OCMC Mission Team to Ghana lives Orthodox History
Jul 23, 2003
The Mission Center (OCMC), St. Augustine, FL – Seven Orthodox Christians from across the United States became one of the 2003 OCMC Mission Teams to Ghana and became part of Orthodox history. The Team was sent to build a new church in the village of Breman, in the eastern region of Ghana. Even more important than constructing a new church, they witnessed the building up of the Orthodox Church in Ghana.
As His Grace Panteleimon, Bishop of Ghana, said, “They worked for almost three weeks, but their visit was not restricted to the building of the church, but also for their spiritual benefit. For what will it profit them, if they only build a church made out of blocks and stones and they do not build the living temple of God, which is our bodies and souls?”
In between pounding their hammers, pouring cement and laying bricks, the OCMC Mission Team members got to know the local people that worked alongside them. Each day began with morning prayers and ended with Vespers because an important aspect of all Mission Teams is shared worship. Both the Team members and the Ghanaians felt united in their shared Orthodoxy.
The OCMC Mission Team members were privileged to be part of two historical mass baptisms. In the village of Brakwa, eighty-five people of all ages were baptized in a near-by river and became the only Orthodox community in that region of Ghana. In Breman, where the Team worked, over forty people entered into the Body of Christ through Holy Baptism. The Team members were blessed with the opportunity to be sponsors (Godparents) to these new Orthodox Christians.
The Mission Team understood that the part they played was small compared to the many months of hard work and catechism that led up to the moment of baptism. They had a taste of the hardships the local clergy and Bishop Panteleimon have in traveling the long distances between villages. They also experienced great joy in seeing the enthusiasm and deep desire for Orthodoxy in the newly illuminated faithful.
The mass baptisms weren’t the only historical sacraments the Team members participated in, since they also witnessed ordinations to the diaconate of two Ghanaian men. The foundation of the church, which they had helped build, was blessed in a special service and prayers of thanksgiving were offered to God for this new church.
The Orthodox Church in Ghana has limited income and survives through the generosity of those that God inspires, like the family who made this church building project possible. The Church is very young in Ghana, but in only twenty years, it has more than doubled the number of people being catechized and baptized into the Faith. His Grace Panteleimon works very hard to educate and develop the indigenous clergy to lead the faithful and to bring more people into the Holy Orthodox Church.
All OCMC Mission Team members are taught that we do mission work and follow in the footsteps of missionary saints because of our inherent desire to share the Faith, as an expression of Love and in response to Christ’s call to “Go to all nations”. In 2003, over 100 OCMC Mission Team members will teach, build, baptize, nurture and heal in local Orthodox communities around the world. Volunteers will donate their time, talent, finances and energy to witness the Orthodox Christian faith in Ghana, Guatemala, Alaska, Albania, Romania, and India through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center.