Ghanaian man calls North American missionaries "heroes"

Posted: September 22, 2010

By Amy Robertson

Dr. Solomon Aryeetey (left), with his wife, Leticia (right). Submitted photo.

"Hero” and “North American church” aren’t typically part of the same sentence.

But Dr. Solomon Aryeetey, a slight Ghanaian man who has devoted most of his life to medicine and Christian missions in Africa, thinks they should be.

“The best-kept secret in missions is North American missionaries’ contribution to Africa,” he said.

For decades, even though they were told they’d “probably” contract AIDS or malaria, North American missionaries would come to Africa share the Gospel. Many of those missionaries died—and Aryeetey calls them heroes.

“They laid down their lives so that Africans would live,” he said.

“Heroism brought about the birth of the African church.”

Aryeetey’s first missions assignment was in the desert of Mali, Africa. He practiced medicine under the shade of a tree in his yard, using a generator to sterilize his instruments and teaching young people in the village to give shots. In addition to his medical responsibilities, he and his wife travelled throughout surrounding villages—often hours away—to tell people about the Christian faith.

It was far too much for him, he told Pioneers, his mission organization in the United States. He couldn’t possibly do it alone. Could they send more workers?

They tried—but couldn’t find anyone to join him.

But the Lord gave Aryeetey an idea.

What about African workers?

Aryeetey discussed it with the directors of Pioneers, and they gave him their blessing to begin a missions organization in Africa.

He called it Pioneers - Africa, and today, they have 170 missionaries in 10 countries.

There would be hundreds more—but African churches, unfortunately, lack the funds to send them.

Aryeetey said he knows African Christians who feel called to go to countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Saudi Arabia—countries that North American missionaries find it very difficult to access.

“But an African doesn’t threaten anyone!” Aryeetey said with a hearty laugh. African workers know the language and the culture already. Many are doctors and teachers, and they yearn to go share the Gospel—but there is no money to send them.

I’m praying God will raise up North American churches who will see what I see.

The North American church, he said, has the opposite problem: an abundance of resources and not enough workers.

“Let’s put the two problems together!” he exclaimed.

“I’m praying God will raise up North American churches who will see what I see.”

It would take as little as $500 per month to support an African missionary family, he said.

“We can’t do this alone.”

Aryeetey is quick to say that North American missionaries are still immensely valuable in Africa, but they need a certain kind of missionary—one who understands what God is doing there.

Aryeetey recruits missionaries who will come alongside African churches to help give “movement to the momentum.”

North Americans have “a culture of excellence,” Aryeetey said, and he wants them to share it. He admits that North American missionaries have made mistakes—but if they come to help African missionaries, Africans can avoid making the same mistakes.

Aryeetey calls Africa God’s “ace”—He’s just waiting to play it.

Dr. Aryeetey will be the plenary speaker at 28:19, Briercrest College and Seminary's mission conference, from September 30 to October 2. Visit the 28:19 website for details.