Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adoption of Christian: Update!

Almost 2 years ago now, on our March 2011 trip, I met a young boy in Asikuma named Christian.
Throughout the remainder of the trip God kept ‘bugging’ my heart about this boy, and as I soon found out, Christian was an orphan and had a very sad past of abuse and abandonment. Yet, what captured me about him was that in spite of his hard life, he had a light-hearted smile and an engaging spirit about him. Every time I was around him I felt God whispering to my heart that I should take action on his situation and find a way to help him. Once we got home from the trip, I decided to start with the obvious option of seeing if Christian was eligible for adoption, and go from there. As God would have it, over the next 6 months the social welfare investigation was completed on Christian, and he was indeed available to be adopted!

You can read the main posts I’ve written on Christian from our first meeting through his adoption process by following these links:

March 22, 2011: (The first day I met Christian) My Experience in the Schoolyard
March 23, 2011: The Boy Named Christian
May 2, 2011: The Boy Named Christian – Update!
May 13, 2011: Adoption Update Regarding Christian!
June 3, 2011: The One who Heals the Blind
August 23, 2011: Familiar Faces
June 7th, 2012: For the Boy Named Christian ~ Please
July 3, 2012: Christian’s GRACE fund: VICTORY!!!!!

At the same time that the social welfare investigations were going on to get Christian on the adoption track, God began hinting around to the U.S. family that He would eventually lead to adopt Christian.  He began whispering that He had another child for them. And when I say ANOTHER, I mean another! We’re not talking a family of 5. Or 6. Or 7. Or 8. We’re talking this….

Did you count? That’s right, the Litzke’s from Ohio have 15 children – 13 adopted from various countries….and they obeyed the Lord’s prodding and stepped up to adopt Christian, which will make him the 16th addition to their family!!! I previously introduced you to the Litzke’s here. Just a few months ago in October, Momma Litzke ~ Mandy ~ traveled to Ghana to meet her son Christian for the first time, and also used that trip to complete the next step of the adoption - filing their I-600 form with the Embassy in Ghana. Since October was also the month that our girls ended up coming home, my blogging was a little sporadic, and I never got to share the sweet moments of Christian getting to MEET HIS MOTHER! I mean seriously. Just saying that puts a lump in my throat. The joy in my heart of knowing that Christian is going to have a FOREVER family that lavishes him in love, and teaches him about Jesus is seriously one of the coolest outcomes I’ve ever been a part of in my life. I’ve grabbed all of Mandy’s photos and posts off Facebook that she wrote during her Ghana trip to meet Christian and I’m sharing them below. I know you’ll be able to feel the JOY of the moments!!!! [Mandy’s husband stayed back with their other kids during the Oct trip, but he will be the one to travel and bring Christian home once the adoption is completed. One of Mandy’s friends, Sarah, was starting a travel agency specifically geared towards missions, so she accompanied Mandy on this trip to Ghana to gain insights on starting her business.]

Mandy’s trip in her words (except for a few of my inserts denoted in italics).....

October 9th, 2012
WE JUST MET CHRISTIAN!!!! Spent the entire evening with him. Can I just say---THANK YOU LORD. What an incredible, sweet, kind-hearted, gentle boy. After hugging me for 5 min and then again another 5 he smiled and said..."I AM SO EXCITED TO MEET YOU!" (And it was all in the dark--no electricity. LOL I am bursting from the seams with joy and rejoicing tonight.

Christian and Mom's first day together (pic taken literally in the dark w flashlights and candles! What a memory tonight will always be!)
October 10th, 2012:
Another huge thanks to all our friends and prayer warriors. You bless US! It's been another great day. Time is short this evening and internet is limited. I-600 aapointment went smooth and quick--answer to prayer. (NOW we pray SHORT duration for approval and on to visa!) We were met at the door by Christian who just about knocked me over with his huge, gigantic hugs! We took Christian to eat (boy after my own heart--loves CHOCOLATE). Christian read his letters from his brothers and sisters and he smiled with joy! He just keeps saying "I am so excited and happy to meet you" We also met with one of our local facilitators and her beautiful 4 foster children and shared some fun items donated and picked up for them. Their smiles truly make you melt. Definitely will be leaving another piece of my heart in Ghana with our new friends.

October 11th, 2012:
Another full day! Starting backwards---Christian got to skype with a few of his new siblings and it was indeed a treat and a treasure. He is so excited to meet them all!

Visited a children’s home. This family giving their lives so selflessly to care for 12 children in addition to their own when they barely have enough for themselves. YET, his words to me before we had an amazing time of prayer together—“God will always make a way when our hearts are true, He is faithful and we have His joy.” Their needs are so great yet their hearts so full! (Sweet time for Christian as he reunited with a friend).

From there we had lunch and were off to visit Christian’s school (the school he attends now while living with his foster family) and meet his teacher (Head Master-such a humble man of God) and the wonderful couple (Pastor and his wife) that started the school after feeling God was leading them to do so. Visited with the children and the teachers and ended in another anointed time of prayer with Pastor Lee. Their desire is to gather computers to enable the children maximum access of educational resources and opportunity. Next to knowing Jesus---EDUCATION is the key for hope of better life and provision for the future. And in addition they have purchased land to open a school especially for the special needs and truly “forgotten children”. Full day filled with an array of emotions. We visit Christian’s birth village tomorrow. Covet prayers.

OH-IO. A new fan is born!
The next day they visited Asikuma (Christian’s ‘hometown’) but Mandy’s update did not go through b/c of internet issues. We had really been covering this day in prayer, because Christian had not been back to Asikuma for almost a year. You may remember that he is in foster care with our Ghanaian friends, Nana and Esi, who live closer to the capital of Ghana – Accra. Having been removed from Asikuma for quite some time, we weren’t sure how his emotions would hold up of being reminded of the heartache and memories that Asikuma holds for him. However, Christian endured, and was distracted enough by introducing his mother to his old friends and the places he used to frequent each day. Some pictures from this day…

Christian with his cousin who he calls his ‘brother’. Christian lived with this cousin and his aunt (who has disabling health issues making it complicated for her to work and provide) for quite some time when he was in Asikuma.

Visiting Christian’s old school that he attended in Asikuma. In the background of this first picture is the schoolyard where I first met Christian – they are literally almost standing at the very spot where he first caught my attention!


Walking through the village of Asikuma…  
Oct 13th, 2012:
Today we visited the Arts Center (Market) and picked up a few items as keepsakes and experienced "THE" African market. From there saw a friend from the States and said some goodbyes to new friends in Ghana. Christian is becoming more and more familiar and honestly, it feels he has always been part of the family. :-) He is such a gentlemen. Always opening doors for me and looking out for me. Love the experience and of course spending time with our son...but mama's ready to get home. MISSING home and family. Continue to lift us up in prayer. Saying goodbye to Christian on Monday will be so difficult. Must remind ourselves that it's for only a short time. Now we return home, wait for final paperwork and visa appt. Then, Dad will return to bring our boy HOME. Prayers please as we fundraise for return trip. It's sad here---such a community stricken with poverty, but expensive. One additional praise--we have seen fruit from seeds planted in lives around us. That is such a treasure for God to allow us to see.

October 14th, 2012:
An evening walk on the gulf. (Last request in Ghana...and our gracious driver made it happen-thank u Samson)

Yep we threw in a horse ride (I'll tell you ALL about being chased by the horse another time ;-)

Gulf of Guinea- beautiful sunset from this evening
October 14th, 2012:
Asking for prayer- tomorrow is our goodbyes and Christian has already told me he will be "missing mama so bad and crying". It will be one of the hardest things I've ever done leaving him here. You all will absolutely LOVE him. Now for some ice cream together. (Yes- comfort food and fun)

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

Hopefully you were able to catch some glimpses of Mandy’s character and Christian’s personality through those posts of their meeting! And now, for some exciting news since that trip!!!! Earlier this month the Litzke’s received their I-600 approval, which means they are now onto the final step of the adoption which is the visa process!!!! WHOOP WHOOP! And just this week I received news from Mandy that their visa interview has been scheduled for NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!! Once they get through the interview portion, a date will be set for Christian’s visa to be printed and then they can make their travel plans to bring him HOME! Many of you have previously been a part of the Litzke’s adoption journey of Christian by donating towards the cost of their adoption fees via his GRACE fund. The Litzke’s have fundraised the entire portion of what they’ve paid on the adoption so far (thanks to many of you!), and God has been so faithful to provide as they trusted He would. In the event that you feel led to donate towards the finish of this adoption, the Litzke’s are in need of funding the costs of their upcoming travel expenses to bring Christian home. If you would like to help in any way, here are the remaining costs they are looking at:
  • $150 foster care fees for February
  • $2500 in estimated flight tickets [for Dave (Mandy’s husband) who will travel to Ghana and Christian’s ONE-WAY ticket home]
  • $100-$125 per night for hotel stay in Ghana (minimum -they think of 3 nights—but of course could turn into longer)
  • miscellaneous expenses for food, driver, etc while in-country
Donations can be made out directly to the Litzke’s and mailed to their home address:

Mandy Litzke
10944 Darby Blvd. W.
Plain City, OH 43064



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ways You Can Help: Needs for Upcoming March Trip

We are excited to announce that our next trip to Ghana, Africa will be March 11th-19th, 2013. We will be taking a group of at least 11 and possibly a few others who are considering jumping in at the last moment. God continues to lead Kingdom Cares International to be His hands and feet in Ghana, and we anticipate that this upcoming trip will be fruitful and life changing. The trip in March will be completely centered on orphan care and assistance of widows. Outlined below are the various ways that we ask for your help prior to leaving. Kingdom Cares International relies solely on the donations of individuals, church bodies, and businesses to fund our various humanitarian projects in Ghana….we wouldn’t be running without your generosity! Please prayerfully consider helping us meet the needs of the widow and becoming the voice of the fatherless.

How can you help?
  1. Monetary donations: Over the next 30 days we would like to raise $10,000 in order to meet the various needs that exist in the foster homes, orphanages, and schools that we have close relationships with. One foster home is in need of a stove for cooking, another foster home needs additional beds, and a couple others have medical needs that need to be met in order to care for children with special needs. Also, in Asikuma, Ghana, where we spend a lot of our time, we would like to sponsor at least another 100 children to receive health insurance. We would also like to provide small financial gifts to the various schools that we work directly with to provide sponsorship of school fees, uniforms, and other needs of the schools such as supplies and text books. If you would be interested in donating towards this upcoming trip please make checks payable to Kingdom Cares International and mail to 315 Ridgewood Drive, Huxley, IA. 50124. All donations are tax deductible and you will receive a receipt from our organization with a detailed outline of how your funds were used during our March trip.

  2. Donations of baby formula: As blogged about here, there is a mother in Asikuma, Ghana who is pregnant with her seventh child, but also has breast cancer making her unable to breastfeed her unborn child that is due in mid-March. We need to supply our medical clinic in Asikuma with as much baby formula, bottles, and bottle liners as possible. You can drop off any of these items at our offices located at Kingdom Courts – 6095 NE Industry Dr. Des Moines, IA. 50313. You can also make a monetary gift towards the purchase of baby formula in Ghana. We are working with a company called Nestle to attempt to buy formula in bulk amounts that can be delivered directly to the medical clinic. Checks are payable to Kingdom Cares International and can be mailed to 315 Ridgewood Drive, Huxley, IA. 50124. If you choose to donate specific funds to be used towards the purchase of baby formula please make a note in the memo section of your check.

  3. Donations of school bags: Currently there is a need in Ghana for school back packs for children. If you have an old or new back pack that you would like to donate please drop them off at Kingdom Courts – 6095 NE Industry Drive, Des Moines, IA. 50313.

  4. Donations of basketballs: During our January trip we had the opportunity to put on a basketball camp along with Hoops Care International. We had about 125 kids at the camp and only six basketballs. Basketballs are hard to come by in Ghana and if you do find some they are very expensive. We would like to bring as many basketballs with us as possible and donate them to Hoops Care International. If you have an old or new basketball you would like to donate please deflate the ball and drop it off at Kingdom Courts – 6095 NE Industry Drive, Des Moines, IA. 50313.
Thank you for prayerfully considering helping Kingdom Cares International to meet the needs of the people of Ghana, Africa. If you have additional questions please feel to contact Jake at 515-291-1542 or via email  Thanks for your support!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jake's Trip Reflections

Post-trip thoughts from Jake....

Every time I travel to Ghana I come back more amazed at how God works. Nothing in the world brings me greater joy than being able to serve our God by being His hands and feet in a land 6,000 miles away from where I call home.

There was no way I could have ever imagined how God would use me on the most recent trip to Ghana. In the course of six days God’s glory was seen, my eyes were opened, and He gave me a boldness like I had never experienced before.

Here is the quick summary of what God did through us in just six days, and as I begin to compile His mighty works my mind wonders what he would do with 365 days and what he wants to do with my life.

-Found a girl who sits in the dirt all day because she is handicapped and God provided a way for us to get her a wheel chair that will forever change her life.

-Carried around all kinds of medicines from the clinic God led us to build in 2011. Rubbed prescribed lotions on the worst ring worm situations I have ever seen, gave antibiotics for various infections, bandaged and wrapped up sores, and prayed like crazy for healing.

-God provided shelter for two of His orphans, Yaa and Adjoa, and their caregivers.

-Had the opportunity to share the gospel with nearly 500 youth

-Shared the gospel with a guy that tried to sell me weed

-Saved a girl from a slow, painful battle with malaria

-Helped a little boy travel to Accra to get medical care for his heart

-Saw false idols and met a high priest (this stuff is actually real not just something in the Bible)

-Was able to play a part in helping a mother of 7 with breast cancer

-Sponsored 50 children in Asikuma to get health insurance

-Saw three women’s lives forever changed due to small business donations

-God brought me to a main site of child trafficking

-God brought two new incredible pastors into my life

-Fed hundreds of children

-Sponsored school fees and provided hope

-Led Bible studies

-Saw 18 American teachers get the experience of teaching in rural African schools

-God brought me to a place where drugs are rampant, sexual immorality is out of control, and people live for the night

God worked in such powerful ways during the entire trip. I could have never done these things on my own accord. I would have never dreamed of doing such things. Just nine years ago I did not know God. Just five years ago I did not know what it meant to pick up my cross.

Am I special? No. Did God choose me to be His hands and feet? Yes and No because in reality He has chosen all of us, but He gives us the choice. What is my role in this all? Simple obedience to His Word. All I am supposed to do is obey and God orchestrates the rest. He is the one who orchestrated the needs of the children. He is the one who brought Pastor Light to the hotel. He is the one who provided shelter for the orphans. He is the one who provided the wheel chair. He is the one that allowed me to sit in the middle of drugs, sexual immorality, and hopelessness, but not succumb to any of it. He is the one who sent Jesus and He is the one who goes before me. All I am supposed to do is to accept God’s invitation, take up my cross, and hate my life.

Now if it was only easy to say “yes”. My flesh wars against my entire being, doing everything possible to get me to say “no”. Because of Satan’s evil ways my mind can always rationalize me turning from the cross and saying “no”. Satan has allowed my mind to master rationalization of why I can’t I go and why I can’t follow.

As this most recent trip began there was nothing in my flesh that wanted to go. It was two months ago that we brought our daughters home. Both of my sons had basketball games during the ten days God was calling me to go. I really dislike going to Africa without my wife. I was in charge of leading a group of students from Drake of which I did not know. I had never led a trip like this and what if it failed and everything did not go as my mind had planned. I completely and totally hate flying. This trip fell in the middle of a very busy time at work with the opening of our new Kingdom Hoops facility and two of the biggest tournaments back-to-back weekends in January.

Any of these reasons would have been very sufficient reasons to say “no” to God. All of the reasons would have allowed me to stay in the comfort of my house. Any of the reasons would have prevented me from having to pick up my cross. I could have showered with warm water, not have had to worry about malaria, not sat on a run way for three hours, and could of stayed home and eaten as much ice cream as I would have liked along with the rest of my favorite foods. I would not have had to miss ten days of work and 10 days of loss income with no individual training lessons. My flesh was saying stay and God was saying go. Who would I choose?

God gave us a free will to choose Him or to not choose Him. As I was praying and working through the emotions of all of this I kept God’s Word close to my heart and near the tip of my tongue. In my mind I wonder what the disciples must have thought the day Jesus approached them at their homes and at their jobs to come and follow Him. I wonder, would I have said “yes”? In my head, with the knowledge of scripture, I believe I would have said yes to Jesus, but then I wonder again…would’ve I? It's in these moments when I wage war with my flesh and choose to say “yes” to God that I am making a choice to be a disciple of Jesus. I love how Francis Chan puts this in his new book ‘Multiply’...

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? As you will discover, the answer is fairly simple, but it changes your life completely.

The word disciple refers to a student or apprentice. Disciples in Jesus’s day would follow their rabbi (which means teacher) wherever he went, learning from the rabbi’s teaching and being trained to do as the rabbi did. Basically, a disciple is a follower, but only if we take the term follower literally. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is as simple as obeying His call to follow.

When Jesus called his first disciples, they may not have understood where Jesus would take them or the impact it would have on their lives, but they knew what it meant to follow. They took Jesus’s call literally and began going everywhere He went and doing everything He did.

It’s impossible to be a disciple or a follower of someone and not end up like that person. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process.

Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense? Many people in the church have decided to take on the name of Christ and nothing else. This would be like Jesus walking up to those first disciples and saying, “Hey, would you guys mind identifying yourselves with Me in some way? Don’t worry, I don’t actually care if you do anything I do or change your lifestyle at all. I’m just looking for people who are willing to say they believe in Me and call themselves Christians. “Seriously?”

How do we prevent ourselves from giving into our flesh and only identifying with Jesus but not actually following? As a basketball coach I always tell my players that in order to get better we have to pinpoint and understand our weaknesses. In the case of following Christ we have to understand the things that eat at our flesh and keep us from becoming a true disciple. I believe God already knew this would be a struggle for man and He helped to point out many of these things throughout scripture.

Luke 14: 25-27
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

  1. Our children: There is nothing harder for me than when I have to leave my children for a period of time because God is calling me to follow Him. I love my children so much and have a unique relationship with each of them that it brings me great pain when it is time to leave. I am pretty sure God knew this was going to be a battle for all of us that want to be His disciple, so, He gave us very strong words to keep on the tip of our tongues and in the fronts of our hearts. Luke 14: 25-27 tells us that we cannot be His disciple if we don’t hate all of those people so close to us including our children.

    I know Jesus was not referring to “hate” like we so often think of it today when we completely dislike and despise another individual or thing. He was simply trying to get across to the crowd that was following Him in those days, and the crowd that follows Him today, that we cannot love anything more than we love Jesus. He is telling us that Satan will use the love we feel for our children and family to prevent us from obediently following Him wherever he calls us for whatever amount of time. There is never a day that I don’t have to take a step back and check myself with God in this area. Those times when I have to leave it is an all-out war against my flesh.

  2. Our spouses: To leave my wife is another part of the battle I face as she is the most supportive and God fearing wife that any man could desire. When I am gone I feel bad about leaving all the responsibilities of five children for her to bear. I miss our late night conversations. I miss her companionship and positive feedback she gives me in the small things.

    Again, Jesus is quite clear in that same part of scripture from Luke that our wife (and you could substitute husband in there) cannot be more important than following God wherever He calls. However, the passage that always boggled my mind prior to God calling me to Africa in 2009 was the following words from Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:8.

    Now to the unmarried and widows I say; it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

    Paul never gives much extra detail on why it would be good for them to stay unmarried, however, I believe Paul feared the marriage relationship would hurt the spread of the gospel more than it would help it. That a husband and wife would learn to only rely on each other rather than relying daily on the strength of Christ. Paul goes on to say what a wonderful thing marriage is and that a marriage centered on Christ is a beautiful image of the gospel; but, I think we all need to ask ourselves if our spouse directly or indirectly causes us to only identify with Christ and not really follow Him.

  3. Our life: In this same passage in Luke, Jesus tells the crowd that if we are going to follow Him we must even hate our own life. I believe in Christian circles we see that part of the passage and we think it means to be willing to physically die for Christ. Of course that is true, but as people in the United States we can say we would be willing to physically die for Christ, all the while knowing that we will probably never be in a situation where we have to choose life or death for Christ.

    The question then becomes - what did Jesus mean when He said we have to even hate our own life? I believe the answer for us in the United States - where we don’t face life threatening persecution - can be found in in the story of the rich man in Matthew 19:16-22.

    Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments. “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    I believe this biblical example is what Jesus was talking about when he told us we would even have to hate our own life. What does this look like today in the United States? It could mean that God wants us to sell everything and give to the poor. It could also mean that he wants us to be willing to give up the good things in our life for even just a short period of time. This could mean no hot showers at night, no air conditioning in your room, a toilet that won’t flush, water you can’t brush your teeth with. It might mean touching sick people and rubbing lotion on them with your bare hands. It could mean sitting with drug dealers. It could mean bus trips for five hours, airline flights for 20 hours. It could mean food we don’t like, starving kids hovering over our shoulders, and dirt covering our whole bodies.

    The question becomes: Are we willing to give up the comforts of our lives - even just for short periods of time - to follow Christ? I believe this is one example of what Jesus meant by us having to even hate our own lives. Yesterday a good friend stopped in my office and was looking at some of the pictures of the basketball camp we were able to host in Cape Coast. This individual looked at me and said, “When I see these pictures it just makes me want to go with you to Africa, but I would only go if we were doing basketball camps. I wouldn’t want to be cleaning toilets or anything.” I looked at him with a fake smile and left my office with a sad heart that day because that mindset is exactly what Jesus does not want of His followers. The Jesus I know came down from a place of comfort to be born in a dirty manager, lived a life on earth with no home, and then died a disgusting and brutal death for all of us; yet we don’t want to hate our own lives to follow Him.
We are all left with the choice to identify with Christ, or to actually become His disciples. What choice will you make in your life? Satan will do his best to convince your flesh to just identify and not really follow. Your mind will rationalize the choice to not become a disciple and your flesh will second that decision. However, if we can cling to God’s words and His promises, then great will our reward be in heaven, and the greatness of God’s glory will be seen throughout the world.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Unconditional love.

Human relationships will fail us. People will let us down. “If you do this – I’ll love you,” they say. “I can’t believe you did that – I’m taking my love away,” they say. God’s love is not like that. His love for us is not based on our performance. If you are feeling condemned and accused today, you are hearing the voice of Satan, not the voice of God. God’s love is UNCONDITIONAL and RELENTLESS.
Romans 8:34-39

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Parenting: It’s Never an Interruption

I wanted to share the below article I came across written by Paul Tripp.... 

Parenting is all about living by the principle of prepared spontaneity. You don't really know what's going to happen next. You don't really know when you'll have to enforce a command, intervene in an argument, confront a wrong, holdout for a better way, remind someone of a truth, call for forgiveness, lead someone to confession, point to Jesus, restore peace, hold someone accountable, explain a wisdom principle, give a hug of love, laugh in the face of adversity, help someone complete a task, mediate an argument, stop with someone and pray, assist someone to see their heart, or talk once again about what it means to live together in a community of love.

What you do know is that Scripture gives you the wisdom that you need and your always-present Messiah gives you the grace that you need to be ready to respond to the moments of opportunity he’ll give you. Along with this, you and I must remember that our Lord loves our children more than we ever could and his commitment to their growth and change is more faithful and persevering than ours could ever be. Because of this, in his grace and love, he’ll manufacture moments that expose the needy hearts of our children to us. He’ll faithfully employ the little moments of everyday life to expose to us and our children their need of rescuing and forgiving grace. And he’ll not do this only at the moments which you feel are appropriate and when you feel most prepared.

Let me give you an example. We had planned a day at a local theme park with our children. I was anticipating a day of familial amusement park bliss. You know, I was hoping that on this day my children would be self-parenting and if God could throw in a fully sanctified wife that would be cool! Well, we get to the park and are getting out of the van and one of my children said, "Dad, may we have something to drink before we go into the park?" It didn't seem like a dangerous request. I opened the cooler, which was full of soft drinks, and all of my children sighted in on the one can of soda that they all knew was the best. Immediately, global nuclear war broke out. They were pushing and shoving, grabbing and pulling, throwing ice at one another, saying unkind things and hitting one another's hands out of the way. I couldn't believe it, we’re not in the park yet and my day was already ruined!

So I jumped in and said, "Do you want to fight? We don't have to pay all this money for you to fight. I'll take you home, put a cooler in the backyard with one can of soda in it and you can fight forever!" Soon my children aren't fighting anymore because they're watching the crowd gather as I lose it in the parking lot of the theme park.

Let's analyze what's going on in this moment and what's happening inside me. What's going on is that a God of grace is taking a mundane moment of daily family life and using it to do something wonderful for my children and for me. He's making the condition of their hearts visible in order to produce concern in me that would hopefully result in awareness and a desire to change in them. But I'm not at all encouraged in this moment with what God is doing. You see, I'm not angry in the parking lot because my children are sinners. No, I'm angry that God has exposed their sin, and because he has, I have to forsake my agenda for the day and parent them! It all seemed a huge imposition; a hassle that I just didn't want to deal with.

But the reality is that if your eyes ever see, or your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, rebellion or failure of your children, it’s never an imposition. It’s never an interruption. It’s never a hassle. It’s always grace. God loves your children; he’s put them in a family of faith, and in relentless grace he will reveal their need to you again and again so that you can be his tool of awareness, conviction, repentance, faith and change. And because in these moments he asks you to forsake your agenda for his, this opportunity of grace isn’t just for your children, it's for you as well.

But my problem is that there are moments when I tend to love my little kingdom of one more than I love his. So I'm impatient, discouraged or irritated, not because my children have broken the laws of God's kingdom, but the laws of mine. In my kingdom there shall be no parenting on family vacation days, or when I am reading the paper on my iPad, or after ten o'clock at night, or during a good meal, or... And when I'm angry about interruptions to my kingdom plan there are four things I tend to do:

  1. I tend to turn a God-given moment of ministry into a moment of anger.
  2. I do this because I’ve personalized what isn’t personal. (Before we left for the amusement park that day, my children didn't plot to drive me crazy in the parking lot).
  3. Because I’ve personalized what isn’t personal, I am adversarial in my response. (It's not me acting for my children, but acting against them because they’re in the way of what I want).
  4. So I end up settling for situational solutions that don't really get to the heart of the matter. (I bark and order, I instill guilt, I threaten a punishment and walk away, and my children are utterly unchanged by the encounter).
There’s a better way. It begins with praying that God would give you new eyes; eyes that are more focused on his eternal work of grace than on your momentary plans for you. This better way also includes seeking God for a flexible and willing heart; ready to abandon your agenda for God's greater plan. And it lives with the confidence that God is in you, with you, and for you, and will give you what you need so that you can face, with courage and grace, the parenting moment that you didn't know was coming.

[Link to article:]

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prophecy Fulfilled.

"I have a dream...

that one day

little black boys

and black girls

will be able to join hands

with little white boys

and white girls

and walk together

as sisters and brothers."
~Martin Luther King Jr.~

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday's Updates From Jake in Ghana

Today the team said goodbye to Asikuma and made the 5 ½ hour journey to Cape Coast. Cape Coast is the home of Hoops Care International (, the basketball organization Jake got hooked up with early on in our adventures in Ghana (read about our first ever visit to Cape Coast HERE). He and the organization’s director, Claudius, have remained connected over the past 3 years and Claud always asks Jake to host basketball camps for his players whenever Jake is in town.
Today Jake held a 1 hour mass camp for around 75 kids (the student-teachers on our team had the day off and visited Canopy Nature Park). Then he took the 25 most talented players and put them through another 1.5 hour camp of higher intensity/skilled drills. Collage from the day's events via Claudius...

And some of the pictures Jake sent me on his phone...

Some girls came to camp today which was exciting – typically girls don’t get the opportunity to play sports in Ghana due to cultural mindsets.


In between the two camps Jake held a bible study with those involved at Hoops Care and shared the gospel with them. Cape Coast is another area in which many false gods are worshipped. As Claud was showing Jake around town today a man called out a greeting to Jake so Jake stopped to introduce himself. As he was shaking hands with the man Claud told Jake that this was one of the high priests in town. He said, “He watches over the idols.” The high priest then proceeded to ask Jake if he could take Jake to his god. Jake said, “No, I will stick to Jesus and I think you should do the same.” Let’s just say the high priest wasn’t too happy to hear that and he said a few choice words to Jake in his own language that we won’t repeat here. :) Later on in their walk around town Claud and Jake came upon one of these idols – here is what they look like:

It makes me sad and angry that the devil has deceived these people into exchanging the One and Only, Living, Breathing, Almighty God for a piece of concrete with a fish painted on it.

Isaiah 44:6,9-11 ~ This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame.

At another point during their walk around town Claud and Jake stopped and sat down to talk with some children who were all alone.
At first glance Jake had noticed the cute little baby and so he sat down to play with the baby. Then he realized the little girl laying down was not resting, but in fact very sick. Claudius told Jake that Cape Coast has a huge problem with malaria and it is getting worse. The town swarms with mosquitos because of its proximity to the ocean. Claudius felt the girl’s head and looked at her eyes and knew that she had a very severe case of malaria. From there Jake felt led to get the girl to a hospital for treatment. However, the girl’s mother was out selling for the day so they could not transport her without first talking with the mother. As it turned out, Claudius’ office was right around the corner from these children, and a pastor that Claudius has on staff would be at the offices the rest of the evening. Claudius said he would have the pastor return to the girl after dark when the mother would be home from selling and then the pastor could take her to the hospital. Jake left money with Claudius to be used for the girl’s treatment. I should mention here, that the reason parents don’t take their children to hospitals and clinics themselves is because they cannot afford the treatment. If you show up at a clinic without health insurance the cost is almost 10 times what it is if you have insurance. To get health insurance in Ghana it is only 4 cedis (about 2 U.S. dollars) and that covers you for an entire year. But when you are living off of less than a dollar a day, it is just not feasible and hardly any of the villagers have health insurance.

Interesting sight in Cape Coast… pigs on the beach...

That is a pretty skinny pig if those words even go together.

Jake had a great time with Claudius today, and mentioned that Claudius has a huge heart for special needs children and those with handicaps. This is extremely rare in Ghana, because a lot of times those with physical and mental challenges are written off as cursed and are usually ignored and mistreated. Claudius held a practice this afternoon for children with down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Then this evening he hosted a game for those that are wheelchair bound. The game was under the lights and they had music blaring. Jake said it was a really fun atmosphere…

Tomorrow the team will tour the Cape Coast Castle - the castle and dungeon where slaves were imprisoned and tortured before they were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to North and South America as part of the slave trade.  Pictures from my tour through the castle are in the post linked to at the beginning of this post.  They will also visit the Cultural Center in Accra to do some shopping for souvenirs and then they will board their flight to come home!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday's Updates from Jake in Ghana

Jake got to share the gospel in a town called Dzemeni today. This is an area that is high in child labor/trafficking because it is along the Lake Volta.

Dzemeni market scene
The parents of the children are lied to by being promised that their children’s school fees will be paid for if they send them to come and work here along the shore. They are basically tricked into child labor, and even worse, some children are literally sold (for as low as 50 Ghana cedis) and are sent to the Northern region to work in mines and factories. Jake said that the canoes come in and out of the lake transporting people and children like taxi cabs. He’d never seen anything like it. Many of the children here also die by drowning because they are forced to fish and repair nets. The police have started to make arrests, but there are so many in this trafficking ring that they can’t all be caught.

The pastors here have set up a ministry to help rescue the child slaves and get them into school. The main pastor came and found Jake in Asikuma earlier this week and asked him to come see the ministry.
The pastors asked Jake to preach to the children and teachers today. They said that drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual immorality (lots of young teen pregnancies), and worship of false gods including a lake goddess are the biggest issues in the area. Jake was able to share his personal testimony and he also preached on Deuteronomy 28 – highlighting the two choice paths of obedience or disobedience to God – and the outcomes of each.

Back in Asikuma, Jill - one of our team members - came across this little girl who had infections all over her head...
Once Jake got back he brought her to the clinic and the nurses knew right away that she needed to be tested for HIV. The test came back ‘inconclusive’ so she was sent to a neighboring town, Juapong, for more testing. Our Foundation paid for the transportation and further testing.

The floors and plastering were completed at Yaa and Adjoa’s new home yesterday.

The carpenter (who assists Sampson) started his work today, and now the new ceilings are up!


Why use a ladder to put up the ceiling when you're talented enough to do this?

Watch yer toes!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love Ghanaians! They are so ready to WORK, and get the job done with a lil African ingenuity every time!

Jake said Yaa and Adjoa are SO EXCITED about the new home! And he said Grandma (not pictured below) might be the most excited of all….she has a little extra hop in her step and smiles and dances around every time she sees Jake coming. :)  I can totally picture it - I just love her free spirit!

Jake with Yaa, Adjoa, and their auntie outside of their new home – not quite move-in ready yet but soon!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday's Updates From Jake in Ghana

As it turns out, Little Miss Prosper is indeed perfectly capable of going to school now! What Jake perceived as a mental handicap upon meeting her at first, was a combination of her being quite afraid of her first glimpse of a ‘white man’ and taken aback about what was going on. She would not communicate or speak hardly at all. BUT, after Jake got to spend some more extended time with her yesterday, he noted that she may have some mild mental delays, but nothing severe aside from her physical handicaps. He reasoned that there is no reason she should be excluded from school, so off he went to find the school master and pay for her school fees. And today, she got to start school. :)


Our medical clinic in Asikuma is getting such a work out! Every day Jake is taking kids there for treatment. This morning when Jake was visiting the school that our sponsored kids go to, some little kids came running up to him saying, “You have to help Yaa! Something is wrong with her head!” Once Jake found her he saw that she had developed a huge infectious lump on her head that was not there (or at least not noticeable) yesterday. He took her out of school and took her to the clinic. It just so happened that the head district doctor was making his rounds and was at our clinic this morning…Jake said he took one look at the lump and said, “Oh my God – get me some gloves!” Here she is getting ready to get a shot to numb the site.

Jake said from there they had to slice the lump open with a blade to get all the infection out, and then closed it back up. Jake saw the whole thing and said he almost passed out because there was blood and infection everywhere. Once finished they gave Yaa the strongest antibiotic they had, and gave her instructions to come to the clinic every morning before school for the next 10 days to get the wound redressed. In addition to the lump of infection, Yaa also had ringworm of her scalp which is so common in Ghana. Fungal infections are everywhere and constantly spread throughout the community.

Our in-country staff member, Wisdom, and Jake had the opportunity to ‘lay hands’ on Graham today and pray for him to be healed.

A doctor appointment has been scheduled for Graham in Accra (the capital of Ghana) for next Thursday. I know that there are times when God chooses to heal through doctors. But I also know that there are times when God chooses to heal through the faith of his disciples alone. I’m shooting for the latter.

Lastly, Jake got to meet the pregnant mother with breast cancer today...

Her letter was translated to English, and I wanted to share it in her words so that you can feel the weight of her plea…

Dear Sir,

It is with great pain that I write to you this note. I am a mother of six children and I am now seven months pregnant. I have been informed of the good work the Lord is using you and your groups to do in Asikuma. May He continue to supply your needs according to His riches.

Please, my problem is I have been diagnosed of breast cancer and the doctor said after delivery I will be very weak and won’t be able to breastfeed my baby. I do not have anybody anywhere to help me in feeding the baby after delivery. I am pleading with you if you can help my baby survive for two years after delivery than I can handle him myself with solid food. I believe God is going to help me through you.

Yours sincerely….

So, you’ll notice that she said she is 7 months pregnant, not 3 months….had that detail wrong when I shared yesterday. This puts her due date in March, and Jake’s next trip to Ghana is planned for March. We’ve talked with our in-country staff, and we have all agreed that the answer to this one is: FORMULA! So, between now and Jake’s next trip, we are asking for donations of baby formula and bottle liners (specific details below). They do sell formula in Ghana, however, it is sparse and can usually only be found near the capital city. Any Ghana store would not have enough of a supply for what we need anyways because we will need to get this mother through March until August when Jake will be back.

I have been thinking through the concept of what form of formula to bring. They now have the pre-mixed kind that actually comes in disposable bottles. This would be SO perfect because of the unsanitary conditions in the middle of the village – but, much too heavy to bring in the suitcases. We just wouldn’t be able to bring as much as we could if we did the powder form. Jake asked Nurse Betty at the medical clinic her opinion, and her main concern with the powder form was that she wanted to ensure the mother mixes it with bottled water. They also have little plastic bags of water in Ghana that are much cheaper than the bottles and this is what most of the villagers drink. However, the bagged water is drinkable but not ‘clean’ like bottled water is. After talking with Nurse Betty, Jake concluded that our Foundation will buy the mother a supply of bottled water (which can be easily purchased in Ghana) for mixing with the formula, and it will be stored at the clinic (along with the formula). Each day the mother (who lives about 3 blocks from the clinic) can come to the clinic to collect a day’s worth of water and formula.

Which brings me to the next thing. Since this mother is not going to be able to just run to the kitchen sink and wash bottles, I would like to supply her with bottle liners. In case you are new to the whole bottle scene, there are some bottles that are made in which you slip in a plastic liner. Then you dispose of the liner after use. I think this would really help to keep things on the sanitary side for each feeding. I also would like to stick to the same brand of formula, so that the baby isn’t switched around to different kinds. So, specifically, here is what we will be collecting:

Similac brand infant formula – BLUE label (the one for ‘baby’s 1st year’)...

Boxes of Playtex Drop-Ins 8-10 oz
We will also take a few other ‘regular’ bottles just in case, so those can be donated too, but I would rather people donate liners as the majority. Nurse Betty at the clinic mentioned that there are other cases like this that happen where mothers cannot breastfeed, and that our medical clinic would also be appreciative of a donation of formula. So, the more we can get and pack, the better!

In the event that this mother gives birth before Jake's arrival in March, he is leaving some money behind in the event that they would need to purchase formula to get her through until the team arrives.

Lastly, Jake found out today that pregnant mothers in Ghana are issued a free temporary health insurance card, in which they can go into any clinic and receive care throughout their pregnancy and through the first 6 weeks after birth. Because of this mother’s case of cancer, she was strongly urged to give birth at our clinic (rather than in her hut) because they have the appropriate medicine to care for her after birth.

It’s probably not the most cost effective for donaters to ship formula to our house, so if you feel led to donate but do not live near us, please rather consider a monetary donation to our Foundation. You can do so via the link on my side bar, or mail donations to:

Jake Sullivan
315 Ridgewood Drive
Huxley, IA 50124

Payable to Kindgom Cares International.

Thanks for your support!