Saturday, May 18, 2013

Looks like a week and a half of stories and pictures is a little hefty; time to start a new file. I plan to keep it at a week from here on.

Some interesting things happened late last night. First, I noticed that Friday is apparently a big deal in Wa; from my bed it sounded like the local teens were cruising main street in their hot rods with their radios blaring. I have an advantage over most people in such situations, however, in that I’m pretty much deaf in one ear. If I want to hear what’s going on in the next room, I lie on the bad ear; if I want to sleep, I lie on the good one. I don’t know how you people with two good ears manage.

Second, the water pump went down while Jon was taking a shower. They got it fixed pretty quickly—it was some sort of safety shutoff, not a failure of the pump—but Jon was left kinda high and wet, if you know what I mean. Fortunately, he had brought a water sachet to the shower with him, so he had a half liter he could use to get rinsed. On the other hand, he had brought it with him to drink, and it was ice cold. The other guys said some pretty interesting sounds came out of the shower during the process.

We have an unusually early rising today, to be ready for bus pickup at 8 am. As we’re getting ready, the power goes out again. This time, it turns out, it’s city-wide. Hope it’ll be on again when we get back.

We drive not far to what the locals call the “Water Village”—I don’t know why—where Pastor John is working on his next church plant. It meets on the back porch of a good-sized house in the village, and kids meet in the garage (Google Maps link). We gather in the back yard and pair off with the young people from Faith. Since the folks we’ll be visiting may not speak English, we’ll need to be prepared.

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Josiah, Simon’s 15-year-old brother, asks if he can be my partner. He’s been peppering me with really good questions after each time I preach at church—“Should a polygamist who becomes a Christian set aside his wives?” was the most recent. This kid is really thinking. After that question I asked him if he wanted to be a pastor, and he said yes. So I jump at the opportunity to work with him this morning.

All the pairs set off in different directions into the village; Josiah and I cross the highway and work our way into the village. We talk with 3 or 4 Roman Catholics, a couple of Pentecostals, and a teen-age Muslim girl, along with brief conversations with several others. I run through the Romans Road probably 5 times, looking, as always, for evidence of conviction. My sense is that especially with a white person, most of these folks would say a prayer just to make the presenter happy. Not really interested in that, not least because from that point on, forever, the person can always tell the next Christian God sends his way that “I’ve already done that.” So we look for conviction. I do extract a promise from each person that, one Sunday, he will visit the church plant. People can make empty promises, of course. But I try to get them to sense that this is more than a flippant promise.


After almost 3 hours we work our way back to the house and re-gather, sharing stories of interesting conversations. I’m glad that each of us got this chance to work one-on-one with a Ghanaian, Western Christians and African Christians working together for the advancement of the kingdom. It’s an important part of the purpose of the trip.

When we arrive home, the power still isn’t on. Mama tells us that the chest freezer will keep things from spoiling for a long time, even without power, so we grab some leftovers from the refrigerator for lunch and put everything else into the deep freeze.

What do you do on a day when the power’s out and nothing’s scheduled? You take a nap, of course. And most of us do. When I wake up a little more than an hour later, some power’s on, but not all; oddly, it appears that the 220 outlets are working but the 110 aren’t. Not sure I understand that. Eventually Timothy shows up, does something at the electrical board on the outside of the house, and it all comes back.

Up to the chapel to see if the wireless router is back in business. It is, and Jon and Jordan are already there, watching the web stream of the Hamilton funeral. We watch together for a while, marveling at the grace of God while sorrowing with and for our friends. God is good, all the time.

Funeral over, I catch up on some studying and writing, while most of the team takes part in a long-anticipated event: a volleyball game with the college students. Turns out the Africans are exponentially better than the Americans, with competitiveness to match. Fortunately, they all have the good sense not have an American team and an African team; that would be counterproductive, now, wouldn’t it? And so they find yet another way to become closer, to share experiences as one people in Christ.

Fried chicken for supper, and devotions afterward. For some reason, the interaction seems more intense tonight. Auria suggests that we have people give their salvation stories throughout the trip. I have heard them all in the application process, of course, and I kick myself, metaphorically speaking, for not realizing that the entire team doesn’t have access to that information. Keri and Joy volunteer to go tonight. My brief Bible study is on imputation, from the “without blame” phrasing in Eph 1.4, and there seems to be a lot of interest in the idea—lots of questions, discussion, interaction. For some reason, I’m surprised. Auria, tonight’s Queen of the Good Suggestions, suggests that we sing Chris Anderson’s “His Robes for Mine.” Perfect.

After devotions, we’re planning for tomorrow’s trip to the church in Lawra, northwest of Wa, practically on the border with Burkina Faso (the former Upper Volta, which was named for the Volta River [or more precisely, one branch of the Volta, the White, which begins north of Ghana and empties into Lake Volta, a significant body of water in Ghana])—did you follow all that? Anyway, since we’re not sure what we’ll be asked to do (I know I’m preaching, but that’s all I know for sure), we have two kids ready to teach Sunday school, and we’ll have an a capella special number ready. After church we’re having a VBS there as well, so the kids will bring play clothes while wearing their church clothes. And we’re bringing sandwiches for lunch, since we’re not sure of the reliability of the food there. You know, uncertainty and contingency really do complicate a plan.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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