Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It’s Africa Day. This is a day for honoring Africa around the world. Some call it African Union Day, some Africa Freedom Day, but it’s a pretty big deal in many countries. That’s one of the reasons we’re not planning a VBS today; another is that it’s Wednesday, and it’s simpler to get the crew to Wednesday night prayer meeting if they don’t have to run home and shower after VBS.

The crew is taking care of business, reading, doing laundry, getting some online time, practicing their Waali. Simon comes by mid-morning; he’s pretty sociable whenever we’re here. Plus, he’s about 6’6”, which makes him fun to hang around with, just for the looks we get. Jojo, Bethany, and Sarah take a short hike with Simon over to the local hospital for a tour. One of the men in my class is a physician, and he’s happy to show them around. Simon took the 2013 team over there after several of us left for TZ; the other crew left a week later for Cameroon, and they had a medical focus. This time we’re not medics, but the girls enjoy the tour. They have the opportunity to pray with some patients and their families, including a Muslim family.

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Mary comes by at the usual time and gets to work mincing beef—that’s what they call grinding, and yes, they do it at the time of preparation rather than buying it already minced—for spaghetti and meat sauce. Mary’s source has an unbelievable amount of meat in it—it’s more like sloppy joe sauce in consistency. We fly through it.

The girls have been interested in having their hair braided ever since we arrived. Timothy calls during lunch to say that a couple of ladies can come over this afternoon to get started. They show up around 2, and Lora is the first to go in the chair. One of the ladies has a baby on her back; the other girls are interested in holding him, but the feeling’s not mutual, and he stays on Mom’s back. Lora’s hair is still in process when it’s time to leave for prayer meeting at Faith, so the crew leaves her behind. All told it takes about 7 hours to get the job done.

Class goes well; we’re finishing up Luke, with 2 nights (6 hours) left for John. Since Luke is structured around Jesus’ single-minded focus on getting to Jerusalem, I spend the last hour showing them the layout of Jerusalem and some CGI animations of the City of David, Solomon’s Temple, and Herod’s Temple. I think they enjoy the bit of a break.

When I get back to the house, the prayer meeting crew isn’t back yet. They arrive after half an hour or so, excited to tell me The News: Gabriel and Janet have had a baby girl.

There’s a story behind this. Gabriel is a 2013 graduate of WABC and pastors one of the village churches. He always works with us on the VBSes, and he’s one of the finest men I know. He and Janet were dating in 2013; they were married shortly after the team returned to the States. In 2014 the team didn’t go to Ghana, but during that summer the couple miscarried a baby at 7 months. In 2015 I brought another team, and Janet was pregnant again—at 7 months. She lost that baby while we were here; Gabriel left a VBS to rush Janet to the hospital.

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So the team feels deeply invested in this dear couple. When I saw Janet this week at Faith, she was, ahem, visibly pregnant, and Gabriel told us she was full term. I contacted the 2013 and 2015 teams and asked them to pray for a safe delivery. And at 2:45 this afternoon, Gabriel and Janet met their healthy baby girl. Her name will be announced, as is customary, at the naming ceremony in a few days.

Rejoice with us!

After prayer meeting Carloss and Prince join us, and we sit around the kitchen table fellowshiping. We move smoothly into devotions, and several team members share what they’re learning. They’re getting discontent with the ways they have viewed the world; their horizons are broadening, not theologically, but culturally, and their hearts are responding to people in ways they haven’t before. This is a part of the trip I always enjoy. Walking with Christ is a lifelong process of change, and these changes are healthy signs of the Spirit’s sanctifying work.

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Dan Olinger

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

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