Christian leaders in the country have underscored the need for Ghanaians to uphold and demonstrate the virtues of peace and love during the Christmas period.
They observed that coming from elections that produced mixed results, there was bound to be some acrimony, hence the need to use the Christmas to bury the past and forge ahead in unity, peace and love.
The Christian leaders who spoke in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic are the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC), the Most Rev. Philip Naameh; the President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Rev. Prof. Paul Yaw Frimpong-Manso; the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Cyril Fayose; the Presiding Bishop of the Western West Africa Province of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, Rev. Dr Hilliard K. Dela Dogbe; the Bishop of the Accra Diocese of the Methodist Church, Ghana, Rt Rev. Samuel Kofi Osabutey; the General Overseer of the Four Square Gospel Church, Rev. Francis Sey, and the Moderator of the Global Evangelical Church, Rt Rev. Dr Setorwu Kwadzo Ofori.
Naameh on peace
The Most Rev. Naameh said this year’s Yuletide had given mankind the opportunity to recognise God’s grace, love, peace and friendship, which should be developed by every human being, while shunning hatred.
“It is a moment of joy and celebration and not a moment of quarrel,” he said.
He stressed the need for Christians to use their influence to address some of the issues that had arisen out of the December 7 elections.
“We [Christians] pride ourselves on forming 71 per cent of the population of Ghana, and if we cannot have the influence to terminate this darkness that is hovering over us, then how do we expect to get more blessings from God?” he asked.
Taking a look at the COVID-19 pandemic, he said it was refreshing that the government had reacted very well and fast to contain the spread of the virus.
The Most Rev. Naameh said looking at the devastation caused by the pandemic in other parts of the world, Ghanaians could only thank God that the impact on the country was not like what happened in other places.
He called for the strict observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Closer to God
Commenting on how far God had brought the country, Rev. Prof. Frimpong-Manso said the commemoration of the birth of Jesus provided an opportunity for the people to get even closer to God.
“Christmas is a period of reconciliation; just as God is reconciling man to Himself, we too have to reconcile man to man during this period. Ghana has experienced elections, and in those elections, some won and others lost, but the nation remains,” he said.
Rev. Prof. Frimpong-Manso expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the aftermath of the elections and wished the injured speedy recovery.
For his part, Rev. Dr Fayose urged Ghanaians to have a sense of hope for the future as they celebrated Christmas.
He further encouraged the people to show love to one another.
On the elections, he said they had been free and fair, and that the only dark spots that came out happened during the collation of results.
“It is the aftermath of the elections that has become problematic, but I believe all hope is not lost yet. The CCG and other religious bodies and civil society organisations are working around the clock to find an amicable solution to the problem,” he said.
He advised party supporters to maintain cool heads and not disturb the peace of the country.
Rev. Dr Dogbe said this year would go down as one of the most trying and challenging in recent history.
Here in Ghana, he said, the period leading up to the elections had been quite tense and acrimonious.
“Post-election events have, however, been troubling; the needless and unfortunate loss of lives, the significant errors in the collation and declaration of results and allegations of fraud have marred an otherwise peaceful electoral process,” he said.
He mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated collateral damage, the loss of precious lives and the overstretching of healthcare systems as some of the dark spots that accompanied the pandemic.
Rev. Dr Dogbe applauded President Akufo-Addo and his team for the decisive leadership provided in steering the ship of state through the rather turbulent waters of 2020.
“Looking back on 2020, we have a lot to be thankful to God for. Our afflictions and troubles have been innumerable; we have been hard pressed on all sides, yet not crushed; we have been struck down but not destroyed. God Almighty has preserved, protected and brought us and the great nation Ghana through all the tribulations and storms of the year, and for this we ought to be eternally grateful,” he said.
In his submission, Rt Rev. Osabutey, who is also the Chairman of the Greater Accra Peace Council, observed that during every Christmas and New Year season, the most dominant message was peace.
“For us in Ghana, we need to thank God that despite reports of pockets of unrest and the death of some of our compatriots, and subsequent agitation by some of our political leaders, the general election was largely peaceful,” he said
He asked Ghanaians to recognise their mistakes and correct them for a better future, saying: “A man who never recognises his mistakes will never know peace.”
Sharing his views, Rev. Sey said Christmas was all about love because God showed love by sending Jesus Christ into the world to save mankind.
He thanked God for the peaceful conduct of the elections, a clear demonstration of the peace of God.
A disintegrated nation, Rev. Sey said, had no place in the Commonwealth of nations and so there was the need to demonstrate peace and love for the growth and prosperity of the country.
He, therefore, asked Ghanaians not to enter the New Year with pain and the grudge they bore others in 2020.
Rt Rev. Dr Ofori said Christmas should be a period for sober reflections.
“Just as we prepare physically to receive our guests, we should all be making frantic efforts to receive Christ and live for Him, as his Second Coming is imminent,” he said.
He appealed to those who were yet to receive Jesus as their personal Saviour to prepare their hearts to receive Him.
“As we are aware, Christmas brings good tidings. For this reason, let us share this good news with all and sundry,” he urged all.
He asked Ghanaians to let go the past as they entered 2021 and open up to a brighter future.
In his Christmas message, the Apostle General of the Royal House Chapel, Rev, Sam Korankye-Ankrah, charged Ghanaians to put aside their political differences and pursue peace.
“Once again, the year is drawing to a close and it is the season of joy, merriment and thanksgiving as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“On the other hand, 2020 has been a most troubling year globally. The world was hit by an unexpected pandemic, one from which we are yet to recover. Many lives have been lost and economies have suffered greatly,” he said.
He added: “ Locally, we have just came out of a season of political campaigning and national elections, the aftermath of which has seen pockets of violence and unrest in some constituencies. In the midst of all these, however, we must be careful to show gratitude to God for His mercies,” he said.
Rev. Korankye-Ankrah said as the world marked the festive season, Ghanaians needed to increase their national conscience towards works that were pleasing to Him.
“Against the background of our current challenges, I encourage us, as a nation, to remember the reason for the season — Jesus and what He stood for: reconciliation, peace and unity,” he said.