It takes courage, grace and strength to nurture and begin a vision, but greater still is the challenge to sustain this vision and to keep the focus. For 40 years now,Joyful WayIncorporated,Ghana’s legendary gospel music group, has ministered to many audiences all overGhanaand to a far extent abroad, pioneering good and quality gospel music with touching messages of the gospel. If there exists any major group with a rich history of passion for music as a ministry, Joyful Way Incorporated will definitely come to mind and this is owed to steadiness in ministry by the group ever since its inception and release of debut album, ‘Joyful Noise’ in 1978, together with a music evangelism focus that even established the group’s cells on tertiary and high school campuses.
For four decades, this group of ministers has remained evergreen, focused and relevant. For four decades, these young music evangelists have traversed the length and breadth of this nation – and nations abroad – spreading the fragrance and love of Jesus Christ wherever their feet shod with the gospel of peace have stepped. For 40years, this group has blessed their audiences and theChurchofChristwith numerous songs of worship, praise, encouragement, doctrine and instruction.
The group was formed in the hearts of young men and women in Mfantsipim, Adisadel and Wesley Girls, beginning in the year 1971. The founder of the group, Rev. Professor Emmanuel Lartey, recounted how the idea ofJoyful Waybegan as a thought impressed deeply on him whilst in prayer in October, 1971 in the lower dormitory Prefects Room, Balmer-Acquaah House, Mfantsipim. Brother Lartey, together with ‘Sir’ Joe (Dr. Joseph Quist) had began experimenting with creating gospel music with a piano and guitar, while waiting for their GCE ‘O’ Level results in 1970. ‘Sir’ Joe provided the guitar backing, singing and the needed degree of enthusiasm.
Soon, some of their mates from Mfantsipim and Wesley Girls, who had become friends through meetings at Scripture Union (SU) rallies, were recruited into this “experiment” and were meeting for practice. The group was named “Noise of Joy”, literally from the ‘noise’ they made! Back at school, in sixth form in their respective schools, they continued to practice and began singing at services in theCapeCoastschools. The first outing of “Noise of Joy” was the 1971 Easter House party atWesleyGirlsHigh Schoolwhere they sang and shared testimonies – obviously the first group to use guitars at an SU meeting. At this same meeting, they heard of “Evangels”, a group led by Brother Emmanuel Frimpong (Odas) made up of student from Adisadel and Wesley Girls. The two groups realised the common nature of their missionary thrust and explored ways to work together, to share their new-found faith in Jesus with their fellow students.
After much prayer and meditation, a deep impression dawned on Emma Lartey that the two groups should become one! He ran to share the ‘vision’ with the rest. Together with Evangel, they commenced prayer and fasting to seek God’s face on this matter. Soon the two groups were meeting together. What to call this new group? Once again, a 3-day fast was embarked on, seeking the face of God. It was at the vestry of WesleyGirlsHigh Schoolchapel and to Ellen Ampofo that a revelation came. It was this: JOYFUL SINGERS – simple and direct. On further examination, she shared that in between the two words, she had seen ‘something like a path’. The group was called Joyful Way Singers. A phenomenon was born, a vision was launched and God had found an army of ministers for His vineyard!
From this humble beginning, and armed with a passion to affect souls of their peers, the church and the entire nations, dedicated to prayer, fasting and waiting on God for anointing, these young ones set out on a nationwide tour in 1972, which took the group to Cape Coast, Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani and Tema. That was the foundation year of the ministry.
Four decades have gone by and the fruits of theministry of Joyful Waycontinue to be brought in.Joyful Wayhas come to symbolise quality, well-rehearsed gospel music. The group is associated with commitment to spreading the Word of God in the villages, in towns, in the schools, churches, wherever the word of God needs to be spread withinGhanaand abroad:Gambia,Benin,Germany,United KingdomandUnited States of America.
Joyful Wayepitomises the power of God that is available to willing hearts – both young and old – whose lives are dedicated to God and who have a passion to impact their generation. Almost every school campus has been impacted by the power music andministry of Joyful Way. Presently,Joyful Wayhas produced several high calibre Christian leaders all over the nation, and is still winning several people for Christ. In applying excellence in ministry, members of Joyful Way Incorporated also exercised same in their studies and professional careers, churning out teachers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, architects, financial experts, diplomats, ministers…the list is as endless as the global spread of its members and associates, present in each continent in the world.
Joyful Way Incorporated, this year, marks its 40th year of ministering the gospel of reconciliation, making a joyful noise of the Lord’s salvation, with the theme – 40 Years on the Joyful Way and Beyond. Joyful Way celebrates this milestone with the millions who have come to know the Lord through their ministry, who have been encouraged and strengthened by the members’ love for the service of God and their tenacity to hold on to the vision and mission of its founding fathers.
The key highlight of the year-long celebration which kicked off officially in April 2012 will be 40 events/programs, in line with the main mission of spreading the gospel of Christ. The events will consist of crusades, which started with the group’s annual Easter crusade from 6– 9 April, this time to Abesim in the Brong Ahafo regions and surrounding towns (Yamfo and Susuanso), partnering with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana; medical outreaches, outreaches to schools, seminars on effective music ministry, concerts and church visitations. Members and associates outside the country were not left out of the ministry of salvation, with their first program for Easter holding atElimPentecostalChurch, Brockley London, during Easter (7 & 8 April).
Through the years, the acknowledged pioneers of Gospel music inGhanahave continued to remain on the trail; actually blazing the trail and mentoring many groups in their wake. It has always remained a wonder to the many admirers who follow the exploits of Joyful Way how they are able to renew their membership and yet retain the flavour: the sweetness of their music, the deeply spiritual cords in their songs and, oh, the well-choreographed dances that go with their music.
Consistency has been the word used to describe the ministry of Joyful Wayover the years. The ministry has 13 albums to their credits, including hit songs like Osabarima, Jesus Thank you, Osee Yei, Begye W’ayeyi, Ose Soronko, Guanhwefo, Barima Yesu, Higher Praise, Nyame Ye Ohen, Dromo, Wonji Oyi and the award winning Ejaake Ehi.
Joyful Wayhas continued to remain relevant to its generation by being contemporary. The grace of God has been sufficient for the ministry through these forty years. In the coming years, the prayer is this: “Lord, we are your instruments. Use us to your glory!”
Happy, happy 40thAnniversary Joyful Way! And may you continue to be a blessing to the body of Christ, may you continue to impact the Christian leadership of this nation and may you be ever-fruitful. Occupy till Jesus comes!