Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Heart Warming Moment

Last Sunday I worshipped at the Bethel Methodist Society in Lawra. I sat near my friends Lydia and her 7 month old son, Albert. I wanted to hold Albert and, when I reached out for him, he reached out for me. The two of us spent most of the service together.

At one point in the service, worship songs were sung in Dagaare. And, when that happens, people begin to dance, praising God with their whole being. (After all, this is Africa!) Lydia was one of the women who went forward to dance. And, at that moment I was awe struck. Here is a woman who is HIV positive, a single mother, who chooses to praise God instead of cursing Him because of her life circumstance. This is what faith is all about. My heart was warmed at the sight and I was praising and thanking God.

Later in the service, the Pastor asked if anyone wanted more from God in their life  to come forward. He asked for people to come forward if they wanted to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. And, during this time, Lydia went forward. She prayed. And, she repeated the "Sinner's Prayer." Whether or not Lydia understood what was going on, I don't know. God does. And He will work in her as she makes herself open to His voice.

I am trusting that seeds have been planted and sown. I am grateful for what has taken place. And, I pray that God will use me to help Lydia grow in her faith. It is another opportunity for reaching out to expand the Kingdom of God. May He find me faithful.   

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Change is in the Air

It seems as if in life, things are always changing, nothing ever stays the same. Some changes are more obvious than others...a move, a birth, a death, a new job, going to a new school, a graduation, a marriage...Other changes can be more subtle as they develop...a change in attitude, maturing in thought, word and deed, a stronger faith, a deeper relationship...

Lately, I have been contemplating the changes in life. Not all have happened yet, but, "Change is in the Air." Akos, who lives at the Children's Centre will be going away to Senior High School in the fall, her younger sister will probably go back to the village to live with extended family. Two of the triplets are walking, the third will be walking soon. Then, it won't be long until their family moves back to the village. If we don't have more children to live here at the Centre or if we don't change our focus, our numbers will be below five. Then, two close friends are actively seeking employment or schooling which means they will be leaving Lawra. It's great for them, but when it happens, I will miss them.

So, what do I do? I am partnering with Sarah, a VSO worker from the UK to do a communication workshop for handicapped children and their care givers. This will help me to assess abilities and needs. And, with Sarah's connections and abilities, I have a weath of information and experience to draw from. I have always wanted to work with the "Malformed chidren." This will get me more involved. And, when I return from the USA in December, I want to buy a motorscoter so I can go to the nearby villages and help these children in their own surroundings. Communication, help them have a bit of "normalcy" in their lives, to help them be productive. It won't happen over night, it will happen a baby step at a time. A couple of us want to start a women's Bible study. The problem is that we are never in Lawra at the same time! Plus, the odds and ends that people have sent me, even as a last minute thought, those things have opened up avenues of faith sharing. Changes have been happening. Ministry focus may be changing a bit. I pray that I will be open to ALL the changes God has in store for me. He seems to open doors where I haven't even seen a door. So, stay tuned and stay open minded. God has change in store for me...and you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Sacrifice to...

A week ago, I was at the river with some friends. It was the day after Easter and there is typically a big Easter Monday picnic there. But, when we arrived, no one was there. People had been encouraged to picnic at the park in town since there was rain during the night and because of the drowning the previous week. But, most of us were not local Ghanaians, so we ended up at the river for some of our festivities.

As  I was walking around, I noticed a big pile of feathers. So, I asked my friend what they were from. the reply was, "There was a killing here." I said, "What?" "There was a killing, a sacrifice." The local people who are part of the Traditional religion believe that the man drowned because in some way, the god of the river was unhappy. So, the man's life was taken. The sacrifice of fowl was to appease the god of the river so that there would be no more deaths and that fishermen would enjoy a safe and prosperous fishing season.

Scripture says:
6 It isn’t sacrifices and offerings that you really want from your people.
 Burnt animals bring no special joy to your heart.
 But you have accepted the offer of my life-long service.
Psalms 40:6 (TLB)

I pray that the people in this community will come to know the LORD God Almighty and worship Him alone...and offer the sacrifice of :"life-long service," bringing others to Christ. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where Do I Put My Trust?

I have several friends, both Ghanaian and American, who have asked me to think twice, if not three times, about traveling on the bus to and from Accra at night. Armed robbers lurk around some of these roads during the darkest part of the trip. A few times, I traveled a day or two after robberies during which lives were taken.

The bus I usually travel on is an OA bus. This company schedules several buses to leave within a half hour of the first to the last so that the drivers and mates can keep track of each other and help out one another if needed. Oh, and they have a policeman with an AK 47 sitting in the front seat. So, I have felt pretty safe.

Shortly before leaving for Accra, Razak traveled at night. The vehicle in front of his bus - not a bus, but an open truck with people crammed in it - was robbed. About six people died. He did NOT want me to travel at night. But, I told him of the number of buses traveling together and about the police, not giving it a second thought. Until...

Until my return trip from Accra. We were all seated on the bus. The driver was pulling out of the "station." And, I realized there was no AK 47 with a policeman attached to it. can this be? How can this happen? Then, a thought hit me...I do not trust in chariots, or gods made out of stone or even AK 47s. I put my trust in the LORD.  And, I settled down to a quiet, uneventful trip north to Wa. Praise God!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Something to Think About

Recently, I have talked with a few people who have been very surprised that I live in Lawra by myself. They have asked me if I am afraid. Actually, living in Lawra is probably safer than living in Accra. My Ghanaian friends readily agree. And, they have all stated the same reason for this safety that I enjoy...they have all said it was because of the Traditional religions in the north. People in the north believe that if they take something that doesn't belong to them, or if they harm someone, that the person who is the victim will call a curse down on the offender. The biggest curse, the one people are truly afraid of is that someone will call on lightening to strike you. So, since there is so much Traditionalists here in Lawra, it is pretty safe. But, I wonder...what does all of this have to say about the Christians? No one had mentioned a place was safe because so many Christ followers live there and they are following in Christ's footsteps. Hmmm...something to think about.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter - Holiday or Holy Day?

Happy Easter, everyone! Today is an important day for those who follow Jesus. Yet, even among Jesus followers, there is a wide spectrum of how people celebrate. As I was reading various FaceBook posts last night, I wondered what has happened to us as American followers of Jesus? Now, don't get all upset, I know there are exceptions to what I am about to say. I even posted some "cute" Easter stuff on FB. Yet, what caught my attention was all the gift giving...Easter baskets, candy, new clothes and MAJOR toys. I am part of that culture, too. I like to spoil kids when I can. But, why can't we give our children these gifts just because we love them, because God has blessed us and we want to share the blessing, without connecting them to such an important date/remembrance of our faith. I wonder, do parents spend as much time talking about the risen Lord and what Easter really means as they do taking time to Easter shop, cook, dye eggs, etc.? Does how you spend your time reflect what you believe about this day? Does mine?

Here in Lawra people celebrate the Holy Day by worshipping the one, true God - if they are followers of Jesus. They celebrate victory over death. They celebrate the fact that even though on Friday things looked impossible, but today, Sunday, a miracle happened - we follow a risen Savior. People will have Easter picnics tomorrow. They will visit with family and friends. But, today, the message is this: Christ has risen. He has risen indeed! Today is a HOLY DAY!