Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat (Mark 3:20).
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables… (Mark 4: 1-2)
Wherever Jesus was, the crowds followed and gathered. People were attracted to Jesus because he taught with authority, had the supernatural power to heal the sick, drive out demons, and bring the dead to life. He was the Son of God, and those who believed flocked to Him in faith during his ministry on earth.
In an interestingly similar way, in Asikuma, Ghana everywhere we went crowds of children followed us….not because they thought we were Jesus, but because we were WHITE! In Ghana, we are called ‘obruni’ which means foreigner (just walk along the road for 20 seconds and you will have at least 10 people point at you and shout it out). The ‘foreigner’ factor alone was enough for the children to wait outside our hotel gate until we woke up each morning. They watched for us in pure anticipation of what was on tap for the day. The second we stepped foot onto the main road, crowds followed. If the children met us walking along the road they would stop whatever they were doing and walk along with us, even if they had to change direction.
From our last visit to Asikuma in March, I had already experienced the amount of time we would be spending with the children, and for the life of me I could not bring myself to play one more round of duck-duck-goose which we resorted to last time. For this trip, I had made careful preparations so that we could make the most of our time with them. Every day we spent a lot of time simply playing with the children and giving them attention. The girls LOVED having their nails painted! :)
For us, especially the women in the group, it was very easy to become emotionally overwhelmed with everything we were encountering with the children. For myself, I constantly prayed that each day I would ‘spend myself for Jesus’. I prayed that I would wind up in my hotel room every night, absolutely drained of all energy and emotion, with nothing left to give. I’ve come to learn that spending yourself for the Lord in this way brings such joy and adventure, like nothing else can.
I also had asked you all to pray that compassion would flow through us and extend to the people of Asikuma. I believe this prayer is what led one of the gal’s on our team to find the below verse on a day when she felt completely overwhelmed and smothered by the crowds that surrounded us every moment. She didn’t know if she could do it one more second. She longed for alone time. She wanted to be able to walk outside the hotel and just simply take pictures of the culture and emotions, without having anyone follow her. Curled up in her room, she was led to Mark 6:31-34 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Even when Jesus had carved out time for he and his apostles to retreat away from the crowds, they were followed and interrupted….by the crowds! And what was Jesus’ reaction? He wasn’t annoyed. He didn’t complain that he hadn’t gotten any rest or alone time. He didn’t run away and hide. He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. We were literally experiencing this exact thing. These children ran around in chaos all day, like sheep without a shepherd. Our time here was an exact visual picture of that verse. And, reading Jesus’ response gave us pure conviction and a sense of renewal as we asked God to enable us to respond in compassion to these crowds. Through that section of scripture, we were all kept in check and reminded that every single second here can be so purposeful, if we allow Jesus to work through us.
One thing that we did all see in the children is that they have such an eager desire to learn!!! A few times I whipped out my Bible to talk through scripture with some kids hanging around, and instead of kids leaving the scene, more kids joined the group so they could be taught! LOVE THAT! I used to be so out of my comfort zone when I had this many faces staring at me, but these kids have taught me to loosen up and not be scared of being a ‘teacher’. I actually get excited for these opportunities now!
We started calling this sight Jake and his posse! He had a handful of boys that stuck close to him every moment.
My group working on their creation pictures which was our topic for the second night...
Goats welcome at bible study. :)
We held 5 structured bible studies and corresponding crafts with the children, and they just loved them! Many of the kids would find us during the day and ask us when bible study would be again. Rusty & Amy taught the kids 2 songs which we practiced each night after we went through scripture. We often heard the kids singing the songs throughout the day as they walked along the roads....loved that!
Each night our team gathered back at the hotel restaurant for dinner, and we would invite anywhere from 5-10 village kids to eat with us.
So, as you can see, these children were a big part of our days and time spent in Asikuma. You cannot come here without falling in love with their joyful spirits and pleading affection. You cannot leave here without being changed by their open, vulnerable, humble, and sincere hearts. No wonder Jesus tells us, “….unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me (Matthew 18:3-5).” Sometimes kids make the best teachers.