When we say crusades in Africa, we don’t mean series of intermittent military campaigns sanctioned by various Popes in the Middle Ages, from 1096 to 1487 in which millions of people especially non-Christians lost their lives.
Crusades in Africa refer to a Christian denomination organizing an event to draw crowds of believers and non-believers into one place usually a park to hear the Word of God with the sole purpose of bringing many to Christ and in modern times, showing forth the Power of God through the working of miracles.
Ghanaians just like the other Africans are notoriously very religious. Festive activities and other programmes usually begin with an opening prayer either by a Christian minister or an Imam, and there is also the pouring of libation by the traditionalist. Religion, be it Christianity, Islam or traditional has dominated our national life for the past five decades. Christianity which is the main subject of this article has undergone many changes since Ghana attained statehood.
The Orthodox Christian churches led the evangelization crusade in Ghana in the 19th century onwards. These religious denominations were led by Europeans and the impact of these Christians institutions cannot be over emphasized. The late 1970s witnessed a second wave of religious crusade led by Ghanaians. These Charismatic churches for the past two decades have been making headlines with their healing and deliverance services
The Advent of Christianity in Ghana
By the mention of Orthodox Christian Churches in Ghana, one refers to the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Basel (now Presbyterian), Bremen or North German (now Evangelical Presbyterian) and Wesleyan Methodist Missions. Since the advent of these churches in Ghana at various times, these Christian institutions have contributed in varying dimensions to the cultural, economic, moral,social,spiritual and political transformation of the people of Ghana. The Catholic Church is one of the mainstream Christian religious missions in Ghana. In fact it is the first mission that was established by Europeans on the Ghanaian soil. This was done at Elmina (El Mina-the gold mines) in 1482 by some Catholic priests who accompanied the Portuguese immigrants who arrived in the Gold Coast in January 1482 to build Fort St.George (Sao Jaogo), the present day Elmina Castle. However, in 1642, the Calvinist Dutch proscribed the Catholic Church. This action was necessitated by the capture of all Portuguese possessions throughout the West Coast of Ghana between 1637 and 1642. The presence of the Dutch (1637-1872) in Ghana forced Catholicism into recession for two hundred and thirty eight years. The Catholic Church re-emerged in Ghana in May 1880 thus becoming the last of the major Christian denominations of the 19th century to be established in Ghana. The Rev.Frs. Auguste Moreau (33) and Eugene Murat (31), both French national and from the Society of the African Mission (S.M.A) are credited with the re-establishment of the Catholic Church in Ghana. After establishing a mission station at Elmina by 31, March, 1882, the S.M.A missionaries decided to extend the Catholic faith to Kumasi, the capital of the Asante state. They would, in due course spread the Catholic faith to other communities (Ahiable-Addo 2001:2). However, this intention was not possible and it took the Catholic missionaries twenty eighty years to found a formal church in Asante.
Before the re-entry of the Catholic Church in to the evangelization field, other religious denominations had already established their bases along the coastal regions of Ghana. One of such religious missions was the Wesleyan Methodist, presently the Methodist Church of Ghana. In terms of membership strength and geographical reach, the Methodist Church is the second largest church in Ghana.
Orthodox churches have now been overshadowed by Charismatic churches.