Newsletter June 2014
Greetings from Ghana
We trust all our family and friends are well as you experience the first taste of summer sunshine in the UK. The rainy season [May – October] has started in Tamale and this is the time when buildings are literally blown away and many people killed after being hit with trees or rain drops the size of golf balls. I [John] am finding it more and more difficult to find the time to write a newsletter these days as the Lord enlarges the boundaries of our ministry. We have been so very busy preparing for the opening of our Reference Library in Accra for 24th May we fail to see where the six months have gone since the last newsletter? We are all well but Akua has a nagging neck problem and Sean couldn‟t be happier anywhere else in the world.
Visit to UK
It is always good to go back to Warrington and visit family and friends while at the same time honouring the invitations to churches all over the UK and Ireland who want to hear about our work in Ghana. One of the highlights of my March 2014 visit was a trip to Manchester to see my pastor during the nineties John Norris and his wife Gwen. John changed my direction in 1994 after I had applied for a three year course at a theological Bible college to one year of intense study at the C.W.P. [Christian Workers Programme] a missionary orientated Bible school in Birmingham. Pastor John recognised my young Christian heart was in mission and I will always be grateful for his guidance and counsel but more importantly that I listened to him!
I mentioned in our October 2013 newsletter that we would hope to open a Reference library in two years but that day has come eighteen months in advance. Our appeal for reference books in that newsletter brought an overwhelming response and we are so thankful to those who contributed.
Akua and I sorting out the books
Arrival of Book-Aid Container
‟Book Aid‟ shipped a twenty foot container containing 430 cartons of books to the Port of Tema in Accra and we were able to select well over one hundred cartons we found suitable for our Reference library. We were then able to share the other cartons between St John‟s and St Peter‟s Methodist churches, The church of Pentecost, Cathedral of Mercy, Harvest Baptist Church all in Accra. The Baptist Pastors Training Seminary in Tamale were delighted with several boxes of Greek New Testaments and Greek/English lexicons from the Book-Aid container as well as the two boxes collected in Warrington by Ron Povey.
‘Opal Trust„ from Lockerbie in Scotland sent a van filled with quality study Bibles and reference books to us in Warrington which we later shipped to Ghana. ‘Banner of Truth’ from Edinburgh who publish C.H. Spurgeon sermons and Puritan books written during the time of the English Reformation in the seventeenth century also supported our appeal. ‘Revival Movement Association’ in Northern Ireland are always ready to ship books to us and were no different this time. Gill Knowles from Hunslet Baptist Church in Leeds published an appeal through her own church web site and they responded with thirty plus boxes of brilliant reference books which made the hairs on my neck stand on end. To round it all off we received 40,000 quality tracts from John Gilmore via Congleton Pentecostal church. We are so grateful to those mentioned above who made it possible for our ‘Reference Library’ in Accra to commence operating way ahead of the projected time.
Gill Knowles from Hunslet Baptist Church
with some of the donated books.
Thankful students and staff at The Baptist Revival Movement Association in Belfast
Pastor’s Training Seminary at Tamale
Concern at ‘Christian Concern’
We recently received an email from Andrea Williams the director of „Christian Concern‟ who was making an appeal for funding so they could continue to carry out their great work.
Andrea said “Christian Concern is facing a critical funding deficit. The demand for our work has grown enormously in the last 3 years and our underlying committed funding has not yet caught up. As you know, we seek to serve our brothers and sisters who are in difficulties for their Christian faith on a pro bono basis, never charging a penny. We have no other source of income except the gifts of God‟s people, on whom we are totally reliant. In our cases, as the government tightens its control on regulating our morality we will often face legal teams several times our size from the best and most expensive firms in the country against our small but dedicated legal team! We‟re in the business of seeing miracles every day; our very existence is a miracle. I have the privilege of working with a dedicated team each of whom works on a sacrificial salary and does the work of several people.”
Christian Concern work hard to inform and equip the Church to engage with what is happening in our country, they give a Christian witness in court regarding their faith in Jesus Christ and the issues centre around life, family and freedom but Jesus is often the one really on Trial. Quietly, they serve many other Christian groups in their public interfacing ministry. They host the meetings of more than a dozen other Christian groups, often giving them free help and advice.
Success & Downfall
We could identify and relate with every word Andrea wrote in her email but the last thing anybody wants to do is make appeals for money.
The Lord has enlarged our boundaries so much in recent years that we are now renting six buildings in Ghana and regularly using inland aero-planes. The problem is we don‟t get the financial support through our few regular „givers‟ to be able to fund this. We are ever so grateful to the individuals and our church for supporting our work on a regular basis but while our ministry has grown over the years and the cost of living risen twenty fold in Ghana our regular financial support has hardly risen at all.
Unlike secular business, success in Christian ministry can often be the downfall unless financial support for the missionary 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 that we should lease out our own building in Tamale to keep our heads above water and inject more support for our work.
I really do think that generally people from the West who have never been to Africa are hopelessly out of touch with the cost of living here. Some-body whom I have mentioned in this newsletter gave me a gift of fifty pounds when I was in the UK in March and told me it was for me and my fam-ily to spend on ourselves and not for ministry. So, one Saturday morning in May Akua, Sean and myself went to take a look at a newly built shop-ping mall in Accra with 225 ghc (£50) burning a hole in my pocket. As we walked around I complained to Akua that she had put a box of cornflakes (£5) and tin of Ovaltine (£5) in our trolley. I agreed with her when she said, „we should enjoy these as a „one off‟ treat with thanks to God for the couple who made it possible. Can you imagine a box of cornflakes and a tin of Ovaltine being a „one off‟ in England?
Welcome to Africa and Mission!
Old residence at Mile 7 New residence and library at Tantra Hill
The Providence of God
"Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself." (Matthew 6 v 34) Very precious words from Our Lord to drive away our fears, to keep us from distrust and from distress and to enable us so to rely upon Providence that we may say, he that feeds the ravens, and clothes the lilies, will never suffer me to famish nor to be naked.
I had appointments at three churches in Ireland in March so while I was there I arranged to meet up with the businessman from Derry City who has been so good to our ministry and to us as a family. We met for a meal in Belfast where he was accompanied by his wife and daughter and a great time of fellowship was had by all. While we were still sitting in the restaurant he promised to donate $10,000 to lease a new first floor apartment with ground floor shop which we have now converted into our Reference library.
We have lived alongside a community of very poor people who live well below the poverty line for years so this move to a residential area of Accra literally changed our lives! Our friend from Derry City also promised to purchase several laptop computers for our Resource Centre for the blind in Tamale as well as installing a full time paid worker for that ministry. Sean‟s school fees for 2014-15 were also paid by this wonderful giving man who simply says, “It‟s a pleasure and joy to give through the providences of God!”
This is God! and a wonderful example of how He has kept us in Ghana while at the same time teaching us through our own experiences of how to live by faith!
When I visited Stambourne Congregational church in Essex last March I noticed a plaque on the wall honouring a preacher called James Spurgeon who served the church as a pastor for 54 years and died in 1864 in his 88th year.
James grandson ,Charles Haddon Spurgeon known as „the prince of preachers‟ compared providence to a wheel.
Ah! man, thou art strong, great, and rich, you may stand now as the uppermost part of it, but it is a wheel and you may yet be brought low. And you, poor man depressed and downcast, weeping because you know not where you shall lay your head—that wheel may revolve and you may be lifted up. Our own experience is never a stable thing, it is always changing, always turning round. The fly that sits now on the edge of the wheel may be crushed by its next revolution and be brought to the dust of death the next day. The world may cry "Hosanna" to its minister to-day and the next day may shout, "Crucify him, crucify him." Such is the state of man. Providence is like a wheel.
You know that in a wheel there is one portion that never turns round, that stands steadfast; and that is the axle. So in God's Provi-dence, there is an axle which never moves. Christian, here is a sweet thought for you! Your state is ever changing; sometimes you are exalted, and sometimes depressed yet there is an unmoving point in your state. What is that axle? What is the pivot upon which all the machinery revolves? It is the axle of God's everlasting love toward his covenant people. The exterior of the wheel is chang-ing, but the centre stands forever fixed. Other things may move but God's love never moves, it is the axle of the wheel and another reason why Providence should be compared to a wheel.
The doctrine of providence teaches us that we are never in the grip of blind fortune, chance, luck or fate. All that happens to us is divinely planned and each event in our work comes as a new summons to trust, obey and rejoice, knowing that all is for one‟s spiritual and eternal good
David will be taking over our Resource Centre for the blind as a full time salaried worker in a new location in Tamale. David has several diplomas in computer application and mechanical engineering and has been working as a I.C.T. Instructor at Bethel School in Tamale.
As well as our resource centre being a Braille library for the blind David will be available to teach how to operate a computer which will be programmed to talk to the user. At this moment in time we are still waiting for the computers to arrive.
David Akrong at the Resource Centre
for the blind in Tamale Early visitors to the Library
John, Akua & Sean Cartledge
Malak Christian Book Ministry
PO Box 400 E/R
Tel: John 00233243220308