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Thanks to cyberspace, cell phones, Twitter, and e-mail, reaching someone halfway around the world is almost instantaneous with very little face to face interaction.
There’s nothing wrong with using technology to your advantage, but that’s not always the way the Rev. T. Edward Kofi, director of African Christians Fellowship International (ACFI) does things. Yes, Kofi has a Facebook page, but he prefers to reach out in love.
“In the computer age, I’m still old school,” Kofi said. “The ACFI has become a mission that resolves around a friend helping a friend.”
And there is nothing wrong with saying thank you to those friends, either.
ACFI celebrated its 25th anniversary Sunday afternoon at Historic Lancaster County Courthouse with family, friends and supporters looking on.
“This is an opportunity for us to come together, reflect, celebrate Jesus and thank our friends for where we are today,” Kofi said.
When Kofi came here in 1986, his sole purpose was to raise the awareness level of what was happening in West Africa. He oversees the work of more than 700 full-time volunteer pastors, teachers, doctors, and nurses who evangelize tribes, aid refugees, plant churches, assist orphans and establish schools.
Kofi said the need there was so great the only way to meet it was to let go and let God and to do it one person at a time, just like Jesus did, and still does.
“When Jesus came to earth, he had specific callings – he taught, he preached the gospel, healed the sick, fed the hungry and ministered to the lost,” Kofi said. “What God has us do is minister to the total man. When we are born to this life, we need the care of others and care is everything.”
Since its founding, ACFI, has set up medical clinics in several African villages and towns in six countries. It also started a Christian-based fully-accredited school system for primary through high school in 2009. It operates orphanages and boys homes, as well as distributes relief supplies to people displaced by recent conflicts and civil wars. ACFI also operates the Daniel Hoover Children’s Village and Indigent Children on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, which has more than 300 orphans.
Kofi barely escaped that village in 2003 after troops loyal to former Liberian President Charles Taylor searched the orphanage looking for him.
After Kofi made arrangements with the U.S. Embassy in another country to channel supplies into the war-town nation for the orphans, Taylor placed Kofi on a hit list and issued orders to have him shot on sight.
Miraculously, Kofi managed to escape after hiding under overturned church pews inside a chapel at the children’s village. God’s house is always a refuge, he said.
“People are so blinded by Satan that when they do evil, they have no feelings,” Kofi said in a previous interview.
Despite years of peace since Taylor’s resignation in 2003, Liberia is still one of the poorest countries in the world with thousands of orphaned and indigent children in a country fraught with political instability.
“You think we go through tribulation, but look at what they (ACFI) have been through, and they’re still growing and going strong,” said the Rev. Roy Miles, pastor of the Church of Lancaster.
Miles, who met Kofi in 1986, said it’s important for those who assist the ACFI not to grow slack in helping them. He said the fellowship, which now includes 288 indigenous churches in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cot d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, fills a vital role in the Great Commission. Those who can’t help, Miles said, have a sacred responsibility to pray for those who can, as well as for ACFI.
“We are here to serve,” Miles said. “We sometimes forget that Jesus Christ came here humbly to serve, not be served. He gave us an example of what a servant is supposed to be.
“I’m challenged by their (ACFI) faith and commitment to God and what they’ve been able to do with very little,” Miles said.
Sunday’s celebration also honored several of ACFI’s most ardent supporters, including Helen Warren of Christian Services, Bishop Alfred Jackson of Tabernacle of Praise Ministry in York, Earl Wright of Fishing Creek Baptist Church in York and Miles.
Kofi hopes ACFI’s next 25 years will continue to reap the good seed that has been sown by the mission’s loyal supporters.
“If you don’t know where you are coming from, then you don’t know where you are headed,” he said. “We wanted to take this time to say thank you to all of our friends who have reached out to help us in love.”