Innovation & Determination
Over the months that followed it was a gradual process of learning more about the materials blind people use to help them live a better life like Perkins Braillers and speaking computers. I was only familiar with Braille books/Bibles so I went about finding out more through meeting blind people in the more affluent capital city of Accra. How can you not be motivated to help the likes of Isaac Awuah the president of the Wiaso branch of the Ghana Blind Union [G.B.U.] who has proved that the virtues above [Innovation & Determination] are not elusive to blind persons? After losing his sight some ten years ago, he was bent on continuing with his occupation as a crop and livestock farmer. His situation epitomizes the belief that with training and empowerment, continuity in life after losing one’s sight, is not a mirage. My own church members in Warrington only have to look at the lives of Garaint and Sue as a living testimony to that. Today Isaac Awuah is an accomplished livestock breeder with over 70 pigs as well as a number of sheep and goats. In many respects he is a role model and symbolizes strength and determination for the members of his branch. Isaac employs an impressive and effective strategy to keep his pigs under control. As soon as they are born, he conditions them to be friendly and responsive to his voice and those of his family. As a result when they break out of the pen, he does not have to go out looking for them. He just calls them by name and they come running to him. This socializing of the animals also makes it easy for him to feed and clean the sty.
Newsletter October 2013
Greetings from Ghana
We thank God for your prayers and continued financial support which helps us to continue our work in Ghana
through literacy ministry. We continue to receive Christian books/bibles from several publishers in the U.S.A. U.K. and Ireland.
Akua is busy preparing a delivery of food, clothes and toys for Grace Children’s Orphanage near Kasoa on the south coast. After we leave the Orphanage we are hoping to continue further west to ‘Cape Coast’ and visit the site and castle where most of the ‘slave trading’ in Western Africa was carried out.
Sean has just commenced his first term in year four at Vilac International
School, Accra and with it yet another testimony of Gods wonderful providence
in our lives. We thank God for our dear friend from Derry City, Northern Ire-
land who again met the cost of $3,000 for Sean’s fees for the school year and
earlier a donation to cover the costs of a generator and Air Conditioning unit
for our accommodation in Accra. God led this man to contact us while he was
reading the ‘Derry Journal’ newspaper about a visit I was making at a local
church in May 2010. What a gift from God this man has been to our family and
Ministry!!! FIRST DAY IN YEAR FOUR
I [John] am looking forward very much to returning home for the whole month of October when I will be visiting family and friends in Warrington. I also have the privilege, God willing, of visiting six churches across the U.K. to give a presentation about our work in Ghana - my itinerary is listed below:
4th Sandbach Methodist Church
9th Hereford Baptist Church
13th Coastline Church, Fife, Scotland
20th Oasis Family Church, Witney, Oxford
26th St Aiden’s/Holy Family[Anglican joint meeting] Gravesend, Kent
27th Gerston Chapel, Paignton, Devon
The invitation to the joint meeting at St Aiden’s and Holy Family, Gravesend, Kent was organised by Ron who I met in H.M.P. Garth in 2010 when he was serving a long term prison sentence. Ron committed his life to Jesus while he listened to John Hayes and I give testimony at the prison. He has kept in touch with me since that evening and it has been a joy to see him set free from his past, grow in the Lord while still in prison , liberated, and committed to his Lord and church .
In August 2012 we made a decision that unless otherwise directed by God we would remain in Ghana for another year. Our circumstances had been engineered in such a way that we felt our work in Ghana which had started back in January 2001 was drawing to a close. Book-Aid, who had been our main supplier of second hand Christian books and Bibles, had told us they had some internal problems and couldn’t send any more containers of Christian books/Bibles to us in Ghana. They added that they didn’t know if it would be permanent or not. This news from Book-Aid would mean that our donation ministry in the North of Ghana, where we have helped to create over fifty church libraries, would virtually come to an end. We had previously purchased approximately 100,000 new and used Christian books and Bibles in twenty foot containers from Book-Aid and these were sent to us at the port of Tema in Accra. Over the years we have donated thousands of Christian books/Bibles to young churches and students in the North of Ghana and this was made possible only with the half a million books/Bibles we have had shipped from Book-Aid in five separate containers . Obviously our giving now is very limited so the next best thing is to improve our reference library to the biggest and best in Ghana and, God willing, this will come to pass over the next couple of years. The uncertainty with Book-Aid, coupled up with the passing away of two very dear brothers and significant supporters of our work, Gordon and Geoff [how we miss them] threw us into thinking the Lord was closing the door on our work in Ghana. We decided that ‘come what may’ we would spend another year in Ghana waiting on God for direction. We kept this to ourselves until I returned to the UK for deputation work last March when I called a meeting with elders John and Ray. We had a really good meeting with the three of us ‘in one spirit’ feeling we should continue to ‘wait on God’ for guidance and direction in Ghana while our church prayed on the same lines.
The Waiting Room
Waiting on the Lord may be one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life. When Jesus promised that he would return he instructed his followers to wait. That is easier said than done. So what do we do in the meantime? What do we do while we wait?
Before I was called to Ghana in 2001 I think I must have been the most impatient human being in the whole world. Waiting for the doctor or sitting in traffic, waiting for a bus, to name a few, were a nightmare. I have improved a little over the years as I have adjusted to the Ghanaian, laid back way of life where you have to wait for almost everything. Have you ever realized that many of these situations are Gods waiting rooms? They’re places along our journey in life where God says “wait here.” What looks like 10 minutes can turn out to be ten months or even ten years.
The Bible provides several instances of people who waited—and waited—for God’s next move. Moses is a classic illustration. He herded sheep in the backside of the desert for forty years before God returned him to leadership. The Apostle Paul cooled his heels for seven years before his ministry began. I think in looking back God has used my experience in Ghana to teach me to be more patient and this has been evident during the past six months. We have just gone about our work as normal without ever feeling that God is moving us anywhere until recently when He has been slowly but surely placing new vision in our hearts. For many, especially in the West, waiting on God isn’t easy because it goes against the grain of the ‘want it now’ society. But, there can be hidden benefits in waiting. In times of waiting a soul can be revived and a spirit renewed. Isaiah wrote, “but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” [Is.40 v 31]
Resource Centre for the Blind
While Akua has been concentrating on her work in Accra I have been watching the work I started with the blind inTamale last May gradually develop. My home church Bethesda will re-member the testimony of my first visitor to the Resource Centre, Madam Mercy Apoe. Mercy commented as she left with her books on that first day that she never thought she would see a Resource Centre for the blind in Tamale in her lifetime. A couple of days later Mercy, with her young guide and toddler, returned to borrow more books from our library. I was told after they had left that Mercy had walked seven miles with the children along a very busy, dangerous road to get the books.
The next day I received an e-mail from Joanna Ervin the production co-ordinator of Lutheran Braille Workers [L.B.W.] U.S.A. who supplies us with Christian Braille books and Bibles.
MERCY’S PRESENTATION AT HER CHURCH
PART OF THE LIBRARY
Joanna was touched by the short testimony I posted about Mercy on the internet and mentioned that she was going to include the testimony in the next L.B.W. newsletter which has over 30,000 recipients plus close on 6,000 readers from their own volunteer workers. Joanna also insisted that “If Mercy Apoe is blind and willing to walk 7 miles with two young children for the word of God she should have her own library.” She added that for anyone who comes to our library who we discern to be serious about God we can give them as many titles as they want. L.B.W. will simply ‘top up’ the books we have given away as required. L.B.W. sent over one hundred boxes of Braille books/Bibles for most of the summer months every week so we have a huge stock.
Torch Trust for the Blind in the UK also send us Braille books/Bibles which are mostly quality hardbacks in volumes so it is good that we are receiving a variety of titles from our suppliers. This is a pioneer work in the pre-dominantly [97%] Muslim northern part of Ghana which will eventually be flooded with Christian Braille books/Bibles and with it a new generation of blind preachers and evangelists fully equipped for the ministry.
Mercy Apoe was presented with her personal library at Holy Cross church, Tamale in front of over 1,000 people
ONE OF OUR TWO CONTAINERS
OF BRAILLE STOCK
AMADU ABUKAVI WITH HIS BOOKS
ANOTHER LOAD OF BRAILLE BOOKS FROM LBW IN AMERICA
ISAAC AWUAH WITH HIS PIGS
Innovation and New Vision
The Lord was moving in my heart. A new vision came as different doors opened with more things being revealed to me. I started to think about how we endured the negative things last year like losing our donation ministry in Tamale and that it may have been allowed by God for a season to make way for this new ministry He had planned for the blind. Obviously, we were then reminded about the story of Joseph and how the negative things that happened to him were allowed in the will of God for him and his family’s own good [Genesis chapters 39-50]. The account is so shocking we don’t know if we should think more highly of Joseph’s brothers because they decided to spare his life or less highly of them because they thought they could get rid of him and make a little money at the same time. Apparently they considered that their brother was only worth twenty shekels of silver. As far as Joseph’s father Jacob was concerned his favoured son was dead and he thought he would never see him again. The Egyptians were wealthy, educated, and had massive natural resources with no real enemies at that time. The most impressive thing about Egypt in God’s eyes was that Joseph was now there. “Though stripped of his coat, he hadn’t been stripped of his character.”
If Joseph’s brothers never sell him to the Midianites, then he never goes to Egypt. If Joseph never goes to Egypt, he never is sold to Potiphar. If he is never sold to Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife never falsely accuses him of rape.
If Potiphar’s wife never falsely accuses him of rape, then he is never put in prison.
If he is never put in prison, he never meets the baker and butler of Pharaoh.
If he never meets the baker and butler of Pharaoh, he never interprets their dreams.
If he never interprets their dreams, he never gets to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.
If he never gets to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, he is never made Prime Minister.
If he is never made Prime Minister, he never administrates wisely for the severe famine coming upon the region.
If he never administrates wisely for the severe famine coming upon the region, then his family back in Canaan perishes from the famine. If his family back in Canaan perishes from the famine, the Messiah can’t come forth from a dead family.
God is the great mover, we are to be determined to work, and if we wait, in patient trust, remembering that God is in control doing His work increasing our strength, we will experience the move of God in our lives and in our church.
Grace Children's Orphanage, Kasoa, Accra
It was great to visit Grace Orphanage again to give food, shoes, clothes and toys only made possible through donations from the UK and Akua’s hard work. The orphanage has only one bathroom on the premises and with over fifty children to look after are desperate to construct another . It was brilliant to see young female volunteers from Australia, Denmark, Austria and Canada committing themselves to this needy orphanage for three months. We left Kasoa travelling further west along the Guinea Coast until we reached the City of Cape Coast.
CHILDREN SHOWING APPRECIATION
The Door of no Return
The door of no return, which for more than 100 years opened to the certainty of a short and brutal life for the millions of Africans that were captured off these shores in Ghana and sold into slavery. Hundreds of thousands were forced through the dungeons and loaded onto the slave ships anchored along the Atlantic coastline. Beyond the notorious exit door at Cape Coast Castle was the main British hub of the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa from 1665 to 1807. You have to use your imagination to understand what it must have been like to be here back then, to see the evil and horror of slavery and what one man did to another. Akua visited the site for the first time and the reality of those horrific events upset her so much she refused to have her picture taken while inside the castle. President Barack Obama and his family followed in the footsteps of countless African-Americans who have tried to retrace their pasts by visiting Cape Coast Castle in Western Africa. Cape Coast, a city of about a million people, was once the capital of what was then known as the Gold Coast. The British moved the capital to Accra in 1877.
CAPE COAST CASTLE
ORIGINAL CANON BALLS
CANONS POINTING TO THE ATLANTIC
Its black canons and mortars are still firmly sitting on a concrete deck facing the beautiful Atlantic Ocean but to descend into the exposed brick castle is to enter into what feels like the depths of hell. Underneath the castle, there are five dungeon chambers for men. The strongest ones were separated during branding, when hot iron rods were used to mark their chests, and then chained and shackled together in the first chamber.
At any given three-month period, the castle held 1,000 men and 300 women. The men were confined in groups of 200 per chamber roughly the size of a 30-by-15-foot holding cell before they were shipped to America, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Women were locked in two similar dungeons, 150 of them per chamber. There were both commercial and domestic slaves. The domestic slaves served the British masters in and around the castle and any slave who challenged the authorities was thrown into the condemned cell, which held 50 in a room not much bigger than your average toilet. There, they would die deprived of food, water, light and oxygen, clawing the brick walls and floors as they suffocated.
The majority of slaves ages ranged between 15 and 35 years of age would walk from the dungeons in single file and chains down a narrow dark tunnel then emerging at the notorious final exit door “The door of no Return.” A small boat would then take the slaves to the awaiting ship berthed in deeper waters for their final destination.
Re-living this short journey of about seventy five yards from the dark dungeons and tunnel to ‘the door of no return’ brought home just how evil one human being can be to another.
ONE OF THE DUNGEONS
DUNGEON LEADING TO TUNNEL
SLAVE COUNTING AREA ABOVE TUNNEL
DOOR OF NO RETURN
Ron hopes to make a return visit to Ghana in November 2014. He has been invited back to the Baptist Pastors’ Seminary in Tamale to teach an introductory course for part-time students and a refresher course for returning students who have had to take time out from their studies. There may also be a further opportunity to work with Bible Club leaders at Seed Ministry as well as preach in local churches. I’m sure Ron would appreciate prayer fellowship and any offers of practical support
1. We thank God for our Church and those who support us
2. John’s deputation work in the U.K. in October
3. Sean’s Education, family health and futures
4. Wisdom and direction from God for our work with the Blind
5. Grace Children’s Orphanage & need for bathroom
6. Second hand Books needed for Reference library in Tamale
7. Continued prayer and financial support
John Akua & Sean Cartledge,
P.O. Box 400 E/R,
Ghana, West Africa
Tel [John] 00233243220308
[ UK] 00447766370204
AKUA WITH MATRON
TRUCK QUICKLY UNLOADED