Every Tribe, Every Tongue
Returning as missionaries to his homeland of Ghana, Joseph Frimpong and his wife, Heather have been experiencing how important and effective it is to be practical in witnessing the love of Jesus Christ. Here, they share their testimony of God’s faithfulness to them in the mission field, and the peace they have knowing He is in full control.
Give us your testimony and tell us about your family.
Joseph: I was born in Ghana, West Africa, in 1971 and was born again in Canada in 1991. I came to Canada in 1988 at the age of 17. In February of 1990, my brother and I walked into an assembly meeting and I witnessed the breaking of bread for the first time. Although I wasn’t saved at the time, for some unknown reason, I knew that was the place for me. I met several young people and quickly developed friendships with some of them. Among my newfound friends was a young man by the name of Roger Singh, who had converted from Hinduism several years earlier.
Through Roger’s faithful testimony and encouragement, I became aware that I was a sinner and needed to put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. In May 1991, I confessed my sins to the Lord and He graciously saved my soul! I was baptised two weeks later on June 2, 1991. In November of the same year, Roger took me to the Toronto Missionary Prayer Breakfast. There, I was especially challenged by the testimony of God’s faithfulness in the lives of two missionaries. I believe my interest in missionary work began at that prayer breakfast.
Heather: I was very fortunate to grow up in a Christian home and go to a Brethren assembly when I was young. I got saved as a little girl when I was about six years of age. Nothing major really changed in my life at that age — but I continued to go to church and learn more about the Bible. As a teenager, I became more and more involved with the church. Soon, I began going on mission trips to see where and how the Lord was leading me. I was really interested in mission work and tried different locations — mostly where they spoke English, and nothing out of Canada until 2003, when I went to Ghana. I used to teach kids club/Awana [a parachurch organisation], Sunday School classes, nursery, and ran a young people’s group over the years.
Both: We met in the year 2000 through a college and careers group and developed a casual friendship. Our friendship grew as we felt the Lord meant us for each other in marriage. We got married in September 2004, and have been serving the Lord together in Ghana ever since. The Lord has worked through us to establish two assemblies in Kumasi (the only assemblies in Ghana). The Lord also blessed us with three children – Emma (13), Jesse (10) and Hannah (5).
Joseph, what did Roger’s faithful testimony look like practically? What were your own religious beliefs before trusting in the Lord?
Roger, to me, was very practical in his witnessing — he still is today! Some things he did for me were:
Even though I thought that I was a Christian at the time, always attending church services and reading the Bible often, it wasn’t until I stayed with Roger that I realised something was missing in my life: salvation!
Where are you serving? How did the Lord call you to this specific mission field?
Joseph: We serve the Lord in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa. Joseph felt a burden to return to his country of birth to preach the gospel, and establish local churches that would follow and practise sound Bible doctrine. After much prayer and a three-month short term visit to Kumasi in 2000, the saints meeting at Shoreacres Bible Chapel, Burlington, Ontario commended Joseph to full-time service for the Lord in 2002. Heather also felt the burden to join the Lord’s work that I was doing. She was commended along with me in 2004, after we got married.
Heather, how did the Lord use your teenage years of service to prepare you for your current ministry in Ghana?
I think He used those years to not only grow me closer to Him but also to teach me to be humble with some jobs that most would not want to take. I had jobs in my teen years as waitress, dishwasher, cook, bathroom cleaner, maintenance worker, babysitter, etc. I learnt a lot of skills in these roles and I can see how I use those skills willingly on the mission field now. You never know how the Lord is teaching you for things you’d need for His work in the future.
I also enjoy baking and, in Ghana, many times, we have to help a person with something practical before we can teach them about the Lord. I helped train a few people there and they now run their own bakeries ― successfully supporting themselves, their families, and others. It brings me a lot of joy to be able to share some sort of food with someone when we’re visiting for so many different reasons — like, if someone is struggling and you hand them something like a banana loaf, it goes a long way.
Joseph, what was it like to share the gospel with your people after being away for so long?
To be honest, it wasn’t easy for me to return to Ghana. But the Lord made a way for me to get back safely. He also gave me wisdom, discernment, and boldness to preach the gospel in various places. I sought to share the gospel message of salvation to my family members ― and even to some extended members ― while helping some needy ones financially.
Obviously, reaching out to my family members with the gospel was difficult. After all, the Lord Jesus has said in Mark 6:4 that, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” However, I’m very thankful to say that the Lord has worked through me for the salvation of at least three of my family members.
Tell us about the people you minister to.
We serve among the people of the ancient Ashanti (Akan) tribe. The Ashanti people have a long history, and are very proud of their language (Twi) and culture. We often hear them say, “If you want to experience culture, come to Kumasi.” Kumasi is roughly 300 km north of Accra, the capital city. It is the second-largest city in Ghana, with a large population. Kumasi boasts of having the largest outdoor market (Kejetia Market, currently undergoing re-development) in West Africa.
The Ashanti people are mostly friendly, especially when you speak ― or attempt to speak ― to them in their Twi language. We have the freedom to preach the gospel openly on the streets, in schools, markets, etc. Also, we have the freedom to witness to people one-on-one and conduct one-on-one Bible studies as well. We have continued to have the honour of teaching all ages, young and old. We also do regular marriage counselling, and train others to learn a business so that they can support themselves and their families. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure!
What are some of the hindrances to accepting the gospel among the Ashanti people? How do those beliefs affect the way you share the gospel?
While the Ashanti people are friendly toward the gospel, and many of them go to various churches, unfortunately, many of them mingle their traditions with the gospel. Therefore, we often approach and encourage people there to take the Lord Jesus Christ at His word, meaning, to completely trust in Him alone for salvation. We know that many there are confused as far as salvation is concerned. They often rely on good works as the means to obtain salvation.
The main belief among those professing (not possessing) salvation there is that you can be saved today and lose your salvation tomorrow, which does not assure them of salvation. So, we often point them to Bible passages like John 10:27-30, where the Lord Jesus guarantees salvation to all those who truly repent of their sins and trust Him to save them.
Can you give us an example of a challenging situation you recently faced and what the Lord taught you from the experience?
Our oldest daughter, Emma, has a serious problem with an underbite. The dentist she was seeing back in Ghana suggested that she would need major and expensive surgery and gave her braces. We asked the Lord’s people to pray with us for the situation. Upon our return to Canada last year, the Lord led us to a specialised dentist/orthodontist who advised us that the braces she had on from Ghana were not helping her at this stage and removed them, especially as she had been having numerous problems with them.
This was a huge relief for her and us to know that she wouldn’t be in so much pain as she was with them on. He has advised us to let her grow and let her mouth develop further until her later teen years, at which point they may have to do jaw surgery. Certainly, it was an answer to prayer and that reminded us of the Lord’s faithfulness in caring for His own!
What are some personal spiritual challenges you face and what is the Lord teaching you through these challenges?
For the past several months, we have been trying to reach out to some friends with the gospel of Christ. And just as they were starting to show interest in salvation, suddenly, it seems, Satan has come in to mess their minds up. We are sensing the Lord wants us to stay back and leave it to Him to take care of. After all, salvation is of the Lord! We are at peace knowing He is in control.
Most of us lead busy lives. What are some practical ways you both balance your walk with the Lord, family life and ministry life?
Often, we can be too busy and even go on “a day’s journey” (Luke 2:44) without having the company of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have learnt to “take time with the Lord” each day ― sometimes, long; sometimes, short. If you don’t purposely “take time” to read from His Word and talk with Him, time will never be on your side. It is a struggle each day, but the Lord gives grace for us to carry on serving with Him.
Each day is very busy, full of a variety of things to do, but we have to keep our priorities straight and spend time with Him in different ways. [Mission work] is not a kind of ‘job’ from which you can take a vacation and get away from things to spend more quality time together as a family or with the Lord. It calls you to get more creative and cherish the little things together as a family ― remind the kids that they are important and special, spend some time with them before their bedtime, have devotional times after supper together at the table before everyone gets back into a busy evening, etc.
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