Suhum and Juapong, Ghana
Woke up early again to get ready for church. Excited to be worshipping with African believers for the first time. We were saddened to hear that the lady we prayed for back on Thursday died this morning. This is yet another reminder that God is sovereign and has numbered our days.
On the way to church, Pastor Stephen bottomed out his little Nissan (not at all uncommon here in Ghana), but something sounded seriously wrong with the car’s undercarriage. His family and I took a taxi to church while he went and checked things out with the mechanic.
We arrived in plenty of time and Stephen eventually made it there just in time for church. Living Faith Revival Center is a church plant that was launched back in the early part of 2017. There were tons of children in attendance with around 90-100 total.
After an extended time of praise and worship (much longer than I am used to), Pastor Stephen introduced me. Every time he introduces me he calls me “a man of integrity.” He then relates the story of how we met at the Shepherds Conference. Out of the dozen or so contacts he made, I was the only one who followed up with him.
I preached on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. I wanted to remind the congregation that life is fleeting and our bodies are frail. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (verse 1). As we drove around town yesterday there were at least two funerals that we noticed….with both held outside. Stephen told me about the local customs when it comes to funerals and we compared that to back home. I didn’t realize at the time that the lady we prayed for would have died by now and that her family would be planning a funeral. Life is short….God has numbered our days. One pastor said, “We preach as dying men to dying men and women.”
After a short break for lunch and some time back at the hotel, we were on the road again by 2:30. It took us about 3.5 hours to get to our destination in Juapong. This was a great chance to see more of the countryside. Indeed, Ghana is a beautiful country, but everywhere you go there is poverty. We did drive by some rich neighborhoods in Accra, but those seem to be the exception, not the norm.
We were greeted warmly when we arrived by Pastor Forward and his wife and children. “Warmly” is really an understatement. Everywhere I have gone, the people are so kind and generous and insist on carrying my bags or whatever I have. We were treated to an excellent meal of Tilapia, rice, and vegetable salad.
Showed up at the church shortly before 7pm. They had already been jamming “African style” for some time before we got there. Stephen and I prayed with Pastor Forward and another pastor (his name slips my mind). When we came out, I could tell that the church was filling up – probably close to 250. Not used of that for a Sunday evening service.
Once again, a warm welcome was extended to Stephen and I. I have learned that the welcome is really important in African culture. When it came time for me to preach, I had already decided not to use notes, but just a simple outline. This time, however, I had two translators to accommodate for their slightly different dialect. As has been true this entire trip, God empowered and gave me freedom to preach. There were times where I wondered, what am I going to say next? But the Holy Spirit always gave me the words.
As I came to the end of the sermon, I said, “My brother will now say a few words in closing,” pointing to Stephen. He looked back at me and to my great surprise said, “It’s only appropriate, pastor, for you to close this.” So I picked up the mike again and started preaching. After several minutes I gave an altar call. That’s right, Mr. “I don’t give altar calls” did an altar call! About 25 came forward to re-affirm their commitment to follow Christ (my message was on being a disciple of Christ). I was shocked! I then prayed a long prayer over them without translation. The night was not over yet. More singing, me giving another word of exhortation, Stephen and I being presented with gifts, and then finally the benediction. All in all, the service lasted well over 2 hours.
Wow! What an incredible evening. I think it will take some time to process what just happened. God only knows what the fruit of this evening will be. In 11.5 years of ministry, I haven’t seen much response to my preaching. That is “immediate” response. Many have said they like my preaching and receive much benefit from it, but it was still surprising to see such a response.
Glory be to God! I will try to remember to pray for Pastor Forward and these dear souls in his church. God is at work!
Soli Deo Gloria