Newsletter April 2009
WAR IN TAMALE
The heading above, reported in the Daily Graphic national newspaper, obviously concerned me on my arrival at Accra, the capital city of Ghana on Feb 16th. This was a politically motivated battle between two sets of supporters from the main contenders for government, fighting due to the opposition N.D.P. [National Democratic Party] having defeated the N.P.P. [National Patriotic Party] to take office. There was a man shot dead and many more seriously injured with also many houses, including an N.P.P. Building, burned down. As I write this, the city is under military rule with check points on all roads leading into Tamale and with soldiers looking for weapons. These battles are guaranteed for sure in every election year and this seems to be the excuse the natives use to fight.
The Bible says in Matthew 24, “You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars but do not be troubled because all these things will come to pass”. It continues, “that many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many”.
There are many religions in the north of Ghana. Nobody is an atheist and everyone has some sort of concept of a God they worship. Islam is the more predominant religion in the north but, as in the western world, there are also followers of the Mormans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and so on. There are also many traditional
religions in the villages where the witch doctors are and idol worship takes place. A few years ago I went to a village where they worshipped a large tree as their God, with a rope tied around the trunk from which their idols dangled.
When a person becomes a Christian they instantly become part of a constant warfare with Satan. As for the non-Christian, they are kept in Satan’s grip and it is only Almighty, all powerful God Who can set them free. It is not a warfare where guns and bullets are used but a spiritual warfare. It is a warfare where life does not end with physical death, but rather eternal death or “eternal glory”.
OPAL TRUST & TERA NOVA PUBLICATIONS
We are passionate about our work in the north of Ghana and pray that the people bound by these false religions will be liberated with the ‘Word of God’ which we continue to bring them through our books.
Opal Trust from Scotland have become a new contact for us and now supply us with reference books and study bibles at affordable prices for third world ministry; they also cover the mailing cost. Tera Nova Publications and author David Pawson recently sent us 1200 new books of his for free [100 each of 12 titles] to be divided between various Christian organisations [see photos]. As I have been writing this newsletter, Rickfords Hill Publishers, from Aylesbury,Bucks, have offered classic books to us with authors like Tozer, Finney, Murray, Hession and Oswald Smith at give away prices for our work in Tamale.
We continue to donate thousands of books to Seed Ministry, Indiana, U.S.A. who in turn help build up the fifty plus village church libraries created through our books. The Baptist Pastors Training Seminary and Scripture Union in Tamale and the youth work at The Church of Pentecost, Accra [Akua’s church] benefited from our donation ministry in February.
Letter from Bob Parker [ Director of Seed Ministry ]
To Malak Books
John: It seems we have been blessed again at Seed Ministry, Tamale with another large donation of books from your ministry. We continue to be amazed how God has used you all over Ghana and we are one of the many that are on the receiving end. The children in our bible clubs and the pastors and leaders we work with daily truly benefit from all the books. Please thank all your donors from us here at Seed Ministry and to God be the glory great things has He done through your efforts.
Reaping in joy,
Bob & Bonnie Parker [Seed Ministry directors, Indiana U.S.A.]
TORCH TRUST FOR THE BLIND
Two weeks before I left for Ghana, I received a phone call from Kim, one of the two missionaries from Florida staying at our Ministry Centre in Tamale. She told me she had met a blind girl [Sala] at the First Baptist church in Tamale and asked “If it was possible for me to supply her with any Christian reading materials in Braille”. After a phone call to Peter Jackson, a well known blind author and pianist, I was put into contact with ‘Torch Trust’ from Market Harborough in the East Midlands. They have a world wide ministry distributing Christian literature in Braille. They immediately sent us several boxes of the Word of God in Braille and, with more from our wonderful blind couple Geraint and Sue Jones at Bethesda, I travelled to Ghana with my extra luggage. An amazing co-incidence was that John Hayes and myself were speaking at Gartree Prison two miles from Torch Trust headquarters the very day after I made contact with them.
On arriving at Tamale, I went to visit Madam Euphenia Sala Alhassan living in her poverty stricken home. The joy on her face as she read the word of God in Braille in perfect English gave me the greatest experience in my eight years of ministry in Ghana. Her face lit up as she beamed “I have not read anything in Braille since leaving blind school seven years ago and now I am not only reading Braille but the Word of God in Braille as well. She told me she had been brought up in a Muslim home and became a Christian and was baptised when studying at the residential blind school in WA. Turning her back on her Muslim family’s faith was not without a cost and resulted in her being disowned by the family, so that she now lives with a member of her church. Sala said on a later visit I paid her, “Since receiving the books, all the despair lying on my heart for all those years has been removed, I am now encouraged through the books that I am not alone in my circumstances”. This also brought much joy to all the staff at ‘Torch Trust’ when I emailed them with my testimony.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF BEING BLIND IN GHANA
Being blind anywhere means that one must have special equipment and material in every day life and education. The essential equipment and materials required here have to be imported from U.S.A. Europe and South Africa but the prices of these things are much too high for most of the blind in Ghana. It costs $500 to import a manual Braille writing machine [the Perkins Brailler] from South Africa. This is the equivalent of 20 months wages for a blind person in Ghana.
There are no state benefits or invalidity insurance with which the blind in Ghana could obtain money to purchase their required special equipment and materials.
The schools are all ill-equipped for the special needs of the blind and this makes it difficult for the blind learners to develop their full potential and leads to frustration. For example: The Ghana Society for the blind, Accra, opened a computer training centre to enhance the job opportunities for the blind in Ghana. The centre has only three computers and only three trainees can be instructed in one hour while others are waiting in a queue. To demonstrate to prospective employers how a blind person works with a computer, the instructors have to convey their entire computer to and from the place of the demonstration.
Another source of frustration for the blind in Ghana is the job market. It is hard enough for a sighted person to get a job in Ghana let alone a blind person. It is very difficult for a blind person to obtain a job in Ghana even with the highest education and qualification. This is because employers have a strong prejudice against employing a blind person. All these unpleasant realities have further negative effects for the blind person’s economic livelihood, the quality of life and social standing, to the extent of seeing many of them resort to begging on the streets [see photo]
This, in turn, has a negative effect on the image of the blind in general.
These consequences of blindness are seriously neglected in Ghana because sighted people, including politicians, are not concerned about their plight. They can, and therefore do, turn a blind eye to the undesirable consequences of blindness in the country.
SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND WA, GHANA
I needed to go and see the Blind School for myself, where Madam Sala was a student, to find out if the students had any access to Christian literature once they had left school.
I went with the blessing of ‘Torch Trust’ and their Overseas Director, Janet Stafford, who said that they would provide Christian reading materials in Braille free every three months to those interested. Although the blind school was built and run by the Methodists, the students at the school are a mixture of different faiths.
I set off on the six hour journey to WA in the extreme north west region of Ghana at 3-30 am on March 9th. and it was great to experience the presence of God in those early hours. As I was walking to the bus depot, two men on a motorcycle tried to snatch my overnight bag from my shoulder. The bag contained clothes, money, travel documents etc and sample books in Braille for the blind school. I managed to overpower the pillion passenger who had hold of the bag and tip the bike over leaving one to see to the bike and the other to continue the struggle with me.
The outcome was that they fled empty handed and we praise the Lord for His protection. These people are skilled in their work and don’t usually fail, defending yourself would normally result in death or very serious injuries. It is yet another testimony of God being in complete control of our lives and protecting us in all our circumstances.
I arrived in WA around midday and soon found the school where I was very warmly welcomed by Samson Akurugu the headmaster. Almost immediately he introduced me to the whole school who were just sitting for lunch and I was able to tell them a little about myself. I was later able to take the addresses of those interested in receiving materials from ‘Torch Trust’ and to round the day off, I was asked to stay there for the night as the guest of the Blind School. Torch Trust and myself see our contact recently made may be a possible open door for new ministry in the north of Ghana for the blind. PLEASE PRAY.
We would like to thank our church at Bethesda and certain individuals who continue to support us financially and prayerfully for our work in Ghana. We trust God that what you have just read continues to encourage you to carry on your great work.
God Bless you.
John, Akua & Sean Cartledge
Two blind beggars at some traffic lights in Tamale
Entrance to the Blind School
The assembly at lunchtime
With the Church of Pentecost pastor in Accra and a gift for the youth work from author David Pawson
Students from the Baptist Training Seminary in Tamale receiving donations
Daniel, one of the staff at Scripture Union in Tamale with more books from Terra Nova Publications and
Seed Ministry staff collecting a donation from us at the Centre