Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill treat them. The foreigner must be treated as your native born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (NIV)
This is how you have treated me all of these years…and even before I moved to Ghana. I had never met Rev. Lawrence, but he welcomed me into the Beka family almost two years before I arrived here. Little did I know just how big my Ghanaian family would be.
I came to work with the Children’s Centre-the OVC. And, during my first year, Rev. Dery was my Dagaare teacher…he wasn’t a Rev. yet. Learning a foreign language is not one of my God given gifts and I would often fear my next assignment. Dery would come to my house and he would say, “Today you will pray in Dagaare.” Oh, I sounded like a three year old praying! Once, when he asked me to describe a picture, I THOUGHT I said, “Jesus is eating with the children.” What I actually said was, “Jesus ATE the children.” Dery pushed me out of my comfort zone and into my learning zone.
God did the same thing. I was comfortable being with the children at the OVC. God had other plans. I became a Caretaker at Kalsagri and was put on the preaching plan. This forced me to spend plenty of time in the Word of God.
I have been Caretaker at Kalsagri and Kunyukuo and have preached at most of the Societies in the Circuit. I have seen people take off their juju and place their trust in Jesus Christ. I have seen people come running to the Lord because of a dream they have had in which He called to them. I have seen people so excited to read the Word of God in their own language for the very first time. And, I have seen people rise up out of the congregation and become leaders of their church. And, it’s not because of anything I have done. It’s because of the Lord, drawing people to Himself. In all of this, my Ghanaian family expanded, having brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles in so many villages.
I will always consider Kalsagri my home village even though it is not the home village of the Beka clan. Kalsagri was where I was first a Caretaker. People there welcomed me with open arms. They had a strong love of the Lord. I have always said, “If I die in Ghana, I want to be buried in Kalsagri.”
I have always wanted children and grandchildren of my own. I have never birthed any children. Yet, God has given me plenty of them here within the churches and in the community. The calls of “Makum, Makum” is music to my ears – most of the time. Boniface, Pius, Hassan, Rueben …just to name a few. I have seen my grandchildren of all ages learn to read, become nurses and teachers and most importantly, I have watched them become men and women of God.
Deciding to return to America was not an easy decision. But,ing is I know I won’t be going alone. My Ghanaian family will be going with me – in my heart.
The longer I lived here, the greater my desire grew to just walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their veranda, play ball, throw water and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time and freedom to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as
simple as it seems. When someone comes into a community as a missionary, it is human nature to want to do something big…build a school, build a hospital or a library, start a big programme. But when that happens, life gets filled with meetings, with looking for cement or zinc for the roof or wondering when the electrician will come. All those things take away from the time I am able to spend with people. They prevent me from walking the streets and greeting others. It is difficult, not to have plans, especially for an American. We want to know when, where, why, how do I get there, where will I sleep, how long will it last. We want all of the very specific information. It is hard to let that go. It is hard not to be working towards some urgent cause, working for social progress and development.
But, I wonder more and more if the one thing, the more important thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell them your own. And to let them know with words, handshakes and hugs that you do not simply like them. But you truly love them.
And yes, I truly love you!