A fruitful friendship
When a team of eight NNU students and their faculty sponsors arrived at the home of Rev. Frank Lantei Mills in Accra, Ghana, for a medical mission trip May 2013, they had the privilege of meeting one of the most charismatic and active leaders in the Church of the Nazarene. Moreover, they saw the reunion of two brothers in Christ—Frank and NNU Associate Professor of Theology Dr. Joe Gorman—whose friendship has supported a multitude of ministries to the people of Africa.
The team arrived only a few days after the birth of Frank’s daughter, Annie—who is named after Joe’s daughter—and a few days after Frank’s return from visiting the churches of the North Ghana District, of which he is superintendent. Frank’s wholehearted devotion to his family and his service to the Church mean balancing extraordinary circumstances from leading the 115 churches on his district—he travels 24-hours one way on several dirty, mechanically-challenged buses twice a month to visit them—to supporting his own four children and another eight children that he and his wife feed, clothe and educate in their home. Frank’s friendship with Joe has become a major support to him in both of these endeavors.
In fact, balancing commitments to both family and ministries led to Frank’s first encounter with Joe—an encounter that would prove life-altering for both men. In 2000, Frank received a scholarship to Africa Nazarene University (ANU) to study for a bachelor’s degree and ordination. Around that time Golden Church of the Nazarene in Colorado gave its pastor, Joe Gorman, the opportunity to teach at ANU during a sabbatical. Neither of these men could have imagined how God was about to work in and through them.
Frank had been at ANU in Kenya for a year while his wife, Hanna, and young son remained in Ghana. Suffering severely from being separated from his family, he was beginning to doubt he had truly heard God’s voice calling him to get his education. While teaching at ANU, Joe learned about Frank’s situation from other concerned classmates. Joe sought out Frank and encouraged him. Joe also felt called to raise the funds to bring Frank’s family to Kenya for the duration of his education. Being reunited with his family completely changed Frank’s mindset; he finished his education, was ordained and returned home to Ghana ready to continue his ministry.
This trip to Africa and meeting Frank changed Joe’s life, too. “After I returned home to Colorado, Frank and I continued our friendship through email. We quickly became fast friends and eventually like brothers. It was completely a God thing how our lives became interwoven.” Joe established his own organization, Compassion for Africa, in hopes of doing more to help support ministries in Ghana and other countries.
Joe began encouraging Frank to continue his education beyond the undergraduate level, believing that Frank possessed the skills to be a great leader who would need as much spiritual training as possible to help him deal with the wide range of challenges he faces. Knowing Frank would be resistant to leave his growing family—he now had two more children, JoeMarcus and Gorman—Joe suggested he consider an online master’s degree from NNU.
The accessibility and flexibility of NNU’s online graduate program helped Frank overcome huge challenges like sporadic Internet service, a growing family and busy ministries that took him regularly from one end of Ghana to the other. He graduated with a master of arts in spiritual formation in 2012. “I believe that my education at NNU made an enormously positive impact on me and the ministries I am involved in. NNU helped to bring out the potential in me and to effectively put my faith into practice like never before. The various leaders under me are benefiting from the rich experience I gained from NNU as I find various ways to pass it on to them as we serve together.”
Frank serves in countless ways, many in conjunction with Joe’s organization, Compassion for Africa. In addition to Frank’s role as superintendent of the North Ghana District of the Church of the Nazarene, he is the Nazarene Youth International Coordinator for the Africa West Region. “I am teaching pastors in both Accra [urban] areas and Ghana north [rural] areas. Under my leadership and partnership with Brother Joe, we are building chapels, digging wells, educating girls and boys, providing small-scale businesses for vulnerable girls, women and some boys, advancing micro loans to farmers, administering the church, providing clinics and schools in undeveloped areas in the villages, helping widows and children develop income projects, planting new churches and winning souls for Jesus.”
The ripple effect started by the friendship of these two men of God will last for generations. NNU’s first mission trip to Ghana is just one of several ways that wave is continuing. The mission of NNU to spread the love of God around the world through alumni, faculty and students is summed up in Frank’s tribute to Brother Gorman. “Hanna and I decided to name our kids after this great God-given brother because he showed us what true love is within the church. Our kids’ names will serve as a testimony to how God can work perfectly through people; how God can minister true love to people across the world through fellow humans.”