Tending to a new kind of flock

First published on: 29th June 2021

Luke O'Baka-Torto

Duke O’Baka-Torto grew up in Ghana where, as the youngest child, he was responsible for looking after the family’s flock. But even as a child he felt called to be a priest. Moving to Manchester 20 years ago, he resisted the call to ordained ministry, instead becoming a nurse in the NHS. He will fulfil his destiny on 4 July when he is ordained deacon at Manchester Cathedral, before serving his curacy at Belfield, St Ann.

"For several years I tried running from God but “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139: 7-12).
"I was born in Ghana and raised by Christian family. I am the third of four siblings. My formative years were quite exciting, but challenging. I was a shepherd boy from the age of 8, with the responsibilities taking care of the family’s flock by virtue of being the last boy.  

"Since childhood, I have always felt called to the priestly ministry of the Anglican Church, but the journey has been not always been smooth or straight. Many times I wondered and kept asking the Lord if I would ever complete this journey. Yes, the word of God assures me of this (Philip. 1: 6).

"The devil tried to deceive me, whispering doubts to my ears, “No you can’t!” I yielded to this deception, and for years I was running away from God, wanting to do my own thing.

"As a devout young Anglican, I moved to the Manchester in 2001 and attended a few Church of England services. I thought the God I knew and worshipped in the Anglican Church of Ghana was not here. So, I moved away from the Church (ran away from God) to pursue my career. I enrolled at Buckinghamshire University and completed my nursing training in 2004. While at University, God was still calling me to the priestly ministry of the Church of England, but I continued to run from God until, after 15 years of service in the NHS, I finally said “Yes Lord, wherever you lead me, I will go.”

"The last two years of my life have been quite strange. Somehow, excitement mixed with uncertainties. I have enjoyed my time at St Mellitus College NW, training and learning with other ordinands who come from a variety of the Church’s traditions which are different from mine. Yet, with St Mellitus’ “generous orthodoxy” approach, we have all learned to use each other’s gift positively. 
I also enjoyed my placement at St Margaret, Burnage. Although I was the only African, I felt well received and appreciated. I received as much support for my learning and development and equally I was given the opportunity to offer my experiences, gifts and calling to the church. Special thanks to Revd Matt Calladine and his team. Now, more than ever, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil.1: 6).

"I am excited to be a part of the people who have responded to God’s call, to be ordained by the Lord Bishop and be equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring God’s message of hope to His people."

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