In my last post I explained my crazy travels and why I returned to Ghana for just 2 weeks before coming back to California to get my family. Here is what I did in those two weeks (besides recover from jet lag!):
If I had to explain my job in two words, I’d say “Making Friends”. Alternatives would include “Develop Partnerships”, “Community Mobilization”, and “Catalyze (a) Movement”. OK, I cheated on that last one. I couldn’t figure out how to drop that indefinite article. You get the idea. My job is all about relationships. We (Leo and I) visit a lot of leaders and influencers. The majority are church leaders, but it also includes government officials, media, and like-minded NGO’s. We seek people out, develop relationships, and explore ways we can collaborate together to serve the oppressed. We mobilize the community to persuade those with power to use that power on behalf of the powerless.
We had two such meetings recently. The first was a meeting with the Director of Social Services for the Church of Pentecost denomination. The Church of Pentecost has millions of members, reaching all parts of Ghana. They have a church in most villages along the shores of Volta Lake. Anita (our stellar aftercare director), Leo, and I headed over to the meeting, asking for God’s leading. The meeting was a complete joy! We learned that the church of Pentecost was already in motion studying and preparing to assist in fighting child trafficking in Ghana! We connected through our shared passion on the subject and our belief that “this too is the work of God!” We discussed ways we might partner with them and equip their pastors to be effective in their fight. We left exhilarated and praising God!
The second meeting I had was with the directors of a Christian children’s home and school associated with a church that my family and I have been attending. Over the course of the year, we’ve had many occasions to discuss with them IJM’s work, of which they were already quite familiar and very enthusiastic. They have grown in their passion and commitment and the church even hosted our first ever Ghana Prayer Gathering in November. We’ve been discussing for many months the possibility of their school and home taking in IJM clients rescued from child trafficking. We have a HUGE need for this. I am delighted to share with you that this latest meeting was to put the final touches on a Memo of Understanding creating an official partnership with IJM. Hurray! This is a dream come true for me.
Annual Work Plan
Leo and I spent a good amount of time developing our goals and plans for the year. We are overflowing with new ideas as well as ways to improve and expand everything we did last year. One wild and crazy idea is to multiply the Justice Conference we did last year into a series of three of them to “surround the lake” with pastors trained to fight child trafficking. Last year we did one conference for 270 pastors, covering the southeastern coastline. Might we (by God’s grace and with His help) replicate this in regions where we have less connections? One new idea is a social media campaign in Ghana similar to the “End It Movement” in the U.S. We are also planning to develop a three-tiered training for training pastors in biblical justice: a one hour seminar, a half-day workshop, and a 12 week seminary class. This will allow us a variety of options to offer our budding church partners to use in their various contexts.
Welcoming New American Staff
We were down to just three Americans on the staff for a while. Can you believe of those Americans, I’ve been there the longest?!? It really gives you quite a picture of how thoroughly Ghanaian our office is. In the time I was back in Ghana, I was able to help welcome several newbies. We have two new interns, a new Director of Investigations, and a new Field Office Director, who all arrived in the space of a few weeks. It has been great getting to know them and hosting a taco night at my house. The field office director and the investigations director are both married with a child each, so it is very exciting for us to have American families join us! Previously, we had been the only ones to bring kids with us to Ghana. I am greatly looking forward to bringing Joy and my kids to Ghana in a few days and introducing them to all our new IJM friends!
It was stunning how much more free-time I had with my family on another continent! What did I do with my time? Well, to be honest, for a lot of it I played games on my phone, watched TV, and read copious amounts of NFL news. But I also got to hang out with Gregg (our legal fellow), play ultimate Frisbee and American football with some friends, and drive our new staff on various errands. I also went to a massive market and found an old used E-Bike for a killer deal. What is an E-bike you wonder? Picture a bicycle with rocket boosters. It is exhilarating. I hope I don’t crash. Maybe I should get a helmet?!? Also, check out this picture…
Esther let me bask in the glory that is her barrister’s wig!
I am pleased to let you know that our financial support (from all of you wonderful people) has remained strong. I had worried a bit (needlessly) that after a year had passed people would begin to forget about us and our support would trickle off. I am greatly encouraged to see that God has provided (through you!) for all our needs. If our monthly givers continue at the current rate, combined with the annual and one time gifts we receive in January and February, we are fully funded for the year! One big piece of news is that we now intend to stay longer than the two years we signed up for. I am starting a major project (the creation of seminary course) that will take me more than a year to complete. This means we intend to stay in Ghana several months after our original December departure date. So any extra funding we receive will be what allows us to extend our service. Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We couldn’t do any of this without you!
Your brother in Christ,