MAY 22, 2006

€œWe’€™re Gonna Go to Ghana€?
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn

Tambourines rattled. A few people danced around the front of the platform. The sermon was interrupted three times by different people in the congregation spontaneously standing up and singing a response. Everyone who stood up to speak, followed their testimony with a song. We prayed, praised God, were encouraged through Scripture. We were in church all right—just not our familiar ABC.

The Ghana team plus a couple other ABCers worshiped in a Ghanaian church last Sunday. We didn’t travel overseas this time—just to Inglewood, to visit an African church composed of 90% Ghanaians. At the end of the service we got an opportunity to stand together on the platform and tell the congregation about our upcoming trip to Ghana in July. They were so encouraged that a group from the US was going to their country, not as tourists, but with the purpose of connecting with the Amazing Grace Preparatory School. This school’s mission is to pull children out of poverty through education, mentoring, and follow up. Half the church clapped when we mentioned our destination of Kumasi, home area for many of them. All the church clapped and roared when we managed to say one word “medaaseâ€? (thank you) in their language.

“You’ll love Ghana so much, you won’t want to come back,” several of them told us. The three-hour service was a stretch for us, but we were so warmly received that we have promised to return and report back after our trip.

This field trip was just one of the ways the Ghana team is preparing itself for our summer trip to Africa. We have been working hard since the beginning of the year on several fronts:

  • Fund-raising: We have written to friends, family and ABC contacts, explaining our mission, giving them a chance to come alongside us in prayer and financial support. In addition we have worked at yard sales, candy sales on weekends at local grocery stores, recycling, are planning an upcoming car wash, etc. So far we have raised $32,500 out of a goal of $40,000. Those funds will cover airfare, room and board, and a gift of $4,000 to the Amazing Grace School for a roof for their Junior High building.
  • Disciplines: We are preparing our character through taking on a new discipline every other week. We have been challenged to pray daily, to give up something we enjoy (TV, sweets, fast food, etc.), to do everything without complaining, to watch the words that come out of or mouth, to not spend money on anything we don’t need, etc.
  • Culture learning: Each team member has had to research and present a part of Ghanaian culture, history, geography, etc. In addition we are learning useful phrases in Twi, one of Ghana’s main languages.
  • Teambuilding: Through bonding, fun, trust, we are working together, learning about each other.
  • Faith: In small groups we gather throughout the week for Bible study and prayer. We are stretched as we trust that God will bring all the pieces together to make this trip possible.

The Ghana team includes 5 adults and 7 children (ages 10-14). We are going as learners into a different culture. We are opening ourselves to God’s growth in our lives, to be changed by him to become life-long givers and pray-ers. We expect that God will do his work in us, but also through us. We greatly desire to be a solid help to the children and staff of the Amazing Grace Preparatory School. And as we return, we will pass on what we are learning, and continue the work that has been begun by this trip.

We ask that you pray for us as we prepare and go. The magnitude of our undertaking and the learning curve is evident in the comments of these team members:
Chelce Blackwood (11) and Caitlin Mendibles (12): “It’s going to be hard, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Benjamin Zobrist (15): “I don’t know if I’ll be able to apply the lessons I learn here, there.”
Tianna Van Alstine (12) and Lauren DeVaughn (11): “We’re going to learn a lot.”
Caitlin Eby-McKenzie (13): “I think it’s going to be really hard to be with the same people 24/7—the ultimate test of patience.”
Carla Cunningham: “I’m scared—feeling comfortable in a different culture is challenging. t’s been hard work. It’s a lot!”
Robert DeVaughn: “What’s been a struggle for me is the disciplines, the heart preparation. I’m glad we’ve had to do it because it’s something we should do anyway.”
Sarah Oberholtzer (10): “I’m thinking about how much work it’s going to be, because of how much work we’ve done already. I have a good connection with God, but I want a better one.”