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Tribute by the Ghana Fellowship of Evangelical Students (GHAFES) in memory of Rev. Dr. Theophilus Bamfo Dankwa (aka “Uncle TB”) “…You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.” 1 Samuel 20:18b (NIV) When we established T. B. Dankwa Mission Fund & Public Lectures in his honour 5 years ago, the younger generation who saw the tail end of his student ministry referred to Rev. Dr. Theophilus Bamfo Dankwa, affectionately called Uncle TB, as our living ancestor. Now he assumes the role without qualification. Uncle TB entered the University of Ghana in his late teens with vibrant faith. He looked for and joined the University Christian Fellowship [UCF], a member of GIUCF/ GHAFES. For the next 31 years his life was intricately woven with the story of GHAFES and IFES. As a fresh student he began to assume leadership roles in the fellowship and became the President in the final year. It was during his era as a student that the first University of Ghana Campus Evangelistic Mission was held with the late Rev John Stott. He was part of that history making conference at the Presbyterian Women’s Training College, Aburi, in 1966 when GIUCF was birthed as a national evangelical movement. In fact, Uncle TB will not skip any Christmas conferences and “All for Christ Campaigns” which were held during the long vacations. Following his graduation from Legon, and as a teacher he found it imperative to invest in the lives of young people in Scripture Union groups and at SU camps. It was not surprising that he was invited to take up the role as first Travelling Secretary for GIUCF/GHAFES in 1971. He also had additional responsibility for the Fellowships in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  He was so selfless that he used his personal car, an Opel Kadett Caravan 1.3, for ministry rounds, visiting the campuses in Legon, Cape Coast, Kumasi, and Winneba.  He lived a simple life without ostentation and dressed simply and neatly. On his visits to the Fellowships, he normally stayed with the students– he slept in the halls of residence and ate at the dining halls /cafeterias. At conferences and at mission outreaches, he shared in the same life and routine of the students. No one “waited” on him. He was simply one of us! He was among his students as “one who served” as our Lord was among his disciples [Luke 22:27]. Uncle TB came along with students to plan and execute various mission outreaches on both the campuses and in the communities. He embodied the Mission of GHAFES, “Knowing Christ Jesus and making Him known”. In 1977, Uncle TB became the first Regional Secretary for Anglophone Africa.  He ended up spending 23 years of his life for the cause of missions to the university world, in not only Ghana but the entire continent. He became an icon representing African Christian student mission in the global evangelical world. He also had concern for the surrounding French speaking countries, specifically Togo. [You may know that the Republic of Togo and the Republic of Benin have the least evangelized people in Africa, south of the Sahara] Uncle TB was instrumental in establishing Groupe Biblique Universitaire [G. B. U] of the University of Benin (now the University of Lomé) in Lomé, Togo. He challenged students to study the Bible for themselves both personally and in small groups and apply it to their lives and gave them the tools to dig out its gem.  He recalled a day when a fellowship did not agree with his interpretation of a text. He said he left the meeting excited that his students were finally thinking through scripture. Years later one of the students confessed to him that he realized later that Uncle TB was right. He did not believe Christians in tertiary institution should be zombies. These became authentic Christians who lived distinct Christian lifestyles that they were nicknamed “chrife”. These will not lie or cheat, lived to the highest moral standards, a life of integrity. He believed that national development depends on people of integrity who love justice and compassion. They help the right and fight the wrong. Indeed, Uncle TB was an astute Bible teacher and evangelist. This tribute to Uncle TB would not be complete without the mention of an incidence at the 1973 annual conference at the Aggrey Memorial Secondary School, Cape Coast. He was speaking on the Holy Spirit when the next speaker, Hon. William Ofori Atta, aka Paa Willie, came in. He had been invited as a guest speaker and had come earlier as his scheduled talk was about an hour later. He came in walking, assisted by a walking stick. He mentioned later that he had been suffering from gout.  When it was his time to speak, Paa Willie walked to the podium without his walking stick. He told us to our amazement that the Holy Spirit ministered healing to him while he listened to the talk by Uncle TB. Oh the applause! Before he moved on to become the Regional Secretary for Anglophone Africa, Uncle TB made GHAFES a self-supporting organization, the first of its kind in African evangelical movements.  At the time, even most of the established mainline churches were still depending on external financial support. He was a coach, a mentor, a counsellor, motivator and encourager, and more to many African leaders. Perhaps a quote from a letter to the GHAFES National Director from Akwasi Addai Diawoo, a former President of the UCF, Legon and his wife Vicky, sojourners in Sierra Leone during our nation’s challenging economic years and now resident in London would make the point of Uncle TB’s legacy. “We have been blessed, inspired and encouraged, as direct beneficiaries of Uncle TB’s enduring ministry over the many years. He has been a fantastic role model, mentor and inspiration to us. African Christianity has the likes of “Uncle TB” to thank for the solid foundations that buttress the revival movements we dare to envision across Africa today and worldwide”. Uncle TB’s life is a testimony of an ordinary person who set out in faith to achieve extraordinary feats because he dared and believed in the extraordinary God. Uncle TB, rest well! Rest in Peace and be raised on the resurrection morning.

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