In September 2012, a dream came true for Rev. Dr. Nicholas Salifu, a Lutheran pastor in Ghana, when he opened a Lutheran day school in his home city of Bawku.
What a difference the next 10 years made! After beginning classes with only one grade of 13 students, today Concordia Preparatory School boasts over 1,100 students in preschool through 9th grade.
Most interestingly, about half of those students are Muslim – Muslim children who learn the Ten Commandments and their meanings, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and even the Augsburg Confession!
“Muslims bring their children to the school because of the academic work, but in school all the children read and learn the Word of God,” said Rev. Salifu. “In the public schools, the government requires a subject called Religious and Moral Education. So they study Islam, local religions and Christianity. In our school, we have Religion as a simple subject, where they’re learning the Faith taught in the Catechism.”
Luther’s Small Catechism (translated by LHF into the Kusaal language) isn’t the only book the students at Concordia Preparatory School study. While the children already know the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed by the time they graduate preschool, the students spend time in catechism workbooks and A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories as they get older.
Amazingly, the junior high students read and have lively discussions on the Augsburg Confession, a feat unmatched by most American Lutheran school programs.
“They love it!” exclaimed Rev. Salifu. “We use a simple vocabulary so that the students can read it themselves. We ask, ‘Who is God?’ Then, we discuss, ‘You say God, but see that the Muslims think they know who God is.’ When they read God’s Word, they see God directly and they learn to think for themselves. They have a lot of questions!”
While a few of the school’s Muslim families have converted to Christianity, most children don’t have the freedom in their families to publicly announce their faith in Jesus Christ.
“For now, they have to respect their parents. But these children, the way they talk among themselves, you can see that they have some faith in Christ in them,” said Rev. Salifu. “They have spent time in Christian prayer. They pray in Jesus’ name, and so the Holy Spirit is at work in these young ones. I know that Jesus is my God, and that He changes lives!”
When asked what dreams he has for the next 10 years at Concordia Preparatory School, Rev. Salifu smiled. “By then, these children who began their students at the school will be off to university,” he reflected. “I would like to see some of them becoming pastors and Christian teachers – and that they would come back and teach more Concordia students!”