Adinkra are traditional symbols that pass on the wisdom
of Ghana and West Africa.
Greetings from Ghana! Please let me thank you for your devotion and support of the work in Ghana. It is difficult for me to put into words the deep sense of gratitude and affection that the Ghanaians feel for you all. It is a tremendous encouragement to them to know that those in the US are thinking of them and concerned about them and their spiritual growth. I thank you for allowing me to experience this first hand.
Many have asked about how Ted held up given his recent throat cancer and radiation. Ted did great! He was tired as the days wore on. The travel to the North and back are difficult. And, I can say first hand, the cancer had absolutely no effect on Ted’s insane driving!
For Ghanaians in the North, life is hard. This time of year especially, it is hot, dry, and dusty. As the cool Harmattan winds from the Sahara pass away March and April bring intense heat. One day we met with a village (Sanguli) where the temperature in the shade reached 120°F. In the sun the temperatures could reach easily 140°F. Emmanuel, one of the Ghanaians who traveled with us from the south (Takoradi), said if you brought those from the South to the North of Ghana, they would all return home in a week. For the Northerners, this is home for them. For the most part, they know nothing else. To us, the conditions are rugged and tenuous, but the people are content, happy and share the same warm spirit as other Ghanaians.
Our trip began on Feb 16th. Our goal was to help strengthen the existing churches in the north. In the past several years hundreds of souls have been baptized and churches have been established. These churches are young and need time to develop and grow. We understand that the church grows one individual (stone) at a time (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-5) in one location at a time. So, we pray, as we aid these areas that have been established men will rise up and go to new places to do establish new congregations. That is what has happened in the past in the North. There are four men who minister to the seven churches that surround Bunkpurugu.
Part of doing mission work is knowing when a virtue can become a vice. It is a virtue that people from the US are received with open arms in Ghana. The people and the culture are open and receptive to us. However, when we see large numbers turn to the Lord, we want to proceed with prudence. Our goal is never to convert people to our own personalities, but to the gospel of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-9). If Africans are responding simply because we are white men or because they are seeing a movie depicting the life of Christ, they are responding for the wrong reason and we have failed them. So, it was a great comfort to know (especially in my own mind) that the church is growing in Ghana and people are being attracted to the message of the saving gospel and not the messenger. It is our desire simply to aid them in planting and watering. As the scriptures say, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV). And, we enjoy seeing the increase that the Lord has provided. The churches in Northern Ghana around Bunkpurugu are now seven in number and we estimate the membership is around 1000. Thank you for your part in these efforts over the years!
This year as part of our ongoing commitment to the northern efforts, we were able to purchase two motorcycles to be used by the preachers. Last summer a church was established over in the next country, Togo, in a village called Pauk. It’s quite a distance from the other churches. The motorcycles will help as the four ministers attempt to attend to the needs of the seven churches in the North.
Another blessing this year was witnessing the drilling of a well by the Church of Christ Rural Water Development program. In our country it is easy to take for granted this precious resource. However, in Ghana, a woman may spend 25 hours a week traveling as she walks for water (4 hours a day). Several gallons of water she will carry on her head for a 2 hour journey back to her home. She will drink, do laundry, cook, and bathe. The water is not always pure. When a well is drilled in Ghana you are giving a woman 20+ hours of her week back and you are sparing her the grief of losing her child to water borne illness. To date, various individuals have supported the drilling of seven wells here in the North. They cost between $5,000-$6,000. This time of year is when the well drilling is active. In the summer during the rainy season, the trucks are too big and too heavy and get stuck more often. We’re thankful to see people aided physically as well as spiritually.
On Monday (9th), Bill will be leaving with a group for Takoradi where they will conducting the annual lectureship at the West Coast School of Preaching. At the same time, Ted will be leaving with a group for Yendi where they will be spending ten days working with Royce & Cindy Reynolds, Samson Laar and others. From the 10th-20th they will be conducting mobile clinics (see article above); doing evangelistic work in nearby villages and following up on work that they did previously. This year the Venice and Orange Street churches are helping drill well to provide safe drinking water for a village (next issue) and the group also hopes to follow-up on that work.
Sunday (14th) - Wednesday (16th) Bill will be conducting a gospel meeting in Tema and doing the live radio broadcast each morning. Ted will return to Tema on Saturday, 21st. During his last week (Monday, 22nd - Friday 27) he will be working with a number of churches in the Eastern Region, following up on previous work and checking on the progress of several building programs. On the back page there a number of these projects are listed. We are seeking to raise $17,000.00 for the campaign. Some of these monies are needed in the next several weeks-so that they can be forwarded to Ghana ahead of time.
Each trip brings with it various requests for aid. You wish you could help every instance. We were able to aid in several areas this year. We left funds for Niipaak, as well as four young preachers he works closely with in Bunkpurugu. Niipaak is older in the faith and has been trained more extensively. He speaks their language and is a great encourager to these four preachers (Kojo, Francis, John, Nemont). We left some money for building and construction in Nyare. We left some money for general benevolence. From my understanding, Niipaak at times has 15 people living in his home. There is one widow and seven orphans he has taken under his care. Shortly before our arrival, one of the orphans died from a brain hemorrhage. So, we wanted to leave some funds for them. Also we left funds to help a lady with her hospital bills who without help in future could be denied medical attention. When we stopped in Yendi, we left some small funds for the men with Leprosy. We left funds for some of the preachers in the south (Owusu, Quansah, Seth). Additionally, we left support for the Radio program that is broadcast on 10 stations in Ghana and 2 in London.
Before we departed from the Bunkpurugu area, the churches gathered together for a joint service that Sunday morning. In attendance where two village chiefs; one now a member of the church. To God’s glory, that morning there were 17 baptisms.
While in the North, on Saturday evening, we spent some time in food and fellowship with Niipaak and the preachers in the North. As, I talked with them that evening, I thought, “God, why was I born in the US and these men here?” Questions such as these are difficult to avoid when comparing our plenty to their poverty. And while I may not have a complete answer, what I do know is that God places some talents into each of our hands (cf. Matt. 25: 14ff) and he makes us managers of those talents. While we encourage the Africans, the Africans encourage us. Whether African or American our refuge is in the Lord. The Psalmist said, “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (Psalm 62:7 KJV). Each time I go and travel to Ghana, I come back with a greater sense of humility and thankfulness.
Each time I leave it seems more difficult to leave my family. And each time I go, I come back weary, but it’s a good weary. My cup is running over and I am ever thankful to be a Christian! Like the Psalmist said, when the Lord is our Shepherd, our cup overflows (Psalm 23). Surely goodness and mercy have followed us and I can’t wait to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Thank you for all your efforts in this trip!
And in all may God be glorified,
( 3 John 5-6).
"Thank you", to all who encourage us, pray for us and support us in this work. As we work together - it is my prayer that God will bless our efforts richly to His glory and the saving of many souls.