Friday, 9 November 2012

Hard Ground

Two nights ago, our Meaningful Life International team had the privilege to visit Aburi (a-bree) at the invitation of a pastor there who heard about one of our recent outreaches. He wanted our help to reach as many people as possible in his town. This pastor has been serving there for over 15 years and like so many places in Ghana, it is "hard ground," a spiritually dark place.

This isn't always obvious because you will see lots of churches in Ghana and many of the businesses (roadside kiosks) have biblical references in their names and often refer to a Bible verse - even the bars or "spots" as they are called here. There is the appearance of a Christian presence but quite frequently the people who confess their devotion to Jesus mix their Christian worship with their traditional forms of idolatry. (This happens back home in the US but it is even more subtle there.)

The drive into Aburi from Accra is beautiful. It reminds me of a drive into the Smoky Mountains. The road is narrow with frequent switch-backs as you climb the mountain. This particular road looked very modern. It was clean and well paved with attractive developed areas on either side of the road. We passed the presidential lodge, which has a stunning view of the valley below. With just a bit of daydreaming, I could forget that I was in Ghana and imagine a place of much greater comfort. The visions of comfort didn't last long. Soon we were in the center of Aburi.

The heartbeat of the town is the chiefs palace. It is an old structure with a more modern building next to it where the chief holds his council meetings. Downtown is congested with people and structures. The roads are very narrow and difficult to pass because of the open gutters that line both sides of the roads.

We found just enough room in the parking place by the chief's quarters to set up our projector, screen, computer and speaker. The power was out, so we had to use a generator. The only problem was, it wouldn't start. We quietly waited and prayed while someone from the town made some repairs. Just before the light of day vanished the generator started and we finished checking our equipment.

Smoke began to flow from the projector and we quickly unplugged. The generator was running but in a way that the voltage was spiking. Again we worked and prayed and waited but we were unsuccessful in getting the generator to function properly.

By God's grace, the power came back on and we had a backup projector. Now it was completely dark and a crowd began to form, curious about what we were up to.

We showed a film about four people that had died and were on their way to final judgement. Satan was there making his case that they all belonged to him. The people were riveted to the screen as the pastor added his commentary and gave everyone the opportunity to receive Jesus. From this "hard ground" about 50 people responded and provided contact information so the pastor could do follow-up with them later in the week.

We were thrilled to see the Lord move in the lives of these people. The thought of one young man has stuck with me - he was broken and frustrated by his addiction to alcohol. He wants to quit but can't seem to win the battle. He appeared sober but I could smell the truth of what he was telling us. We prayed intensely over him and trust that he will find complete freedom in Jesus.

In the last picture above, you will see a portion of a round, white structure in the bottom left corner. This is the shrine where the chief and villagers pour out their drink offerings to their idols. The middle portion of the shrine is filled with fragments of the glass bottles used in the offerings. You may think the generator and projector problems were merely equipment issues. I am convinced it was spiritual.

Satan works to keep those who are his and he wants to frustrate the work of God's people because it is through our work that the Lord redeems His children from Satan's slavery. In every village that practices idol worship at shrines like the one above, we have had serious equipment challenges when these shrines are the film show.

As we drove out of town, our vehicle drove extremely rough - as if the tires were horribly out of balance and the brakes were struggling to do their work. We prayed and gave thanks to Jesus for His victory that night and as we came down out of the hills to the valley floor, our car once again drove as smoothly as it had earlier in the day.

We praise God for allowing us to see His work and victory over the darkness!