Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas and Taali Mmbo

Dear Beloved in Christ,
The leadership and entire membership of Shalom Baptist Church-Ghana, wishes"MERRY CHRISTMAS"to the Ghana Team in the US and to all our ministry partners. We send you special greetings and love in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We will not forget our dear brethren in First Baptist Church (FBC) Rockwall,TX. We also extend our sincere greetings to Girls in Action (GA) of FBC,Rockwall for their generous contributions to our missions,and to our brothers and sisters in Koinonia Sunday School of FBC Rockwall, we thank you for your generous contributions to make the Widow Care maize farm project possible.
To the leadership of Lakepointe Church TX,we send our season greetings and say thank you for the impact you are making in the Northern part of Ghana.
Finally but not the least, to the IHH leadership and members,we wish you "MERRY CHRISTMAS". You are an outstanding and distinguished partner in this ministry in the Northern Ghana. We salute you and say in our local dialect "TAALI MMBO" (thank you very much) for your hardwork,committment and generous support to the promotion of Missions and Evangelism,Education,Relief to the Widows and Orphans,Good News Club (Children ministry) etc.
We thank the Lord Almighty for seeing us through to the end of 2011, It is our hope and prayer that 2012 will be a year of breakthrough in our lives as missionaries and evangelists. As we celebrate the festival of Christmas let us not forget to share the Love of God with the people around us, and also look for every possible means to spreading the Good News to the lost.  Remember what the Bible says in Luke 19:10, that is the purpose of Christmas, so let us celebrate with a Purpose.
Thank you and may the Favor of the Lord and His Grace be yours during this season and the years ahead of you.
Pastor Mohammed(Pastor for Missions,SBC/IHH).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shalom Preschool Update

Shalom Preschool children enjoying their lunch, which is sprinkled with plant-based nutritional supplements from Manna Relief.

Mariam lost her father when she was one year old.  The widow being poor could not provide proper diet to Mariam which affected her growth and health,because she was beginning to suffer malnutrition.  Thank God for Mariam because of this nutritional supplement. As you can see her in the picture for yourself, Mariam is now very healthy.

Update from Preschool Administrator, Pastor Ziblim Mohammed

I was able to conduct a thorough investigation about the pre-school children who are feeding on the nutritional supplement. Their parents confessed to me that they have seen positive change in their children's health due to the provision of the nutritional suplement. Most of them told me that their children used to be sick with various deseases and sickness but when they started taking the nutrition those sickness disappeared and the children are now growing healthy.
Moreover, many of these children were been taking to hospital frequently for treatment, but now is not so they visit hospital once a while. And Cheryl, today as I also take a close look at these children while they were in class, I can see all of them looking very healthy. This is not common among the children who don't take the nutritional suplement. The suppelement makes the difference in the lives of these pre-school children from the other children in the community.
Thanks to the dornors for making this difference in the lives of these poor children.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Maize Harvest

We thank God for the 20 bags of maize that was recently harvested in Tarikpaa Village by the members of Shalom Baptist Church.  This maize will be stored and the distributed to needy widows during the lean season.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Groundnut (Peanut) Farm Harvest

Groundnuts from Tarikpaa village

The harvest of groundnuts from this year's crop
This past summer the members of Shalom Baptist Church planted groundnuts on land that had previously been planted with maize.  While the harvest was not as plentiful as hoped for, due to drought conditions, we are still very thankful for the bounty.  The groundnuts will be stored and then distributed to needy widows and orphans during the lean season. 

We want to give a special thanks to the Koinonia Sunday School Class of First Baptist Church of Rockwall, Texas, for their generous donations that helped plant and harvest the groundnuts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

International Heritage Academy

The first class of preschoolers with teachers Suyuhini and Drucilla. 

Drucilla teaching them English

Drucilla distributing nutritional supplements from Manna Relief that were provided by funds raised by Ghana 2011 team members and donations from generous supporters.  Thank you!

The preschoolers enjoying a nutritious lunch.

Two years ago, the leadership of Shalom Baptist Church in Tarikpaa had a vision to start a preschool at the church so that they could reach out to the predominantly Muslim village that they live in. Last week, the preschool opened its doors!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good News Children's Congress

This past weekend the Annual Good News Children's Congress was held at Heritage Baptist Church in Kushibo village, a remote village located in the Northern Region of Ghana, West Africa. 

Many of the children come from far away so the church hired a tractor/trailer to transport them to the church.

Futbol clubs are a way to reach the students for Christ.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beautiful Children of the North

One of the greatest joys of spending time in the villages of the Northern Region of Ghana is meeting and playing with the children.  They are full of life and joy and love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Special Thank You

If you read the previous post, you know that our team had the privilege of visiting with and serving the Women of PKatinga, otherwise known as the KPatinga Witch Camp.

As we were getting ready to leave, they blessed us with a song of thanksgiving for our coming and helping.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Women of KPatinga

Some say they are witches.  I call them the Women of KPatinga.

In the culture of the Northern Region there are many things that are difficult for a Westerner to understand.  The custom of banishing a woman from a village is one of them.  My understanding is that in order to banish a woman (I've never heard of a man being banished, but maybe that happens, too), there has to be two witnesses that accuse her of being a witch, meaning that the witness either saw, felt or dreamed something strange about the woman.  Her case is then presented to the local village chief and then to the regional chief.  If both men agree to the banishment, then she is labeled as a witch and sent away, never to return.  Other villages also shun her and she may eventually find her way to a Witch Camp.  KPatinga is one such camp.

The women of KPatinga have a landlord who is considered a witchdoctor.  It is said that he has the power to exorcise them of their witchcraft.  He does have power, that is for certain.  He has the power to do whatever he wants and the power to make decisions about food distribution, etc.  The women are held captive by his control over them.

This was our second visit to KPatinga.  Last year we visited there and were received with great enthusiasm and gratitude.  The women there told us that our visit brought value to them.  It was a humbling and life changing experience.

On this year's visit, we brought cooking pots and a few bags of maize and rice (two items we were told they needed).  Our wonderful friends at World Vision helped us purchase, transport, and distribute the grain. 

Once again we found the women to be gracious and welcoming. As we were preparing to leave, a small group of the women approached us and began singing a song of thanksgiving for our visit.  The only thing better than hearing them sing was the joy and happiness in their eyes.
Here are a few pictures of the grain and rice distribution.

It started raining right after we arrived, so we took shelter in a local school that was built by World Vision so that the granddaughters of the Women of KPatinga could be educated.  These women are waiting to receive their portion of the grain and rice.

42 bowls for 42 women

Picking up their bowls of rice
Several of the granddaughters of the KPatinga Women live in the camp.  They have a moral obligation to help their grandmothers survive.  Some of them are shunned also because of the stigma attached to them. 

We want to express our gratitude to the donor from the US who provided the cooking pots, grain and rice for distribution to the KPatinga Women.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We are in Belgium!

We were very sad to say good-bye to part of our team today today as some of us continued on to Belgium for more mission work and some of us went back to the USA.  For the next four days, the Belgium team will be working with Kyle and Amy Goen, church planters from Tennessee, in an effort to help them in their ministry.  We will also get to do some sightseeing and have a fun day in Paris, France at the end of the week.

Our home this week is a YWAM guesthouse in Brussels, Belgium.

Today we celebrated 18th birthday of team member, Lissy Olivares.  Happy Birthday Lissy!  Tomorrow we will celebrate the 16th birthday of Jackie Castro. Happy Birthday Jackie!

Tuesday in Agobogbloshie

Today the team visited Agbogbloshie, a village just outside Accra, which is home to many Dagomba people.  Many times this village is referred to as Sodom and Gommorah because of the awful living conditions there.

But there is hope in Agbogbloshie!  As you wind down the sewer strewn streets you will see a small Baptist church tucked between chop shops and shantys.  Inside that church are some of the most joyous people on earth.  They love the Lord and serve Him with gladness, regardless of their circumstances.

Our time with our friends at Agbogbloshie was priceless and we are thankful to be able to encourage them in some small way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday in Mahamakrom

After a delayed flight out of Tamale, we finally arrived in Accra around 11:45am.  Our driver took us to drop our things at the guesthouse and then we went to a small, remote village about 2 hrs from Accra, named Mahamakrom.  The story behind this village and it's children is nothing short of amazing.

About five years ago, two American women from Texas found this village while on a church planting mission with a Ghanaian friend.  The school was in shambles and there was no water or electricity in the village.  God spoke to these ladies and they listened and a ministry to the children of Mahamkrom began.

Seeing this village and these children was very encouraging.  The different in their lives are remarkable. Only God could have woven all of these people and all of these good things together for His purposes.

Click here to read more about God's work in Mahamakrom.

Closing Ceremony at Shalom Baptist Church

Sunday was a special day for the American and Ghanaian teams, along with the members of Shalom Baptist Church of Tarikpaa village.  It was our last day to see them before we returned to the US. We enjoyed a wonderful Closing Ceremony that included special music by the talented Shalom Voices Choir and a message from Pastor Mohammed.  There were lots of smiles and lots of dancing.

Our Shalom friends gifted us with beautiful beaded bracelets, shea butter, clothes and shoes as a way of expressing their gratitude for our visit.  We struggled to say our good-byes and we took tons of pictures to remember them by.

One of the highlights of the day was presenting a Bible to a young man named Mishael.  The Bible had been sent with us by one of his friends in the US who was on a previous mission team.  He was so overwhelmed that he was at a loss for words.  He told us that he had just been praying about that very thing.  He had been asking God for a Bible and here it was!  His former Bible was falling apart and he did not have the funds for a new one.

We spent Sunday afternoon visiting with friends who dropped by the guesthouse and packing up our things for an early Monday morning departure to Accra.

Leaving our Ghanaian friends and loved ones is hard on them and on us.  We have grown very close to them these past few weeks and some of us having know them for several years.  We know that we will stay close in heart and possibly even be able to communicate via email, but face-to-face is so much better.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Mohammed and the members of Shalom Baptist Church.  They are doing a great work in the Northern Region.  They have planted several village churches and according to Pastor Steven, their head pastor, they are willing to go even further to reach the "uttermost".  We thank the Lord for the opportunity to engage with them in God's Kingdom work.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Navrongo Visit

Quick update:  Yesterday we had the incredible opportunity to travel to Navrongo to make contact with an unengaged people group, the Kasena.  Their lives are very difficult as they live without water and electricity.  Their area is very dry, so they also struggle getting crops to grow.  But somehow, someway, they survive.  And they need Jesus.  Our prayer is that God would direct those, including us, in how to reach them.  Would you join us?

Today is our last day of ministry in Tamale.  A few of the team members will be going to volunteer at a local children's home and the others will be going back out to do village evangelism.  Tonight we are being hosted for dinner by a friend of mine in Tamale.

Thank you again for your prayers and for all of your support.  Everyone is doing well and no one is ready to leave here. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Miss Mary Steele - A Modern Day Hero of the Faith

Last night after dinner, we had the incredible privilege of meeting and visiting with Miss Mary Steele.  Mary is from the UK and is an 80 something year old Wycliffe missionary who has lived in Ghana for 49 years.  She is a quiet, gentle, soft-spoken woman who doesn't like attention.  She is what anyone around would probably call ordinary.  But Mary is no ordinary person.  She's a modern day hero of the faith.

Mary came to Ghana to help translate the Bible into tribal languages.  In order to do that, she had to first go live in the village, build a relationship with the people and then learn the language herself.  After that, she had to develop a written alphabet, which included all the sounds (blends, tenses, etc) made by each letter.  Only then, could she and local tribe members begin translating the Bible into Konkomba, their heart language.  The first translation of the old testament took 17 years!  Can you imagine the dedication and perseverance it took for this? And that's not all!  She did it a second time with another tribal language and then she went back and translated the Old Testament for both languages.  She also helped write Bible stories, grammar books, and heathcare and hygience books in their languages.

Here's some information that will give you a glimpse into the impact Mary's work had on the Konkomba people:

In the first four years:
  • 2,325 communities set up listening groups
  • 96,915 people joined them
  • 6,375 of these believed
  • 2,931 people bought Bibles!

After hearing her story, we asked Mary if she had any words of advice for us as short-term missionaries.  She said, "Just remember.  God has a plan for each person and being here is part of his plan."

Mary is truly an amazing woman who has been one of God's witnesses to a lost and dying world.

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

World Vision and the Witch Camp

Today we will be partnering with World Vision to serve the women of the KPatinga Witch Camp.  These old women are not witches.  They are just like you and me.  They have been shunned from their villages for various reasons and have made their way to this village to live with other women.  The journey to the camp is long and bumpy, but nothing compared to the journey they have made to just survive. 

Please pray with us for these precious women.   Pray for their health and for their well-being.Pray that we can be an encouragement to them in some small way and that our visit will be more about them and less about  us.

We are all looking forward to our time at KPatinga and hopefully we can write about it when we return.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Storytelling

Today was an incredible today for the team as they joined their Ghanaian teammates and translators in going into a mud-hut village and engaging villagers (mostly Muslim) in Bible storytelling. Many of the villagers prayed to receive Christ and others said they would think about it.  One team member even got to tell the Panorama story to the village Imam, who respectfully listened and politely declined to follow Christ. 

Chris and Jay, two of our teammates, traveled a couple of hours north with our Ghanaian friends and ministry partners, Baba Elijah and Paul Napari to the Navrongo area to make  initial contact with leaders of the Kasena tribe, an unengaged people group.   The entire team will have the opportunity to travel there and back on Friday.  We are all very excited about the incredible opportunity that God has placed before us to share Jesus with those who have never heard.  Please pray for the Kasena tribe leaders and villagers to know Jesus.

Please continue to pray for the health and safety of the team.  Also, pray for the villagers in Tarikpaa who will hear the Gospel tomorrow as we participate in more village evangelism.

We do our small part.  He does the big part...
Max Lucado - Live Out Your Life

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday in the Mud

Well, today was quite interesting!  It rained all.night.long. so we had to delay our departure to the village because some of the roads were impassable.  The roads are very sandy and somewhat rocky, so after some time, we set out for Tarikpaa and made it there just fine.  A few places in the road were washout out, but not impassable or even covered in water.

Today was the day we had planned to go to four different villages to deliver grain to widows and orphans.  This grain is from the maize field that was planted last season with the support and help of donors in the US and in partnership with Shalom Baptist Church.

We made formal presentations to three widows in Tarikpaa and then set out for Yipilegu, a village about 20 minutes away.  After going through parts of the path that seemed impossible to get through, we were driving along at a steady pace when all of a sudden the left side of the van sunk deep in the sand.  Two hours  and many village men later, we were finally pulled out by a tractor.  It was amazing to watch the teamwork that went into trying to get the van unstuck.  Men from all over just started showing up with shovels and machetes.  They cut tree branches and put under the tires, along with rocks that were picked up from the nearby field.  Many of them, including Pastor Mohammed and Pastor Issah, were covered from head to toe in mud before it was over with.

While the men worked on freeing the van, the girls, including Suyuhini and Dorcas (Pastor Steven's daughters) walked the short distance to a nearby village to play with the children.  Most of the older children were in school, so we had about 50 younger children to play with.  Someone (Tayler?) got out bubbles and the fun began!  I don't think I've ever witnessed such joy on the faces of children.  Watching the children run and squeal, trying to pop the bubbles as they floated in the wind, was priceless.  I don't know who it enjoyed it more, the village children or the team members!

After some time, the van was freed and we were able to visit two more widows and present the grain. It was an overwhelming and humbling experience to sit and listen to the widows explain the significance of receiving the grain and how it would help feed their children during the "lean" times.  They have such profound gratitude for something that seems so small to us.  It is not even possible to write much about this and explain it very well.  Things like this take time to process, so hopefully there will be a future blog post that can do it justice.

The day concluded with a revival service at Shalom in the evening.  The team had so much fun dancing with their African friends, especially Elisha and Mishael.  The preacher reminded us that we are witnesses, which was very fitting since today (Tuesday) we are going out to do village evangelism.

Please continue praying for the health of the team and for boldness, without fear, in witnessing.

One Team for God

Our remaining 8 team members arrived in Tamale on Sunday, a day later than expected.  There was a mix-up with date on the airline tickets from Accra to Tamale, so they got to spend their day traveling to Bodi Falls to see a beautiful waterfall and other sites.  The toughest thing for them was getting up at 3:00am two days in a row!  We are so happy to have them here.

On Sunday, Team 2 worshipped with our friends at Shalom Baptist Church in Tarikpaa, while Team 1 went to a Hope Baptist Church in Sankpem.  Sankpem is the village that so desperately needs water. The church is made up of mostly children and about 7-8 adults.  Most of the residents of this village practice voodoo.  Last year, we had the privilege of being here for the commissioning of their first church building.  Returning there for a worship service was very special.  When we arrived, there were about 40 children sitting under a big tree, singing songs with Pastor Issah, the children's minister.  The students, led by Jackie Castro, sang Rescue the Perishing, the song she wrote after returning from her first trip to Ghana last year.  The people were so happy to see us and it is our prayer that we were an encouragement to them in some way.

Before we left the village, we were asked to go see  a woman in the village who had requested that we come pray for her.  When we arrived at her compound, we found out that she was the oldest woman in the village and most likely the oldest woman in all of the surrounding villages.  She, nor her children, knew her age, but we estimated her age to be close to 100.  She had a hip problem and could only get around a little with a walking stick.  What a joy and privilege to pray with her!

The afternoon was spent resting and recovering from jet lag (for some).  Pastor Mohammed came to the guesthouse and shared his testimony with us later in the afternoon.  He shared how he had once been a Muslim and then heard an IMB missionary tell about Jesus.  His testimony is very powerful and it reminded all of us how much God loves each of us and the lengths He will go to to reach one of His children.

Again, we are so thankful for the arrival of the rest of our team.  We are no longer Team 1 and Team 2.  We are one team for God.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fridays at Anfaani Orphanage by Jackie

For the past two Fridays, Tayler, Jillian and I have gotten to work in Anfaani's orphanage. Anfaani's takes care of 10 precious babies. Our day there consists of playing with the kids, changing diapers, helping with the laundry and with feeding them, and doing everything we can to make them stop crying (this sometimes seems like an impossible task).
Our first Friday working there, July 1st, was such a great experience. They were so lovable and fun and really the happiest kids I've ever seen. I spent alot of time playing with baby Mona. She never stops giggling and holds on to you like she never wants to let you go. Tayler played lots of games with baby Nathan, the troublemaker of the group and the boy she has been sponsoring.
Usually the babies are so happy and easy to take care of but this past Friday, July 8th, we had a different experience there. They would cry if we picked them up, cry if we put them down, and peed on us about every 5 minutes. As soon as we would finish changing one there would be another baby waiting. By the 6th hour working there all I could do was laugh at the situation and I'm pretty sure Jillian and Tayler just about had a meltdown from all the screaming babies. It really made us appreiate the woman that work there 24/7. They spend all their time doing everything for these kids on little to no pay. There are very few workers there during the day and I can't imagine them doing all the work without any help. It's not an easy job.
The workers let me hold a baby on my back the way the African woman do, they tie a piece of material around you so your hands are free to hold even more babies. I can't imagine carrying a baby on my back all day with a bucket of water on my head while doing all the work the women in the village do.
After being soaked in pee and changing an endless number of diapers it was time for nap time. I almost cried tears of joy. We usually lay on the hard floor with the workers during nap time but we found out there was a volunteer room with a bed! At the end of the day we went home happy and thankful even if we were exhausted. Those sweet babies are such a blessing and thinking about them always puts a smile on my face.

July 5- Mole National Park by Jillian

We woke up at 6:30 this morning to begin the three hour journey to Mole National Park. Everyone, for the first hour and a half listened to music and attempted to sleep down the bumpy dirt road. After forty-five minutes of bouncing up and down, I gave up on sleep. After an hour had passed we heard a clank, and Mr. Nash, our driver pulled over. He got out of the van, muttered, "exhaust pipe," and kept driving. We could hear the pipe dragging against the road as we enetered a town. The village people's heads turned, wondering what that awful noise was. Joseph joked, "yes, look at all the white people." Soon we heard a louder clank, and Mr. Nash retrived the broken off exhaust pipe, and then continued driving as if nothing had happened.
We arrived at Mole- yes, the car in one piece (minus the exhaust pipe)- and saton the observation deck where we could see elephants bathing in the water hole a distance off. I was a little scared by how comfortable the monkeys and baboons were around us. As we were eating lunch, we saw a baboon jump on a table, and grab the salt shaker. He ran off with it, and we watched him pop off the lid and empty the salt into his mouth. We heard the baboons liked to open doors and go into people's rooms (a warning to keep our door locked).As we were walking to put our bags in our room, a guy told us a babook walked into his room, stole his cliff bars, leaving nothing but the wrapper on his bed. We also saw one walk into the ladies' restroom.
Our team took the 3:30 driving tour. Our guide (with a loaded rifle) took us to a watering hole and we saw a momma elephant with three of her babies. I didn't realize how huge the momma was until she got out of the water. She stood about 20 feet tall. It was such an experience to observe them in their natural habitat. I just kept repeating to myself, "wow, this is so cool."

Arrival and Delays of Team 2

We are so very thankful for the safe arrival of the rest of our 8 team members, including one who flew from Brussels to Accra, via Amsterdam.  They spent a few hours at the guesthouse in Accra, getting acclimated.  Most of them played card games, visited with some members of the Anankra family who came to greet them, and enjoying some popcorn and Coke. Oh, and don't forget th free Wi-Fi!  An added  bonus!

This morning they depart the guesthouse at 4:00am for their 5:30am flight to the Northern Region.  When they arrived at the airport early this morning, there was problem with their tickets and they were not booked on this flight. (TIA)  The plane only flies North once a day, so they will fly early Sunday morning.  Although we are all disappointed that we will not see them today, we know they will have a fun day in Accra.  They will be visiting Boti Falls, which is a short road trip outside of Accra.  This will give them a great introduction to the culture as they will watch Ghana go by as they travel.  They will enjoy meat pies for lunch and chicken and rice for dinner.  We were very thankful that GILLBT Accra could accommodate them for another night.

Team 1 will continue to prepare for their arrival today and also spend some time with Ghanaian friends.  We may even go shopping in the market for some goodies to bring back home.

In Africa, or on any mission, the number one thing a team member can do to be helpful is to be flexible.  That means letting go of control issues, completely trusting your leadership, being thankful for what does go according to plan and also thankful for what does not go according to plan.  God is never surprised by anything and we know He is in control of this mission and everything that goes with it.  We are thankful for His presence no matter where we are or what we are doing.

Please continue to pray for the team (we are one team now) and feel free to post comments.  We see them and read them to the others.

Friday, July 8, 2011

They Knew We Were Coming

I have been doing mission work in Ghana for nine years, and mostly in the Northern Region, so being in a culture that is predominantly Muslim is nothing new to me.  Just like many Christians in the US and other parts of the world, many of them are "cultural" Muslims.  The teams have always had easy access to the government schools in the villages where we go in and engage them in Bible storytelling, songs and games. 

Until now.

They knew we were coming. And they were ready.

How did they know we were coming?  Because they had their eyes and ears open.  Before our arrival, the local pastors approach the village chiefs and school headmasters seeking permission for us to come to the schools.  Most, but not all of them, are Muslim.  The local Imams are very involved with knowing what is going on with the children and they stay in close contact with the teachers at the schools.  It is not unusual to see the local Imam sitting on the school steps during the school day, keeping watch.

How were they ready?  Recently there has been a big push for Islam in the North like never before.  There are two organizations pouring  tons of resources into this area, and one of them is from the USA (shocking or at the very least surprising, isn't it?)  I've been in many rural villages in the past two weeks and every single one of them has a new mosque.  The local Imams are holding Arabic classes for all the children in the afternoons, after school dismisses and on Saturdays.  They have taught the older boys to ask key questions (we've heard the same questions in two village schools) that challenge the Christian faith.  These questions focus primarily on the virgin birth of Jesus and the Trinity.

Ho do we respond?  First of all, we don't debate.  Secondly, when this occurs we call in Pastor Mohammed, a former Muslim and the national pastor we work with, to answer the questions.  We actually thank God for these opportunities because it is a way for these children to hear the Truth.  They are free to ask any questions, instead of just the ones they have been trained to ask.  How amazing that the Lord gives us this opportunity to share the love of Christ with them in this way?

Does this worry us?  No, not at all (not because we serve a bigger God, but because we serve the ONE True God), but it has been a sobering reminder to the Ghanaians and Americans that we MUST DO MORE to spread the Gospel.  Not just here, but all over the world.  And we must train our children, not just send them to someone else once a week and hope they "get it".  We need to bind the Word of God on their hearts and hands (and ours as well).

All Christians should be able to defend their faith.  Can you?

Links to Pictures

In case you are not able to see the team pics that have been posted to facebook, you can click here to view the pics of our trip to Mole National Park.

You can click here to see some general team mission pics.  I try and add to this every now and then.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


(insert amazing picture of the storm here.  I tried for over an hour to get it to upload, to no avail)

Well, sometimes you are just too busy living it to write about it and that has been the case with our team.  I"ll try to do better the next couple of weeks.

On Sunday, we worshipped with our friends at Shalom Baptist in Tarikpaa.  Pastor Steven Napari preached and right in the middle of his sermon, a huge storm began to pass over.  We were thankful that the church had recently been roofed, but there are no window coverings or doors, so in came the fierce rain with the cool wind.  We were actually cold (and so were our Ghanaian friends!).  We had to wait awhile before we could leave the church because the Kumbumgu road is a dirt road and there are no drainage ditches.  We made it back to the guesthouse just fine, very thankful for the rain. It is planting season here and the rain is needed for the crops.

On Monday, we went back to Tarikpaa and did a VBS program for the lower primary students.  We have been going to this school every summer for several years so they know all the songs, which is really fun.  It reminds me that sometimes we reap the harvest that others have sown.  I am thinking of people like Audrey Salter, Elizabeth Mateer, Birgitte Obenchain, Amy Adams, Taylor Duggan and so many more who have spent their time in this field.  The children remember.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Mole National Park, which was a four hr drive over mostly bumpy dirt roads, but so worth it.  Hopefully one of the team members will blog about that tomorrow, so please check back.

Please remember Team 2 in your prayers as they will be departing the US on Thursday at 1:30pm.  We have 8 more team members joining us and we are really looking forward to their arrival.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday - Orphan Care and Shopping

On Saturday, Jillian, Jackie and Tayler spent the day volunteering at a local orphan home.  The orphan home now has 9 babies, ages 2 and under.  The girls played with, rocked, changed, fed and napped them.  The workers there spend long hours at their jobs, so when the babies nap, so do they.  When I arrived to pick the girls up at 4:00pm, I found all three of them, along with one of the regular workers, sprawled out on the tile floor by the baby beds, sound asleep.  It was so cute and funny.

Colton and Joseph enjoyed sleeping in and then wandering around town.  Of course, Joseph found some chocolate chip cookies at a store, which he gladly shared with us later.  We didn't care that they were smashed to smithereens and in about a zillion little pieces.  They were wonderful!  They also discovered another little treasure, but that will stay a secret for now until our reinforcement (Team 2) arrives.  We are going to surprise them with it.

I spent my day in Tamale running errands.  I was able to find some really good Ghanaian curriculum for the new preschool that is opening at Shalom in September.  I also found some good quality plastic bowls for a good price for the school children, which is important because the nutritional supplements (powder) needs to be sprinkled on individual serving.  In this culture, several children normally share food from one bowl.

Prayer Needs:
*Continued good health for the American and Ghanaian teams
*A young Muslim man who we met a few days ago who is wanting to follow Jesus but will suffer great persecution from his family when he goes public with the decision.  At great risk, he actually spent two days on the field with our team, helping translate Bible stories.
*Team 2 preparing to depart Thurs
*our families back home
*for everything we say and do to glorify God

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.  It is so wonderful to know that you all are there for us.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Ishawu's family with colton and cheryl - this is the child who almost died from starvation last year
 Dagomba child - the marks on his cheeks are tribal markings
 Team with Chief of Sankpem - this is the waterless village.  They are so desperate for clean water.
 The Chief was very kind to gift us with guinea fowl eggs as a way of showing his appreciation for our help in trying to get water to his village.  There have been two attempts at bore holes, but there is no water. There is a pipeline that we could tap into, but the local officials are attempting to extort money from us in order to get it.  There are no words to describe the frustration this causes.  Please pray as we meet with the district officials again in a couple of weeks.
 Bunny ears on a Chief?  Really Jackie? oh my.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday in Yipieligu by Jillian

During breakfast we talked about the importance of teamwork. In America we are so used to doing things for ourselves. In America it is a social norm to refuse help from others, revealing confidence in ourselves. Being in a different country, with different social norms, it is important to work as a team with our Ghanaian translators, as well. After breakfast the six of us (Jackie, Colton, Joseph, Tayler, Mrs. Read, and I) hopped in a van and headed down the long bumpy road to Yipieligu Village.
After arriving, we learned one hundred and fifty children attended primary school (K-4) in Yipieligu. We split the children up into three groups. Colton, Mohammad, Suyuhini, and I shared a story with one group. The story told about creation, the fall of man, Abraham, the prophet Isaiah, and then Jesus. More importantly, we stressed the need for this Savior named Jesus. Because Jesus died and rose to life again, we could have a good relationship with God despite our sinful nature. Tayler, Jackie, and Drusilla sang songs with one group of children. The kids were singing and dancing... I could tell how excited they were by how loud they were. I can just imagine children singing- or yelling ;) - "Hallelujah" being music to God's ears. Joseph and Peter played futbol outside. Yesterday when my group asked if any of the children had any questions, one raised his hand and said, "can we go play futbol?" Not the type of question we were looking for, but I was happy to hear they enjoyed it so much.
We drove back to Tarikpaa village, and we had lunch with our Ghanaian teammates. Right before lunch a phone rang and Peter (one of our translators) tapped me on the shoulder. "It's Uriah," he said. Uriah was one of my translators during hut-to-hut evangelism last year, and I was very excited to hear from him that he will be travelling back to Tarikpaa from school this Sunday to see our team. I have loved reconnecting with people from last year. I met a shy little boy named Isaiah last year who stole my heart. I saw him a couple days ago and gave him a picture of us that I took last year. As I gave it to him, I watched a smile creep on his face.
These kind of special relationships make coming back to Ghana so much sweeter.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday in Zugu

This morning I scrambled the guinea fowl eggs that the Sankpem Chief gifted us with.  We also had oatmeal and fried cinnamon toast.  Preparing food here is not an easy task as we are cooking on a very small gas stove and we also have to figure out what food we can get from the market that we know how to prepare.  We are so thankful for our dear friend Cynthia who has already prepared several meals for us.  Tonight she made us Red Red, which is fried plantain (very sweet) with a red sauce poured over it.  The red sauce consists mainly of tomato paste and black-eyed peas, along with a few spices.  I think it is my favorite Ghanaian food.  We also had fresh watermelon and mango.  While we were having Red Red, Cynthia was having a piece of bread with peanut butter spread on top (at her request).  Seemed kind of funny that we were eating Ghanaian food and she was eating American food.

Today we went to Zugu village to do VBS in the school.  There were over 300 children there, but the team jumped right in and made it work.  We were there for over two hours, telling Bible stories, playing futbol and singing songs.  In one of the classes for the older students, a few of the Muslim boys began challenging what we were saying about Jesus being God's son and born of a virgin.  Pastor Mohammed took over the lesson, mainly because we did not want to cause problems or say something wrong.  The end result was a very good lesson for us that we should know why we believe what we believe.  As Americans, we rarely, if ever, have to defend our faith.  Here, the Christians are greatly outnumbered and many of them are persecuted for their faith, so they know why they know what they know.

Some of you may remember that about 1 1/2 years ago Pastor Mohammed discovered a little boy named Ishawu and his sister Adijah who were near death due to starvation.  He took them to the hospital and got them nutritional supplements, which helped tremendously.  Last year we saw Ishawu walk for the first time.  He had been laying down for almost six years.  Adijah had been laying down for 2 years.  The mother was a widow and near starvation herself.  Through the Widow Care Program, Ishawu's mom received two goats last year and some funds to expand her small business of making a local cookie to sell.  Today we got to see the result of that.  She is now able to make and sell the "cookie" every day, bringing almost 5X as much income as before.  The difference was apparent as there was food in the cooking pot and healthy smiles on their faces.

Perhaps the highlight of the day (for me at least) was seeing Ishawu at school!  He is still so tiny for his age, but his mind is good.  I had wondered about that because he had been sick for so long and his head was large for his body.  I had a conference with his teacher who told me that he knows his letters and is doing quite well.  He also asks questions, which shows that he is thinking things through.  We also went to his house (mud hut) and visited with his mother and sister.  They are doing well, praise God.

After going back to Tarikpaa and having lunch (us - peanut butter/bread, them - rice/beans) and fellowship, we returned to the guesthouse for dinner and few more hands of spades.

Right now a I type (8:15pm), I am listening to the gentle African rains that often come at night.  The weather is mild and we haven't lost electricity once since we arrived, which means air conditioning at night.  After a long day on a dusty road it feels SO good.

Thank you all so much for your prayers.  We need them, we feel them and we depend on them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday in Sankpem

Last evening on their way home from our guesthouse, our dear friends Paul and Cynthia were in a one-car accident.  We thank God that they are okay, although Cynthia as a sore knee and the vehicle was damaged too much to drive.  We are hopeful that it can be repaired without too much cost.  Since Paul was our driver and we were using his vehicle, we had to find another means of transportation.  We were very thankful that Mr. Nash, a former driver for me, was available.

We headed out to Tarikpaa around 9:00am to meet with our Ghanaian team for prayer and devotions.  Since we now have a 12 passenger van we were able to transport our Ghanaian team to Sankpem instead of them riding their bicycles.  Sankpem is several miles away from Tarikpaa.

Sankpem village is a hard place to live.  They do not have a water source except for a pond that looks like coffee with creamer in it.  The villagers there suffer a great deal.  Two bore holes have been dug in the past few years, but no water.  Now there is a major water pipeline that has been laid down the Kumbungu road, which could be one way to get water to the village.  Chris will be meeting with the District water manager in a couple of weeks to see what can be done about that.  We met with him last year, but he wasn't much help.  We are hoping that now that the water pipe is in, he will work with us in getting water to Sankpem.

The first thing we did was to meet with the Chief.  He remembered me from years past and said he was thankful that his village has not been forgotten and that we are trying to help.  He gave me about a dozen guinea eggs as a token of friendship.  He also extended an invitation of marriage of Jackie, my youngest team member.  We all had a good laugh about that.

After that, we went to Hope Baptist Church for a VBS type program.  Jillian, with Colton's help, did an outstanding job telling the panorama story to the children, using the puppets.  When the children saw her carrying the puppets in (in a clear plastic bag) they were pointing and saying, "Babies!  Babies!".  They had never seen puppets before.  Jackie and Tayler sang songs with them for a long time.  It was so cute to see them do the Hokey Pokey and it was really funny to see them try to teach them how to do The Wave.  Joseph was not able to play futbol with them because there wasn't a field close by, so he went outside and made friends with a young farmer boy.  Joseph is like a gentle giant and even though some of the kids are afraid of him at first, they usually warm up to him in just a few minutes because of his gentle spirit.

After our visit to Sankpem, we went back to Tarikpaa and enjoyed fellowship with our Ghanaian teammates.  They ate their local food and we ate ours (bread and peanut butter).  We can't eat their food because of the water it is cooked in, but they wanted to try peanut butter and they loved it!  Ground nuts (peanuts) are a huge commodity here, but they have never had it in creamy form.  Of course, there were lots of little children coming around to play and the team didn't disappoint them.

We came back to town around 4:00pm and then went to Quality First supermarket (think 7-11 about 50 yrs ago).  I found some frozen green beans that had Hebrew writing on it and some antibacterial cleaner for our kitchen countertops.  Of course, Joseph found the Fan Ice.  We had spaghetti/green beans/mango/pineapple/banana for dinner.  Oh, and I can't forget the fried garlic toast.  (no oven remember?)  I put Joseph in charge of cooking it and that was an experience all on its own.

Today was a great day.  Tomorrow we will go to Yipiliegu village.

P.S.  I tried to upload pictures but after a couple of hours, I gave up.  Maybe next time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27 - Our first day of village ministry

We began our day with breakfast/devotions at 8:30am.  Colton brought the devotion and he reminded us of the importance of doing what we do for the Lord, and not for ourselves.  We had oatmeal, toast (toasted in a frying pan - we have no oven) and boiled eggs for breakfast.  No one ever complains about the food, which always amazes me.  Teenagers in the US are so conditioned to eating what they want, when they want, and how they want but when they come to Africa, they just eat whatever is there.  I love that about student teams.  Of course, if your name is Joseph, you bring an extra suitcase with nothing in it but packages of Oreos, crackers, pop tarts, Starburts, candy, etc.  Seriously!  That boy could open a small market inTamale and make good money.  Hmmmm...

Today was also the day we met our Ghanaian team members at Shalom Baptist Church in Tarikpaa.  Since school is still in session, our team is mostly comprised of university students on summer break and adult team members.  We were so happy to see Elisha, Mishael, Eunice, Suyuhini, and others.  While the American team drove by SUV to the remote village of Kushibo, our Ghanaian counterparts rode their bicycle down a dirt path.  They beat us there, of course.

The students did an outstanding job teaching Bible stories, singing songs and playing futbol (soccer) with the kids at the Kushibo school.  While they were doing that, Eunice and I walked through the village and did Bible storytelling with small groups of women.  One woman that I've known for about five years, listened to the story and told me that she knew that Jesus was King and that everything I said was true, but she was a Muslim and could not change that.  I hear that a lot.  There's no easy answer or quick fix to that way of thinking.  It just takes prayer and more prayer and lots of perseverance in continuing to share Christ with them.

This afternoon we went to Anfaani Children's Home.  I love everything about Anfaani, except the fact that the children there are orphans.  It is well-maintained, meaning that the children are well cared for and the place is immaculate.  Tayler had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours playing with Nathan, her sponsored child.  The rest of us played with all nine babies and I had the special privilege of holding and rocking a two weeks old baby girl.  There is just something so right about visiting orphans.

We once again enjoyed a wonderful dinner (spaghetti) prepared by Cynthia.  Tomorrow is another day of village ministry and we are looking forward to it.

June 26 - Worship at Shalom

Today was a beautiful Africa day.  It is the rainy season here so the weather is fairly mild, which means it was in the 80's.  We enjoyed a breakfast of omelets and yeast rolls before heading out to Tarikpaa village.

Our first trip to the village is always filled with anticipation knowing we will see old faces and make new friends.  African church worship is so unique and different than most American church worship. There seems to be so much more freedom of worship here and we enjoy every minute of it.

Last year, upon returning home, one of our team members, Jackie Castro, wrote and recorded a song about her experience here.  It was called "Rescue the Perishing".  Today Jackie, along with Joseph, Jillian, Tayler and Colton sang that song for the church members.  They loved it.  Jackie commented later that it was very special to her to be able to sing the song she wrote about these people to these people.

After worship and fellowship with our Shalom friends, we headed back to the guesthouse for lunch and rest. 

Later on in the day we went to meet with Rev. Baba Elisha.  He is of the Kasena tribe.  As part of our mission this year, we are going as a team to do some research and make contact with this tribe to see if there is a possibility of doing a church plant there in the future.  The tribe is located further north, almost to Burkina Faso.  We would appreciate your prayers as we seek God's favor in this situation.

Cynthia Napari, Paul's wife, cooked dinner for us.  She made chicken and jolof rice.  The fruit here is amazing, so we always have mango, pineapple, banana,, watermelon and/or oranges with our meals.

We are really excited to see what God has in store for this team and the people in the villages.

June 24-25

We thank God for a smooth flight and safe arrival in Ghana.  We were greeted at the airport by our dear friends, Francis Osei and Pastor Mohammed.

Our first night was spent at the GILLBT Guesthouse. We were so surprised when they served us chocolate cake, meat pies and popcorn upon arrival.  I've never had popcorn in Ghana! After 17 hours in planes and airports, we were happy just to have our feet planted on African soil.

We were all jet-lagged so we retired early.  The weather was so mild that we slept with our windows open, enjoying the quiet rains and cool breeze that came in the night.

We were up at 3:30am to catch a 5:30am flight to Tamale, in the Northern Region.  We had another smooth flight and again we were greeted by a special friend, Paul Napari who transported us to the GILLBT Guesthouse.  I've been bringing teams to here for so long that it feels like home.  We spent the remainder of the day resting, getting acclimated and participating in team orientation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Going Scared

A few years ago I was sitting in a large group of Believers on a Sunday morning when suddenly the leader stopped and said to me, "You have been going to Africa for several years, so you go with complete confidence and no fear, right?"  My head knew the answer he was seeking, but my heart jumped into my mouth and said, "I go scared every time."  The class erupted in laughter and the point he was trying to make dissolved into oblivion.

I've thought about that moment many times since then, realizing that it is not really fear (lack of trust in God) that most team members experience as much as it is a humbleness of heart and a sincere desire to follow after the things of God and not after the things of man. It's a feeling of not wanting to fail Him and wanting with every fiber of our beings to glorify God in all we do. You see, it is easy to become enthralled with the "coolness" of going to Africa.  After all, we're treated like rock stars there, mainly just because of the color of our skin.

I really like what Chuck Swindoll has to say on the subject of having a humble servant's heart.  He writes, "When you have a servant's heart, you're humble. You do as you're told. You don't rebel. You respect those in charge. You serve faithfully and quietly without concern over who gets the credit." He continues with, "A servant has one great goal, and that is to make the person he serves look better, to make that person even more successful. A servant does not want the person he serves to fail. A servant doesn't care who thinks what, just so the job gets done." (Click here to read the entire article)

Our goal with this mission is to serve God in such a way that only He gets the credit.  We want to exalt and glorify the name of Jesus for it is only by His great grace that we are able to go at all.

O Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear.
Ps. 10:17


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pastor Issah and the Good News Club

Let me introduce you to Pastor Issah.  He is the Children's Minister of Shalom Baptist Church in Tarikpaa, Ghana, West Africa.  I've known Pastor Issah for 7 years and in all that time, I've never seen him without a smile.  He is the director of the Good News Club, which means he travels by motorbike, bicycle, or on foot to 5 remote mud-hut villages to teach the children about Jesus. 

Thanks to some school children here in the US, last year our team was able to take some school supplies to Pastor Issah.  He distributes them to needy children who would otherwise not have any supplies for school.

You can see Pastor Issah standing behind the children, smiling.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shalom 2011 Easter Celebration

Dear Brethren in the Lord,

I am more than the word happy to share with you the beautiful pictures of our 2011 Easter convention.Today was a great day for me in the ministry of God.  I can't imagine leading over 500 people to enter into His gate with praises and worship.Shalom Baptist Church new building was full up with a sitting capacity over 500 people,today affirmed that our new Church building sitting capacity is more the 400 capacity as we proposed,we are very excited that the Lord has used this ordinary and poor members to do this great work.I thank all our partners for their support to put up such a big auditorium in a village like Tarikpaa,we are proud of you all.I also want to thank you all for supporting me in prayers when i was preparing to lead the Association today in our worship service,the Lord used me in an unexpected way to bless His people.Glory be to His name.

Not that alone,for the past three days we have been examining the Second Advent(coming) of our Lord Jesus Christ and it was a moment of discovery, insight and life touching.

I hope you all experience the same way as we did here in Tarikpaa Village.May the Lord show you His favor and smile on you as you celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
Pastor Mohammed.