Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby Snakes or Gifts from God?

Kristabel, 3 1/2 years old

There are a number of children in the Lawra who have been born with major developmental delays. No one seems to be able to give definitive answers to questions such as, "Why did this happen?" "What could have been done differently?" "What do we do to help this child?" The closest thing that I get to an answer is there was poor nutrition of the mother during pregnancy & no prenatal care. The children have no muscle control when born. They are like a wet wash rag, very limp. Most of these children are not welcome in their home villages. The Traditional beliefs are that these children are born as snakes and they should live as the woods, where, some are actually left to die.

Linda, age 2 1/2

Praise God that He doesn't see these children that way. And, neither do some of the parents. You have met Ebenezer in the past. He has the biggest smile in the world!And, Kristabel's parent's see her as a gift from God! Many of these children do learn to move by themselves, using their arms and many do learn to walk, but years later than normal.

Kopog, 4 years old

Pray that God will give wisdom & understanding as we try to help these children in whatever way possible. They are unique, unrepeatable miracles of God. Their lives have meaning and purpose. I pray that others will see God in them!

Gifty, 6 years old

Sunday, June 26, 2011

All Hope is Gone!

This is a picture of Bernice when she was 4 years old. She was a happy child, walking, talking, playing, even going to preschool! She was a typical little girl, the joy of her parents.
Then, about a year ago, when Bernice was 10 years old, something happened. Her mother doesn't know what. It seems that almost overnight, Bernice could not walk, could not talk, was not able to play or do any of the things she had been doing. She can't even bend her right leg at all. Who or what robbed her of the rest of her childhood? No one knows. There are not any medical personnel in the Lawra area that can give her parents any help, any hope for their child.

I know that "Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness..." But, How does that answer questions of a parent, especially if they don't know Jesus? How do parents deal with "malformed children" (the term used here in Lawra) in an area where there is such a stigma placed on families and children such as these? It is believed that if a child becomes like this, the spirits have been spoken about wrongly or the parents or child did something to displease the spirits and this is the result.

My God is bigger than all of that. My God could heal Bernice, if He so chose. He could do it immediately. He could do it through medicine and therapy. Or, He may do even a bigger miracle and give this family the hope of Jesus Christ. He may become their first love, their Lord and Savior. My prayer is that God will use me and others to help Bernice and her family not only physically, but would give them a spiritual healing also. May the Father be glorified!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Imagine No Malaria

As an American, living in the United States most of my life, I never gave malaria much thought. But, now I live in Ghana. And, malaria is a deadly disease, sucking the life out of children and adults every day of every week of every month of every year. Taking preventative medication is not 100% preventative. Neither is sleeping with a treated mosquito net. They definitely reduce the risk of the disease, but they are not 100% fool proof. I know from experience. I had malaria last week. Before I realized I had malaria, I thought I just had a bad attitude, I was being lazy. I needed to "suck it up" and write my sermon, do my laundry, etc. I was sick for 2 1/2 days before I realized what was going on.

I live in an area where when the outside temperature is in the mid 90's, it is a cool day. I have often wondered if I would ever be cold again. Then, malaria struck. I was freezing! And, an hour later, I was sweating so much, my clothes were drenched. I didn't want to do anything, just lay around. Food just did not sound appetizing. Then, I'd feel fine for awhile. The next thing I knew, my temp was over 103 degrees.

I have access to medicines, to mosquito nets, to clean drinking water, to ice when I was so hot, to medical care if I need it. So many of the people I live around do not. They don't have so many things that I take for granted because I do have access to them just because I was born in America.

Please, please, I beg you, pray for the elimination of this disease. Provide nets and medical care for those who can't afford it. And, do it all in the name of Jesus, so the Father may be glorified in all we do for the eradication of malaria. malaria!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Annual Conference - Ghanaian Style

This week is the Annual Conference of the Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Church. I have always loved going to Annual Conference. Yep, I'm one of those "weird ones" that enjoyed it. I like the fellowship, the worship & doing the business of the church. What I don't like is long winded speakers and just attending to "rubber stamp" items that have already been decided.
In Ghana, things are a lot different. We met at at a church, not a college campus. There were 100+ people, not 1800. Seats were assigned for each "society" (church) or circuit. Laity meetings were held outside. We stayed at local guest houses (hotels), many with shared toilet & shower facilities. And, when a person was speaking, he/she must be ready to answer some very pointed questions asked by the bishop!
Meal preparation was done by members of the church...three meals a day, for over 100 people everything cut, sliced, diced, stirred, prepared by hand and cooked over a wood fire.
The pastor spouses met every day, too. They are so spread apart in the Northern Diocese that this was an opportunity for them for fellowship, study and to learn a few new skills. Here, it is widely accepted that if you are traveling & need a place to stay, you can find a place to sleep at the pastor's house. So, hospitality is expected from the pastor's family!
Some days were hot & the meetings long. These two young boys did what most of us wished we could do! Imagine being relaxed enough to sleep on the hard ground!
So, to my friends at Grove City this week, enjoy! Do the business of the church without getting involved in the "politics" of the church. And, in it all, may Christ be gloified!