this church."

I met another Sunday pastor who has been attending. I didn't realize he was in the audience each night, but today he took his stand and was baptized. Both of these men will lose their jobs as a result of their stand, so please pray for them. Addo has another occupation with which he can support himself, but the other gentleman has only pastored. I know God will help him find something.

The last three weeks have been extremely intense. I feel like we have just completed a spectacular marathon. We have held meetings every night of the week and two on each Sabbath. Now that we have crossed this first finish line in our Hope for a Hemisphere outreach, we have seen unmistakeable evidence of God's work in changed lives.

I leave Ghana tomorrow to go to Yaounde, Cameroon, where Pastor Doug will hold his meetings this November. I am organizing the churches there to prepare for the series.

I know that what we have seen in Ghana is just a micro-sample of what God has in store for us across Africa. Please tell everyone thank you for their prayers and support. And encourage them to continue praying for the work that has just begun.

And tell everyone that the Light is bursting forth on the Dark Continent!


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