The Harvest is Plentiful and the Workers are Few

A Letter from John Etheredge, serving in Ghana

July 2020

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Dear friends,

Since moving to Ghana, I have read the message from Matthew 9:38 a dozen or more times. I keep hearing three things coming from this text:

The harvest is plentiful. I found people who want to learn a new way, with very few resources or know-how. There is such a great need for doctors, nurses, teachers, carpenters, electricians, painters, and just people with no special skill but just a love for Jesus.

The workers are few. Technology is so far behind what we are accustomed to in the U.S. Workers cut back the shrubs around buildings and fences with machetes. There is a building going up next to where I live, and the builders pour concrete, then carry it in a bucket on their heads, up a ladder.

Pray to God for workers. If I can do it (something like this, coming to Ghana), so can you. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your endeavors. It may not be Africa; it could be in your own community.

It was my understanding I was to come and offer help to them. Surprisingly, I have been the recipient of help. They have shown me what Jesus is to them. I marvel at the little things they are thankful for. Things we sometimes take for granted. They are so grateful for small things.

I attend the senior adult worship from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM each Sunday. Maybe because we are in the same age range, we have a good time together worshiping. When certain songs are played, we all get up and dance. For me it was a little difficult at first, but now it comes easy. The average age is about 79 years old. I preach once a month, but we had to stop our meetings because of the virus. However, we look forward to getting together again very soon. We will start a weekly Bible study which will include covering current topics of their choice. We will have outings to parks and perhaps a picnic or two. We are thinking of having a buddy system so that each member will have someone to keep in touch with. I purchased tomato seeds and will give each adult a plant so that they can produce their own tomatoes. I will ask each one to bring a tomato to church and we will have a tomato party.

From 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon, I worship with the children. I get so refreshed watching 250 youth worship together. My heart overflows when I hear a 10-year-old young man pray for almost 20 minutes without the aid of a script. The children, for the most part, have been trained from a very early age. I assist the senior high youth teacher at Sunday School, and I assist the Pastor with confirmation classes.

I work with youth from the Nanya Harbour area of Ho, Ghana. These are children who either do not have money to buy uniforms for school, or they live on the street. Uniforms are required in the school system. I am here to encourage them to continue in school or help them get an education. We do fun math problems, talk about life in America, and tell Bible stories. Then they must do something nice for someone during the week and tell about it the following week. The boys like to play football (we call it soccer). We planted yams and will harvest them sometime around December. The children will take some home and we will also give some to the community. There is no Wi-Fi service in this part of the city, so I use my cell phone to get what information we need.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana operates a center for young ladies who for one reason or another did not graduate from high school. The school offers programs for them to become certified in cooking, sewing, and jewelry making. After this schooling, they are able to sustain themselves. I make repairs to desks, chairs, and tables at the school.

COVID-19 has interrupted my work here, but I still keep in touch with the groups by phone and texts. I look forward to working with high school students in the fall. My work with them will consist of giving them a look at life in America and encouraging them in their endeavors. I will also work with the EP Church seminary students, giving them a look at American life and answering questions about how the church operates in the U.S.

Ghana is such a wonderful place to live. The people are very kind, the government is stable, and I feel very comfortable walking the streets. It’s interesting how they will move off the sidewalk to let me walk on the street. The children will offer to carry my backpack because they are taught to respect anyone older than them.

It is hard to believe one year of my stay here is gone. If you are planning to visit me, better come on. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and financial support. I have felt your prayers and I see the results of your contributions. I still need them both.

Blessing to all of you,

John Etheredge

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