Newsletter, Christmas, 2005
This is the first newsletter written from the UK and it will also be the first Christmas in England for Akua and Sean; not even comparable to home in Ghana where the temperatures reach 120 degrees, with no hope of any rain. Christmas in the north of Ghana where we are is not even celebrated with no hint of the commercialism one associates with the western world. It is sure to be a bit of a culture shock and eye opener for Akua. It is always great whenever we come home to witness the continuous growth at our church at Bethesda. It has also been special while home to have had a visit from Bob Hiley, founder and co-ordinator of ‘Book Aid’ and later in the evening at Bethesda. It was so encouraging to listen to him testify of his work with Book Aid. We will be receiving our third container from Book Aid on returning to Ghana early next year.
God is Faithful
We look back on the past year with nothing but extreme joy in our hearts as God continues to pour out His blessings upon us. We delight in Him continuously as He proves Himself with His faithfulness day after day in our lives. We thank you all for your contribution to our cause with your continued diligent prayer and ask that you maintain this in
the coming year. It is brilliant to experience the reality of answered prayer and we understand the importance of being constantly upheld in your prayers at home.
Shout it from the rooftop
We mentioned in a previous newsletter that work could possibly begin on our construction project by October 2005. We rejoice that I have just returned from Ghana where I spent the whole of October, 2005 adding the roof to our building. We also built the 8ft boundary wall completely around the compound for security, with two large gates added at the entrance to the site. We are thrilled to have progressed this far with our building work in the time we have and so excited about the plans God has for the future of our ministry.
The roofing phase of the work proved to be very expensive, as we had to transport all the roofing tiles 400 miles from Accra. The timber likewise was carried by transport from a place called Techeman near the Ashanti region in Ghana. We also used some roofing workers from Accra so this phase of the work was more costly than I had first estimated. The total amount of money used for the roofing materials and labour and the construction of the boundary wall was £8,750. However, we needed to be sure about this particular phase of the project, as the roof is so important. We are satisfied that we have a quality roof and overall are well pleased with the outcome. We are so grateful we received all the materials in one piece; anything can happen on those long road journeys. If something did go wrong on the journey, there is no compensation in Ghana, so we have a lot to thank God for. Tiled roofs are not the ‘norm’ in the north of Ghana, as most of the buildings have sheeted roofs, hence the need to hire roofers from Accra. Although I have experience working on roofs in the UK, Austria and USA, I would not gamble on undertaking the work on this project in Ghana. Because of the severe weather conditions during the rainy season [May - Oct], roofs are done in a different way than in this country. Too much money was involved to take any risks!
Gift from God
Somebody once said to me “The easiest way to make God laugh is to tell Him your future plans”. How we can sometimes be made to look like fools by planning our own futures in God’s name. Anybody committed to God’s call will know how true the bible is when it says “You can make your own plans but I will guide your steps”. God will direct our paths and meet our needs but sometimes in a different direction than we would want to go. I mentioned in a previous newsletter that we would have to return to the UK this year in order to raise funds for the continuation of our construction work in Ghana. Because of the lack of funds and also the six month rainy season from May to October hindering any potential work, we decided to travel home to tent make. We also thought that this would be the ideal time to pursue Akua’s citizenship status here and rid ourselves of all the hassle and frustration that goes along with applying for visas for her entry into this country. All my plans neatly on the table but two days after arriving home a anonymous doner contributed £20,000 towards the development of our ministry centre in Ghana. We have a book on our shelves in Ghana entitled, “The Man Who Believed God” by Hudson Taylor. When we are given a vision by God we must be still and know that He will provide all our needs to make sure the vision comes to pass. Irrespective of any opposition from man or other obstacles that may try to prevent it, any work started by God will surely be completed. We marvelled and rejoiced with the gift from God and believe that this donation will be enough to complete the construction work of the “Malak Book Centre” within three months of returning to Ghana early next year.
Caed Mile Failte
Cead Mile Failte in Gaelic means one hundred thousand welcomes and this is what we felt we received in September when a door opened, giving Akua the opportunity to apply and have Irish citizenship within six months. The hassle and expense of applying for visas in Ghana all the time can be so frustrating, so the Irish avenue was one we could not miss. I have both Irish and British citizenship but to claim British citizenship, Akua would have to remain in this country for two years. To claim Irish citizenship, Akua only needs to be married to a Irish citizen for three years, irrespective of where she lives and have her papers within six month. It is no coincidence that because of abuse mainly by eastern Europeans, this law changed in November to the same as the British method. Akua and I had been married three years in September, so she just made the deadline and applied for Irish citizenship on September 5th. We received a letter from the Irish Embassy during September letting us know that all our papers and other documents were in order. They said it can take up to six months from the date of application but, because of the change in law, we hope to be cleared a lot sooner.
Excited and eager
We are excited and eager to return to Ghana as soon as we can to continue the last phase of the construction of our Ministry Centre and home in Tamale. We have the electrical work, ceilings, doors/joinery, plastering/rendering, flooring, plumbing and painting to do, hopefully within three months of returning early next year, 2006.
We would value your prayers regarding any budding young missionaries wanting to spend time with us and other missionary organisations in Ghana in the future - young persons, maybe on a break from college or ‘uni’, wanting to spend a couple of months in Africa to get a taste of mission work that may sow or water a seed for a future missionary ministry.
We are still waiting to purchase the truck which is much needed but so elusive now and we would value your prayers over this. On my recent trip I went to see two vehicles. One a supposedly new Suzuki turned out to be one that had been stood for a couple of years and re-sprayed while the other had 80,000 k turned back on the speedometer. I have never met so many black Arthur Daleys and we really do need a truck now, so please remember this in your prayers.
Africa has so many problems ranging from aids, malaria, poverty, heat and illiteracy, but the biggest problem of all is corruption. It’s something I cannot see ever being solved, except by something supernatural like another biblical flood. Corruption is evil and done so openly in Ghana where even the church, in many cases, embraces it, the higher up the ladder you go in society the worse the corruption is. Two examples of this are, if your electricity needed attending to for some reason there would be the standard charge to pay first then the person in authority would want paying before the job could commence. A Ghanaian needing a passport would fill in the form and pay the fee of 50,000 cedis at the post office but not be able to collect the passport unless he had another 500,000 cedis to pay the man behind the counter. The passport would remain until the money was paid and there is nothing anybody can do because all these government offices cover up for one another. The ones in Ghana fortunate enough to be able to work are met by corrupt government officials waiting to take their hard earned money from them.
On my recent trip to Ghana, our store in Tamale was closed down and locked with government locks because I would not pay money to corrupt tax collectors. This was the second time we had been closed down and this time for one week, but I was led to a Christian man who had been transferred to work in Tamale from Accra. Mention a few scriptures from the bible and how God says He will judge corruption and the locks are soon removed. The man authorised the locks to be taken off and assured me that the Malak Christian Book Ministry would be exempt from all taxes in the future. I hate corruption so much and normally would not be able to tolerate it - it is only for the grace of God who makes it possible for me to endure this evil trade day after day.
Our book stores in Tamale and Accra are ticking over very nicely and we have two trustworthy people manning them while we are away. Once our ministry centre is up and running, we will, God willing, be expanding our work further in the new year.
Happy New Year
Akua, Sean and myself wish everyone of you a wonderful new year and thank you all for making our past year such a fruitful one. I thank you all for the work you did in preparing the house for us in Warrington and also for taking good care of Akua and Sean while I was away in Ghana.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!
Yours in His name,
John, Akua & Sean