January 29, 2007

The Ripple Effect
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn

Six months ago a team of 12 from Altadena Baptist Church went on our first overseas missions trip to Ghana, Africa, to visit the Amazing Grace Preparatory School, a pre-K-9th grade school dedicated to children living in poverty in the Kumasi area. Our team spent six months in intensive preparation for this trip, including fund-raising, spiritual disciplines, cultural learning, networking, etc. Many of you supported us emotionally, prayerfully and financially. With your help we were able to raise all the funds needed for this trip (a little over $41,000), which included not only the travel and living expenses of the team, but also a sizeable gift to the school enabling them to finish the roof of their Junior High building.

We never intended to go to Africa as tourists. It was always our intention to use this experience to build up God’s Kingdom in our lives and in the world that God loves. We considered the support we received an investment that would produce growth now and in the future.

Since July, the team has continued their interest in and support of the Amazing Grace School, and we want to report to you the continuing ripple effect of your investment in us. We are especially motivated by the realization that the school has operated in the red for many years. They have only two years in which to become self-sustaining, or they may have to close their doors. The school is strategically located in an area of poverty. During our visit, the local Ashanti chief and other political officials confirmed the impact of Amazing Grace School, attributing a boost in local standards of living to the school’s efforts in education. After seeing firsthand the 350 children who will be affected if the school closes, we are energized to make a difference for them.

These are some of the ways we are helping:
â—? Our prayer lives have a new focus as we bring sponsored children and new friends to God in prayer.
â—? Our Vacation Bible School program designated the missions offering to sponsor 6th grader Priscilla Fumador. We raised $864, almost enough to sustain her through the end of her 9th grade education.
â—? Our team revisited a Ghanaian church in Inglewood, we had attended before our trip, to get a flavor of Ghana. It was a valuable preparation, for once in Ghana, we felt completely at home in the two churches we visited due to this previous experience. We returned to thank the church and report back to them. They received us warmly, and spontaneously took up an offering of $380 for the school.
â—? We have begun sending monthly shipments of books to stock the school’s woefully inadequate library (consisting at this point of old, worn books, about enough to fit on one shelf). In addition, a church member donated a substantial gift of school supplies as a Christmas gift in honor of family members.
â—? Child sponsorships of children at the school have increased. Thirteen new sponsors are now supporting 17 more children (a record increase). At least five or six of those new sponsors are connected to ABC. This monthly support is the primary, critical way this school is kept running.
â—? One youth member of our team, wanting to sponsor a child at the school, wondered what kind of paying work could she have at age 11 to help her fulfill this desire. Recycling was not appealing to her. Then a regular babysitting job was offered to her, providing enough income for the sponsorship.
â—? Another youth member had an unusual birthday party theme, as a result of her Africa experience: “Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.â€? A teenager who did not make the trip with us, was greatly impacted by the team’s report to re-evaluate her money-oriented mindset. The materialistic track on which American kids are automatically placed at birth was disrupted.
â—? Robert DeVaughn applied to a program at his work, which donates up to $500 to charities in which their employees are involved. The overseers of this fund were so impressed with his project in Ghana, that they increased the donation to $800. In addition, Robert discovered that his company is looking for a global sustainable project in which to invest. The Amazing Grace Preparatory School has been suggested for this project. If chosen, the school stands to benefit exponentially from the construction experience of an international company with great resources.
â—? Independent of our team, a member of the InterVarsity team that was also visiting that summer, entered a contest to win a Chevrolet Aveo. She won, donating all her prize earnings ($12,000) to Amazing Grace.

We are writing this update to encourage you! Your support has multiplied many times over in gifts and ongoing commitment to a part of Christ’s body in Africa that needs us.