Back in the States and Reflecting on West Africa – October 22, 2010

I am back in the U.S. and ready to continue with a busy schedule for the remainder of the month.

I will be a couple in Virginia who I have not seen in several years and sharing more about my role at EMI with some of their contacts and at their church. From there, I travel to Asheville, NC to give some presentations and lead worship at EMI’s Association of Christian Design Professionals (ACDP) Vision 2020 Conference. Please pray that this time would encourage past and future volunteers and that God touches lives with greater passion to spread the gospel around the world, bringing hope through professional designers using their technical skills.

Throughout my recent time in Ghana and Nigeria, God directed my heart to rest in the stillness of His peace. West Africa can feel like a crazy place: different languages, raised voices; roadblocks by villagers on the Ghanaian road; feeling alone and vulnerable at the Lagos airport; overwhelming poverty; intense greed and desire for money; being asked to preach with 3 minutes notice; police stops with questioning along Nigerian roads; taking your live meat home to slaughter in the back yard; and intense wind and downpours during the rainy season flooding design work areas at inopportune times.

Throughout all of this, I experienced God’s peace that is deeper and security that is stronger than anything this world can offer. God’s Spirit enabled me to say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6) Knowing that the Lord does not leave or forsake me gave me hope and encouragement during the times I felt most alone and unable to relate with the people around me. God granted me good rest throughout my stay in southern Nigeria, and He continues to guide relationships with the Ukpe and Ikpe families that I visited there. The included photo is of me with Jane and Vine Ikpe. Thank you for your continued prayers, especially as Jane and I consider our future together by God’s grace. Please join with us over this next week, asking God to lead us in His way for His glory.

Several high points from the Ghana project trip include the following:
Our witness and testimony while we worked among a predominately Muslim community, partnering with the ministry to rescue at-risk children who are rejected by their community
Meeting with George, a past EMI volunteer from Ghana, and seeing his enthusiasm to get other design professionals from Ghana and West Africa involved on future EMI projects
Time on a radio broadcast with project co-leader Gary when we returned to Accra
Visits to villages where we were able to take the hands of children and walk with them
Meeting with a passionate believer named Jesse in Accra after the rest of the team left and learning more about his ministry and hope for an upcoming building project
God used this trip to grow my faith in Him and my heart of compassion for the people of West Africa. The picture of rejected children being taken in and loved will remain in my mind, and I have a new appreciation for our Father’s heart to take us from the ashes, transform our lives, and express His love through us. Praise the Lord that He used this trip to realign team members’ priorities through the ways that Sister Stan joyously gave, even with how little she had. Continue to pray that God provides and gives grace to her as she serves in northern Ghana. May God’s light spread in this dark region through the brilliant spark of Sister’s ministry!

Psalm 33
Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

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