Wednesday, April 4, 2012


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.

Once a mob like this starts, it’s absolutely impossible to organize the kids into a nice orderly line and hand them each one and teach them to say thank you. These kids are used to fighting to survive, and when their instincts kick in it can seriously leave you heartbroken as you watch their neediness come to the surface. But then seconds after this mob I saw a beautiful moment when Joe was offering drinks to those who didn’t get their own water bag. And the gospel came alive. “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink”…..Lord when did we see you?.... “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:35, 37, 40~

There are certainly children in the village who capture your heart on an individual level. One day when we were out in the middle of Asikuma I noticed a little tiny boy sitting all alone along a concrete ledge in the hot sun. I watched him try to hold his head up, and realized that he was very lethargic and fragile looking. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to just go and hold him for awhile. So I went and scooped him up.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but this boy was very undersized for his age which I guessed was around 3 years old. He literally was the size of a 1 year old. This little guy was on my mind constantly in a haunting sort of way. On a different day I tried to go looking for him again but I never did find him.

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~

I get used to a lot of the cultural things here, but I will never get used to seeing little tiny ones left to themselves during the day. Or siblings that are no bigger than JJ, caring for their little brothers and sisters - sometimes all day long - so that their mothers/caretakers can work.

So many times the little ones trip and fall down in the dirt and scrape up their knees and there is no one there to pick them up or console them as they cry. And there are just so many children that you take one look at and know that they are really suffering. Like this little boy who was out with his 5 year old sister….she ran around and played while he sat under the tree in the shade.

Although he was in a dress, I saw that he was a boy when he was laying around naked in the dirt later on. If you look close you’ll see that he has the reddish hair line around his face which points to severe malnutrition, as well as poor skin condition and distended belly. God led me back to this boy on a different day which I will share about in a later post.

And then there are the hernias through the belly buttons. Another very common sight here – this has to be painful.

During our time with the orphans of Larteh we met a little boy who had burn scars covering his entire face and most of his scalp. We found out that he had fallen in a pot of cooking oil that was boiling over a hot fire. As we listened to the story being told by one of the women in the community she mentioned their hope that he could be adopted. Upon hearing that word ‘adoption’ JJ turned to me and whispered, “Who is going to adopt that little boy?” I answered, “I don’t know.” Then he said, “Well, we can adopt him. He can come to our family.” He was dead serious and needed no more time to think about it. He was ready to take him home on the airplane.

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.

There was one day in particular where we were confronted with children who had deep medical needs. One such boy, named Graham has a hole in his heart. We visited him and his mother because our foundation had donated the funds to get him an appointment with a cardiologist to see about surgery. Here was his original story:

“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.”

This poor boy had the most labored breathing, I feared every time he got through a breath that the next one wouldn’t come. His legs turn inward and are like jello, and he just collapses in your arms when you hold him. We’ve been able to pay the funds for him to receive the medication he needs to help his heart get strong enough for surgery.  From there we hope to be able to help him get the surgery he needs. Seeing little Graham in his need made me think of all the other little boys and girls out there in Ghana who will die of things like this because their family can’t afford medical care.

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.

This one especially got to Justice. I think that he was able to put himself in this boy’s shoes, and imagine going around day to day with that sort of injury – all because your family can’t afford the medical care to fix it. Since meeting this boy we paid for his cab ride to get to the hospital (our clinic in Asikuma cannot handle injuries like this) and an appointment to see about surgery. Because he had such a severe infection from living with the open wound the doctor has put him on medication to attack the infection first and we are told he is supposed to have surgery soon.

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.

We had 500 sacks of food, and gave out every single one. But there was one little smile out of the masses of kids in line that made the gospel come alive to me –

My sweet Yaa with her little half-smile. She stood in line along with all the others, stretching her arm in the air while waving it back and forth as I walked by with the sacks of food. Her expression said “Pick me! I need one! Don’t forget me!” As I handed her a sack of food and saw that smile a gentle whisper appeared in my heart from the Lord, “Take care of My sheep.”
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~


Barb said...

It looks like such an amazing place to be. I hope I can go and take our kids some day soon! Thanks for sharing!!!

kennedybw said...

Wow. Im so touched and inspired by this blog. Its a great thing you're doing.