I did this piece as a follow-up to a write-up by the Rev. Emmanuel Ofei Ankra-Badu, an Apostle of The Church of Pentecost about the role played by the workers of Messrs Dormang Long and Salini Impregilo in introducing the Catholic faith to Atimpoku and Akosombo respectively.
It is instructive to notice that the two firms were both Italian and thus had almost all their expatriate workers being Roman Catholic. These Italian workers took advantage of the Adomi Bridge and Volta Dam projects, to introduce the Catholic faith in those areas. When the Volta Dam project faced a key technical challenge which the indigenes had attributed to a spiritual problem, the Italian contractors took advantage of a visit to the country by His Eminence Cardinal Govanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (Archbishop of Milan who later became Pope Paul VI) to have him pray at the project site. They built a chapel (St. Barbara Catholic Church) in three weeks at Akosombo to enable the Cardinal celebrate mass with them as well as pray for the project. That apostolic visit and prayer cleared the way for the work to continue without any further impediment(s).
It will be interesting to note that several decades earlier in 1471, the Portuguese traders first landed in the Gold Coast. Being Catholics, they quickly build a chapel in the Elmina Castle and got a chaplain in to assist them in their faith. They faced issues and had to leave. In the 1870s, an English Judge (Sir James Marshall) who was a Catholic and had previously worked along the West African coast and seen the zeal of the indigenes for divine worship wrote to the Vatican that the coast was ripe for evangelistic activity. The result was the posting of priests to Gold Coast and later Nigeria to have the Catholic faith firmly established from 1880. The Catholic Church today is the biggest religious body in this country and in West Africa, all due to the simple request of one man.
The tremendous growth of The Church of Pentecost’s (CoP) missionary exploits over the last eighty-five years has largely been attributed to the same strategy. Quite a number of the CoP’s missionary activity in the various countries were initiated by ordinary faithful who alongside their studies, business and career still found time to begin prayer cells and Chistian fellowships that eventually grew into assemblies. In most instances, it was then that the General Headquarters was requested to send in full-time ministers to take up the growth of these fellowships and nursery assemblies. Today, those efforts have led the CoP into 135 countries in all continents of the world. The count continues nonetheless.
My dear friend, how will the Christian landscape have been if Sir James had not requested the Vatican to bring in the SMA Fathers to the West Coast of Africa? What would have happened if Dormang Long and Impregilo had not introduced Catholicism to Atimpoku and Akosombo? Can you imagine what would have happened if Rev. James McKeown had not heeded to call of God to come to the Gold Coast from his comfortable Ireland for missions? Can you imagine would have happened to the CoP if the many Ghanaian students and young workers who travelled abroad had refused to share the gospel and initiate all those prayer cells and fellowships?
How have you used your presence in your new office, neighbourhood, country, etc to further promote the ministry of Jesus Christ? It is the turn of you and I and Heaven is counting on us my dear friend. We dare not fail God in this!
ERIC ATTA-SONNO 233-24-3-821447 Living day-by-day as an AMBASSADOR of the LORD wherever I find myself
My dear friend,