Newsletter January 2015
Greetings from Ghana
We celebrate the beginning of another year in Ghana and look forward to experiencing the love of God and how He works in our lives and ministry. Looking back on the year 2014 we are so very thankful for all His blessings and commit ourselves to continue in His service throughout the coming year.
A big Thank you to everybody, we wish you all a Happy New Year!
I would also like to thank the following Churches which I visited on deputation during the month of September for their support and fantastic hospitality.
Fort William Baptist Church, Fort William, Scotland.
Cleland Baptist Church, Cleland, Nr Motherwell, Scotland.
Peterhead Baptist Church, Peterhead, Scotland.
Kents Road Evangelical Church, Haywards Heath, Sussex.
Culcheth Independent Methodist Church, Culcheth, Nr Warrington.
We take this opportunity to thank the following publishers who sent a shipment of books to us in September which arrived while working on this newsletter.
Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Opal Trust, Lockerbie, Scotland.
Grace Publications, Orpington, Kent
Go Teach, Macclesfield, Cheshire
Maps for Sean’s school from ‘Go Teach’ in Macclesfield
Evangelical Press, Darlington, Durham
Our missionary secretary Debs. Hughes for her commitment despite set-backs during the past year.
Many thanks and blessings to you all in 2015.
Some of the blind folk at one of our meetings Four of the staff at the Northern Regional
In Tamale. Centre for the Disabled with Braille Books behind
I spent only a couple of days with my family in Accra when I returned from the UK in October before I was boarding another plane for some important meetings in Tamale. I met first with the blind folk in Tamale who told me they had been allocated a couple of rooms in a newly constructed Government project called ‘’The Northern Regional Centre for the Disabled’’ and they wanted the Braille library to be transferred to their new home.
My next meeting was with the government workers themselves and they confirmed what I had already been told and within a couple of days the Braille books and bookcases were transferred to the new Government Centre. The Muslim population in Tamale by far outnumbers the Christians so what a great opportunity for evangelism the Christians have in their new premises .This is what mission is all about – setting up a ministry/church - handing it over to the right people - moving on!
We want to thank Joanna Ervin the production co-ordinator from Lutheran Braille Workers in America and Janet Stafford the International director of Torch Trust for the Blind in the UK for their dedication and contribution in making it possible for the blind folk of Tamale to have a Braille Library of their own.
Northern Regional Centre for the disabled
I mentioned in our last Newsletter that unlike secular business, success in Christian ministry can often be your downfall unless financial support for the ministry increases in line with the finances needed for the growth of the ministry. Taking this into account and how our circumstances have been engineered, we decided, because we are presently living four hundred miles away in Accra, that we should lease our own building in Tamale to help keep our heads above water and be able to inject more financial support for the development of our Reference Library.
We were contacted by a representative of an Agricultural Development company from London who saw our building and location as the perfect place for an office and guest house for occasional visitors from the U.K.
They currently operate in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa [Mozambique, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania] and are managed by professionals with extensive agricultural, investment and project development experience in Africa and elsewhere. Their aim is to reduce rural poverty, raising agricultural productivity and incomes and creating employment opportunities for rural communities.
The Ministry Centre with new air condition units
This non-profit organization [N.G.O.] from the UK believes that profitable agriculture with strong links to markets is the best route out of poverty for the majority of Africa’s rural poor. This is a real blessing from God because apart from taking our building out of our hands until at least August 2015 they have installed air conditioning in every room, running hot water and an industrial generator all to impress their periodic visitors from the UK. They are seldom seen at their new base because of their work on distant rural farms and don’t usually spend more than two or three years in each country. This sudden injection of cash is a real blessing to us for our work. Praise God for His goodness yet again!
Grace Children’s Orphanage
Some members of the church will remember loading Akua’s forty foot container over two years ago at the Warrington storage de-pot in Bank Quay. I gave a report not long after the container had reached the Port of Tema of how Akua endured really heavy corruption from the government custom officers who openly steal the contents from the container as well as a significant amount of cash through fraud. It took Akua two years to break even then come out ‘on top’ but this didn’t stop us taking another truck load of clothes, food, shoes and toys to Grace Children’s Orphan-age in Kasoa during December. On arrival at the Orphanage we were told that because of lack of funds the children hadn’t tasted any sugar for nearly two weeks so they were really pleased to see us!
Welcome to Grace Children’s Orphanage
Akua with twins Thank you
We believe the way things have developed in recent months a door has now been opened for us to seriously consider taking a twelve month furlough. We would ask the church to pray with us in this matter that God will confirm His will to us in due course.
The dictionary defines furlough as ‘a leave of absence from duty, granted especially to a soldier.’ In military life the enlisted person receives leave according to his service and the word ‘furlough’ has been taken over by missions and is in common use in church circles. A furlough is not a time of rest like a sabbatical! A Furlough is an integral part of mission life and it has definite purposes!
Schoolgirls taking a lunch break in the Well known Ghanaian Author and Apologist
Reference Library Rev. Solomon Nortey in Reference Library
Preparation - It is generally assumed that the missionary will return to the field so the purpose of furlough is not simply to restore him to health and strength but to prepare him for another term of service. This would be extremely timely given the current situation in Ghana because I would spend my time travelling the U.K. and Ireland collecting books suitable for a much larger reference library which we plan to have in the will of God. I have made many friends in churches throughout the UK and Ireland through my deputation work. It may also be possible to re-visit many of these churches with an updated report of our work whilst at the same time collect any donated books from the church members. Our future in Ghana is the reference library and I would have more than enough time on furlough to collect sufficient books for the much larger library that we have planned.
One year in the UK would give Akua the opportunity to collect more assorted items for another container which helps to support our ministry and also Grace Children’s Orphanage in the suburbs of Accra. Sean would be in his last year at a primary school so this again would make perfect timing and the furlough would commence after Sean’s present school year ends in July 2015.
An important part of the preparation is personal and the missionary on furlough wants to do everything he can to make up for lost time. We have never had one single family holiday in twelve years of marriage so this will be the first item on the agenda to be ticked off. Furlough is a time to recharge the batteries so what better way is there to start a furlough than have our first family holiday?
Rejuvenation - Most missionaries live under conditions that are not conducive to physical or mental health. After a few years in a steaming country in Africa with a diet that lacks nutrition and variety together with a climate that is consistently hot and humid even during the night can lead to physical and psychological exhaustion. During World War 2 it was discovered that a soldier lost 50% of his combat efficiency after one year in the jungles of New Guinea. We have many books in our library about great missionaries from the past who stayed on the mission field for years without a furlough. Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur was one of these. Even she might have profited from a furlough now and then, for in her later years she became completely incapacitated. Many other missionaries died very young be-cause they were unable to get the medical attention they needed in time to save them. We are living in what is known as the ‘jet age’ where boarding a plane is almost as easy as getting on a bus so travelling has been made much easier for present day missionaries.
Through our day to day experiences of corruption in Africa visiting a doctor or dentist just for a ‘check- up’ isn’t practical so personal health can be neglected. During my last deputation visit to the UK in March I headed, as I always do, to my doctors surgery for a swift M.O.T. I didn’t know my doctor for many years had retired and I was to be introduced to my new G.P who, in my spirit, I recognised almost immediately as a Christian. It turned out that my new doctor had a heart burning for mission and had experienced service on the mission field and hoped to return to the field one day. Maybe through experiences on the mission field my doctor was able to recognise something that other doctors could not and we discussed the possibility of a furlough then. My doctor sent letters to various hospital departments for appointments but the waiting lists were too long and in no time at all I was back on a plane heading for Ghana.
The Benefits - Who but the missionary can appreciate the privilege of eating fresh vegetables, drinking water from the tap or visiting McDonald’s, the Pizza Hut or Asda restaurant for a ‘Full Monty’ fry up breakfast? Paved roads, even in the rural areas without goats and cows to compete with are a joy. Travelling on the motorways with well stocked ser-vices every twenty miles or so is sheer delight. As for the Supermarkets, they appear to be the last stop just before heaven! And what a relief not to have flies, fleas, ants, mosquitos cockroaches, snakes and scorpions to worry about. The electricity at the time of writing is ‘cut off’ without warning for twelve hours a day and this can cause real problems especially when half way through cooking a meal on our electric cooker.
Family and Friend Reunion - It would be great to have extended time with the grandchildren instead of the quick hello and goodbye when on deputation. How time has flown since I first left for Ghana in 2000 when my grand-daughter Chloe was just a toddler, earlier this year she became a mother herself with the birth of baby ‘Brody’ making me a great-grand-dad. The missionary seeks out the people who have stood by him over the years with their gifts and prayer support in his local church. There is now more time to talk and learn about the changes in their individual lives and also the changes in the church as well as being introduced to new members.
Change of Pace - Furlough is a time of rest and relaxation with friends and loved ones, it includes outings, football, swimming, restaurants. No one bangs on the door at 4-30 in the morning and visitors give advance notice of their in-tended visits. Meals are seldom interrupted by people calling for help, peace and quiet are maintained and privacy as-sured day and night. Living without corruption together with the endless and rapid pace of missionary life is, for the time being, forgotten. The change is both welcome and enjoyable.
Returning to the Field - It is assumed that missionaries will return to the field but nothing must be taken for granted. In my experience God works step by step so only He knows for sure. Most missionaries, however, after they have been home for six months are ready to return. Their furlough has served its purpose. They have seen all their friends and relatives and visited those who have supported them and at this point they become homesick for the mission field. I usually feel like this on my third week of any deputation visit. The country where God has placed the missionary is his place of blessing and that’s the place where he wants to be!
1. We thank God for financial/prayer support from our church.
2. John’s deputation work in the U.K. for March 2015.
3. Sean’s Education & family health.
4. Wisdom and direction for the blind folk in Tamale.
5. Akua and her work with Grace Children’s Orphanage and funding for completion of the new bathroom
6. Second hand books needed for the development of our Reference library.
7. Continued prayer and financial support.
8 For second hand shoes, clothes and toys to help support our work and Grace Children’s Orphanage
9 Confirmation from God in taking a one year Furlough starting in July 2015
John Akua & Sean Cartledge,
P.O. Box 400 E/R,
Ghana, West Africa
Tel [John] 00233243220308
[ UK] 00447766370204