Back in Africa with a Burden
Kwasi Torvike (MA[BS] 09)
When I sensed God’s plan for my life, I founded the Kwasi Torvike Evangelistic Association (KTEA) as the vehicle of my global ministry. The KTEA (www.kwasitorvike.org) is a non-profit tax-exempt corporation registered in Texas.
The KTEA organizes short-term mission trips for local pastors and lay ministers from Dallas to Ghana and La Cote D’Ivoire during the summer. Participants undertake workshops for pastors and church leaders, health seminars, open-air campaigns, VBS, and revivals. Also, we engage in Sunday school lessons, discipleship meetings, distribution of new and gently-used clothes, and inter-cultural education tours.
In Ghana, the KTEA partners with the proprietors of an agricultural establishment for a two-pronged purpose: to evangelize the farmhands and to contribute to the economic welfare of the rural people that we reach with the gospel. The site of this synergy is dubbed Harvest Hill to remind us of the two types of harvest that we expect.
One important aspect of our community development efforts is the provision of a fresh-water system at Harvest Hill. This water is not only needed for domestic purposes, but it can also be used for cash and food crop production throughout the year.
The motion picture Out of Africa provided me with the perfect caption for the early chapters of my life in America. My spirit, soul, and body had migrated out of Africa, and I had no intention of moving them back to my home country. These days, however, my airline reservations cannot be made early enough for me to set foot on the land of my birth. I have no doubt that this is the Lord’s doing!
After high school, I left my mother in Ghana for the US to undertake my college education in electrical engineering. My mother was the only parent I knew, since my dad died before I was born. We were very close, so the separation was difficult in the beginning, to say the least.
After my degree, I suspended going back home as I commenced gainful employment with a reputable engineering firm in Dallas. Soon the “good life” engrossed my purpose in life, and it was just a matter of time when I hit rock bottom both physically and spiritually. Then, in an operation that only the Triune God could pull off, the Lord snatched me from the streets of Arlington, Texas, to the sanctuary of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Dallas. I soon learned that ministry was my calling, and within two years I started serving as an associate minister at Mt. Pisgah.
Meanwhile, I maintained my tent-making career in engineering without any urgent thoughts of visiting my mother. One year, then two, then three and four slipped by. Sadly, fifteen years had passed before I saw my mother again. This time, however, our reunion was far from the usual, as I stood before a packed church auditorium to deliver her eulogy. No sooner had I taken my seat after preaching than one of the pastors on the roster tapped me on the shoulder. After the usual handshake and a few encouraging whispers, he said, “I’m also a Baptist pastor and I look forward to visiting with you afterwards.” Later he identified himself as Rev. Mark Wisdom, Pastor of the Adidome Baptist Church (ABC) in Ghana.
Pastor Mark was anxious to show me their church building at the time. He first took me to his house and gave me a letter that he had written while he awaited my arrival. In his plea for assistance, Rev. Wisdom had penned, “… all of a sudden it rained so heavily that our chapel, the structure, is now on the verge of collapse. We are embarrassed as to what to do because it is now a trap and people are advising us to pull it down or leave the place. In fact, we are in a fix!” When I saw their “chapel,” pictured below, I was speechless. I’ve seen a number of similar structures in which believers gather for worship along the Ghanaian countryside. But Pastor Mark’s building was in a class by itself. I thought it was more dangerous than a trap, and I couldn’t just walk away from the opportunity to make a difference for Jesus. I’m happy to report that the Lord came through for the ABC and helped them put up a new church building.
By now I had left my North Texas “Jerusalem,” and I was ready to take the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth. As I traveled through the towns and villages, evangelizing and encouraging the local pastors through the Scriptures, I quickly learned a major challenge that these believers face. That is, almost all of their leaders have no pastoral training. It dawned on me that these are the congregations that Jesus alludes to in Matt. 9:35–38. I sensed that what these folks needed the most were Spirit-filled and competent shepherds to deliver them from their dispirited and distressing conditions. The workers were few, yet diligent. Without hesitation, I availed myself for the Master’s use. I wanted to help with His harvest. I decided that instead of spearheading physical building projects, my focus would be to “build the Churches” in Africa by grooming underprivileged pastors.
My father in the ministry, the Late Rev. Cecil Smith, Sr., encouraged me to enroll at Dallas Theological Seminary. Because of my engineering background, I matriculated at DTS without the faintest inkling of how life-changing and impactful the experience would be for my ministry in Ghana and beyond. I recognized our Lord’s hand at work in preparing me at DTS and my confidence in Him to train the servant leaders in Africa could not be bolder.
Prof. Hendricks’ and Dr. Mark Bailey’s Bible Study Methods class enabled me to open my Bible to any passage, make an observation, interpret the text, and apply it to my life and to others’ circumstances. In addition, Dallas Seminary’s emphasis on missions helped carve my personal world missions core values to always be guided by the promise of the Savior, the power of the Spirit and the perspective of scope found in Acts 1:8. Now, my heart’s desire is to entrust the vast knowledge I received from the gospel giants of DTS to faithful men around the world who will be able to teach others.
My current ambition is to begin a Bible school in Ghana that will offer pastoral training courses to the target group that I have identified above. Such a school will also keep its doors opened to the DTS family of professors and students to visit and lend their teaching gifts and skills for the cause of Christ.
At one point in my life, I thought I was out of Africa forever. Now my heart yearns to reach my people with the Gospel of Christ.