Christian leaders have urged Ghanaians, especially those in leadership positions, to use the Christmas and the New Year celebrations to resolve to address the challenges facing the country in the coming year.
They also underscored the need for Ghanaians to show more commitment to fight corruption and other social ills as the country prepares for 2016.
They made the appeal in separate?Christmas and New Year messages issued in Accra.
The Christian leaders who issued Christmas messages included the Moderator of the Global Evangelical Church, the Rt Rev. Dr Edem Tettey; the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Rev. Dr Paul Frimpong-Manso; the Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Rt Rev. Dr Seth Senyo Agidi, and the Founder of the Perez Chapel, Bishop Charles Agyin Asare.
Others were the Chairman of the Christ Apostolic Church International, Dr Stephen Amoani; the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost and President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Apostle Dr Opoku Onyina, and the General Overseer of the Ablaze Chapel, Apostle Dan Clad.
Their messages also focused on the need for Ghanaians to be reflective, to forgive, be tolerant, show generosity and live peacefully during the Yuletide and ahead of the 2016 elections.
Christmas is the observance of the birth of Jesus Christ — one of the most revered religious leaders in history. The period also celebrates the events surrounding His birth and the hope it holds for the world.
The event is considered very important on the Christian calendar and it is marked with church services, the exchange of gifts and parties.
But, gradually, the festivities have become highly commercialised, resulting in heavy vehicular traffic, hikes in commercial activities and sometimes immoral activities.
Those activities appeared to have caught the attention of religious leaders who are urging moderate celebrations.
The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), in a statement signed by its General Secretary, the Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong, urged our leaders to use the season to reflect and re-examine their actions and inaction which had contributed to the challenges facing the nation today.
“Leaders of the country must prepare to make sacrifices beyond their immediate benefits and think of the salvation of generations beyond them and demonstrate deeds that will safeguard the future of the country,” it said.
It further urged Ghanaians not to give up but hold fast to God in prayer and deeds and pursue peace before and after the elections.
The council said Christmas is always a season for Christians to reflect on the birth of Christ.
“The birth of Jesus, which brought salvation to mankind and the entire world, is the greatest and most profound act by God which demonstrates His everlasting love and kindness towards us, despite our sins and weaknesses,” it said.
The statement urged Ghanaians, especially those in leadership, to be guided by the act of humility exhibited by Jesus Christ and live humble lives that put the interest of the nation and the people they served at heart.
World Miracle Outreach
The Founder of the World Miracle Outreach, Dr Lawrence Tetteh, stated that political parties had a collective responsibility to unite the country, which is a key factor in national development.
“We should use this present time to unite as a nation. I believe that the leaders of National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and all the political parties have a collective responsibility to bring unity to this nation,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday in what he called a “Massive United Front”.
In his end-of-year message to Ghanaians, he said: “Nobody should hide behind any political party to undermine the credibility of others. We need to build the nation, and in building the nation we should not rejoice in other people’s failure.”
Dr Tetteh also called on Ghanaians to make humility the bedrock of their lives and look to Election 2016 as one of the most decent elections devoid of insults.
He asked politicians to disown anyone who engaged in insults in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
The Assemblies of God
While the Rev. Dr Frimpong-Manso had no qualms about the undue hikes in commercial activities and the added colour to the celebrations, he was worried about the shifting of focus from the real reason for Christmas to the periphery.
“If, indeed, we are to make the occasion complete and meaningful, we must make it a season of honest reflection on the cause for which Jesus was born and for which He sacrificed His life. This reflection should cause us to examine our lives and draw closer to the Saviour,” he said.
With the country girding it loins for the 2016 elections, he admonished political parties and their followers to engage in clean political campaigns devoid of insults, personality attacks and violence.
“Let us do our best to guard the peace from God that our country has been noted for within the sub-region. Once again, let us prove to the whole world that Ghana is a peace-loving country,” he said.
Global Evangelical Church
Some critics have described Christmas as a celebration embedded in a pagan tradition but the Moderator of the Global Evangelical Church, the Rt Rev. Dr Tettey, observed that “many people all over the world have found peace, joy, happiness and rest from trusting the Christ, the Saviour, with providing the solution to their problems and challenges.”
“As we celebrate Christmas in Ghana this year, I wish to suggest that in the face of the myriad of challenges — economic, environmental, political, leadership, social — we face as a nation, we must think of responding positively by providing solutions which lie within our power and ability to move our nation forward,” he said.
He also urged the public to reflect and find out if the actions they were taking were positive responses to the challenges the nation faced.
Bishop Agyinasare, who is also the Chancellor of the Perez University College, asked Christians not to over- commercialise Christmas but rather reflect soberly on what the birth of Christ meant for the world.
He said the public would be undermining the spirit of the festivities if they failed to extend a hand to the underprivileged during the Yuletide and beyond.
“It should be a period in which we forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is mandatory; it is not a choice or an option. It is a command from our Saviour who paid the ultimate price for the forgiveness of our sins,” he said.
He also charged the nation to remember that “next year is an election year and we should be circumspect in our statements during our campaigns. We must desist from provoking one another and making the election a do-or-die affair”.
The Moderator of the EP Church, the Rt Rev. Dr Seth Senyo Agidi, said Christmas was a festival that celebrated the Prince of Peace, for which reason the public must maintain the peace the country was enjoying now and build on it as we prepared for next year’s elections.
He called on political leaders to work on inter- and intra-party co-existence.
“We must work hard and change our attitude towards work, the environment and anything that hinders the progress of our country, so that together we can build a better Ghana,” he told the Daily Graphic.
Church of Pentecost
Apostle Dr Onyina, in his Christmas message, commended Ghanaians for their services to the nation and the Lord throughout 2015.
“Christmas reminds us of the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ. During this Christmas, I want you to make a home for Jesus in your body. The birth of Jesus teaches us about the humility of God. The Lord who is the Creator of the universe made the womb of Mary, a virgin, his first home on earth. He chose poor and humble persons as father and mother,” he said.
He urged Christians to learn from the humility of Jesus Christ, saying that “once we learn from Jesus, we will not abuse one another. We will need to be speechless, even as
Jesus was as an infant and also an adult. We will respect one another even as God Himself respected the shepherd and chose a manger as His own home. We will be able to fellowship and respect all kinds of people, no matter their status in society”.
Christ Apostolic Church
For his part, Apostle Dr Amoani said Christ was sent to be the secret of success, victories and unusual exploits that anointed servants of God needed.
He stated that in the wake of all the challenges the nation faced, it was important for Ghanaians to sit back, reflect, do introspection and go to Christ as they celebrated His birth.
“We should reflect on our lives as a nation and make the necessary amendment where we have erred as we welcome the birth of Christ who was sent as a gift for our fullness of joy, peace and prosperity,” he added.
The General Overseer of the Maker’s House Chapel International (TMHCI), Dr Michael Boadi Nyamekye, also urged Ghanaians to remain thankful to God, in spite of the difficulties they encountered in 2015, reports Victor Kwakume from Kwabenya in Accra
He said sometimes the difficulties that people encountered tended to make them less appreciative of the goodness of God in their lives.
“There are times in the life of a Christian when the events that happen to you will make you not willing to give thanks, but regardless of the adversity that we encounter, we must be prepared to give thanks to God,” he said.
From the Ablaze Chapel International at Achimota in Accra, Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho reports that the General Overseer, Apostle Clad, said, “When we consider the birth of Jesus, we see it as a special gift given to humanity; a gift that contains everything.
“There is none like that in the world. No single gift contains everything — life here, life hereafter, peace and whatever we will need.”
In a related development, the Inspector General of Police, Mr John Kudalor, said as 2015 gradually came to an end, there was hope for a fulfilling 2016, there was every reason to celebrate 2015 as the country enjoyed relative peace and security, in spite of the few challenges encountered.
He said that noble achievement was obviously attained as a result of the effective patrol and community policing strategies which had reduced crime.
He expressed deep appreciation for the invaluable contribution of the public, “as well as our friends in the media in our fight against crime”.