July 7, 2010
The photos from Wednesday's activities were posted earlier -- here's a bit of what we did that day! (I am posting this to both blogs, Silver Lining and Waters Edge Ministries.)
After a night of trying to sleep off jet-lag, we feasted on a huge breakfast of rice water (mmm my favorite!), bread and jam, and fresh pineapple. Our group’s morning devotion included some tips about evangelizing from Christi, who works with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Our first stop was at the Tema dump. Something new I noticed was a thick brick wall, several feet high had been erected around parts of the dump; We were told that families were being “discouraged” from moving there with small children -- but there are many kids living there anyway. Christ Harvests the Nations had requested permission for us to visit with some of the residents prior to our arrival. However -- someone contacted the local police when they saw a busload of American obrunis wandering around. Within minutes of our arrival, we were visited by three officers, clad in blue/gray camoflage. Richard and Ben talked with them a few moments, explained the purposes of our visit and that we’d obtained permission to be there, and they eventually waved us on.
It does not take long for children to give in to their curiosity and begin following us. A small sackful of lollipops or “toffees” brought smiles to their faces. Zach and Sydney helped the kids tear open the packages so they could enjoy the sticky sweetness of the suckers. I think they made some friends for life!
We recognized one boy as a child we’d seen at Jerusalem Gates, and we asked him about his mother. He shortly brought her to speak with us, with another small child holding her hand and a baby on her back. She said her son had attended school, but lately money and transportation to and from the school had been a problem. It is families such as this that tug at the heart. The little boy wants to go to school -- but they lack the resources to make that entirely possible.
Soon the group of children had grown into a fair-sized team -- literally! They led us to a large open field and soon a rousing soccer match was in full play! Our girls Julia and Christi were OUTSTANDING!! Soon laughter filled the air as the kids and our team members ran up and down the field, kicking the ball, cheering for each other whenever goals were made or blocked.
Our time at the dump flew by fast -- we made our way back to the bus, followed by a handful of the children and some of the mothers. The team brought long, skinny balloons and much to the delight of the kids, they twisted them into animal shapes -- dogs, elephants, giraffes -- and gave them to the kids. Pastor John Cromer shared some cookies with kids before we all loaded back into the bus and waved goodbye.
It is sobering to see the vivid evidence of “needs vs. wants” and as we leave, each of us carry in our minds images of the life we’ve witnessed here. Amidst the smoke, the grayness, the ashes, the piles of refuse trucked in from across the city -- there are yet touches of God’s grace. The laughter of children fills the air; a mother’s face shows pride in her children; a colorful butterfly drifts through the air. And I am reminded of God’s promise to give us beauty for ashes.
We drove to the home of Bishop James Godlly and his wife Mary. After lunch, we walked across the road to a local school, Manye Foundation. While David and Rev. James and I met with the headmaster to talk about educating some of the kids at the dump, our teammates spent some time in the classrooms, talking with the kids, sharing more balloon animals, and seeing what life in a Ghanaian school might be like. Joe soon had a couple of the classes shouting “GO GAMECOCKS!” and “WE WANT A TOUCHDOWN!” He drew a picture of an American football (as opposed to their “football“ -- which is a soccer ball) on the board for them!
The team spent some time in Community 25 with Emmanuel, evangelizing in the area. Sharing their testimonies, hearing other testimonies, helps us all to realize that we are all God‘s children no matter the circumstances of our birth, our color, our nationality, or our economic status.
Big bowls of spaghetti, rice, meat sauce, steamed vegetables, and fresh mangos were on the table when we arrived back at the house. Delicious!!! We ate, freshened up a bit, then headed to church for the Wednesday night service.
Christ Harvests the Nations is growing and moving. When they began worshipping together, they met in a field in Tema. After much prayer, they were able to begin renting part of a building in Community 4, sharing it with a small clothing manufacturer. Eventually, they leased all of the building. From this home base, Bishop Godlly trained many pastors, and as a result there are several small churches throughout Ghana that have been established . Again, after much prayer, they acquired some land in Comm. 25 Tema, and are working on erecting their own permanent church building on that site.
Tonight’s service was held in the old Comm. 4 site, and I was glad to see many familiar faces among the worshippers there. We introduced our teammates and each of them gave a brief greeting before our own Pastor John Cromer brought the message. He reminded us that God’s love is freely available, freely given, and available to ALL -- and that while the Gift of Love is wonderful, the GIVER of that love is even better!
We ended the service singing praises -- what a glorious way to wind up our day!
Blessings from Anita & David and Ghana Team 2010!