A Church Caring for Neighbors

A Letter from Ruth Brown, serving in Ghana

October 2018

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N doon neme tete Uumbua a yempli po! (I greet you in the name of our God!)

At dusk on Friday, September 21, after two days of travel from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EP Church) Headquarters in Ho of the Volta Region, I arrived in Saboba, a small city in the far east of the Northern Region, on Ghana’s border with Togo. Upon arrival, I was introduced to a family who are members of Saboba’s EP Church. They provided me with a bedroom and bathroom in their home and assured me they would welcome me as a guest of the family for as many years as I could stay! The hospitality and generosity of the Ghanaians is legendary, and I now have confirmed proof of their gracious, welcoming nature. I am comfortably established with this family of two parents, four children, and a maternal aunt. Arriving here would have been impossible without your support. I thank each of you for all your love and care, for your prayers, and for your donations that have made it possible for me to be here.

Each afternoon after returning from school, Esther feeds the family’s ducklings.

Christy is the wife and mother of our household. We call each other “sister.” Sister Christy told me recently about two of the children in our home, Esther and Juliet. Last year, Christy met one of the girls, Esther, when the young girl came to Saboba’s marketplace to sell charcoal. Christy inquired about her family and located Esther’s mother to discuss Esther’s future. Christy expressed her concern that Esther was not attending school. The girl’s mother said she planned to give Esther to a man in exchange for a dowry. Christy asked the mother if, instead, she would allow Esther to come live with her family. Christy promised the mother that she would support Esther’s attending school. Esther was 12 years old when she began 1st grade, and in one year, she quickly excelled and has been placed in 3rd grade.

The second girl, Juliet, is a distant cousin from a nearby town. As Juliet became older, she took on more work to help support her family. Her grades began to suffer, and she dropped out of school. The father, realizing she would have a dismal future unless she finished school, asked Christy and her husband, Bismark, if they would help support Juliet’s schooling. Bismark and Christy brought Juliet home to live with the other three children. Juliet has begun 7th grade this year. Although public school from kindergarten to 12th grade is “free,” families must pay for three annual tests, for books and writing materials, and for school uniforms. Bismark and Christy are providing all of this, plus room and board and a warm family life for Juliet and Esther.

Last month, while in Ho, I learned of another EP Church member whose interest in children’s education led to an ongoing support program for children. In the year 2000, this caring woman, Mrs. Vida Aku-Sika Dzobo, met three seven-year-old, destitute children at a public gathering place in Ho. After talking with them, she realized they were not enrolled in school because they were street children with no way of paying for tests, books and uniforms. That they were not in school concerned Mrs.Vida greatly.

Nenyo Harborbor children, playing together after school.

She took the first step of any community planner: She began to create a committee to support education for street children. Mrs. Vida invited two others to help her support these three children and other children from the market. They started an association named by the children, “Nenyo Haborbor” (“Our Neighborhood”).

Mrs. Vida donated 18 school desks, and a set of school uniforms, books, and pencils were donated. Twenty street children were able to attend school. A snack was provided after school by Mrs. Vida’s committee. She continued to work to increase financial support and to strengthen the committee with members who have expertise in bookkeeping, education, and development.

In 2008, the EP Church officially adopted the program as a Mini Project and, with assistance from the German Bremen Mission and American friends of the EP Church, built a recreational center and a dormitory for the children. Currently, there are two staff members who work daily to find and encourage family members of the children who will accept the children back into their own homes or into homes of extended family members. Children remaining at the center receive a daily meal, clothing, school fees and supplies, homework assistance, health care, group Bible study, recreation, instruction and coaching in farming and gardening, an accessible area for washing clothes, and a safe dormitory for sleeping. Older street children are sponsored to become apprentices in mechanical and electrical workshops. Mrs. Olivia Wunu is the current director of Nenyo Haborbor and is described as “indefatigable” in her efforts to nurture the children.

“Nenyo” now has a Board of Directors, whose membership includes six local pastors and Mr. Lovelace, the Executive Director of EP Church’s Social and Economic Empowerment Services (EPDRA). Mr. Lovelace explained to me that a goal for making “Nenyo” sustainable is to create an excellent boarding school on the “Nenyo” program’s (donated) grounds. Lovelace has seen other boarding schools being faithfully supported by their alumni, and he believes this support would also sustain the Nenyo Haborbor program, with street children also being admitted to the boarding school.

During the last two months at the EP Church Headquarters in Ho, I have observed and learned about such programs of the EP Church. Evident in all programs was the EP Church’s outreach and care for the underserved. Having arrived in Saboba, my main work until the end of the year will be to gain working knowledge of the Likpakpaaln language. In January, I will continue with language practice and will also begin visiting community leaders and organizations whose work relates to health and development. Fundamental to forming a sustainable community health program will be to form a coalition of motivated and skilled leaders to plan with and to advise the program leaders. Already, I’ve met leaders of church, health, agriculture, and educational programs — all telling stories of people assisted through the community’s support.

My Ghanaian sisters, Christy, Mrs. Vida, and Mrs. Olivia are just a few of the many members of the EP Church who are reaching out in Christ’s love to their neighbors so that all may experience abundant life. I invite you to join with them through your prayers and financial gifts and through communicating with me and other members of the Ghana Mission Network to learn more about the people of Ghana and how to join this partnership with the EP Church to build healthier communities.

Love to you all!

–Ruth

Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal
Director

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!


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