Wednesday, October 24, 2012


This post was written by our 15 year old.  It was unprompted by Mom and Dad.  In fact, Mason did not even want it read it until he posted it.  Friends, our entire family is wrestling through things we have never faced before as we experience the poverty here firsthand.  I find our oldest son does not mince words in his direct manner of communicating his passion.  Reid and I are amazed how the Lord is penetrating the hearts of our boys and using them to speak into our own lives.

Guest Blogger: Mason Beebe   Age: 15

     Warning: This will not be an easy to read blog post. The purpose of me writing this post is to call up Christian's to do their job for the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In doing this, I will write some things that may be offensive, but they are things that I feel need to be brought to light. If you have been upset over any other posts on this blog, it is quite possible that you will break your computer after reading the first several paragraphs.  Continue at your own discretion.

     America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. The place where life is easy. A haven where people can be shielded from the reality of the harsh conditions that the rest of the world calls life. Probably the closest to a utopia the world will ever know.

     In my geography lesson yesterday, I found some extremely harsh statistics. I know you probably see or hear of statistics similar to these often, but I will say that they take on a whole new meaning when you are looking into the eyes of poor side these statistics daily.  The richest 20% of the world lives on 80% of the total world income. The poorest 20% of the world lives on 1% of the total world income. Let me put this into other words. If your family makes over $10,000 a year, you are 80 times richer than another family in a third-world country.

     Living in Ghana has given me a whole new perspective of America. America is one of the top ten richest countries in the world, but, in my opinion, many Americans horde their riches for themselves and are not willing to use them to help the impoverished world around them. Now notice that I did say many - not all. There are some Americans who are very generous and want to help the broken and needy. What we are doing here would be impossible without those people. All the ministry that has been done here is a gift from God given by people who felt led to give.

     What has really made me sad and, quite honestly, made me angry is the mindset of American Christians. We have heard several times while we have been here, "Well, I believe God blessed the U.S. so I think God wants us to enjoy those blessings." But, what if, using the blessings God gives us to bless others is the blessing we are to enjoy?  If anyone knows our motto, and the verse it comes from, then it should be clear this is what I believe.  The Lord has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:1-2).

While life in America for me was so simple and easy, life here is so much more fulfilling. The Lord has blessed me to see joy in orphans' faces. The Lord has blessed me to see souls won for His Kingdom. The Lord has blessed me to see once hungry and uneducated children, now well-fed and in school. These are the blessings that God has for us.

     It is so hard for me to be in Ghana seeing a new need everyday knowing that there are Christians in America spending money like it grows on trees. And the needs that I see are life and death needs, i.e orphanages without food, people without water, people sleeping on the side of the road, deadly health problems, etc. These needs are so much physically greater here than in America. There are no welfare checks, food ministries, homeless shelters, healthcare, and very few places where you can get water for free. It makes me mad that people are spending money just because they can when people are struggling to survive because they have no food.

     The Lord called us to go and make disciples of all nations, but nobody will listen to you preach if they are starving. I know you cannot understand or see the things the way I do because you are not faced with these situations daily. I know that not everyone is called to pack their bags and move to a foreign country, but ministry takes sacrifice. You may be the person who supports a missionary, or giving to an organization reaching lost souls and meeting the physical needs of people.  People who give significantly impact lives here. Simply put, ministry takes money, lots of money, and that is one huge way you can help. I promise you that if you are doing what God wants you to do, your life will be so much more fulfilling than if you chase after the dust and ashes of the wealth of this world.

     I know this is probably hard for many people to hear, but it needs to be heard. Life is our one chance. When we die that is it - game over. What would you rather bring before the throne of the Lord when you are judged; tickets to a concert, amusement park, or sporting event? Lots of extra savings? A long retirement? Lots of vacations? Or souls that you helped win for his kingdom? A life full of sacrifices made out of love for your King? People's smiling faces because you took the time to love them? Personally, I would rather live the latter choices.

Every night, I know that I am one day closer to my death. I don't want to waste my life. Every day has to count.

     Now this whole post may seem like I am bashing America, which in a way I am.  Please know, I love my country.  What I really wanted the point to be is that I am trying to help my brothers and sisters in America realize the dire need in the rest of the world. Like I said earlier, it doesn't have to be putting on your traveling shoes and moving to another country. Money is essential to advancing Christ's kingdom.  Many, many of you are already helping through your giving!  Thank you!  I am trying to call my other brothers and sisters to action.  Everyone could play a small part, and I'm thankful for the many who do.

I know people may choose to ignore this because it is easier to live in ease and riches without remembering the rest of the world. But others will read this and take action and live a fulfilling life, knowing that they have obeyed the wishes of their King to care for the least of these.

Which would you rather do?

Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! 
Psalm 39:5

All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us.  J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weekend Ghana Challenge

Dear Friends,

It seems recently we have started every post with reasons why you have not heard from our family.  We apologize.  The truth is that we are overwhelmed by the enormous need surrounding us.

Over the past ten days these are some of the needs that have come to us:

1.)  A young boy with an unemployed father - no food in their one room home, and little of anything else.  The young boy is a step-child an unwanted by the step-mother.  The day we met him, he was out begging for fish so he would have something to eat.

2.)  A single mother who works to provide for her 8 month old son and herself.  Her monthly salary is 70 cedis ($35 mo.) to provide for both of them.  She only eats one small bowl of porridge per day because that is all she can afford.  Much of her income is spent on public transportation so she can go to work with her baby tied to her back.  Although she is nursing her son, she weighs no more than 95 pounds and her body is the shell of a woman.  She is an orphan herself with no mother or father.

3.)  An orphanage with 115 children.  Fifty-one boys share one room with 16 beds.  The day we visited there was only one bag of rice left for food.  They had been eating rice alone for several days - mostly in porridge form (more water than rice).  Kids skip school to go beg for food because they are hungry.  Many of the children here have stomach aches because of hunger and parasites.  No deworming has taken place here in over two years.

4.)  Seven children who are not in school because the single mothers can not afford the school fees.  One mother leaves her three young children in her one room shanty alone for the day so she can go to work.  Her pay 50 cedis per month ($25 mo.).

5.)  A school trying to help the poorest children in their community by providing education services at the lowest rate possible.  Because many of the children come from extremely poor homes, the kids are hungry when they come to school.

6.)  A single mother who lives in a kiosk with her youngest child.  Yes, she sleeps in a room no larger than a closet where she cooks rice during the day then sleeps there at night.  Her older two children have been sent away to work as child laborers for someone because this mother can not afford to care for them.

7.)  Three boys living with their grandmother who are out of food.  The grandmother has previously provided .30 peswas for the boys to live on every day - that equates to $.15 for daily nourishment.

8.)  A boy living near us who has not been able to go to school because his father has not been paid.  This bright young man is the age of one of our boys and he has begged us to help him go to school.

9.)  Three orphans taken in by a local pastor who is caring for them out of his own scarce resources.

10.)  A pastor seeking some funds to place a roof on a structure so his congregation will be able to meet in a safe place.  Until the church can afford a roof, this congregation meets under the trees outside the King's home.  (In Ghana, Chiefs rule over small regions, and King's rule over larger ones.)   For the past three weeks, the Priests and Priestesses of the tribal gods have offered sacrifices and offerings to the local idols while the pastor is leading worship services.  These are done within sight and ear-shot of the congregation.  Drink offerings (libations) are poured on the ground while the service is happening.  This past Sunday, the pastor gave a message while two rams were sacrificed within 30 yards of the outdoor service.  The spiritual persecution escalates, and the battle is real for this pastor in this dark village.

I'll stop there, but will throw in that none of the homes listed above have running water.  None.  The orphanage pulls water out of a well in the middle of the compound.  No, it is not purified.  I think only one of the homes above has electricity.  The orphanage only has electricity when they can afford to pay the bill.  The evening we were there, there was only one light bulb lighting the compound housing 115 children.  The church structure needing a roof consists of wood planks that have been raised to hold a roof - there are no walls and no floor.  (Tarps were rented for the outreach below which was held on-site for the new church structure.)

Daily, we feel the weight of this.  This is what our family is living, seeing, hearing, and breathing 24 hours per day.  The US presidential election, weekend football scores, current movies, newest restaurant openings, latest fashion trends, the newest Apple products, or choosing a paint color for the bedroom, etc... seem a world away for us.  It's not that we do not care about these things, but the needs surrounding us seem more urgent for our focus.  (Again, we do care about who will be elected in a few weeks.  Truly, we do.  But at the same time we are trusting our sovereign God who already knows the outcome of the election.  Does that make sense?)  It is hard to explain, but I am being honest.  We are on our knees before the Living God for the beloved people of Ghana that God continually places before our family.  And we are also on our knees for all of our friends in America as well.  It is our homeland, and we pray that our nation would draw close to God.

As difficult as it is for you to wrap your mind around what life is like here in Ghana, it is quickly becoming a challenge for our family to wrap our minds around the luxury of our previous life before moving here.  We grieve our own ignorance about the desperation of millions of people on the earth, and previously doing so little to respond to it.  As church-going Christians, I wish we had heard more about what was happening in the rest of the world.  Frankly, I feel we should have heard more from our church leaders.  However, we also should have been more diligent to find out, and diligent to keep the needs in front of us.  Too often, we would feel a slight twinge of responsibility, pray, respond to a small degree, then move on.  It's sad how we led our own family in fairly comfortable and invincible bubble.    We regret our lack of pursuit to care for the "least of these" in the name of Christ.  Reid and I feel sorrow for this now.

Hungry children without food, many with no clean water to drink, families living in tiny, horrid conditions, children deprived of education, orphans with no one to love them, millions who have never owned a Bible but memorize scripture so that it is hidden in their hearts, Christians who face persecution daily at the risk of their lives because they believe in our Savior, millions who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, etc...  Well...we never "got it."  It never sank in that these were real people, real children, real babies that in some way we, as Christians, must love as our neighbors.  We should be loving them as our brothers and sisters.  These are the real souls destined for eternity that God has told us to "GO," and "make disciples of them."  God has commanded us to "care for the least of these" and, in doing so, "we are doing it unto Christ."

This morning, I wondered if some of you might be up for a challenge.  It's the weekend, and I know many of you have this time for "relaxing."  We receive many questions about what life is like here, and what a typical day looks like, etc...  Why not take this weekend to teach some life lessons to yourself and your children?  Why not spend the next two days living like the people here?  Maybe even group of friends could do this together...  Homeschoolers, maybe this could be an activity for you and your children to do together.  Teachers, what if your class experienced this for a weekend?

If you choose to take this challenge, I'd really love to hear from you.  We are finding that even though we are missionaries here, we can not truly relate to the desperation of the people because we have never felt it.  I doubt many of you have either.

Here are your parameters for the weekend challenge:

1.)  Based on the pay for the single mothers above, you have $1.50 per day to live on.  (Because you are hardworking people, you are being given a raise over the women working here.  Many of them live on less.)  You must buy everything you need for yourself with that $1.50 - food, medicine, supplies, etc...  No cheating.  Remember that $1.50 is for your entire family, not $1.50 per person.  Single mothers are supporting their kids alone on this salary.

2.)  Park your car in a trusted friend's driveway.  You will not have the use of it.  Recently, I sat on a mountaintop and counted the homes in the village below me - there were 54 homes and two vehicles for the entire village.  Only 4% of the homes in this village had use of a car - if they worked.  If you must take public transportation, your daily $1.50 will have to cover it.  If you go anywhere, you must either walk, take public transportation or find a ride.   Each phone call to find a ride will take $.20 of your daily $1.50.

3.)  Shut off your electricity.  Remember, there is none in the homes above, so to empathize them, you need to live without it as well.  You can not use electricity for anything - phones, computers, television, appliances.

4.)  Choose one outfit to wear for the weekend, and one pair of shoes.  You can hand wash your clothes if needed.  If you plan to go to church on Sunday, you might want to choose a nicer outfit to wear for the weekend.  One outfit will need to last several days.  (Over the past four months, please know we have seen children here in the same outfit every time we see them.  Five months.  One outfit.)

5.)  Clean out a large trashcan and fill it with fetched water.  Ask a neighbor who lives a mile or so away if you can come to their house for water.  Do not take it out of the sink in your own home.  Most here do not have that luxury.  Grab a bucket or two and send the women and children to fetch the water.  (People here must buy the buckets out of their $1.50 per day.  However, you may use what you own, or borrow from your neighbors.  Consider it a bonus.)  Throughout the weekend, you must use this water for your cooking, your bathing, your washing, your cleaning, and your drinking.  Because it will sit out for a day or two, you will need to boil it before drinking or cooking with it.  You will need to build a fire to boil your water because you do not have electricity and can not afford gas cylinders.  Send the children to fetch firewood.  From your kitchen you are allowed 1 pot for cooking.

6.)  Your day will draw to a close sooner than usual because you will not have lights.  Once it is dark, you may only use candles to light your room.  Each family may have one flashlight throughout the weekend.  Again, the flashlight is a bonus.  However, any candles or batteries purchased must come from your $1.50 per day salary.

7.)  You will need to choose a small room in the house for your family to sleep in.  Perhaps a master bedroom closet or a small bedroom would suffice.  (One family here has 12 people in one room, and it is not uncommon.  If you really want to be Ghanaian, you might want to invite your grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews to join you in the room for the weekend.)  Have each person choose one item to bring with them for this will be your only item to own for the weekend.  No cheating by grabbing things from the rest of the house throughout the weekend.  Each person's one chosen item is it.  Everything should be contained in the one small living space, and it should be the only space your family stays unless you are outside.  Mom and Dad are allowed a camping mat, but the children sleep directly on the floor.  If you can section off a portion of your garage for your living space, the bare concrete floor would be indicative of children's beds in many homes here.  A few blankets should be shared by everyone.  At least two people should share each blanket.  You can choose if you cover with the blanket or if you sleep on top of it.  It's up to you.

8.)  Throughout the weekend, you must have a joyful heart and spirit.  The people here do.  Don't complain about how little you have.  The people here don't.  Praise God for everything you have for the weekend.  The people here are very thankful for the little they have.  Take time with each other.  Enjoy relationship.  Laugh a lot.  Don't be in a hurry.  Though the work is hard and time-consuming, you might find you enjoy the simpler days without the distractions. This is how the people above are walking though life.  Even in their desperate situations, they are trusting God.  Don't tell anyone if you are hungry, or if things are hard, or about the long walk for water.  You can share only if someone asks.  Don't' complain, but share your difficulties it in a way that conveys, "that's just how it is."  Be dependent on God to meet your needs throughout the weekend.  Pray for Him to provide.  If your children are hungry, you may need to give them your portion of food.  If one of your children become sick over the weekend, you will need to call someone to see if you can borrow money to take them to the doctor. because your current daily income isn't enough to save for emergencies.

That's how the people here are living.  I challenge you to take a few days and live life with them.  Use the time to PRAY for them.

Even as I type this, I am not sure our family could step into this challenge yet.  Yes, we live in Ghana, but we live in comfortable surroundings.  Our standard of living is not what I have described.  Could our family of seven live like this for a weekend?  We do experience the loss of electricity often, so that would not rattle us, but lack of food?  Feeling hunger?  A one room home?  A tiny amount of money to provide for our family - and really live on it?  No car?  AND a joyful heart in this circumstance?  In brutal honestly, I wrestle with the fact that I don't think I'm there yet.  But OH, I want to be.  I want my heart to be broken for what breaks God's heart.  Continually.   Should I desire not to feel the desperation of the need?  Should I desire to ignore it?  If I said "yes" to these honest selfish desires, I would choose to give a blind eye to what God has placed in front of me to SEE.  

And SHARE.  So you will SEE and FEEL too.

Ignoring the vast need is the easier way, but I don't believe it is God's way.

God hears the cries for help.  He alone is their help.  He is their refuge and strength.  He is their true HOPE.  I continue to find my own peace when I can rest in this truth.

Friends, please let me know if you are up to the challenge above.  Our family WILL be doing this.  I'm not sure when, but we will.  Hopefully, we can share some of our journey in the challenge.

Following Christ is a challenge.  At times, He takes us to places where we would never willingly go.  But He is our guide.  He's the one we follow.  So, if that means following Him into a depth of understanding of the life people face here that I currently do not have, then I need to follow.  Right now, I can relate to people only through my own grid of experience.  I'm realizing I need to feel, understand, and experience their life.  After all, the standard of living above represents an enormous portion of the world's population.

Now, I must end this post with PRAISES to God.  We rejoice in what He has done over the past ten days!  As needs were coming to us, God was already ahead.  He's the one who promises to provide.  Because of people who are choosing to "bear one another's burdens" and generously giving of their resources, we do rejoice over what God has done.

1.)  An unexpected gift was used to provide food for the young boy (Need #1) and the single mother with the 8 month old baby (Need #2)!  God is so good!
2.)  Feeding the Orphans was given the money needed to deworm all 115 kids at the orphanage (Need #3)!  This will be done in the coming weeks!  God is faithful!  Money also came through FTO to provide for the immediate need of food for this home!  The children's prayers were answered!
3.)  A surprise gift was given to provide for the seven children to attend school (Need #4)!  They are being enrolled this week!  God provided through His people!  He holds the future of these children in His hands!
4.)  Our monthly support through the provision of His people is providing for our family and enabling us to provide for urgent, immediate needs. We are grateful and we praise God!

In the same ten days these needs came to us, God already provided for nearly half of them and He provided for our family!  Can you believe it?  Nothing is too difficult for Him!  God is already working in all of these circumstances.   Can we do anything less than praise Him?

I am no longer anxious about anything...for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine.  It makes no matter where He places me, or how.  That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace sufficient.  It little matters to my servant if I send him to buy a few cash worth of things or the most expensive articles.  In either case, he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases.  So, if God should place me in great perplexity, must he not give much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength?  No fear that His resources are mine - for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.   - Hudson Taylor

You can contact me or one of our partners - Feeding the Orphans or Meaningful Life International if you want more information on ways to help.  Most of the children listed above will be needing FTO sponsors soon.

I won't end this post with a financial plea.  I won't end it with an "urge to respond" to the above needs, I feel I do that too often.  God is the ultimate provider.

I will end this post with the words of Jesus praying we will all stand together on His right side as sheep before His throne...

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46

Friday, October 5, 2012

Life Saving Donations

When we moved from Knoxville, we loaded a 20 foot trailer with supplies to live in Ghana for a minimum of two years.  Much of the space was filled with donations for the people here.  One of the donations we brought with us was a huge amount of baby formula that had been donated to Feeding the Orphans.  Case upon case was unloaded from our trailer then, later, into our vehicle to be donated to the West Africa AIDS Foundation.

All of the formula was given to babies whose mother's have AIDS.  These women can not breastfeed their newborns.  We have learned that the donations of formula have saved the lives of two babies here in Ghana!  Isn't that amazing?  Two children are alive because of the donations of formula you sent.  Thank you!

 Recently, we visited a new orphanage and met a little baby named Benedict.  He was eight months old and weighed only about 10 pounds.  I held him for a long time and the entire time I held him, he was lethargic with very little responsiveness.  The little guy was light as a feather and teeny, teeny tiny.

Upon learning the need, Feeding the Orphans supplied formula which Reid and I were able to deliver to the home.  Most of the formula was liquid so we immediately opened one of the jars to feed little Benedict.  There was no bottle available so I held him like one of my own boys and attempted to pour the formula in his mouth.  He gulped down the entire 2 oz. jar in less than 10 seconds!  It was unbelievable.  Benedict was so thirsty and hungry.  Heartbreaking.  I opened a second bottle, held it to his lips at a slight tilt, and again, he gulped it down like there was no tomorrow.  We left the formula at the home with instructions for him to receive it and sharing why it was so important for him to have it.

We have learned little Benedict is doing remarkably better with the nutrients from the formula.  He is growing and more engaged with his surroundings.  Additionally, the Aunties are now giving him bottles instead of pouring it in his mouth.  We are thankful his suckling instinct is being met.

If you have any formula, please consider donating it to Feeding the Orphans.  The babies over here could definitely benefit from the gift of nutrition early on.  Who knows?  Your gift may save the life of a child.

Please pray for the children like Benedict.  
Ask God to "supply all their needs according to His riches in glory..."

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..."
Isaiah 49:15-16a

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Extreme Water Conservation Methods

Five boys, one husband, and one wife with a sensitive nose make for one house rule for this family living less than 4 degrees North of the equator.

We sweat.  A lot.  We smell.  A lot.  So the rule is this:  Everyone must bathe daily.

Right now, there is an FTO volunteer living with us, so out of respect for her, this rule is non-negotiable.  At least once daily - everyone must bathe.  Showers are preferred but bucket baths are sometimes required.  Our water access is sometimes challenging, but even with trickling faucets dripping drop by drop - everyone must creatively figure out a way to clean themselves.

Strangely, last night when our eight year old came out from the bathroom after his shower, I noticed a pungent odor.  Hmmm...

Me:  Honey, did you shower?
B:  Yes.
Me:  Did you wash everything?  Your hair, your legs, your arms, etc...?
B:  Yes.
Me:  Come here.  Let me smell your hair.

B steps closer.  I nuzzle my nose into his tufts, take a deep breath and - no joke - nearly pass out!  I controlled the gag reflex, turn my head away to take in some air, and then responded...

Me:   Ummmm, B, are you sure you washed your hair?  It doesn't smell like it.
B:  Yes.
Me:  Let me smell the rest of you.

B comes close again and I catch whiffs of a boy who doesn't smell like he has showered.

Me:  B, I'm not sure you are telling the truth.  You do not smell clean to me.  Tell me exactly how did you shower.
B:  Well, Mom, I know we don't have much water so I was trying to conserve it.  See, I filled up my water gun and squirted myself all over.  Then I filled up the gun with soapy water and squirted all over myself to get clean.  AND THEN, I filled up the water gun with clean water to rinse off.  I even washed my hair with the soapy water!

B is looking at me like it was the greatest idea in the world.  His eyes say, "Aren't you proud of me?  Look how much water I saved!"

I laughed out loud at his creativity.  He is one resourceful fella.  What could I say?  He was being very considerate of our family needs.

However, his water conservation methods failed this time.  After his immediate second cleaning episode from a shower head flowing water, I figured his bathing cost us an extra three water guns of water.  No water was saved with the water gun method.  (Boys out there, do not try this at home.  You will not save water and your mother will still be able to smell you.)

Oh, the joy of boys.  After 15 years of raising five boys, there are still times I shake my head and wonder where they come up with things like this????

Lord give us clean hands...and clean boys...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Disney in Ghana

(Here's several weeks worth of posts all wrapped up into one...  Sorry for the longevity.  If you only have a minute, come back to read when you have time to soak all of this in...  It's worth it.)

What is the American version of Disney?  

Commercials flood television sets with this scene: children are screaming, "I'M GOING TO DISNEYWORD!" while the giddy parents look on as if they have made all their children's dreams come true because they will be making this memory-filled trip as a family.  

Ahhh...what a dream.  It seems most Americans, whether they realize it or not, are holding lifetime passes to the Disney Dream...  (Ahem, the American Dream.)

(Disclaimer:  Yes, our family has been to Disneyworld.  As always, not trying to impose guilt here, but needing to show the dichotomy of life here and life there.  If you've been to Disneyworld or Disneyland in America, you need to come with me to see Disney represented here in Ghana...)

Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse dress the children in the American dream.  After all, Disney represents "the magical place where all your dreams come true."  Just wait 'til you see the Disney looks on the faces of these children...

Here is Winnie the Pooh...

and here is Mickey Mouse...
(Mickey is on the front of this young girls dress.)  

Most people in America, seem to live in their own version of Cinderella's castle.

Compared to the mud huts and one room shanties we see here, even a one bedroom apartment would qualify as a castle.  Extra amenities would include - running water, electricity that typically functions on a daily basis, outlets for electrical equipment, an indoor toilet, a stove instead of a coal pot used to cook outdoor over an open flame, a refrigerator, a bed, a sheet, a dish, one extra change of clothing...

God is bringing the Ghana version of the Disney dream to children here.  God's version looks drastically different.  No, there are not roller coasters, entertaining shows or gift shops full of things that people eventually throw away.  People aren't dressed up in costumes doing animated motions to captivate children.  There is not a monorail.  There is not a magical parade of floats and characters (which is so popular that you can view it on YouTube along with over 116,000 people...)  There are no Disney pins to trade.  There are not $12 refillable cups of cola to buy on a whim.

But there are lines...  However, the lines are not for the newest thrill ride.  The lines are not for an overpriced, expensive snow cone or nachos...

These children are in line for one new piece of clothing.  One.

These children stand patiently in line for the blessing of a serving of homemade jollof rice and a small piece of chicken.  Not snowcones or nachos.

These villagers stand in queue (Ghanaian term for line) waiting for medicine.  They are not standing in Fantasyland waiting for Expedition Everest, they are waiting in line for doses of lifesaving medications because they can not afford to purchase them.  The most expensive dose cost $2.oo US.

The people above can not afford to buy their Disney tickets for the day, but God provides for anyone who can not pay.  God uses His people to do it.  Feeding the Orphans provided the food and clothing handed out above.   Women in the US, hand-sewed the pillowcase dresses and shorts that were given to these children through FTO.  (Thank you Phyllis Miller and Kristy Smith!)   FTO provided all of the funds for the food, and Katie Batchelor and I helped the pastor's wife, Rebecca, prepare it.  (Our job was to chop the 10 kilos of onions!  That's 25 pounds!)

All of these children are grateful to FTO for providing their ticket to Ghana Disney for a day.

Tell me, have you seen happier faces in America's Disney?

A young boy in Knoxville, bought Ghana Disney tickets for all of the villagers standing in line for medicine.  Before we left, he gave us all of his savings to use here in Ghana.  $160 US dollars.  It was a gift of extravagant generosity like the widow's two coins in scripture.  This young boy gave all he had.  Every single penny he had was given for God's Kingdom.

When he gave his money to us, I felt the Lord would show us what to do with his money once we were here.  After visiting a village filled with parasite and worm infested children then seeing children with cow dung smeared on their heads to cure ringworm, God impresses upon us to use this young boy's money to equip our vehicle as a mobile pharmacy.  This child's money would be used to provide medicine for those who have no access to it because of their lack of funds or remote location.  This young boy would rather provide hope in the name of Jesus than save for a magical trip to Disneyworld. 

In the white and blue plaid shirt is Timothy Lumsdaine.  He is the young boy who gave his savings.  (FYI Jackson, I love you too!)  I've posted a paper Timothy wrote last year because it touched my heart so deeply.  You might enjoy reading it.  

Because of Timothy's generosity over 100 villagers were provided deworming medication, malaria medicine and/or treatments for skin infections.  Below is a picture of young boy we originally saw and he was treated the day we gave the medications!  God is so good!  The next time we see this little one, his abdomen will be less dissented and his intestines will be digesting food because the worms and parasites are now gone!

A one day ticket to Disneyworld costs $89.00.  Timothy impacted the lives of 100+ people with the HOPE of Jesus for less than the cost of two tickets to the Disney amusement park.  Did you get that?  Instead of two days in an amusement park, Timothy's willingness to give altered the lives of over 100 people here in Ghana!  Timothy, thank you for a memorable day of HOPE in Ghana.  Children's dreams of health and healing are coming true!

Friends, I don't share this to glorify Timothy.  Timothy is like every other American kid.  But he is a child who was obedient to what Jesus is called him to do.  I can learn much from his generous heart, because Timothy's gift of giving all he had represents the generous giving nature of Jesus.  

In Ghana, the age requirement for working in Ghana Disney is much younger.  For instance, we hired an eight year old to work the pharmacy for this day of dreams coming true!

There are not funny costumes here for the Characters of God's work in this country.  The children are not drawn to two big black ears or wide beaks.  Mickey and Donald don't exist.  However there are Characters that God is placing in the forefront.  In many areas of Ghana, children know the name and face of Sydney.  She represents the hope and love of Jesus to the children.  

(I don't write this to glorify Sydney either.  She hates any attention on herself anyway.  Sorry Sydney.   I share about this little sister in Christ because her obedience to Jesus has, like Timothy, impacted the lives of others.  No, it's not her, it's Jesus in her who has made the impact.)

Sydney's realization of hardships faced here and the conviction of how God would meet it has pushed many to turn from a trip to Disneyworld and come to Ghana instead.  People are giving their lives away for the children here.  The dream of children to be loved and prayed for is coming true.

What about the rides in Ghana Disney?  Well, the manmade constructions of wood and steel are nonexistent.  All rides are given on God-given ability.  The laughter and exhilaration last for long after the ride is compete.  The great thing about Ghana Disney is you can ride over and over and over and over...until the arms wear out. 

 For the little ones desiring a softer, gentler ride - we do those too!

Many folks enjoy the incredible shows at Disneyworld.  The entertainment of Ghana Disney also consists of music and dancing, but the "show" is simply people enjoying music God created.  African drumming fills the air and people are riveted by the white men and women trying to keep with the beat. 

No one in Ghana Disney will stand in line for an ice cold Coke, but they will stand in line for water.  Clean water from this new well.  People will walk for miles to stand in line for the water, then return home carrying the weight of it on their heads.

We are void of jugglers and street acrobats here, but one amazing feat in Ghana Disney was seeing the white man (the Obruni) carry water as Ghanaians do.
God has a way of turning our thinking upside down, doesn't he?  The things we pursue for happiness only leave us longing for more.  Eternal joy is found in only one place...through only one person...JESUS.

Friends, we are not trying to bring Disney to the people of Ghana.  There is no eternal significance in that.  The latest thrill ride will be replaced next year.  Pursuing the dreams of Disney leaves us yearning for something more.  We are bringing JESUS to the people of Ghana.

It's not fancy.  It's not elaborate.  But it's real and it's true.  For people seeking HOPE instead of thrills, they are finding Jesus to be the ultimate satisfaction here on earth.

Nearly every Friday night, Reid and the MLI team take the Truth of Jesus to the people of Ghana.  Outreaches in remote villages share Jesus's story in their Native Tongue.  The Jesus Film Project of MLI is dedicated to having four events per month to reach people for Christ.  

Reid and a few men from the small staff of MLI spend several hours setting up all of the equipment for the film.  The tangible spiritual opposition for the showing of the Jesus Film creates some challenges.  They pummel rods into hard, rocky soil so the screen will stand.  Barehanded, they weave copper wiring together for the electrical connections.  They replace speakers and sound systems mid-movie at numerous events.At one event, they changed a flat tire on the vehicle during the movie so they could drive home.  It is not easy.

But they do it.  Every week.  Driving home late at night on the African dirt roads.

Below Patrick, Reid, and Steve work together to figure out a way to steady the screen.

For most, this is the first movie any of the people attending have seen.  They are thrilled beyond measure to hear the true story of God's redemptive plan.

At the end of each showing, the local pastor MLI is partnered with presents the gospel.  So far, each time the film is shown, God touches hearts.  Sometimes only one chooses to say YES to Jesus.  But God only needs one.

Other times, God touches many more.  Below is a circle of people praying to surrender their lives to Christ, and then a picture of the new people joining the family of God.

  Isn't the HOPE of Jesus better than a lifetime at Disney?  A week at Disney?  A day at Disney?  A ride at Disney?  Does it even compare?

Why do we tend to pursue a place where "all our dreams come true" when Jesus offers Himself as the person who WILL make all our God-given dreams come true? 

The next time you see something to remind you of Disney, I hope you will think of the way we see Disney here in Ghana.  Remember the pictures above?  This little girl was wearing this Mickey Mouse outfit eight weeks ago when we visited this village.  She is still in the same filthy, tattered, worn out Mickey Mouse dress.  It's her only outfit.  

But today she saw Jesus.  He provided her with needed medicine.  He gave her clean water.  He tossed her into the air.  He offered her an abundant lifetime with Himself that was hers for the taking.  He showed her His love.  He showed her Himself.

The Disney of America doesn't exist here in Ghana.

But Jesus does.

The HOPE and TRUTH of Him is better than anything Disney can ever offer.

16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself,‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool!This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:16-20

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

As Timothy Lumsdaine would say, we are "to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet unto the way of peace."
Luke 1:79