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Newsletter September 2009

Dear Friends,


We have now started the re-building programme at the Centre after the terrible fire tragedy last May when Mark Box, a missionary from Florida, U.S.A. was killed.  The fire ravaged the building to almost complete destruction and was caused by the explosion of a gas cylinder.

We hired two government rubbish skips and four men to clean the building out and then it was time to assess the damage in more detail and consider cost estimates.

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? ” John 11:40.

 I took along a good friend of mine who runs a large construction business in and around Tamale to take a look at the task ahead—not a pleasant sight!

As we gazed at the devastated building I said to him “If I didn’t know God, the natural man in me would just turn around, say good-bye, and walk away for good”. After spending much time with him on site I was led to read God’s word and the Oswald Chambers daily devotional reading for the day of 29th August.

“Every time you venture out in the life of faith, you will find something in your common-sense circumstances that flatly contradicts your faith. Common sense is not faith and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him?  Can you venture heroically on Jesus Christ’s statements when the facts of your common-sense life shout-“It’s a lie?”


We have a book on our shelves entitled “Tragedy to Triumph” by Frank Retief, a pastor from Cape Town in South Africa.

Frank had returned from an enjoyable holiday in London, a gift from a generous congregation for their appreciation of his 25 years in the ministry.

He was still suffering from the flight fatigue and decided to stay at home on the Lords Day evening of 25th July 1993.

The service that evening in the quiet suburb of Kenilworth in Cape Town was rudely disrupted.

A group of armed men burst through the door, fired on the congregation and threw hand grenades attached to tins of nails into their midst. As a result, 11 people died and 55 were injured, some horribly maimed for life.

The massacre at St James’s Church in Cape Town sent shock waves around the world. The nature of the attack by terrorists on a group of people at worship was universally condemned.

The aftermath of that tragedy in essence is no different from the aftermath of any other tragedy. Tragedy and suffering is a time for God to speak. He speaks through us and He speaks to us. It is a time for personal heart-searching. It is a time to ask the hard questions; to take stock of where our lives are going.

In the late nineties, I met Frank Retief at a four day Christian camp conference on the outskirts of Cape Town. I first travelled to a black township called ‘Khayelitsha’ with my brother Bernard, to pick up the community pastor who was attending the conference with us. In those days no white man would dare visit Khayelitsha  township unless he was mad or, like in our case, invited.

I talked to Frank Retief at the conference and he said about the tragedy,

“A strange and unusual calm descended on me after the first shock passed. It is difficult to articulate this to those who have never been in a similar situation but many will know the reality of the experience of the presence of the One who is “ a very present help in trouble” [Psalm 46;11]. He became very present that night and in all the days that followed”

 We can identify with every word and have felt Gods continuous presence and peace since our own tragedy last May. That little church so cruelly targeted for a terrorist attack can now boast through the grace of God that it has now grown into one of the biggest in South Africa. It houses various children’s ministries, offices, a restaurant, a book shop, a library, meeting halls and an auditorium that seats 1500. It has also planted over ten daughter churches in a wide ring around the church. God can turn our water of adversities and afflictions into sweet wine again but we must not make the mistake of excluding God’s purposes from the tragedies of life.


The Book-Aid container [our fifth] was released from Tema Port in Accra two days after I arrived in Ghana and safely made the 400 plus mile trip north to Tamale. Things went incredibly well this time around, except for the truck getting stuck in the mud in our compound.

Part of the roof is still on above the library and we have been able to sort books out and work long hours, but sometimes ankle deep in water [still the rainy season]. We have been able to do our job in very difficult conditions despite everything, including chairs having to be placed on pallets because of the flooding.


We have assessed the damage thoroughly and below are the cost estimates for each aspect of the work. It is vital that this work is undertaken at the beginning of next year before the next rains fall in May.  Initially, the work will be to make the present building secure and weatherproof and then to reinstate the office and library.  The present costings cover these first two stages only.  Living accommodation will be added later.  The blockwork and carpentry should take no more than six weeks.

The inside before the cleaners came in


We first thought that we would have to take large portions of the walls down but that did not prove to be necessary. We only need to replace about two hundred blocks and, as I write, we are in the process of moulding them.


It will be necessary to replace the window/door frames, roof and ceilings, which will take about 3 weeks.

Electrical Fittings

Nothing was damaged outside the house, i.e. poles and cables, but the house itself needs to be completely re-wired. Sheeted Roof                                                           

 We intend to fit coloured galvanised sheets rather than the cheap regular tin sheet, which rusts very quickly. The tiles we used last time were great but would be too expensive this time.

We have broken everything down to every pin and nail for reference on invoice but, for the sake of space on the newsletter, I have just given the total which is approximately £7,700, including materials, labour and transportation.  A full cost breakdown is available.


We hand everything over to God in faith, knowing that He will provide for the future and ask for your continued prayers on our behalf.

Our contact details are below for anybody wanting to help with this project in a practical way.  I will be back in Warrington from 26th September.

God Bless you all,

John & Akua Cartledge