Two Perspectives About Naomi

NaomiChris’ Perspective

This is a picture of Naomi and her granddaughter, Nyakoma (Twi name meaning “patience”).  It is pronounced N-ya-ko-ma.  We do not not know Naomi’s age.  We only know that she has seen many years pass her by.  Our best guess is 95+ years old.  This is a picture from our visit to her this past week.  We’ve been processing what we learned about her, above and beyond what we already knew about her.

 

Naomi exudes faith in Jesus Christ.  I mean to say that she has put her full trust in Jesus Christ, and you can witness her faith through her words and actions. It’s not something she says she believes, she really believes it and there is evidence of it in her life.  As a young girl, through married life, getting up to mid life Naomi was part of a cult of women who practiced witchcraft, voodoo, idol worship, casting curses on people, etc.  And then she heard the gospel and the Holy Spirit convicted her.  She came to faith and renounced her former way of life in the occult.  Her children pleaded with her to change her mind.  Her children told her the Akyode people would kill her for leaving the cult.  She replied “to die in this life and go to be with Jesus is better than living this life without his blessing on my life.”  She did not change her mind.  The women of the cult beat her severely.  But she never changed her mind.

 

Her husband passed away many years ago.  She relied on her children to provide for her.  They would bring her food and give her money on the occasion she would need it.  But now, because they were not Christians, and did not want to depart from their own idol worship, they disowned her.  They do not care for her.  She is on her own.  In the past year however, one of the children who lives in Togo, sent Naomi’s grandchild to live with her and assist her with daily chores.  Things like fetching water (carrying a large bowl of water from a well to the house to use for drinking and cooking), setting fire to cook food, and helping her dress herself, etc.  Nyakomo is six years old.

 

Where is the church in this situation?  Individuals help when they can.  The pastor of the church she is a member of has assisted her personally from time to time.  Even some individuals from other churches occasionally bring her food.  But many of them are also suffering in poverty and don’t have much to give.

 

Naomi thanks God every time you speak to her.  She thanks him that even the little help she gets from other people is a result of God answering her prayers.  Through the persecution she has endured through her old age, the suffering in lack of material and food items, the loss of her children’s love, concern, and care, she thanks God.  That’s faith!

 

We plan to begin helping her a bit.  Not too much.  We don’t want the church to think we’ve come to bring money to the situation so that they no longer have to care for Naomi.  It’s a hard thing.  Deciding what help to provide and what not to provide.  But we will do something.  Will you pray with us that what we do is a help to Naomi and Nyakoma, honors God, encourages the church to continue their care, and creates opportunities for us, Naomi, and the church to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of the village of Nyambong?

 

Dana’s Perspective

It was a somewhat normal day of ministry.  We went to Nyambong to follow-up with some young men who participated in our baseball camp a couple of weeks ago.  While we were there we decided to check in on Naomi.  We didn’t have any idea where she lived but we knew with the culture here it wouldn’t take long to track her down.  Everyone knows everyone here!  Chris and I along with our language helper, Augustine, and Matthew headed down a small path that lead to a tiny house.  The whole time I am thinking we didn’t call first! But then remembered I was in Ghana and you never call ahead to tell someone you are coming over.  Augustine went to her door to greet and she graciously invited us in.  Immediately stools were gathered from outside and we sat down.  The first thing I noticed is that she had jewelry on…necklace, earrings and a bracelet.  Not sure why that struck me except she seemed so dressed up and no where to be and had been laying down when we arrived. Her room was small.  She had enough room for a bed and the stools we were sitting on.  She had a few cooking items stacked on a table and a broom in the corner.  The only food was some ground maze (corn) in an open bowl on the floor.  There were a few clothing items hanging from the bed. The calendar on the wall was dated 2009.  The one window in the room was closed so the only light was the open door.  The whole scene was so surreal to me.  I was literally fighting back tears.  I had been in people’s houses before and I knew they didn’t have much, but today for some reason it hit me harder.  Naomi has an incredible testimony of God’s saving grace in her life.  She was a member of a women’s snake cult where she performed witchcraft and voodoo along with worshipping idols.  She heard the gospel and it changed her life! She gave her life to Christ and her life would never be the same.  She was beaten and persecuted by her friends and was told that she would be killed by her own people for her belief in Jesus.  None of that mattered to Naomi.  She said if she died she would be with Jesus so it would be better.  Also her children turned against her when she became a believer.  Having children to help you when you get older is very important here.  Naomi is to the point where she cannot make money and care for herself anymore.  Her legs are giving her problems and she finds it difficult to stand and walk.  She says from the waist up she is strong!  One of Naomi’s children though sent his small girl of 6 years old to live with her so that she could wait on her…now add one more mouth to feed.  She is a beautiful girl whose name is Nyakoma  which means patience.  She stood in the doorway most of our visit and had her precious smile on her face the whole time. The church community has been bringing them food and the Nyakoma goes and gets water and firewood.  They are getting by. It is by no means easy.  Naomi could have had food and the love of her children if she had just said no to Jesus Christ.  The children turning away from her really got to me too.  Being away from my kids is hard but I know that they love me and would always welcome me warmly.  Through all of this Naomi gives all the credit to God that she is still living and breathing.  She hasn’t been able to attend church in about a month so her request was to have someone come to her and read scripture.  She is in her last days and what she wants most is to hear God’s word.  She gives God all the credit for everything given to her.  She doesn’t have extra but she has what she needs and it comes day by day.  I literally think she didn’t have a Pesewa (penny) to her name the day we visited.  She truly trusts that God will take care of her every need.  Makes me think…am I truly trusting God to provide for my every need?

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Chickens, Eggs, Discipleship

God has called us to minister to the Akyode People here in Ghana.  We have a plan to accomplish that calling – DDEE.  Briefly, DDevelop Relationships, DDisciple those we are in relationship with, EEquip those we are discipling to glorify God with their lives, and EEmpower our disciples to go out and do the same.

The missionaries working in Nkwanta before us had a vision of empowering the Nkwanta District area by bringing a local poultry business into operation.  Honestly, when we arrived, continuing that vision was the farthest thing from our minds.  Yet it seemed God continually brought people into our lives in Ghana persuading us to continue with the vision, at least on a small scale, to determine the real viability of such a business.

How does this fit within reaching the Akyode and DDEE?  Well, the man we’ve connected with to oversee this venture is an Akyode man.  The poultry care taker is an Akyode man.  The people assisting us in bringing this venture to fruition are all Akyode.  So we are in process of developing relationships with all of these people as we work together to bring this business into operation.  We will then have daily contact with these people whereby the Discipleship, Equipping, and Empowerment pieces can be worked out.  It is exciting to see how God is in the middle of this.

Our desire is to begin very small, using some personal funds, in order to start something and determine if it will work.  If it proves successful we will expand it a bit and continue to see what happens.  But most importantly, throughout the process, discipleship is occurring!

Which leads me to why I had the idea of writing this Blog today.  Ben, the young Akyode man who is overseeing the project, brought three young Akyode boys (age 14-18) to move concrete blocks from our mission property sight to the poultry sight.  They also shoveled sand and moved it to the poultry sight to make mortar for the blocks.  And then they hauled multiple six gallon containers of water to the poultry sight for the mixing of the mortar.  They worked.  Worked with a capital W!  I mean it was a tough day.  These three young men came and worked hard because one of their older friends asked them to come and help.  Ben asked and they came.  Simple as that.

Well hard work should be rewarded.  Our budget is tight.  In case you don’t know this yet, missionaries ain’t exactly rolling in money.  So I gave them forty Ghana Cedis each.  40 GHS. 120 GHS total.  It’s the equivalent of each guy making ten US dollars each.  $10 bucks.  Each.  And do you know what?  The smiles on their faces was priceless.  They came expecting nothing and received ten bucks.  How many kids do you know willing to work hard for just ten bucks?

These young men are why we came.  Not to give out money, but to Develop Relationships in order to move into Discipling relationships, to Equip and Empower them for Kingdom work among their own Akyode people.

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We Are The Same

 

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I made a promise.  It took a year to fulfill it.  Our sending Church visited us the summer of 2014.  Our focus was sharing Christ through the Jesus Film to the Akyode Communities.  The following day we would follow up with the community we showed the film in the previous evening.  We divided up into four groups and went out.

My wife, one of the short-term team members, and one of our staff, were one team and met a gentleman in Keri.  He told them that he was not a Christian and did not want to attend a local church but was very interested to study the Bible.  Upon learning this, I (Chris) went to him and inquired if he was serious about his statement.  He assured us that he was very serious.  I promised him that I would come and spend part of a day every week studying the Bible together.  But I told him that I had many other responsibilities at that time and it would be some point in the future before I could begin.

Almost a year to the day of that promise, the Lord allowed me to fulfill it.  I went back to the village with an interpreter (we are still working on the language) and found the man.  I asked him if he was still interested in studying the Bible together.  He was.  And so we began.

We are using a Chronological Bible Study Story called The Story of Hope.  It is very well written, produced, and Gospel focused.  It has 40 studies from Genesis to Revelation.  This man and I connected through the story of Adam & Eve taking and eating the forbidden fruit, rebelling against God and going their own way.  I looked at the man across from me and told him that Adam was his Great, great, great,……great, great-Grand-father…and mine too.

He looked at me with piercing eyes that quickly became watery.  He said, “You and me, we are the same”.  “Yes”, I said.  “No, we are equals”, he said.  “Yes”, I said.  “NOOO!!” he became excited, “we are the same”!  I then asked him to explain further, because I “thought” I knew what same and equal meant and I “thought” I understood what he was telling me.

With eyes fixed upon my eyes he said, “All my life I’ve been taught that the white man is closer to God than the black man.  But you’ve just opened my mind that you (a white man) are no better than me (a black man).  You are not superior to me.  I am not inferior to you as relates to the ability to seek God.  You promised to come here and study the Bible with me not because you are superior, but because we are equals and you care for me.  I am now understanding that I do not need someone close to God for me to connect with God.  You are driving your car, using your petrol (gasoline), for…for me.  Thank you.”

At that moment I saw his defenses let down.  He was ready to receive the study with eyes, mind, and heart open.  The cross is open to all of us.  Salvation is a free gift.  Jesus died once for sin.  You don’t need anyone to go before you to Jesus – the door is open for you to walk through it all by yourself.  You don’t need to wait and clean yourself up first.  He’s ready to receive you in the midst of whatever you are dealing with.

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