Stories from Ghana 2019

Stories from Ghana 2019

On Friday May 3, I traveled to Ghana with a team of seven other men from the church: Daniel Gibbs, Chris Jones, Tom Lott, John Manyik, Tom Martin, Phil Nysewander, and Andy Richmond. We went with the goal of constructing part of a medical facility that serves an underprivileged area in rural southeastern Ghana. Six out of our eight team members had never served on an international mission trip before.

We landed on Saturday and drove from Accra, the capitol of Ghana, to a small village nestled on the bank the Volta River.

We woke up on Sunday morning and went to church. Our team split into two groups and visited two different churches. One went to an established church near the medical facility. The other visited a new church plant, whose building had no walls and was made of logs and a thatched roof. We had a great time trying to sing in a different language, attempting to dance the Ewe tribal dance, and enjoying time with the people. We debriefed when everyone got back to the hotel. Our feelings were best summarized by Daniel Gibbs, who said, “God just got a lot bigger.”

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

Nobody wants to die on a cross.

At my core, I am selfish. So are you. My default mode is to pursue what I think will make me happy. I’ve been this way my whole life.

When I was a baby, I would cry until someone fed me. I whined until someone would play with me. I screamed until someone changed my diaper. Then I got older, and I wanted to have the Adidas Superstar shoes the cool kids had. I longed to get a Motorola Razr cell phone at the same time my friends were getting them. When I turned 16, I begged my parents for the right to buy a 1969 Camaro and fix it up (thankfully, they said no).

Now I’m adult (or so they tell me), and those desires have not gone away. I still chase things that I think will make me happy:

·      I want to be first in line at the drive-thru because waiting annoys me.

·      I want to have a pretty lawn so I look good compared to my neighbors.

·      I want new Nike running shoes because mine have a hole in the toe and don’t look very cool.

·      I work hard to stay level-headed and logical even in an argument, because it makes me feel good to be the one who is “in control” and who gets the last word.

·      I try to be funny and friendly, because I want people to like me and I like being the center of attention.

·      I work hard and avoid interruptions because I feel happy when I get my to-do list done for the day.

These are just a few of the ways in which I try to make myself happy. I am selfish, and I’m always trying to find pleasure in satisfying my own desires. Selfishness comes very naturally to me. It is not natural, however, for me to willingly lay those desires down. I doubt it is for you, either. It is not natural for us to sacrifice.

Discipline

Discipline

Did you ever get disciplined by your parents growing up and hear these words, “I am doing this because I love you”? As kids when we heard these words, we would think, “Ok, if that’s love, could you love me a little differently?” :)

It is hard for us who live in a modern, affluent society to associate anything uncomfortable with love. Can discipline really be a component of love? How so?

One of the most famous proverbs in scripture is Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

If I spare the rod, how do I hate my children? We all know from experience that we as humans have a bent towards selfishness and disobedience. We also know that if we live pridefully and selfishly that we hurt ourselves and others. So, if a child is not disciplined, they will hurt themselves and others. That is why I would have to hate my kids not to discipline them!

The same is true of our Heavenly Father as He loves us.

Communication

Communication

There has only been one time so far in my life where I felt that I audibly heard God. I was lying in bed spending some time in prayer. It was a stressful season in my job and I was frustrated and grasping at how to handle things with a specific student. At this point, my prayer was probably more grumbling than anything else, but I don’t remember those details fully. What I do remember is that I was calm, spending time quietly listening to God, almost asleep, when I heard: “They are my children, too.”

I thought I was crazy for a moment. But here’s what I know to be true: 1. what I heard woke me up because of how clear it was and 2. what was said lines up with what I know to be true of God’s character. Following this, I found myself with a different attitude at my job. I believe that this was one way that God communicated with me.

Now, I know that God doesn’t always communicate that way. From my experience, that was the first time in over 20+ years where I heard something. But that doesn’t mean that He is silent.

Interdependence

Interdependence

Once upon a time there was a man named John and a woman named Jane who were married. Jane was John’s night and day, the breath in his lungs, his all in all. John loved Jane so much that he stayed with her all the time. He quit his job and worked from home so he could be with her. When she went to the store, he tagged along. When she went for a walk, John was right there. 

At first, Jane enjoyed being lifted up on this kind of pedestal. It felt good for a while to be needed so much. However, as time went on, Jane was not so much annoyed with John, as much as she felt sorry for him. As John continued to live this way, his soul shrank smaller and smaller. He became more petty and grasping with each passing day. Eventually, John became terrified at the prospect of being away from Jane. His fear led to anger, and his anger led to all kind of passive aggressive words and actions towards Jane. As the years passed, John’s soul withered under the crushing weight of his fear and anger until he passed away.