If you walk down a particular business complex corridor on Sabbath mornings in Kent, Washington, you'll hear beautiful echoes of hymns — some familiar and some new to your ear.
Inside a storefront — converted into a church facility — you'll find the Seattle Ghana church family who enthusiastically welcome you with smiles and fist bumps. You'll soon realize the songs you've heard are in both English and Twi, a dialect of the Akan language spoken in southern and central Ghana.
Seattle Ghana Adventist Fellowship is one of 10 Ghanaian churches planted on the west coast of North America in the last 17 years. As of May 7, this faith community is now established as a church company of the Washington Conference.
Out of their own expense and desire to expand the gospel, Kwesi Opoku Boateng from Fresno, California; Gabriel Attach Nyarko from Houston, Texas; and Isaac Okyere Sarfo from the Bay Area of California, came to visit seven Ghanaians at Renton Adventist Church to discuss planting a new church.
"My first reaction was like, 'Whoa, there are other Ghanaians in Seattle? I had been in Seattle for almost five years but hadn't met many Ghanaians. [These three men] knew more Ghanaians in Seattle than I did.'"
The Pacific Ghanaian Adventist Fellowship (or PaGAF) representatives challenged the gathered Ghanaians to dream about what God could do in the Greater Seattle area. They followed up the invitation in 2016 by hosting a leadership conference in Seattle to provide further vision and support for planting a Ghanaian church.
"We met from family home to family home," recalled Nimako-Mensah, who along with his wife Jemimah first hosted five fellow Ghanaians. "We talked about how our mission is intrinsically tied to the Gospel."
Two additional pioneers in this church plant are George Akomeah and his wife Ama Boahemaa Akomeah. "George knows every Ghanaian in Seattle," quipped Nimako-Mensah. "Because of his connections, he played a pivotal role in recruiting Ghanaians to join the new church."
Soon, the house church model became insufficient for their sustained growing needs, so Akomeah worked his network and found a facility where the fledgling church plant could meet.
"You won't see the Akomeah family up on stage much, but they are very active behind the scenes," shared Nimako-Mensah. "Ama Boahemaa Akomeah orchestrates that her church family is well-fed every Sabbath. Wherever Ghanaians meet, there is always food."
The two biggest challenges the congregation faced were getting to know each other and getting to know the community.
As the church became involved in community outreach, they bonded and grew their community.
Outreach activities included sharing Christian literature at a Ghanaian festival in Seattle, distributing food boxes and hosting health fairs with community partners. The congregation has celebrated baptisms because of their outreach. And, due to expanding families, the congregation has grown from five children to 23.
With pastoral leadership from EuGene Lewis, Alonzo Wagner and Nathaniel Good, as well as lay pastor Anokye Boakye Acheampong, God provided the stability the church plant needed as it grew.
"It's amazing what God can do when you partner with Him," Nimako-Mensah said. "We recognize the blessings God has given us. God has given us an important responsibility to not only reach out to Ghanaians but to everyone. The Gospel breaks borders and barriers that humans naturally create. The message is for everyone."