Sogakope--two hours north of Ghana’s capital city, Accra--is a tiny village that has left an enormous imprint on our hearts. It’s not the place that is so special. In fact, if you blinked you’d almost miss it. What captivated us, what brings us back, is the people that we’ve met there.
God had placed Agnes Appiah, a powerful example of obedience and faith, on my heart long before my feet every touched African soil and I loved her long before our paths every physically crossed. It is a friendship orchestrated by the Creator of the Universe and a blessing that I am so very grateful for.
The intention of our trip to Africa was to help teach at Living Faith Preparatory School and assist in whatever way we could at Agnes’ Home for “Needies” and Orphans. While we did provide some much-needed respite for those who work so very hard day in and day out, I wondered if our presence was more of a burden than a help. We didn’t build a school or a medical wing. We didn’t hold a massive rally where thousands came to know Christ. Instead, we held hands, played games, made crafts and lived life side by side Agnes and her “needies”. We listened. We listened as people shared their testimonies, their hurts, and their dreams. We became family as we sat around the table and shared stories, meals and life.
While we were there, it became so clear to me that sometimes our job is to come alongside and refresh and renew the strength of those God has chosen to do a mighty work. Sometimes our job is simply to encourage and to uphold the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we made ourselves available, God used us in such a way. In return, He enabled them to pour back into us. Our Ghanaian family has taught us so much about generosity and hospitality, about servanthood and faith and--in the midst of what North Americans would call lack--we found abundance, a trust and obedience to God that is indescribable. And we found joy.
Every afternoon as they gather together in a circle outside the home to have a time of devotions, they remember us in prayer and on the other side of the ocean, we do the same. They are our family in every sense of the word: a gift that only God could give and one that we will hold close to hearts for a lifetime.
This was the Ghanaian greeting wherever we went...always with a giant smile that beamed sincerity. It took a few times to realize that it wasn't in reply to our "thank you" but instead was a greeting to welcome us to this country, this village, this street, this store, this school, this church, this house, this field.
Lesson number one for the newbies on this trip? People genuinely want to talk to you. And not just because you're new here. We saw how the Ghanaian way was to make time for people, no matter what was on your schedule. How different not to live life by the clock! For us Canadians, this was a bit of an adjustment!
How refreshing to be reminded that "it's all about relationship" here. The structures, the buildings, the markets, the material things are not front and centre. As it is with Jesus, it's all about taking care of your brother, your sister. I am reminded of Matthew 25:35 - "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."
Thank you Auntie Agnes and all the children for welcoming us!