There are a handful of Christian songs on the radio right now that have this line in their lyrics: Father break our hearts for what breaks Yours. Going into our trip, I felt like that lyric was the most appropriate prayer for our group. And on this trip we were confronted with more heart piercing moments than we ever have on any other trip. Some situations were extreme - such as the baby in the bush – others were subtle, yet still showcased the deep needs here. The interesting part is that in one moment you can experience something so awful that your heart literally sinks within you. Then you can walk about 10 steps down the road and be part of something so beautiful that you know you’ve just experienced God’s Spirit moving in a mighty way. This sort of roller coaster of awful–beautiful experiences was part of our everyday when we were in Asikuma. The emotions we felt seemed to contradict each other from one moment to the next – often leaving us drained yet also in a state of excitement as we anticipated God using us as His instruments and making our days purposeful. I think the depth of it all is also what seems to lift the black and red text out of the pages of my Bible and cause the gospel to come alive in Ghana in such bold ways. I see verses being displayed right in front of me in pictures so vivid that they feel engraved in my heart forever. I will try to explain a few of these moments the best that I can, fully knowing that these pictures and my words don’t really do the moments justice….
There was one day in particular in which we were out in the middle of the village and it was extremely hot. About every 5 seconds the street children were begging us for water because they were so thirsty. Joe from our group ended up buying a large sack full of bagged waters. But as he went to hand them out the kids began fighting and pushing and shoving each other because they were afraid that they wouldn’t get one.
On the same concrete ledge minutes later I was part of a beautiful moment as some of our little friends asked if I would get out the books I brought. The kids here crave any sort of educational materials they can get their hands on – especially books. They seriously beg to be read to. This group ended up wanting to practice their reading skills, which they did so out loud in unison. Hearing their sweet voices speaking truths about Jesus made my heart dance.
Felt the same way when a young boy named Evance sweetly came up to me and asked if I had brought my children’s Bible with me in my backpack. When I answered yes he excitedly asked if he could take it for awhile and read. With joy he skipped off to a little quiet spot where he soaked up the pages for almost an hour. And the gospel came alive. I tell you the truth, unless you change and 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. ~Matthew 18:3-4~
And then there are the hernias through the belly buttons. Another very common sight here – this has to be painful.
On a different day our family went to visit the baby that had been found in the bush. We sat and held him, played with his older brother, and pondered what the baby’s name should be. When we left to walk back to the hotel JJ turned to me and said, “Is that baby going to be adopted?” At that time we didn’t know yet so I told JJ that he would need to ask God about that. Then he said again, “Well, we can adopt him. We can take care of him and he can be in our family.”
I know that God will bring loving families for each of these little boys, but I adore JJ’s heart of concern over what was going to happen to these precious children turned orphans. Going into our adoption of Justice one of my irrational fears was that adoption was going to ‘ruin’ my biological kids and take away something that they deserved. Instead, adoption has GIVEN my children a living & active gospel that I could have never taught them with just my words. I am now getting the joy of watching God grow something beautiful in their hearts as they come to the realization that there are children in this world living in such need, and that we can do something about it.
“Little Graham is a boy of 1 1/2 years, born with a serious form of heart disease, and weak legs. The disease makes him unable to breathe normally and he struggles just to take his next breath. He is so sick and weak that he is still not walking nor crawling. Graham’s mother has just come to Asikuma to live with her brother since her husband has been without work for a long period of time in Juapong. She feared if she stayed where she was at her son would eventually die from his illness. She decided to move in with her brother to help with day to day living, all the while praying that God would work a miracle for her son.”
After visiting Graham, who had come to the house of our friend, we walked about 5 steps out the front door to meet this boy who had been living with a compound fracture in his forearm for over a year. You can see the bone sticking out there close to his wrist and that the muscle in his upper arm has wasted away.
In the U.S. for the most part you would have to be a doctor or a nurse in a hospital to encounter medical needs like this. But not here. You just have to walk down the road as these sorts of scenarios are everywhere, and out in the open for all to see. And in this the gospel comes alive yet again. When I see the diseased, the blind, the crippled, and the sick here along the dirt roads I can picture the awesomeness of what it would have been like to witness Jesus simply touch someone and heal them with his power. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”….Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. ~Matthew 9:1-2, 6-8~Sometimes these medical needs can make you feel helpless and inadequate. But there is one physical need in these people that we can instantly do something about: HUNGER. Our very last day in Asikuma we hosted a meal for the children in the village. We handed out sacks of food which contained a large serving of rice and two fish to each child.
And my heart whispered back, “Yes, Lord.”
Awful-beautiful moments. All mixed together and sprinkled throughout our days. Each trip the moments are different and our reasons for coming different. Our compassion gets a little deeper, the hurts feel stronger, and the needs seem greater. But one thing always stays the same – God’s hand is on display here. In every moment He can be seen. Clear and distinct. Showcasing that this is His heart. Confirming what these people have already taught us to be true….
Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.
~Saint Teresa of Avila~