February 2014 Update

Kurt & Barb Mathews  (1990)

Friday and Saturday were exciting days for us here! We had about 40 people from 5 of our churches (and a few from other churches) come to learn about how to have a family that honors God. The teaching was all in Ewe (the local language), so I didn't fully understand everything, but I video taped all of the sessions so that someone can translate it for me later. I'm the most curious about what illustrations the pastors used to make their points. There was a lot of laughter during the teaching as well as a good response afterward.
The two teachers are from our mature churches in the capital city of Lome in the neighboring country of Togo. Since Togo is only a couple of hours' drive away, we like to tap into the good resources that God has provided for us from there. ABWE has been ministering in Togo for more than 50 years, so they have LOTS of mature believers over there who are living out their faith and sharing what they've learned with others. We share the same language too, so that makes it even more worthwhile.
The part of the conference that I liked the best was when Pastor Joseph Akakpo demonstrated how to discipline your children. He had one of the young men come up and he acted out what he would do if that were his son who had disobeyed. He sat him down in "the room" and asked him what he had done wrong. When the "son" understood and admitted his fault, then he was told that he had to be punished for it to teach him not to do it again. Then Joseph laid his "son" down on the "bed" and demonstrated how he would "spank" him (but he didn't really hit him).

Afterward, he cried with his "son" and then prayed with him.

Then they ended in a big hug. It was a wonderful demonstration of how to discipline children in love and not in anger. Joseph emphasized that if you are angry, then you should give yourself some time to "come down" before you go to discipline your children.
I guess I liked that part so much because it is so common here to see mothers and fathers running around with a stick, chasing their children and yelling at the top of their lungs in their anger. When they catch them, then they beat them furiously, which I believe is abusive. That abuse is so common that people don't even see it as abuse and it's a vicious cycle of generations of parents who have abused their children in this way. I'd love to see that cycle BROKEN by some courageous believers who want to love their children well.
Please pray for the parents in our churches here, that they will repent from abusing their children and will have the courage to change how they discipline. It's not easy to be different from everyone around you - it takes courage and strength. God can give them that courage and strength through our prayers.
There was also a lot of teaching about God's design for marriage. There are many problems in this area as well - people having children before marriage, men having more than one wife, adultery, men beating their wives, etc. So, there was a lot for the teachers to tackle in this area of marriage and family. We decided that we want to have a marriage and family conference every year to help people learn how to have a Godly family.
Thank you all for praying for us and for the ministries here in Ghana. We are excited about what God is doing. Keep up those prayers!

Barb, for the Mathews' clan
ABWE Ghana
Growing a new generation of passionate Christ followers

February 16 Update
We are continuing to work with the church here in Ho, Grace Baptist Church, and we know that they need help, but we have to ask ourselves, "What should Grace Baptist Church look like before we stop helping them and move onto another church plant?" So, I'm curious what your thoughts are on this. What does a healthy church look like? A healthy Ghanaian church may not look just like a healthy American church, but what are the qualities of a healthy church? Is it that they have plenty of programs for all of the various age groups? Is it a full chapel each week that we want to see? Is it that everyone in the church is busy doing God's work? Is it . . . what? I don't want to share any more ideas, because I want to hear your thoughts with no more promptings from me. So, write back and let us know what you think a healthy church looks and behaves like.

A Ghanaian auditor is evaluating the last 10 years of ABWE Ghana books and finding much to be desired. In order to get the job done, we have to open a new set of financial books and have all of the last 10 years of data organized into the quickbooks program. So, is anyone out there who knows financial terms well and who could come for about three months to help us? We need you NOW! The quicker you could come, the better. Housing and transportation on the field will be provided for you, but the person we need would be a volunteer for three months to serve the Lord. Our incorporation (ABWE Ghana Inc.) depends on this audit. I don't fully understand all of the details of this, but the whole team has been asked to put out an urgent plea for help in this area. So, if you or someone you know has any idea what I'm talking about and God is prompting you to come and help us, please write back to me and I will send your information to the missionary who is in charge of taking care of all of these government requirements for our team.

I have been working through one of the best Bible studies I've ever done and I'm learning so much through it! Actually, it's all of the missionary ladies on the field right now who are studying Beth Moore's Breaking Free. It's really amazing how God times everything just right. What I have been working through in this Bible study has applied to my life in more ways than one. You know the small group we are working with, right? The young couples in the church are still coming to our house about every 2-3 weeks, depending on people's schedules, and last night was our 4th meeting with them. Last night we asked them to share about what they observed in their parents that showed that their parents loved each other (this was to go with the Valentine's theme since it was the day after Valentine's Day when we met). It was so sad, because they could only come up with three things that they remembered seeing their parents do that showed love to their spouse. Really, only three people shared and the others didn't even have one thing that they observed. After that, we asked them to list what they would like to have seen in their parents' relationship that showed love. Then they had lots to say - spending time enjoying one another and doing things together, having family times, talking kindly to one another and about each other, etc. When they were done, we told them that they have the power to break free from what their parents did and behave differently. They don't have to repeat those hurtful things. With God's help, they can become the loving parents that they all wished they had as children. It was a really good meeting and our group is growing more and more free to talk each time we meet.
After the meeting, one young lady pulled me aside from the group and asked if she could talk to me about something. I listened for a long time to her tell about her marriage troubles. I told her that neither she nor I can do anything to change her husband's behavior, but God can. So, I committed to pray for her and her husband regularly and to meet with her once a week to encourage her. I decided that I want to go through this Bible study with her too. Please pray for me as I try to build a relationship with this young wife and mother who needs a caring friend. We decided that Wednesday afternoons was the best time for us to meet. So, if you think of it on Wednesday mornings (your time), then take a minute to pray for me. I really want to be a godly example and encouragement to her.

Thank you all for praying for us and for your encouraging emails. We love to hear from you!

Barb (for the Mathews' clan)

ABWE Ghana
Growing a new generation of passionate Christ followers

February 23 Update
Many of you responded to my question last week about what makes a healthy church. Thank you so much for taking the time to send in your thoughts. Many of you have studied this out quite well. Someone even sent me a 2 volume teaching series about this subject! Another church member sent me the notes that she wrote in her Bible from when her pastor preached on this very subject several weeks ago. So, it's not just us who are thinking about the qualities of a healthy church. Here are the highlights of what has been communicated about a healthy church:

A healthy church consists of . . .
1. people who love God with all their hearts, souls, and minds, and who love one another as Christ loves the church.
2. strong male leadership (elders who are spiritual leaders and deacons willing to serve).
3. people who are walking more like our Messiah every day, whose lives are radically changed, who are living testimonies in their homes and their communities.
4. people who are committed to being part of the church community (not just attending once in a while, but members who are really participating with helping or leading).
5. people who are exercising the "one-another" commands of bearing each others burdens, exhorting each other, and praying for each other.
6. people whose lives are evidenced by personal growth, vibrant light that shines to others, and an insatiable appetite for learning who our Creator is and what He expects of us.
7. believers who are functioning properly by making disciples who are also following in the steps of our Messiah.
8. people who agree doctrinally and practice the ordinances of baptism and communion regularly.
9. people who regularly practice both private and public worship.
10. people who are good stewards of God's time and money.

Several of you commented that the numbers of people and church programs are not what is important at all, but a healthy church should be growing spiritually and bringing their community in to join them. I personally believe that number 1 is of utmost importance as those are the two commandments that Christ emphasized to his disciples.
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses to this question. Now, we all need to ask ourselves, "Am I a part of a healthy church?" If not, then do something about it.

Barb, for the Mathews' clan
ABWE Ghana
Growing a new generation of passionate Christ followers

Posted: 2/4/2014  Expires: 3/6/2014

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