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The Love and Faith of Neighbors

A Letter from Ruth Brown, serving in Ghana

August 2020

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“My first memory is of taking care of cows.” James, my 70-year-old language teacher, laughed at the memory, “The senior brothers would mistreat the younger ones, making them do all the longest walks for getting the cows together, looking for firewood, and looking for water. The older boys would ride the cows, and the younger boys would be walking. The only thing we young ones would enjoy was the cow’s milk. In the bush there are no containers. You milk into your palms.”

Smiling, James shook his head, thinking of another early memory. “Every morning my mother would wake very early, before 5 AM, and she would pound fufu (a mixture of corn-flour and plantains) so that I would have a meal before going to school.”

“Do you remember any advice your father gave you?” I asked.

“Whenever we boys left the house to visit with friends, my father would say, ‘Don’t get into trouble. Don’t bring any trouble back to this home.’ Also, my father told me not to talk too much but to listen to my elders.”

When I asked Christy, the mother in our household, what parental advice she remembered, she said, “My mother told me that if someone said something bad while she was not present, I should never tell her what was said. My mother said it would bring distraction and confusion to the family.”

Nineteen-year-old Juliet is living at some distance from her parents to be closer to her school. She remembers her parents’ advice fondly. “My mother told me to always respect people. If I see someone carrying many things, I should run to help carry everything.” Juliet continued, “My father taught me how to clean the inside of a room: how to remove cobwebs. He taught me how to hold a hoe and be weeding. And he taught me how to plant peppers one seed at a time.”

Water is transported 2 to 3 times weekly from the Oti River for watering 10,000+ tree seedlings for the agroforestry project funded by Presbyterian Hunger Program.

When I asked Juliet if there was a character trait she may have inherited from her parents, she smiled quietly and nodded. “My mother is kind.”

Amos, Juliet’s twenty-five-year-old cousin, also grew up in Juliet’s town. He explained his first memory. “I remember going to school when I was three to visit my older brothers and sisters. The teachers cooked beans and yams for us. Then, we would all get together after school and go from house to house, helping to fetch water and going for firewood.”

Amos continued, describing memories of his father. “My father would call us children together. He told us we should behave and always speak the truth and be good to people. My father had a hard life, and he didn’t want us to have a hard life. My parents became Christians.”

“Did they lead you to become a Christian?” I asked.

Amos explained, “When I was 17, a pastor came to our town to hold a crusade. I learned in this crusade to believe only in Christ and not in animal sacrifices. After this, my older brother went to farm, and he planned to begin [the planting process] with sacrificing a chicken [for a good spirit to bless his planting]. I told him that I wouldn’t eat the sacrificed bird. God was using me [to be an example of Christian practice in his family].”

I asked the youth, “What is the Church doing well here in Saboba?”

Juliet said, “Bible study and Bible quizzes and praying and fasting from 6 to 6 on Fridays; these bring people to God.” Amos added, “When we are praising God, that’s when the Holy Spirit is moving. The church is doing well when we study the Word of God and praise God together.”

“What do you like best about the Christian faith and practice?” I asked.

Doris said, “I like how we sing and dance and share the Word of God.” Juliet responded, “I know that if I pray to God, He will answer.” Christy said, “What I value most is the Word of God. I like reading the Psalms. It teaches you how to praise God. It tells you who God is.” Amos responded, “That we must live by faith, and the Holy Spirit will always speak the truth. And the truth will set you free.” And my language teacher, James, quickly answered, “What I like best about the Christian faith and practice is ‘love of neighbors.’”

All these discussions with my Ghanaian friends occurred in early April. On April 15th, following PC(USA) World Mission’s request for mission co-workers to return to the U.S., I returned to the Richmond, VA area. Here, via the Internet, I remain in weekly communication with development leaders in Ghana regarding the projects listed in the prayer concerns below.

Please let me know if your church would enjoy a visit or “Zoom” presentation to better understand our Ghanaian partnership for spreading the good news of Christ and decreasing the root causes of poverty. We could schedule a minute-for-mission during 2020 and/or a more in-depth meeting or Zoom presentation in 2021. (Email me at roots4health@gmail.com.)

Your gifts help strengthen our partnership with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

The projects listed in the prayer concerns (below) would not be possible without your prayers and gifts to my sending and support. Thank you very much for this support. Please know that I am continuing to support Ghana during the pandemic and continue to be in need of your prayers and gifts.

Please keep our faithful and faith-filled friends in Ghana in your prayers. Please pray:

1. For the health of Ghanaians as case numbers of coronavirus spiral upwards.

2. That the water system in Saboba (broken since August 2019) be fixed. Sufficient, clean water is essential in this time of the pandemic. Currently, most families are walking miles to get river water.

3. For our church partnership’s newly funded programs to provide trees and agroforestry training to 6 towns; for Christian leadership training for heads of households at a Ghanaian camp that houses people accused of “witchcraft”; and for a leadership program planned for Presbyterian women in the Saboba district.

4. For the good news of Christ to spread throughout Ghana’s Northern Region.
May the love and joy of Christ be with you!

-Ruth


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