22.09.17 | News
A Day to Remember...In Ghana, Africa Liaison Secretary, Riley Edwards-Raudonat, took part in a workshop where he was confronted with different ideas of living and enduring faith
No, we weren't a big crowd. But then again: Does that mean that it was not worth being there? On the contrary: the fewer, the more intensive the interaction. That was indeed the case at the PIRRC, that is the Presbyterian Interfaith Research and Resource Centre in Accra, Ghana. The event, one of four in a series, was titled "Living Together in Diversity and Bearing Faithful Witness". The speaker, Reverend Nii Armah Ashittey, is the Director of Ecumenical and Social Relations for the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG). His approach was confrontational: "Either you convert others, or you yourself will be converted!" I must admit that this was hard for me to swallow. Does diversity necessarily go hand in hand with a power struggle - "If I don't get you, you'll get me?" Social Darwinism, survival of the fittest? Or does living together in diversity rather mean accepting each other as we are? I would have thought so, but on that Saturday morning at the PIRRC, the emphasis was rather on standing one's ground: "I have nothing against people of other faiths. But why should I compromise mine?"
The underlying current is the plight of the church in Europe as perceived in Africa. The empty churches. The rise of secularism. Isn't that due to the failure of the individual Christians to stand up for their faith? Have they not compromised on issues that are in fact non-negotiable? Maybe so, and maybe not. But by the time the morning was over, one thing was clear: Ghanaian Christians want to make their presence felt as Christians! This means that for them, diversity is a call for witness. "We know what we believe, and in the encounter with those who believe otherwise, we stand up for our faith."
Months later, a simple Bible phrase comes to mind: "The word of the Lord endures forever" (I. Peter 1:25). Its survival, in other words, is not dependent on our own endeavors. In the two thousand years following the death of Jesus on the cross, his words have become known to millions of people across the globe. This in spite of the fact that he never even bothered to write them down. He simply spoke, and trusted that his words would be remembered. They have been, and they will continue to be so. Churches will come and go. There will be growth, but also decline. Yet the basis of our faith will never be in danger. God's word will endure until the end of this age and beyond, and with it the faith of all those who believe in that word.