Ghana Rock benefit on May 17 raises money for kids in Africa

Students at SouthLake Christian Academy will host a benefit concert – Ghana Rock – on Friday at Northside Baptist Church in Charlotte. The funds raised will be used to end child slavery and trafficking on Ghana’s Lake Volta.

The 7 p.m. concert, now in its third year, was started by Madi Vincent, a 17-year-old home-schooled student.

“I believe that worship can bring freedom,” said Vincent. “Ghana Rock is a place where I can share God’s love with others not only in Ghana, but also those around me here.”

After attending the Ghana Rock concert last year, Laureen Nelson, a math teacher at SouthLake, was impressed by the effort and work that had gone into the event, as well as by the number of SouthLake students that were involved.

“I walked away (from that concert) thrilled, knowing there were teenagers who were accomplishing lofty, hard things for the sake of others in the name of Jesus,” said Nelson.

This year, Nelson took on the role of National Honor Society faculty adviser at SouthLake and realized the Ghana Rock concert would be perfect for their chapter’s service project.

“We met several times in the school year and decided that the members would be the most help by spreading the word,” said Nelson.

They divided up the area and asked members to put up posters and pass out fliers, as well as to speak at their churches about the concert. Members will also volunteer the night of the event by selling T-shirts, giving out wristbands and directing parking.

“Other SouthLake students are volunteering, not just Honor Society members, because they want to help,” added Nelson.

This year’s Ghana Rock team is made up of 10 students, three of whom are seniors at SouthLake Christian Academy, headed by senior Kelsey Bansek.

“To be leading up the National Honor Society project at SouthLake means so much to me as I can share my passion for these children who deserve futures and hopes and my passion for Christ with those around me, as we spread the word of Ghana Rock together,” said Bansek.

The team works together on all aspects of the concert, from coordinating the volunteers to preparing the artists’ space.

Bansek said Ghana was chosen as the area of focus after Vincent’s inspiration.

“In Ghana, there are over 7,000 slaves on one lake, Lake Volta,” said Bansek.

Children as young as 4 are sold by their families into slavery and can endure up to 16-hour days of hard labor.

Ghana Rock partners with City of Refuge Ministries, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., to rescue these children and provide them with a nurturing environment and an education. Plans are being developed to educate the mothers in the region and teach them valuable job skills that will prevent them from resorting to the sale of their children.

“Not only does (City of Refuge) help the children, but they also have a goal of teaching the community that slavery is wrong,” said Bansek.

The theme of this year’s concert is “Rescue, Redeem and Revive.”

All of the funds raised will go directly to the City of Refuge. Since slavery is illegal in Ghana, the children do not need to be bought out of slavery. Instead, the teams work through a negotiation process. The funds will be used to rent a boat and provide the children with a safe place to stay, food and an education.

Although they do not have a specific monetary goal for this year’s concert, Bansek said, the group would like to rescue and support as many children as possible.

“In the past two years, almost $100,000 has been raised. The first year, God provided enough to rescue eight kids, and last year, there was enough to rescue 18,” she said.

Bansek said she can’t imagine her high school years without being a part of this cause.

“It has changed me for the better,” she said. “I’m glad God has given me this opportunity.”

Nelson is glad for it as well.

“I could not be prouder as a teacher to work with these students in such a worthy cause and to help them realize their dreams and help others using their God-given gifts and talents.”