What I do

This video gives a pretty good glimpse into what I do here in Ghana.

Supporters, you are making this possible!

Outreach and Engagement team, you guys are the best!

Thanks to Selorm Tamakloe for making the video!

An Interesting Birthday

I usually celebrate my birthday with my family, but this year was different. Instead I was in a truck for 11 hours with these dear friends.

They made me feel very loved though as they sang to me last night, adding kind affirming encouragements and saying that I am in fact with family.

Today I preached in this church. Lots and lots of dancing!

The church surprised me with a birthday celebration!

Osofo Kwame is what many people call me here in Ghana. I was amazed to see this cake paraded down the aisle!

I am amazed at all the birthday love I have received so far from my family.

The church service had it all: music, dancing, birthday cake, lots more music and dancing, a sermon, and TWO WEDDINGS!!!

I AM VERY TIRED. Please pray for energy and strength for me as I now need to help lead a conference and workshop for pastors along the shores of Lake Volta.

Thoughts on Parenting

My daughter asked me last night through sobbing tears, “Daddy, everything was better before we moved. Why did we have to move to Ghana?”

I answered, “To rescue children from slavery.”

“Why couldn’t someone else do it?” she asked me.

This is an interaction that would have deeply troubled me a few years ago. I would have grieved my child’s unhappiness and questioned my own sense of calling in the work I do. I would have felt that I was wronging my child by seeking to help other children. These precious young tears would have ripped me apart.

But last night they didn’t bother me a bit! I could hold her and give her comfort and love and compassion, without any inkling of doubt, despair, or regret. How is that? The truth is that my daughter is thriving in a hundred ways, even in her temporary unhappiness.

I want my kids to be happy, but that is not my deepest yearning for them. I want them to be brave, so I let them experience fear. I want them to be compassionate, so I let them see suffering.  I want them to be strong, so I let them struggle with burdens. I want them to be grounded, so I accept that they will have moments of disorientation in their lives. I want them be creative, so I let them be bored.

We climbed the tallest mountain in Ghana last month.

It was difficult, and there was some complaining along the way.

 

Building these qualities into them requires hardship and discomfort which feels in the moment like unhappiness. So be it. Her tears do not disturb me like they used to because my goal is not to give her a tear-free childhood. My goal is to help her grow into a magnificent wonderful incredible woman full of strength, courage, compassion, faith, and creativity who can stand fast in the storms of life. These tears don’t threaten that goal. They are a path to the goal’s achievement.

but we made it!

 

and it was worth it.

So I held her tight and rocked her and listened long and carefully to her struggles. I answered her questions gently and tenderly, but with unwavering conviction in our mission and full assurance that neither she nor I are the center of the universe. Also, I simply do not believe that a life of self-focus, ease, and comfort will ultimately make either of us happy in the long run.

I read a quote this morning from Tim Keller, “I can think of nothing great that is also easy.”

Daughter, you will be great.

-Daddy

Here is a song I like. It gets me.

Contending for Freedom and Justice on July 4th

I write this from a van full of my IJM brothers as we rocket down a rough road in the rural countryside of the Volta Region. Our destination is a town on the Eastern shore of Lake Volta, home to the Ewe people. Along the route we will pick up a government social worker and an IJM client who was a victim of child trafficking for 10 years before he was rescued.

Over the next few days we will be training over 250 pastors and church leaders from fishing villages in Biblical Justice and child trafficking issues at what we call The Justice Conference.

The agenda:

Today I will train a group of 10 pastors in how to teach a Bible study curriculum I’ve written with help from Leo.

Tomorrow is the conference where Leo will preach, Daniel (IJM aftercare) will explain trafficking, and our IJM client will share his story. Selorm will lead us in some special music and several local pastors will play upfront roles. I will probably run slides and pray in the background.

Tomorrow night I begin training a group of 50 of the pastors who have been invited to an extended training on the Biblical Justice curriculum. The leaders I train tonight will becone small group leaders tomorrow night.

Friday, we do an all day training on the curriculum.

The hope is that these pastors will become advocates for Justice in their fishing villages, that they will train their churches in Biblical Justice, and join our fight against child trafficking.

If you think of me this July 4th, please say a prayer for our effort here. Ask that God would awaken a fire in the hearts of many for Freedom and Justice. Also, please eat a hamburger and light some fireworks for me too!

Wasted Hours

If you’ve gotten the impression from my blog posts that our lives here are always exciting, my apologies. That would be a big lie. The truth is that we spend many hours doing things like this, sitting for hours in a hot room wading through what feels like mindless beauracracy. Today it means me sitting in this room for 3 hours trying to get my kids non-citizen ID cards, which we need to get them residence permits.

Before that process I had to get a work permit which requires all manner of documentation, payments, medical tests, etc.

My paperwork was in this stack

Today is my 3rd attempt to get these cards. Once we were thwarted by not having a police report for the lost expired cards, which is apparently required. So I waited one day at a police station for a long time to get that. Later, police report in hand, I tried to get these cards but failed due to not having the passports with me (only copies).

Today turns out to be another failure… Technical difficulties with Hannahs card which may be tied to the challenge of the machine reading her fingerprints. I will have to return on Friday. Well, perhaps a partial success because we got Peter’s card.

Friday I will try again. If successful, I’ll try again at immigration for the permits. How I love beauracracy!

But, lest we judge, I should note that the process at the American Embassy for Ghanaians coming to America, even for a brief IJM staff conference, is no less frought with challenges, including standing 5 hours in the sun outside the embassy for an “appointment” and frequent unexplained rejections.

Alas, it goes both ways.

My kids are Champs though. I think I’ll buy them pizza and soda.

Road Trip in Pictures

I recently went on a 5-day road trip to the Northern part of Lake Volta, to two areas which are at the center of the problem of child trafficking in Ghana.  Our mission was to make contact with local pastors, begin relationships, and explore ways we can empower them to be catalysts for justice in their region.

Lake Volta from the Air.  It is HUGE.  Thousands of fingers stretching for hundreds of miles.

It’s drier up north…and hotter!

Leo and I arriving in Tamale

The Trusty Steed that carried us North.

That’s a lot of bikes!

2.5 hours to the lake, mostly on bumpy dirt road

Stayed the night with some friends “in the bush” who then gave us a ride via 3-wheeler to the ferry terminal.  From this point on, I didn’t see another white person for 3 days.  The reason I know this is because i forgot sunblock and was desperate to find someone to borrow from!  But, Thank God, I found Aloe Vera instead.

Loading trucks onto the ferry is a team effort

By Golly, they did it!

This guy wanted to sell me some interesting traditional medicine remedies for afflictions Leo secretly claimed to him I had.  His pantomime explanations for what problems they solved were embarrassing to say the least.  Thanks a lot Leo!

This is one of the reasons we came all this way…a chance to meet the pastors on the local church council of Yeji.  We introduced ourselves and IJM.  We shared our hearts for Biblical Justice and equipping pastors.  We offered to partner with them to train the pastors in the region to fight for justice in their communities.

The meeting went great.  What a wonderful group of men!  What an honest conversation and an open ear!  We’ve been invited back to put on a conference.

Lunch Time

We stopped off to show a couple of IJM videos to the boy (white shirt) who starred in them (along with his family and friend).  This is his first time seeing the movies.  Links below if you want to watch them also.

Day 3: the road to the next ferry terminal

shopping for yams

that’s why we need a ferry

A pastor in Kete-Krachi leading us in a powerful prayer for our work!

What a joy to meet with the local church council in Kete-Krachi!  I got a chance to preach a bit from Isaiah 58 and share some of my own experience as a pastor with some congregants who have been victims of trafficking and other injustices.  We discussed the challenges and opportunities we face as pastors.  They are eager to get more training on biblical justice and practical skills for justice and compassion ministries that match our preaching with action!

Day 5: trying to beat the storm to the 3rd ferry terminal

we made it!

 

the ferry terminals are really busy

the 9 hour drive home through the Volta Region

 

 

I yam done