In conversation with Jonathan Kofie
- In collaboration with Petra Institute
Forced child labour, child trafficking, and child prostitution are just some of the challenges many children in Ghana face. In addition to this, positive interaction between children and parents is sadly very limited.
“Main issues regarding children in Ghana is cultural issues. In our culture we believe children must always respect the elderly and the elderly must take decisions for the children. Children are not heard.”
Jonathan Kofie is a church leader in the Church of Pentecost in Ghana (COP), West Africa, and has been a pastor for 14 years. COP partnered with Petra Institute on issues relating to children and families. Jonathan received training in both Ghana and South Africa and is a mentor for Petra Institute. From where he and his family currently live in the capital, Accra, he coordinates all the child-related training for COP across the country and beyond the borders.
Jonathan Kofie and his wife Regina, and their five children.
LTR Nana, Christian, Elizabeth, Abigail, and their son, Bernard.
As a Petra Institute-mentor who works with children on a continuous basis, Jonathan outlines the background in which children in Ghana grow and develop, stressing that in some homes and communities the issues vary between poverty and lack of education.
“Children are forced to work and do things that are above them. Parents also allow children to beg on the streets. Also there is not much care for the children in terms of education and daily activities.”
He emphasizes the limited child-parent contact: a result of tight fit schedules that leave little time for parents to spend with their children. Jonathan observes that one of the positive outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is parents getting in touch with their children far better than before.
Training of Children Ministry teachers and leaders in Freetown, Sierra Leone in January 2020.
Although the Church of Pentecost in Ghana had a special partnership with the Petra Institute for years, it was only in 2012 that the church ‘officially adopted the Petra-system as their means of training and it is doing magic in our country and to the church’ explains Jonathan.
“A team of four [from Petra Institute] came to Ghana to start training with 20 people. Afterward, they came again to train us to another level. They came again, and last year we had about 24 training in different locations in Ghana” says Jonathan.
They currently have 10 mentors and more than 50 tutors in all provinces of Ghana who are equipped to train Sunday School teachers and other children’s workers according to the principles and processes of Petra Institute.
A training session
These dedicated mentors and tutors realize the value of establishing relationships with children and they are driven to go forward and multiply their workforce even more.
“The strategy is to go to the Northern part, that is the furthest part in Ghana, and to take three mentors from the South and join the tutors there and have training. So we have tutors in almost all the provinces but not mentors. We have tutors and equally committed mentors who are ready to work with us.”
Jonathan is of opinion that big scale training is bringing real change in the children’s ministry. He attributes this to the training that Petra provides.
“Initially our teachers were struggling with how to keep the children interested in children's ministry, but now, an ordinary teacher who had gone through Petra wouldn’t struggle to keep the children for hours”.
“It’s not following a book, but you can teach children through songs, stories, and games. And through that, you build relationships and teach them values. So the mentoring targets the heart, the head, and hands.”
Having fun with the Children in a form of physical exercise to keep the body healthy.
Jonathan and his team are continuously finding ways to make children part of society in their everyday lives.
Children play the tambourine during their monthly intergenerational service in one of Jonathan’s congregations.
Children are also given the opportunity to open with prayer during weekly worship services. The number of children attending their services increased tremendously and has motivated them to build a facility for children’s ministry purposes exclusively. The building is planned to be completed in 2021.
For Jonathan, it is mandatory to realize the roles that they as mentors and teachers fulfill in the lives of children. Through the training and assistance Petra Institute provides, they are able to effectively invest in the livelihoods of children.
Some of the trainees during the course
Walking with wounded Children in 2019
Jonathan believes: “Children are the foundation of every community. If you build a strong foundation with the children, we will automatically have a strong society. The children are the next generation. Parents need to sit down with their children more than before so that we can preserve them for tomorrow.”
A week-long training for Children ministry workers in the Mampong Area in Ashanti Region in Ghana as part of the Real-Life Training session.
Petra Institute’s mission is to help build communities where children are welcome. This calls for changes in the attitudes and skills of parents and community leaders. The institute works in partnerships with local organizations, helping to bring about attitude changes and building capacity to the benefit of children, families, faith communities, and society. To read more, visit the Petra Institute website, here.
*This article is in collaboration with Petra Institute and all photos were provided by Jonathan Kofie.