“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” Isaiah 55:8
The words from God to His prophet Isaiah have often been preached and taught but not always fully experienced or understood. For FCA Ghana Director Vincent Asamoah, it’s a scripture that has greater relevance every day.
“There is no other way to explain what is happening here with this ministry,” he says. “It must be the work of God.”
Not much about Asamoah’s venture into sports ministry makes sense. For instance, he grew up in Ghana playing soccer just like the vast majority of kids in his native country. Yet today, his ministry utilizes basketball, a sport that he knew nothing about eight years ago.
That’s not even the craziest part of his story. The fact that Asamoah is a committed Christian seeking to serve his nation’s youth for the sake of the Gospel is its own miracle.
Asamoah was born into a pagan family. His father was a polygamist who had seven wives. Asamoah was the 16th of 32 children, all whom were expected to serve as laborers on the family farm. When he was 16, he left home and accepted Jesus Christ through the discipleship of a high school teacher and convert from Islam. Asamoah’s father did everything he could to discourage his son’s newfound faith.
“But I did not give up,” Asamoah says.
After more training from his local church, he eventually felt called to pastoral ministry.
“When I became a believer, I wanted to help others,” Asamoah says. “It’s always been my desire to be available for people who have gone through difficult things like I went through when I was a child.”
After starting a church in 1992, Asamoah desired more education and attended a local seminary three years later. In 1999, he pivoted into youth ministry as the national youth director for the Ghana Baptist Convention. By 2005, Asamoah took advantage of an opportunity to attend the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco. He spent the first year away from his wife and three children. He describes it as “the most difficult year” of his life. But when his family finally joined him in the United States, Asamoah enjoyed a luxurious existence in comparison to his humble lifestyle back in Ghana.
“It was like a paradise to me,” he says.
Living in America afforded Asamoah another unique experience. For the first time in his life, he received a front row look at the game of basketball thanks to his children’s participation in the Upward Basketball program at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco.
“That’s when I first felt like God was calling me into sports ministry,” he says. “After speaking with my family, my youth ministry professor and several other people, I became certain that it was God's call on my life. From that point up to this very moment, God has proved to me again and again that this is a divine call. For a person who knew next to nothing about basketball to establishing a thriving basketball ministry in a nation where basketball is not so popular must be the work of God.”
Asamoah’s ministry officially started in 2009 when he left a ministry job in the United States and returned to Ghana where he founded Shoot 4 Life. With virtually no resources at his disposal and nothing more than a rundown concrete court, he relied on friends, ministry partners, and God’s providence to build up an organization that was able to reach 500 children in one school. By 2013, Shoot 4 Life had expanded to five schools and was ministering to roughly 1,500 students each week. Asamoah and a group of volunteer coaches teach basketball during physical education class but always begin the session with a Bible devotional.
Until last year, Asamoah was still maintaining a full-time job while leading his team. But in July 2013, he left that position and took the opportunity to partner with FCA International and pioneer the FCA Ghana ministry.
“Shane Williamson came to Ghana to see what I was doing here,” Asamoah says. “He told me that I had something good going on. For someone who has been with FCA for 15 years to say they saw something good in my ministry, that was very encouraging to me.”
Williamson, FCA’s Vice President of Field Ministry, was surprised to learn that Asamoah had completed his degree at Baylor but did not stay in the United States, as so many do, and instead opted to return to Ghana.
“We witnessed firsthand the basketball court that Vincent had built, the only one in his city, and his organized ministry to young people,” Williamson says. “But more importantly, we saw real discipleship of coaches.”
It was Williamson who invited Asamoah to the FCA National Support Center in Kansas City, Mo., where he spent time meeting with FCA Executive Vice President of International Ministry Dan Britton and gaining invaluable training for the next steps in his ministry.
“Once you meet Vincent, you will never forget him,” Britton says. “His passion for Christ and sports ministry is contagious. Vincent has an incredible vision for Ghana. In a country that loves soccer, he has effectively used the game of basketball as a Gospel tool to reach young people in Ghana.”
Asamoah continues to seek open doors for expansion and new donors to fund the mission. In addition to his work during the school year, he reaches thousands of young athletes by putting on an eight-week basketball camp each summer that brings fundamentals and faith together. While soccer continues to reign supreme throughout Ghana, Asamoah is slowly seeing his unconventional ministry efforts bear fruit.
“I feel that God wants me to raise up a new generation of Christian leaders in Ghana,” he says. “I’m more convinced today than ever before that what we are doing here is important work. God’s favor has kept me going. This is what I believe He wants me to do. It hasn’t been easy, but God has been good.”
Five Facts About Ghana
1. Ghana has a population of 24.2 million people, the majority of which are Black African. The country contains over 100 linguistic and ethnic groups, including the predominant Akan group, whose heritage predates the 10th Century BC.
2. Of the major religions, Christianity is most prevalent at 71.2 percent. Islam is the second largest religion at 17.6 percent.
3. One of the most famous Ghanians is Kofi Annan who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997-2006. Other notable Ghanians are American-born film stars Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba.
4. Ghana relies heavily on its natural resources for economic stability. The country is abundant in industrial minerals, hydrocarbons and precious metals.
5. Soccer is the most popular sport in Ghana. Known as “The Black Stars,” the national team became the first African nation to win a medal at the Olympics when it took bronze at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. The team has won the Africa Cup four times and qualified for the World Cup three times (2006, 2010 and 2014). Ghana also made sports news when alpine skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong (a.k.a “The Snow Leopard”) qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
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