Monday, January 16, 2012

Jake's Ghana Trip Journal ~ Day 5

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Each morning during this trip we have all been getting up with the rooster’s crow and enjoying breakfast together at 8am. Well that was not the case this morning. We did enjoy breakfast together, but it was not until after 10am. As we all shuffled out of our rooms our New Year’s bash of the card game phase 10 was still on most of our faces. No one heard the rooster that morning, and there was not much said during breakfast as we tried to shake the cob webs out since we knew God had great things planned for us today.

Following breakfast Chris, Tim, Doug, and Dan went out to continue their work on the library and school building. I went out to see the girl’s again and then to head into the village to meet people and see more familiar faces. Of course I had my crew with me with every step I took (in their sunglasses provided by Brittany nonetheless!).

I have come to love Albert, Fredrick, Manche, and Asare and will miss them greatly when the trip comes to an end. Typhanie, Nick, and Brittany also went into the village to continue to work on building long-term, sustainable relationships. Our hope is that the gospel of Christ can be something not just preached by some American Christian who is here one day and gone the next, but that we can truly take part in discipleship here – and that only comes through long-term relationships.

I know that many people are great at going into places and attempting to evangelize and share the gospel with everyone they meet, and that particular gift is something that amazes me when I meet those people. However, God has not necessarily designed me like that, and the more I study the continent of Africa the more I realize that evangelism within Africa has been extremely successful while discipleship has fallen by the wayside.

It seems that many Africans have accepted Christ as their Savior, but have never been discipled on what to do with the knowledge of Christ. They’ve never been shown how their life should overflow with the love that was poured out on the cross for all of us. Obviously this is not a problem only in Africa, but we have the same problem in the United States – allowing our lives to actually reflect the Christ who died for us. The difference is that in the United States this happens not because of lack of knowledge, but more because of our mere laziness, lack of trust in who our God is, and the constant reliance on the world’s wisdom. In Africa it is just truly a lack of knowledge. Sometimes a lack of literacy plays a part. Even more so, it is a lack of sustainable, long-term relationships with Christians from other parts of the world that have the resources to know who our God is and what His grace and power can do in one’s life. The great part about Africa is that there are so many people here who are thirsty to learn what to do with the knowledge of Christ. I enjoy walking life with people and sharing Christ as we walk along the roads. Each day when I wake up in Africa my goal is to walk with the people God puts in my path for that day. It might be through serving, loving, feeding, listening, laughing, or doing a bible study. Who knows how God will call me to share the gospel today, but I am sure He will give me ample opportunity to show His love and disciple the young people within the community.

The primary goal of our mission trips is to build relationships where we can disciple people on what Christ calls us to do while we have this short time on this earth. One of the great things about developing these relationships is that as much as we get to obey God’s word and disciple others, the people in Asikuma are teaching us just as much. They teach us about the purest form of joy, when all else is stripped away. There are many here who have nothing except the hope of what Jesus has promised in a life of eternity. Their lives are hard, burdened, difficult – physically and emotionally. And yet, they are so hope-filled and joyful. We can learn so much from them too.

I am so grateful for all the blessings that God continues to pour out on my life since He has let me see what He sees on a continent 6,000 miles away from the place I call home. It still feels like yesterday when I did not even know who Jesus was. It feels like just hours ago when I sat in church after Christ was revealed to me questioning why we have to go to the nations when we have so many people in our own backyards who are suffering. God brought me out of a place of such darkness and has given me a light for Christ in a far off land. The joy that fills my heart every moment that I am here in Africa is unexplainable.

Before we knew it, it was 1:30 in the afternoon and we all met back up for lunch at the hotel before heading back out again. After lunch I walked down to the library to assist wherever Chris could use my not-so-handy construction skills, which was not very many places. It wasn’t long before God pulled me away from the library to a different classroom at the school where I heard joyful kids singing praise songs to God.

As I peeked my head into the room I saw a couple of kids that I knew and I asked what was going on. They said it was Sunday school - at 3pm! This Sunday school session was the first one I had seen here with my own eyes. What a delight to see the local church investing in young lives for the sake of the gospel. This particular Sunday school class was a party to celebrate the New Year and praise God for his faithfulness in 2011, and to look forward to new blessings He will pour out on Asikuma in 2012.

The kids were singing praise songs at the top of their lungs and soon women from the community started showing up with food. As the women were setting up the food line; the pastor called me in to share whatever God put on my heart with the kids. I was not sure what to say as there were kids ages 5 -14 and the younger kids in the community typically do not speak a lot of English prior to going to school when they are 6 or 7 years old.

I simply shared with them how excited I was to be in Asikuma and told them that the reason I am here is because of my love for Jesus and what He did for me on the cross. I told them that God would call them to new places and have special plans for all of them. Then I prayed for all the kids that they would always have a heart for following Christ no matter where He calls them!

As soon as I got done praying more worship broke out and then it was time to eat. The church, which I came to find out, was the Asikuma Methodist church. They put together the small amount of funds they had in order to feed all the children in the church which was about 50. These kids got to ring in the New Year with full bellies.

I hung out with the class until they were dismissed at about 4:30pm and slowly made my way back to the hotel for dinner that evening. Prior to dinner we had planned on doing a bible study, but the hotel we stay at looked like it was to be the headquarters of the New Year’s Party in Asikuma. People began flooding into the hotel and the music was blaring at unsafe decibels with everyone dancing and singing. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before but I must say it was pretty cool to be ringing in the New Year African style.

At about 10pm we went back to our rooms. We found out that Tim was not feeling the best, so as guys do so well Chris, Dan, and I came into Tim’s room to comfort him. Ok we actually gave him a hard time and made him laugh even though he wanted to do nothing but crawl up in a ball on his bed. Before we knew it Nick and Typhanie walked into the room and a game of UNO broke out right there on Tim’s bed as he was curled up in the fetal position. I don’t think I have played UNO since I was 12 years old, but we had a great time. Our game of UNO did not conclude until a little after 1am with Tim’s snoring driving us all to our rooms.

Another day has come to end. 8am is going to come early and as always I am sure God has tomorrow beautifully planned for His purposes.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Beautiful thoughts Jake. And of course there is food with the Methodists show up! LOL! LOVE this post.