Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Privlege

A couple of times this past week I was in
situations where the people in the class/group were asked if anyone felt led to pray or wanted to pray aloud. As usual, everyone in the group was engaged in a deep study of their hands or their shoes. No one spoke up and said, "I will, let's pray!"
I find this a little disturbing. As I travel throughout the world, working within other cultures, I am convicted of my own sin, my own pride, my own feeling of "what if I say the wrong thig?" Brothers and sisters in other countries readily take up the privelege of prayer, of going before the throne of grace to worship, to speak on another's behalf, to give thanksgiving. They aren't afaid to pray in a group, because, after all, they aren't praying to impress me or anyone else, they are talking with their Friend, their Savior, their Lord, the Person who is there for them every moment of the day, every day of their lives. What a lesson!
One of my recent prayers for myself was to be more bold in my faith, to speak up more, to pray with others more, to take advantage of those God given opportunities. Prayer is a privlege that we need to take advantage of...we need to exercise that privlege daily, numerous times a day, keeping our eyes on the One to whom we speak. We will then know a closeness to the Lord when we take the step of faith and speak out in prayer!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Where Do I Go From Here?

Since I returned to PA from my trip to Ghana I have been wondering, "Where do I go from here?" Ankaase felt so much like home, sometimes even more than my apartment does. Yes, there were bugs, big ones, yes, there was a mouse swimming in my toilet (I have a picture to prove it) and cows in my front yard. But, after a month I still wonder, "How are things at the hospital? Is the floor put in at the library? How is Pastor Clement doing? How many kids were at reading club? Who preached on Sunday?" I look at the clock and wonder what is going on in Ankaase.

I marvel at the fact that God has placed this on my heart. This isn't what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to live in Khabarovsk, Russia for five years. But, God's plans for my life were a little different from mine. I came back from my visit to Khabarovsk disillusioned. I rarely spoke about the trip. God had a different place to use me in ministry. I've been doing that through the Global Resource Team in Russia, Peru, in the US and in other countries. The point is, God is working in my life. Leading me to places where I never dreamed of going.

Now, all I dream about is Ghana. I look at my clothes in the light of, "Will this be useful in 85 degree weather?" When I go grocery shopping I think, "I'll have to pack some of this - you can't buy this in Ghana." And even yesterday I bought something and then though, "I'll just save this for when I go to Ghana." Is that where He will be taking me for the next chapter of my life? I'm not sure yet. I ask that you will pray with me that I would hear the leadings of the Holy Spirit and then act on them no matter where they take me. After all, the adventure in Him!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ambassadors for Christ

This is an amazing group of people. They call themselves Ambassadors for Christ. They live in or near Ankaase, Ghana. In April 2006 a group from Kentuckey went to Ankaase to conduct a Vacation Bible School for the children of Ankaase. When the Americans went home, this group decided to band together to continue the work that the Americans started. Since then, they have held monthly rallies or activities to use as a platform for evangelism of the youth in the area. They have also started a reading club to help the kids better read and comprehend English, the national language of Ghana, but not the first language of the area.

While I was in Ghana, I worked with the Ambassadors. They all have full time jobs and most have families. Yet, while I was there, we visited six Christian Churches, six primary schools, held three trainings, held a spelling competition, had a Vacation Bible School for 400+ children and had reading club twice a month on Saturdays from noon until 4PM.

You have to realize that for these people to go grocery shopping, have access to the internet and a miriad of other things, they have to travel at least an hour on a crowded tro tros (van) and carry everything back with them on the tro tros. It takes hours for even the simplest of chores. Yet, they have chosen to give up their "free" time for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. They are an amazing group. I wish you all could have met them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Pastors

Yesterday I received a phone call from one of my pastors. It was the third call that I know of in less than three weeks. These guys are amazing! They have challenged me and given me opportunity upon opportunity to speak boldly about my faith. We have had discussions about the Bible, Billy Ghrahm, missions, Africa, and any number of topics. They keep me accountable in spiritual matters, health concerns and in every day life. They opened their churches to me whenever I needed to get away from the world and be in the sanctuary spending uninterupted heart to heart time with the Lord. No, they are not Pastor Brad Neel and Pastor Chris Kindle of Concord UMC (although those guys are great, too.) The pastors I am talking about are my two Ghanaian pastors, Pastor Victor Anderson (Methodist) and Pastor Clement Forkuo (Assembly of God.)
Receiving phone calls from Ghana is not something that I've ever expected or dreamed of. These two servants of God spend part of their day at the Ankaase Methodist Faith Healing Hospital preaching the Word of God, going on Prayer Rounds, talking with patients. They each have a congregation in Ankaase and Pastor Anderson oversees 12 Methodist Churches. Yet, even in the midst of their busy schedules, they find time to personally visit people in the area (by walking) and "pastor" them. They are part of the reason that Ankaase is home to me. They have gone over and above what most people would do to make a person welcome in their church. Every Sunday there was a capsule version of the semon in English so that the two of us who didn't understand Twi would still be hearing the Word of God proclaimed. Thet also made sure we knew the Scripture references and hymn numbers. I learned so much about humble servanthood from these two men of God. I may be in America with Pastor Brad and Pastor Chris as my pastors, but Pastor Anderson and Pastor Clement will always be my pastors, too.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Home. We all want to be at home, to feel at home. But, as I traveled to Ghana, I wondered, "Will I feel as if I'm at home?" After all, I would be there for two months.

Ken Medema has a song entitled "Home." It mentions all the things I think of when I think of being home. Home is a place to hang your hat, a place to spread my clothes, a place that is safe and warm, a place to stand and shout, a place to sit and cry, a place to think things out, a place to wonder why. Home is a place where I can scream, a place where I can dream, a place to sleep in peace, a place to be revived, a place for growing old, a place to face my death.

Is it really possible to feel at home, to be at home half way across the world in a culture that is so different than the one I live in? Yes, it is. I have come to the conclusion that home doesn't have to have 5 rooms and a bath. It doesn't have to have a couch, comfy chairs, a television, microwave, bedroom set or even a toilet seat (although I do appreciate the fact that I do have a toilet seat!) It doesn't have to have a closet full of clothes and shoes or a closet full of sheets and towels or even space for stuff that I "might need." All I need for a place to be home is to know that I am in the will of God. Sometimes that isn't easy. Sometimes being in the will of God is a journey and not a destination. It's during the journey that the concept of being home is hard to grasp at times.

I'm on that journey now. I'm living here in the states, but, my heart is in Ghana. As I seek God's will for my life I am home, but I want to know the earthly destination. Where will I be in a year? In two years? In five years? I hope that the answer will be, "at home, in God's will."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hassles of Progress, Peace of Simplicity

The past three days have been filled with hassles. I need to get a newsletter out by the 15th of the month. That in itself is not a problem. The problem came when I discovered that it would be a lot cheaper to print the color copies myself than to pay to have them done (about $400.) So, I purchased paper and ink cartridges. The problem started when my computer didn't have enough "virtual memory," whatever that is. And, since I had so many color pictures in my newsletter, the memory filled up rather quickly causing the printer to run very slow. So, I decided to copy the newsletter and not print it from Word. That was much better. But, I could only program the copier to run 9 copies at a time. So, I needed to stay near my desk/printer/copier. If I ran my computer while I was copying, things again went VERY slowly. (A computer geek friend will work on my computer this weekend.) Anyway, several ink cartridges later, my newsletter is printed! But, I found a typo. Let's just pretend a spelling completion is something Ghanaian.

I took the newsletter to church to have it folded. The machine kept taking anywhere from 2 to 4 sheets of paper at a time. Plus, some were very nicely folded into acordians. I ran out of envelopes and had to pick up another box while at church. And the hassles will continue until this is finally in the mail.
While in Ghana, life was so simple. You either had electricity or not. You had water or not. Each day began with sun up and ended at sun down. There were no computers (at least not for me), no folding machines, few envelopes, no mass mailings. Life was simple.

The day started with Scripture and prayer and Bible study. Then, a simple breakfast and getting ready to walk to the hospital for devotions and prayer rounds. After that, sometimes a visit with a friend or a Bible discussion with a pastor. Next, walk home and prepare for my next sermon - without the help of any of my study Bibles. Many afternoons were spent in Scripture and prayer or visiting the kids at school or possibly walking back to town to go to the market. Cooking was simple, laundry was done by hand, garbage was buried or burned. Life was at a simpler pace. If one thing got done, it was a good day. The focus was not on how much one got done, but on the people you saw, spoke with, worked beside. People cared about people, invested time in relationships and were honest and not superficial.
Simplicity. Relationships. Peace. I love life in Ankaase. I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

An Amazing Christmas

Today numerous Christians around the world celebrate Christmas. I am, too. I am celebrating by having family and friends over because I was in Ankaase, Ghana for Christmas on Dec. 25.
I had a special prayer for Christmas this year. I hated the holiday season, especially after I was divorced. It seems every place I would go I would see families together...husbands and wives, children. Many people say, "Christmas is for the kids." My heart would hurt because of the losses that I've experienced in life. And, no matter what I did, the hurt was still there. Oh, it wasn't as strong as it was at first, but, it never went away...until this year.
I prayed that this would be the year that God would do something new in me. I prayed that my spirit would be refreshed and made alive this holiday season. And, it was. Because of the ministries I was involved in while I was in Ankaase, I was constantly in the Word of God. I had the opportunity to preach four Christmas sermons (without even a study Bible with me.) The worship services at Freeman Methodist Church were amazing. (Rev. Anderson is pictured at left. This was during the Christmas eve service.) Ghanaians worship with their whole body, with their entire being. To worship in entire freedom is an experience I will never have here in the States. Christmas wasn't about me, it wasn't about gifts or decorations, it wasn't about what the kids want, or even having family close by. Christmas is about THE Gift, God's one and only Son, the Word made Flesh and Dwelt among us.
God didn't speak to me in the wind, in the earthquake or in the fire. He spoke to me in the still, small, Voice.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My First Blog Post!

I've read blogs for quite a while now. It's how I stay connected to people and what is happening at home when I travel. I've often thought about starting a blog. But, it scares me! I'm not computer literate by most standards.
Tomorrow, in church, we will be praying one of my favorite prayers. It's John Wesley's Covenant Prayer. The entire covenant service is amazing, but it's the prayer that grabs my heart. I challenge you, not only to read the prayer, but to pray it, meditate on it. Make it your covenant with the one and only living God.
I am no longer mine own, but Thine.
Put me to what Thou wilt, rank me with whom Thou wilt;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for Thee or laid aside for Thee;
Exalted for Thee or brought low for Thee;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and heartily yield all things to Thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and Blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine and I am Thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.