Christian children in Ghana are subject to horrific abuse at the hands of their Muslim counterparts and "treated like second-class citizens", a missionary working in the northern part of the country has revealed.
A Christian ministry leader recently shared with Christian Aid Mission how Islamists from Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have recently stepped up support of indigenous Muslim missionaries in northern Ghana. The Muslim leaders they support incite their followers to have nothing to do with non-Muslims - and Christian children are paying the price.
The ministry leader told the story of one little boy, Amani, who was making his way home from middle school when a band of Muslim youths began following him. They eventually cornered Amani, calling him an "infidel" and accusing him of worshiping three gods. As he tried to escape, they tore his school uniform, tied him up, and beat him.
Similarly, Christian students whose father refused to convert to Islam were bullied by their Muslim classmates.
"They were raining insults against the parents and the whole family in a very abusive way, describing them as stupid, shameful, poor, and having no dignity," the director of an indigenous Christian ministry said. "These kinds of attacks take place at school compounds, parking lots, market areas, water wells, and other spots."
Like Christian indigenous missionaries, the Muslim missions have set up high-quality schools; however, unlike Christian indigenous missionaries, they do not allow kids of other faiths to attend. CAM notes that Christian parents would gladly send their children to the Muslim-run schools, as for some they are the only affordable ones they can reach.
"You have to be a Muslim to attend any of their schools or apply for a scholarship," the ministry director said. "But some Christian children have no option other than to attend the schools in their locality. They cannot afford to go elsewhere."
The Ghanaian constitution guarantees freedom of worship, and Christianity is the largest religion in the country, with approximately 71.2% of the country's population being members of various Christian denominations.
However, Voice of the Martyrs notes that church attendance is never more than 10 percent in the country, and Islam has been growing at a steady pace through birth rates, immigration and conversion.
"In addition, Muslims receive benefits such as funding for primary education and scholarships for study in Muslim nations," notes VOM. "In Muslim-majority areas, religious tension and persecution of non-Muslims are increasing."
Children aren't the only ones affected by growing Muslim extremism; CAM notes that the wife of one former Muslim found her goods were boycotted at the local market after her husband became a Christian.
"She had to travel to Tamale to sell her goods," the director said. "That makes life very difficult for local people struggling, who can hardly make ends meet. The converts are really treated as second-class citizens."
Additionally, those who convert from Islam to Christianity face discrimination, shunning, torture, and sometimes death.
"These new converts have defied all odds to stand for Jesus," the director said. "You cannot imagine all the difficulties and abuses they are subjected to, following Jesus Christ. But see them singing with pure joy on their faces. Praise the Lord!"