Newsletter, January, 2005
We greet you from Ghana and thank you all for your prayers and support during the past year and we ask that you continue in the coming year of 2005. We thank God that we can look back at the past year and rejoice that He is a faithful God to those who believe and follow Him. We have worked long hours during the past year, many times deep into the night, and travelled thousands of miles but now we can see the fruit from all our labour. On the subject of labour, Akua has spent most of the last 18 months in pain in her lower abdomen with the doctors passing her on from one to another, seemingly not knowing what to do with her.
In the early hours of 18th December, Akua was taken into Tamale hospital with labour pains and, after being examined, it was found that her cervix would not dilate. It was decided that she would be monitored for 12 hours then, if her condition remained constant, she would face an operation. Because husbands are not allowed to wait in the wards in Ghana, like we do in England, I was forced to go home later that evening.
I returned to the hospital in the morning [ Sunday ] to be faced by a few angry nurses who said that Akua’s consultant, Dr Opoku, had been phoning me at 12:30 am that morning needing my consent to operate on Akua in those early hours. I did hear the phone ringing, I confess, but in my daze I could not get my back off the bed and returned to my dreams quite swiftly.
I spoke to Dr Opoku on the phone at about 9:00 am at the hospital and he told me to wait and he would be there as soon as possible. As I waited, I looked at the door to my left with the words ‘Theatre' clearly painted on it. I turned my head to the right and stared at another door with the words ‘Delivery Room’ firmly displayed on that one. The two doors were 12 feet apart and I prayed to God, "If this baby is your will Lord, why must Akua go into that room [ theatre ] to face all those creepy masks, knives and the like, when you can allow her to have her baby normally in the Delivery Room". "Please," I said, "come on, show me Your glory". At this time, Dr Opoku turned up explaining what he intended to do and adding that he would operate at 12:00 noon. Akua had passed us by entering the Delivery Room with two nurses to prepare for her operation. As Dr Opoku continued to talk to me, we heard the cry of a baby in the delivery room. For His Glory and the will of God, a son, Sean !
The Call and Vision
We have on our book shelves a title ‘You will not walk on the water unless you get out of the boat'. Not all Christians are called by God to serve on the foreign mission field but there are many, some maybe reading this newsletter, who have but have never answered the call! The cost can be very high, like giving up a good job, a nice home, family, friends and all the material trappings of this world. There is a fear of leaving the ‘comfort zone'! I can testify that for the person who answers the call and ‘gets out of the boat', untold joy and countless blessings await them! There is nothing in this world to compare with the joy that comes when deciding to ‘leave all' to follow Our Lord Jesus.
I received the call to Ghana at the end of 2000 and worked in the development of ‘The Alabaster Project', which is being sponsored by ‘World Missions' from the U.S.A. While working in their Resource Center in 2002 a ‘vision' was laid on my heart to
flood the Northern region of Ghana with quality Christian books and also to provide a Ministry Book Centre for its people. It was also around this time that the Lord led me to Akua who would ‘catch and share' the same vision and also become my wife. I had become aware that there were no Christian book ministries anywhere to be seen in the northern region of Ghana. Since then, and with the help of 'Book Aid', we have donated thousands of bibles and books to various Christian organizations in the northern region, the Baptists Pastors Training Center and a tiny Scripture Union office, both in Tamale are two to name. Our books are providing a library for the former and books for the schools of Tamale in the latter.
We are providing books for other organizations like Seed Ministry from the USA who teach village church leaders in their Christian Teachers Training School in Tamale. Seed Ministry also have well over 100 children's bible clubs established in villages all over the Northern region of Ghana and have also built several churches in some of these villages. Thousands of books for their children's work have been provided by Malak Book Ministry. We are also providing books for American missionaries in the extreme north of Ghana who are establishing a library there and we have had visitors from Yendi in the north east, who want to do likewise.
To help cover the cost of the books, shipping, and for our donation ministry etc., we have already planted two Christian book stores in Ghana this year and there will be more to follow. We opened our first store last June in Tamale and the second one in November in the capital city Accra, over 400 miles away. We have trusted God for support for our living expenses from Christians at home. We are especially pleased with the book store in Tamale, as it is actually a pioneer work; never before have Christians in Tamale been able to purchase Christian books, such as commentaries, dictionaries and concordances. We have many testimonies of young pastors [ in the ministry ] rejoicing that their prayers of many years for a Christian book store in Tamale have been answered. These same young pastors take our books out by the bag full, as if there was no more to be found. Christian books in Tamale are here to stay! This saves a near 900 round trip to Accra to find Christian books which
are mostly of the extreme charismatic testimony type from Nigeria, with very little foundational teaching truths, and also poor in quality. We expect, at any time, to be able to plant another Christian book store in Bolgatanga, in the extreme north east on the French speaking Burkina Faso border. We have a Christian brother who comes to us about once a fortnight to take books to the churches in Bolgatanga. We pray that it will not be too long before we find a suitable property to lease there, so they can have their own book store there as well. Our store in Tamale is managed full time by Moses and the one in Accra by Akua's sister also called Akua [ Wednesday ] but we use her middle name, Pat. Pat, who has a degree in biological science, will be leaving us in January to work for the government. It is compulsory to work for the government for one year to pay back the grant received for university fees. Our loss is their gain!
One Gone, One to Go
We had hoped that Brasstacks in the UK would be corning over this year to help with the building of the the Malak Book Ministry Centre on some land I bought a few years ago. However, they notified us recently that this was not now possible because they lack the necessary skilled personnel to complete the project. Well, just before Christmas, I went out to find the personnel to help me with the foundations. With a Baptist Pastor ‘cum' mason, plus some uneducated natives as labourers, including a woman hod carrier, we set about the task. No problems!
We completed the foundations in four weeks and although the workers may not be skilled, as the world sees it, I believe, "Whoever the Lord calls, He also qualifies'! We thank God that the first part of our vision has already come to pass, while the second part is now under way! I have continued to build up to window height, with the help of an inexperienced
mason and two local labourers. We are grateful to God for His gift of £2,000 through a couple who gave to help with the foundation work, but funding has not met the actual cost of the project and the growth of our ministry. The total cost of the first phase was over £3,500! With this and other things in mind, we have decided to ‘tent in the UK this coming summer and assess the situation again at a later date.
Christmas day is just like any other day in Tamale because it is predominantly Muslim, with not a decoration in sight. Akua and myself are at peace, as we do our morning devotions after all the hard work of many weeks in categorizing and packing books for our stores, in readiness for when we leave for the UK in March. Things have also settled down after all the shootings and violence during the elections in December when a colleague of ours from Seed Ministry was shot as he came out of the voting
Our morning devotions were focused on the call of Nehemiah, Moses, and Jeremiah. As I read about Nehemiah and how he wept on hearing from some messengers that Jerusalem lay in ruins, while he remained in Babylonian captivity, Akua began to cry! "Don't worry” she assured me, as she gazed at Sean in the cradle; “these are tears of joy"! She continued and told me how she feared she was going to die with all the pain she had endured over the last 18 months. I also shared with her how for many months I had prepared myself for the same thing without saying anything to her or anybody. She continued in tears, with those great men above in mind, and thanked God for all the great work He had called us to do in Ghana for the furtherance of the gospel here.
The Ultimate Gift
Akua [ now free from pain ] and myself rejoiced on this wonderful Christmas morning gazing in the cradle at the beautiful gift the Lord had given to us a few days before. We were celebrating a new life and, with other Christians around the world, celebrating the gift of new life only found in Jesus - the ultimate gift to our marriage and to life. What an ending to a year of so much pain, disappointments, satisfaction, joy, and hard work!
Please pray for ...
Direction in the coming year
Continued Prayer Support
Funding for the development of the 'Malak Book Ministry Centre'
We thank God for ...
Funding for a truck
Help with funding for Ministry Centre foundation work
The smile on Akua's face
Yours in His Name,
John, Akua & Sean