January 11, 2024

Ghana Camporee Attendees Saved from a Burning Bus

The Pathfinders lost all their possessions but walked away unscathed.

Solace Asafo and Bernard Afful, West-Central Africa Division, and Adventist Review
The bus carrying a group of Pathfinders from Kumasi to Accra in Ghana burned on December 24, but no one was injured. [Photo: West-Central Africa Division News]

When 50 Pathfinders all packed and ready for the West Central-Africa Division (WAD) Camporee in Accra, Ghana, boarded their bus in New Tafo, Kumasi, they never dreamed they would be caught in a burning bus and have the miracle of walking away unscathed. On December 24, 2023, Ghanaian camporee delegates ages 10-15 traveling from Kumasi to Accra were saved from death when their bus caught fire and burned.

For the 50 Pathfinders and their leaders from the New Tafo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kumasi, it was all excitement when they boarded the bus to attend the fourth WAD Pathfinder Camporee, held December 24-30.

“The day started normally with enthusiasm and the vibes of coming to Accra, the big capital city of Ghana,” Old Tafo youth ministries director Raphael Kusi said. “To participate in the camporee was all the Pathfinders were looking forward to.”

According to Kusi, who was on the bus, they experienced some challenges even before the fire. “We started our journey at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday,” he shared. “We faced numerous challenges with the brakes and tires of the bus a few hours later. But these issues were fixed, and the journey continued.”

Not long after that, the children started complaining of a smell of smoke in the bus. As the intensity of the smell increased, the driver stopped the bus. That was when the miracle began to unfold, Pathfinders leaders said.

“The driver got off the bus and inspected the tires. Apparently, he discovered one of the tires was on fire,” Kusi said. “He calmly called me and told me to get the children out of the bus so he could fix the tire.

“When I told the children to get off the bus, some of them were reluctant, but I persuaded them to do so. They got down thinking it was a normal stopover, so they left everything they had in the bus,” Kusi shared.

Because the driver did not mention there was fire on the tire, there was no stampede. “We only saw the fire when we were all safely out of the bus,” Kusi said. “What was initially deemed a minor setback escalated into a fire that burned the bus and all the personal effects of the campers. Attempts to save some personal effects failed.”

In a viral video shared online, the shocked and trembling voice of a child could be heard saying, “Awurade, Awurade, eiii,” which means, “Oh, Lord, Lord!” in the local Akan language.

The children watched as the bus was engulfed in fire, burning all that they had. Choosing not to let adversity hinder their spirits, however, the group boarded other buses and continued their journey. The shaken but grateful campers finally made it to the camporee grounds at Valley View University campus in Accra. They thanked God and donors, including union directors, pastors, friends, and Old Tafo church members, who assisted them to provide for their basic needs.

According to Ashanti Central Conference youth director Abraham Kofi Anane, what happened was nothing short of a miracle. “The bus and the bushes around them were all burning; yet, no child was hurt,” Anane said. “I can only say it was thanks to God.”

“We believe that God called His angels to duty to protect each and every one, including those who attempted to save their bags,” Kusi added.

Leaders emphasized that the group of Pathfinders lost their belongings but joyfully attended the camporee. “They found the treasure in the Word of God. And the best is, they have never regretted attending,” leaders said. “On the contrary, they went back home on December 31 full of joy and grateful to the Lord for His protection.”

The original version of this story was posted on the West-Central Africa Division news site.