Newsletter May 2009
TRAGEDY AT THE CENTRE
Akua answered the phone from Ghana on the evening of Friday 15th May to be told that there had been an explosion at the Centre and Mark Box, a missionary from Florida, U.S.A., had been killed. Mark and his wife Kim, along with their children Chandler & Sam, were living at the Centre while Akua, Sean and myself were in England. They have another son Tom who resides in the U.S.
The fire was caused by a leak in a Calor gas bottle which subsequently exploded killing Mark and destroying the whole of the living quarters of the ministry centre.
Mark’s ministry was discipling Christians and teaching young pastors while Kim worked at the Gilbert bible translators in Tamale. Their long term vision, however, was to build a Christian school in Kumbungu which is a really strong, predominantly Muslim area of Tamale.
Akua and I wanted to support the family and assure them that our concern is for them and the loss of their dear one and not for the damage to the building. Kim is a woman of remarkable faith and our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they grieve for their loved one and for guidance in the months that lie ahead.
I managed to acquire the last seat on a K.L.M. flight bound for Accra on the Sunday morning then an inland flight to Tamale, arriving at 8-00am on Monday 18th. I spent most of the day with Kim and the boys at Gilbert’s, as they prepared to depart for Florida the next day with Mark’s remains.
THE PRAYER OF JOB
“Lord, there is nothing, there is no one who compares to you. I humble myself before you. Search my heart and expose every motive and fear that hinders deeper fellowship with you. Help me to trust you through difficult trials, for they open my eyes and heart to see you as you really are! Lord, as for those who have come against me, I ask you turn your anger from them, forgive them, and bless them abundantly.“
HOPE IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS
God trusted Job or He wouldn’t have blessed him with so very much, but Job needed to learn to trust God in the same way. Job would, in the end, come to have a mature faith built on trust. We too need to take our faith to this next level if we are to pray the prayer that Job prayed at the end of his trials.
The new life, that ourselves, Mark and Kim had such high hopes for, can begin to unravel until it lies in a mess at our feet. The mess begins when a wounded faith opens the door to fear in our lives. This fear causes us to stop expecting God to fulfil His promises and undermines our trust in Him. Perfect love casts out our fears, but perfected fear destroys our faith.
In Luke 17, when Christ healed the 10 lepers, it is said “as they went, they were cleansed.” Then one of the lepers came back, and with a loud voice glorified God, knelt down, and thanked Jesus. The Lord then said to him, ”Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.” Trust lived within his faith.
In 2002 we received in our hearts a vision from God to flood the northern region of Ghana with fundamental Christian teaching books and bibles and also to build a Ministry Centre comprised of a storage depot, reference library and living quarters. With the help of Book Aid we have seen over 400,000 Christian books/bibles circulate around northern Ghana, by selling at affordable prices or by donations. Book Aid pay for the cost of shipping, which is great, but we have to buy the books to help them with their own running costs and then sell at affordable prices to cover ours. We have also received help from publishers such as, Opal Trust in Scotland, Terra-nova Press, Sovereign World Trust, Rickford’s Hill Publishers and Trinity Baptist in the U.S.A. Internationally known authors David Pawson and John Blanchard have also donated their own books for our work. We have recently made contact with ‘Torch Trust for The Blind’ in Market Harborough who will be providing Christian books in Braille in the future for the blind in Northern GhanaWe have received financial support from our own church in Warrington and certain individuals and this means the more support we receive the more books/bibles we can donate for free to various Christian organisations and church libraries.
Imagine the joy Akua and I felt after all the hard work building and completing the centre that the vision had come to pass!
JOSEPH AND HIS VISION
Joseph was given a fantastic word in Genesis concerning the powerful ways in which God was going to use him. I think he would have been better keeping it to himself but he shared it with his brothers. From that moment on, his fortunes went down hill. His brothers sold him as a slave and, for a long time, his life was filled with one misunderstanding and trial after another.
Throughout the story, though, a strange thing is noticed more than once. Just before you begin to ask where God is, the word says, “And the Lord was with Joseph” - right in the middle of his trouble and pain. Right in the middle of his saying, “This isn’t the way I remember that vision…” Wow! How we can identify with that!
However God was there; He is always there.
“Until the time that his word came, the word of the Lord tried him” [Ps. 105:19].
God must allow the word He has given you to be ‘tried.’ As we have seen, Abraham was tried in this way also. Many have been, and maybe you are one of those also. Hebrews says of Abraham,” When he was tried he offered up Isaac” May we be willing to offer up our ‘Isaacs’.
TWICE AS MUCH
The word of God says that the Lord blessed Job more at the end than at the beginning. He had seven more sons and three more daughters “and in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job.” He lived for four generations afterwards. Job had the privilege of gaining everything twice—livestock, opportunity, friends, money, and children who loved one another. What a blessing that is. When his second family came, each child was probably filled with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The joy, love and abundance they walked around in had to have been beyond what man had ever known or seen. Job was blessed with the thrill of watching God bring him not only everything twice, but he was able to see the miracle of ‘twice as good’ the second time around.
THE WORK GOES ON!
It was Kingspride Hammond, our neighbour from Atlanta, U.S.A, who eventually alerted the Fire Department. Typically the laid back attitude was evident as King’s phone calls to the station, only two miles away, went unanswered; he literally drove to the station to bring them to the scene of the fire. It was King who told them, as the fire destroyed everything in sight, to put the hoses on the opposite end gable as he thought two rooms there could be saved.
Unknown to King, the two rooms he was referring to were the ones we would normally be using when working with the books. Because our concerns at this time are with the Box family, we don’t believe it is the right time to be speaking about our long term plans. However, we see God's hand in this and Him making it possible for us to be able to continue our work at the Centre in providing Christian books/bibles for the people in Northern Ghana.
The roof tiles over one side of the area will need to be taken down and timbers replaced then tiles re-laid, we will then be able to continue our work.
Praise God! We believe that God allowed these two rooms to be saved, so that we could continue His work. Until He leads us otherwise, that is what we will do!
Its easy to lie down, curl over and say “that’s it, I’ve had enough” but we thank God that these are not the words Jesus used as He walked to the cross.
I have a little picture card with an illustration of Jesus nailed to the cross with this caption below,
”This did I do for you, what will you do for me”.
We will carry on our work and look forward to our fifth container from Book-Aid in July. This will bring the total number of Christian books/bibles to be circulated around Northern Ghana through us to approximately half a million.
God Bless you All,
John, Akua & Sean Cartledge
The Box family,
Mark, Kim & Chandler
Lounge before the fire
Lounge after the fire