Newsletter July 2006
‘IT IS FINISHED’
This newsletter is a testimony of our overwhelming joy on having completed the construction of the Malak Christian Book Centre in Tamale, Northern Ghana and the never ending faithfulness of God.
I remember shortly after I married Akua, nearly four years ago, coming home for lunch from the Alabaster Project where I was in charge of the small Library. I remember the clothes I wore on this particular day and the chair I sat on as I ate my beans and bread at the table. The reason that everything is still so vivid is this is the day the Lord spoke to my heart about expanding the boundaries of my work.
The vision God had given to me was to flood the Northern region of Ghana with quality, fundamental Christian books and also to build a centre for our home, a reference library and storage depot. I had become aware that there was not one Christian book store anywhere in the Northern region of Ghana.
I let the vision tarry for a while and, during that time, I read the very inspirational biography of George Müller.
In the early 1830’s he embarked on an extraordinary adventure. Disturbed by the faithlessness of his contemporaries he longed to have something to point to as a visible proof that our God and Father is the same faithful God as ever He was.
Praying in every penny of the costs, George Müller supervised the building of five large orphanages, still standing on Ashley Downs, Bristol, housing thousands of children. I read of how, one morning, he prayed for a bottle of milk to help with the children’s breakfast then later sending over one thousand pounds a year to help missionaries in China. This was remarkable considering it was well over one hundred years ago. How could God use somebody like me to do this work in Ghana without having the finance to fund it? Somebody who, for many years, drank his alcohol sat on park benches and spent most of the rest of his time either in hospitals, drug and alcohol recovery units, police cells or jail.
It is some while since Akua and I took the step to commit ourselves to the work God had called us to do. We have endured all the trials, opposition and afflictions to the end and have come out victorious and we rejoice so much now that ‘It is Finished’. God is as faithful now as He was in George Müller’s day, having provided all the financial needs to complete the project for us. He even threw in a new van and new Irish wife on the way [ Akua officially became an Irish citizen in March ]. There is nothing like experiencing the realities of God providing your needs constantly and we develop a sort of expectancy as we continually trust Him.
As our faith increases and our relationship with God deepens, we trust that He will continue to provide our further needs connected with our building. These needs range from floor tiles, bookcases, ‘Polytank’ water container for our water supply and basic home furniture.
The last words Jesus spoke on the cross, ‘It is Finished’, were cried with a loud voice. This mean’s He was in perfect command of the situation, even though He had suffered so intensely. This was a vigorous clear cry of victory! Jesus did not cry out ‘I am finished’ and one might have expected that such suffering had at last overwhelmed Him. Despite all His sufferings, Jesus had finished the job His Father had called Him to do.We too are sometimes called to suffer in our work before we can celebrate the victory. We have had more than our share of batterings on the way but these things are not meant to make us weak but to strengthen us. We are absolutely overjoyed that we have finished the work and that we have come through all the trials that came our way!
Of course, in our case, ‘It is finished’ is in the context of building a Ministry Centre, but the work goes on.
We have just donated a large amount of tracts, leaflets and New Testaments to ‘Seed Ministry’ to distribute to villages along the banks of the River Volta. Rev. Bob and Bonnie Parker of Seed Ministry [U.S.A.] have built a river boat to reach the unreached people of Ghana alongside the river Volta. They have already well over one hundred bible clubs catering for over three thousand children and have also built twenty churches in their villages. They have written to say, “We wanted to say thank you so very much to Malak Christian Book Ministry for the books, Bibles and tracts they have given to Seed Ministry. As you know, we will be handing these out to the children in our Bible Clubs, to school children as we go into the schools, to children (and adults) that attend our Children's Crusades and to villages we go to along the Volta River. What a blessinghave given them and to us. Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)"so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." You are doing so much to get God's Word to those who cannot purchase it. He will bless you mightily. His Word will not return empty!!! God Bless You”.We received our third container from Book-Aid in April, so we still have plenty to do and we still have plenty of sorting work going on at the centre. We are removing cartons of books from the Book Aid container to categorise them before entering them onto the database then back into the container for storage—big job!!
Cowboys in Ghana
The whole Calvary story is amazing and the more you look into its parallels with the Old Testament practices of sacrifices for sin, the more profound and meaningful the crucifixion of Jesus becomes.
The jubilant cry of ‘It is finished’ was because Jesus completed the work He was called to do and assured believers of their salvation in doing so. We must be witnesses in whatever job or situation we are placed in to further the gospel message, wherever we are.
A few days after we returned to Ghana in January, I was sat at a roadside eating place in Accra. I am pretty sure this was the place where I contacted the ‘typhoid’ disease. A man already sat there with a young boy introduced himself and then asked me what it was I did for a living. Before I could reply the little boy shouted ‘He’s a cowboy’! Now I have been addressed with this title many times in my pre-Christian days and, sorry to say, justified the label pinned on me, but never as a Christian? I was much relieved though when I realised the young boy’s assessment of me was due to the attire I had chosen to wear for the day and not my Christian witness. I was wearing a red leather Stetson with bright orange check shirt. It was obvious the young boy had spent some time in America because the average Ghanaian would have never heard of a cowboy. Akua had never heard of a cowboy before until of course she met me! I am so happy that the God we place our trust in can use ex-Latchford ‘cowboys’. He can also use ex-prostitutes, ex-thieves and ex-anything for His glory, as long as he or she is willing to yield themselves to the Master Potter’s hands in obedience. To trust God on His wheel of grace and be moulded and shaped into what He will have us to be.
Yours in His name,
John, Akua & Sean
The rest of the compound, viewed from the house
Akua planting yams
Yams in the foreground with lemons, oranges, mangoes and other fruit trees planted
Site entrance with two containers and watchman’s hut
Living room or lounge area
Concrete platform for the containers
Loading the new truck with books from the container
- with help
Typical mode of transport for the locals, taking their produce to market
Bob Parker receiving tracts
Seed Ministry building