November 2012 Update
Benjamin Ward (2008)
Dear Prayer Partners,
Everyone loves surprises and I have two stories to tell you about recent surprises, some that worked out wonderfully... and others that, though they didn’t quite work out as well as planned, were still good surprises. The first surprise was just cool how the Lord worked it all out. Two weeks ago our Ghana Team had the privilege to celebrate 15 years of ministry with one of our churches in a village called Goefe. To help us celebrate and also continue the work (and partly because this next part is just a part of the culture), we did evangelism outreaches in the community for a few days before the Sunday Celebration. On Saturday night I was asked to speak the main message in place of one of our other missionaries who was in ill health, and so I prepared the message and went to the village for a few days. While I was there I had a wonderful stay with another missionary family with a different organization, but when I arrived they had gone out. While I was awaiting their return, I had an opportunity to share the gospel with a young man who also happened to be waiting on them, and on his own this young man decided that he needed to stop and pray/believe/confess Jesus Christ, and to ask Him to forgive him for his sin!!!
Continue to pray for Daniel that the Lord would continue to work in his life! On Saturday night we had a good small crowd and I was able to again share the gospel, and challenge the believers there that they should be living their lives in dependence on God. Then this is the surprise:
So on Sunday morning I showed up for church on time, and... I was the only one there.... for about 2.5 hours... just waiting for everyone to come for this Sunday celebration. Now I have been in Ghana for over a month now from Togo, and I was missing my Togolese mom and dad, so while I was waiting for people to come I tried calling them. When no one would answer I sent my mom a text saying (in Ewe), “I miss you, I haven’t seen you in a long time, when are you guys going to come see me?” And not 20 minutes later you would never guess what happened. I was sitting with my head down praying when someone came up to me and placed two fingers on the back of my neck. I thought, “Whoever is bugging me can just wait until I am finished praying.” So I went on and kept praying, and when I finished, I raised my head to see none other than my mom from Togo! By that time people had started to come into the church and so when I screamed every head in the church immediately turned in my direction to see what all the fuss was about, but I didn’t care. Then of course I knew that if my mom was there my dad couldn’t be far behind, so I found him hiding and we had a great visit. What is really cool about the whole thing is that they live 3 hours from here, so at the time I texted them they were already in Ghana and looking for the church! I enjoyed getting to introduce them to the fellowship of churches that day as our partners (and my parents) in Togo. I showed them my room where I am staying presently and helped them find their way saying, “If anyone tries to trouble you at the border (i.e. get bribe money), just tell them that you are the parents of Blolovi Kwami,” (which means, “Saturday born Fish,” and is my name around these parts, mostly because it makes people laugh (hysterically), builds relationships, and provides opportunities to share the gospel very quickly. Breaks the ice.). Well they did get to the border, and someone did try to get money from them, and they DID say that they were the parents of Blolovi Kwami, and they DID get to go through without having to pay anything! I was pretty happy to hear that.
OK! Second surprise! If you are following my on Facebook at all, you’d know already that I drove to the big city of Accra today (the Capital of Ghana), in order to see off some of our missionaries who are retiring after 15 years of service in this country. Thay have become great friends and I will miss them dearly, and I am so disappointed that I didn’t have longer to get to know them and learn from them. They have so much wisdom, I feel like I’ve lost a gold mine, and some grandparents. What you wouldn’t know is that this whole trip was supposed to be a surprise, and we all did a really good job keeping it that way, but then due to some circumstances they found out about it (and were totally surprised by the way). In the end, however, we still came down and had a great time with them for their last 12 hours in the country, treated them to lunch at their favorite restaurant, and said goodbye to them at the airport. It was a joy to see them off, and look forward to seeing them again stateside!
I have been challenged in my devotions through Isaiah lately about the difference between dependence and independence, and how it ought to look in our relationship with God, but how often we actually go just the other way. We teach our children how to be more and more independent as they grow and mature, but in Christ it ought to be the opposite! The more I grow and mature in my faith, the more dependent I ought to be on God. I was really convicted when God gave me this to think about: “Independence in a place that is supposed to be dependence, is rebellion.” We are so tuned and even trained to be independent and so when it comes to my walk with God it is just so easy to go off and do my own independent thing without consulting God, but when I am supposed to be dependent on God and I actually act in independence of Him, I am acting in rebellion. Children do the same thing when they disobey their parents, students who don’t follow the rules at school/college/university, first mates who mutiny against their captains, even countries that decide they want independence, all start with rebellion. But the worst kind, is when it is rebellion against the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We need to be dependent on Him, and it’s a choice we must make. There are a host of verses that I could write down, but I guess the most pertinent, which spurned this whole thought process in the first place, is Isaiah 22:11b, “You did not depend on Him Who made it, Nor did you take into consideration Him Who planned it long ago.” What could be worse than not depending on Him for Whom we must depend on for everything? Well, what about not even considering Him? How often do you go about your day without even taking the time to consider the Great God Who gives you life? Do you depend on Him? How is that seen in your life? Can others point out your dependency on God? Should it be a secret?
I pray that you are encouraged, and challenged, and that you would be drawn closer to the Savior as you think about some of these things. Thank you all SO much for your prayers and support. I could not do what I am here doing if it were not for you, may the Lord richly reward and bless you for your investment of time and finances into the Kingdom. Please keep in mind that my time left in Ghana is short (48 days) before I come to Canada for meetings and Christmas, but there is much work to be done, I would appreciate your prayer particularly for good time management, and please keep in mind also these particular dates:
October 5 - Travel back to Ho (home) from Accra (Country Capital) (3-4 hours)
October 5 - Turn around and travel 3 hours to Hohoe to visit a church - Shine Baptist
October 7 - Travel back to Ho
October 11 - Travel to Togo for 2 weeks, visit some missionaries, visit a church, help a pastor with a chicken business, etc.
October 12 - Travel to the north of Togo (6-8 hours) to show some evangelism films in a couple villages
October 14 - Travel back to the south of Togo
October 23 - Travel back to Ho
October 24 - November 20 - Working on organizing a field study for our Ghana Team, continue organizing/developing/fulfilling my role as the property administrator for our bible college property, maintenance, etc.
Born to be a slave of Jesus Christ,
November 18 Update
Dear Prayer Partners,
Lalamila is just the name of a town in the north of Togo, (and well off the beaten path... it’s times like this I wish I had a land cruiser); and one day, some of my friends started singing the name of the town, “La, la, Lalamila, lalalalalalalalalamila, la, la, Lalamila.” At first it was just strange, but now I join them (OK, OK, I fess up, sometimes I even key them off...) and in the end, all of us, without fail, laugh till it hurts. Ha ha ha :)
So I have an incredibly exciting story that I have been dying (or, just waiting impatiently) for the last month to tell you and I can’t wait to testify about the amazing things the Lord is doing here in the hearts of the people of Togo! Here goes my narrative that everyone seems to enjoy!
For months now, a village in the north of Togo has been asking for someone to come up and show them videos about the gospel of Jesus Christ and to share with them about His great sacrifice, love, and forgiveness. Benjamin knew about this request but as his schedule was full and he was on his way to Ghana to accept and learn the role of property administrator from a retiring missionary, he was not able to make this trip at the time. Knowing that Benjamin would only be in Ghana for two months before returning to Togo (because of Visa issues and other things), Benjamin’s Togolese dad, Pastor Boniface Sakpa, said they would wait until his return before they would make this trip. Upon Benjamin’s arrival to Togo on the 10th of October, he was swamped, and in fact almost trampled as all his (2) brothers and (4) sisters attacked him with hugs and big smiles on their faces. It was good to have him back home. After all, it has been two months since they have seen their brother who doesn’t just pick on them and get them into trouble, but also makes them laugh... occasionally. On the 11th of October, a fellowship gathered in the house of this pastor from four different cities/towns/villages, and made preparations for this special engagement. On the 12th, they set out and made the five and a half hour journey to a village awaiting their arrival. As the motorcade arrived, they noticed that a path had been cut for them in the tall elephant grass by machetes so they could pass through the river of green to a particular house just outside of the village. It was a good thing the Egyptians weren’t following them that day, otherwise the path might have swallowed them up... again. It wasn’t long after that and the fellowship set out for the church and geared up to present videos, and the gospel. As powerful words stronger than any two-edged sword ever yielded were brought forth, hearts were being challenged and changed. The Holy Spirit was at work that evening. An invitation was given for all those who might decide, in that muslim community, to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation and forgiveness of sin. As streams of people came forward, it was important to these presenters that these would-be patrons not be making emotional decisions but genuine ones, and before closing in prayer they asked those who came forward that if they really wanted to make this decision to come back the following afternoon. It was at that time, as people were going back to their houses, that the fellowship realized many of these people had walked three kilometers to come see these films. The next day many people came forward to be counseled and to hear the gospel presented again in a very clear way, and as a result have joined the ranks in the army of God. That evening, the motorcade, with people on the roof and video equipment in the back, made their way to this second village from which people came the first night. The road was bad, but [The] God was good. As the videos were being shown in this second village, technical difficulties prevented an influential film from being completely seen, but another was used and as the translator (Pastor Boniface) made it understood and shared the gospel, this churchless village heard news that changed the lives of many of its members. At closing the chief of the village came and thanked the fellowship for coming, and they made their way back to Lalamila for the remainder of the evening. As the fellowship thanked God for what He had done, they realized that thirty eight souls were counted now as children of God. It was and still is very exciting to see what God did on that weekend, and the fellowship is asking that people pray for those in Lalamila (La-la-me-la) and the surrounding towns as they grow in faith and in their new walk with God. Pray for a pastor for these villages and for the church (body of believers) to be like a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden, a light, in that dark place.
A Testament to God’s Protection
It would be almost a disaster for Benjamin to neglect sharing about his near-death experience and to testify of the great protection of God he has seen in his life. As Benjamin was on his way to Togo on the 10th of October, he had just about reached his home with Pastor Boniface and the rest of the family, after a two hour journey, when it all happened. The sun had set, and as Benjamin was treading along he noticed that another moto was coming towards him. Struggling to see where he was going, Benjamin signaled the moto driver to turn off his high beams, but as is normal practice in these parts, the driver either refused to heed Benjamin’s request, or didn’t know how to. Disappointed and frustrated that he can’t enjoy night driving here like he can in North America, Benjamin continued on to the best of his ability, noticing just as the moto flew passed him, that it wasn’t a moto at all... ... ... Continuing on in shock, but praising God and speaking thanks to his Great Protector without ceasing for at least the next two minutes, Benjamin could not believe this car was driving in the middle of the road with his left light completely burned out. Shaken, he arrived at the Sakpa house and relayed his experience, after which his dad also shared how he himself had a similar situation. The day prior, he had been driving at night when a car refused to turn off their high beams and as pastor continued to drive on his side of the road, unknown to him, he was headed straight for a pile of dirt that was not forewarned by any construction signs. As he mounted this pile of dirt and flew in the air like he was in a motocross, he came crashing down and scraped up his wrist and arm. Praise be to God Who spared his life and the rest of his body. It is obvious that God still has great things planned for these two servants, and the results of Lalamila are just a part of the plan God has for these two weak vessels. It seems Satan wanted to prevent those in Lalamila from hearing the gospel, knowing their hearts and their eagerness for the gospel, but he did not succeed. PTL for His protection!
Just a couple other quick praises and things that have been going on. I was able to finish the chicken coop I have been working on for a pastor in Togo, and Lord willing his fifty chickens should start laying eggs sometime in January. Pray that these chickens keep good health and provide this pastor with a good income to supply for his family AND the many other people who often stay with them. Last month there was one day that they fed eighteen people!). They are sending six kids to school, three of which are not their own, and it is very difficult at times. But God provides. The rabbits are not doing as well as we thought, but we were blessed to cook up the first one on my last day in Togo, (very tasty, crying as I chewed), some will be selling soon, and others giving birth!
I will be getting on a plane (in 19 days 23h 31m 30s as I write this) to travel back to Canada for Christmas and some mission meetings in Pennsylvania. I really appreciate your prayers as I feel like I have 6 months of work to accomplish, and not nearly enough time. I ask that God would give me good time management and peace before I head home. I am greatly looking forward to spending some time at home with family. I even have on my fridge in my room a phrase with the words, “The boy is sad for Canada.” It is funny because I didn’t have all the words I needed, so I used, “s, pad, fox, raccoon,” and a blank, in order to come up with this phrase. But I like it. :)
Thank you so much for your prayers and your support. For partnering with me in the ministry here in Ghana and Togo, and interceding on my behalf before the throne of grace. God is answering your prayers in very great ways. I miss you all greatly and I will be overjoyed to share with you face to face in 2015/16 all that the Lord is doing here.
November 30 Update
Dear Prayer Partners,
I am sure that many of you have been waiting to hear about this! I arrived home just last week on November 22nd at 7pm Atlantic Time. My parents, nephew, pastor of my sending church, his wife, and another dear couple were all waiting for me at the airport and gave me lots of hugs as walked in. That was nice, but I must say, I didn’t see any bags of milk there to greet me, so obviously someone isn’t getting my e-mails! Once we got home we put my nephew to bed and I chatted with my parents for a couple hours, after which I went to bed and I think I slept for almost 12 hours straight! The trip was pretty uneventful, and it is good to be home!
It was pretty cute, when I asked my nephew at the airport where his parents were (my brother and his wife), he said, “They are on a cwooze ship,” (cruise). Then I asked, “Why are they on a cruise ship?” and he said, “because it makes mommy and daddy happy!” hahaha. Then, after only seeing me for about 30 minutes that night, most of which was in the car driving home, my cute little 2.5 year old nephew woke up the next morning and the first words out of his mouth to my mom was, “Where is Uncle Ben?” It was a lot of fun the last week, we took him to the fire department and he enjoyed sitting in some of the trucks; and we just had a great time. Now he is on an airplane headed home to Alberta, and I will get to see him one last time in January before I head back to Africa! Growing up too fast.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach the Word in the morning service at my sending church, and then shared some pictures from Africa in the evening. It was wonderful to worship with people IN ENGLISH, and I was very touched by the songs we were singing and even by God’s challenge to all of us, myself included, from Jeremiah 26.
I appreciate all of your prayers, especially as I travel in the next two weeks down to the USA for meetings and things in Harrisburg. You can see my schedule in the column on the left.
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