Bediako, Matthew Ango
In the modern history of Ghana Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA), one person who has emerged as a prominent leader in the church's growth is Matthew Ango Bediako of Kootwea in the Amansee or Bekwae area of the Asante Region. He is an example of the power of Adventist education in forming a man for God's service. The Bekwae Adventist education system gave him a solid foundation in his future SDA role both at home and abroad.
As a youngster in Bekwae, Matthew Bediako was influenced by such godly teachers as the African-American, Johnny Johnson, who made the work of God very attractive and meaningful for young people. As a consequence, Bediako chose to seek college work and training for the SDA gospel ministry at the Adventist College of West Africa,--now Babcock University,--in Nigeria, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution. Upon graduation in 1967, he was immediately hired as an Adventist worker and stationed at his old compound of Bekwae as a Bible teacher. From that day forward, Matthew Bediako was a trailblazer and a role model for the youth in the church.
After a few years of active service for the Ghana SDA Church and some graduate studies in the United States, he began to rise in the world SDA Church system, less than a decade after he started as a Bible teacher at Bekwae in 1967. In 1975, Matthew Ango Bediako was elected president of the Ghana Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, --an accomplishment for a young man who was only 32 years old.
Early in his conference presidency in Kumase, Bediako worked hard to unify the SDA ministers and laity in a fuller commitment to the progress of the Adventist Church in Ghana. He called together a conference of the two groups within the church to get their pledge of support for him, his administration, and God's work. It was a successful meeting and brought renewed spirituality and cordiality into the church. A fund was instituted and church members pledged to contribute substantial sums of money to it for evangelism, church development plans and education for a larger number of Adventist youth. This meeting was the Prempeh College Conference of June 1975.
Two years later in 1977, Bediako initiated the formal inauguration of the South Ghana Mission out of the Ghana Conference of Seventh-Day Adventism in order to bring more efficiency into the work of the church in Ghana by decentralizing and giving more responsibilities to both ministers and laypersons in the gospel work.
Bediako also instituted financial support programs to encourage young Adventist pastors to pursue further education, equipping them for future service to the church. These programs enabled some pastors and their families to go to America for graduate studies. Also, more Adventist church schools were opened in Ghana.
In addition to his office duties Bediako took time off occasionally to conduct city evangelistic campaigns to win more souls for Christ in cities and towns like Kumase, Sunyani, and Ho. He was elected president of the West African Union Mission of SDA in 1980, field-secretary of the General Conference in 1985, General Vice President of the General Conference in 1990, and Executive Secretary of the General Conference in 2000. His rise to these positions was a triumph for the young people in the church in Ghana and in all of Africa because they felt the church should recognize them and give them positions of responsibility in its global evangelisation programs.
K. Owusu-Mensa, Ghana Seventh-Day Adventism: A History, (Accra: The Advent Press, forthcoming).
--------, Saturday God and Adventism in Ghana (New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 1993).
This article, received in 2001, was researched and written by Dr. Kofi Owusu-Mensa, Professor of History and DACB Liaison Coordinator at Valley View University, Oyibi, a DACB Participating Institution in Accra, Ghana.