Friday, November 2, 2012

Reflections From Two Months in Ghana

Katie Batchelor has blessed our lives for the past two months.  Yesterday, we had the difficult task of saying goodbye to her and another FTO volunteer, Amanda Selvidge, as they departed for home.  

Earlier today, we welcomed a single mom and her 11 month old son to stay in Katie's room until we can find a place for them to stay.  And, that's how we see this little space that is already filled - Katie's room.  Today we kept expecting to hear Katie's voice, laugh at her jokes, or see her on the roof, but we didn't.  She is on her way home and, as I share this blog post, Katie will soon arrive in Knoxville.  Her family is waiting with open arms to welcome her home.  Our family, on this side of the world, will be forever impacted by the life of servanthood Katie has demonstrated throughout her time here.  She has been a blessing to all of us.  God sent her in His perfect timing.

One of Katie's final farewell gifts was this blog post.  Enjoy a few pictures I chose from her time with us, then enjoy her final words written from Ghana.  

The people of Ghana and the Beebe family have been blessed by the service and love of Katie Batchelor!  Thank you, Katie, for giving your life away!  You are a blessing!

Guest Blogger:  Katie Batchelor, FTO Volunteer
Well, this is my final time to be able to say "Akwaaba" from Ghana because I am probably somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean by now. Some of you know me, but most probably don't. My name is Katie Batchelor and I have been living with the Beebe family since the first part of September.  And, oh my, what a ride these months have been-- one of the best of my life. I have had the privilege to do life alongside the Beebes and try to minister where I can.  But, now that I am at the end of this road, I am faced with the challenges of how to re-enter the American life in a newly-informed, Biblical, God-glorifying way based on what the Lord has shown me over the past two months. So this post is just another way of me thinking out loud in my search to know how to respond to the Christian's clearly-laid-out responsibility to minister to the "least of these" in the different culture that is waiting for me back home. 

One thing that I've learned while I've been here is that I am now responsible for what I know. That realization has been branded on my mind every time I see a child suffering from malaria or with a distended abdomen due to worms. Every time a mother begs us to take her children out of desperation. Every time I learn that the orphanage of 100+ kids is, again, out of food.  Every time I see a fishing boat in the ocean and pray there is not a child aboard who has been sold into slavery. This knowledge burdens my heart and is not particularly pleasant to bear, but that does not mean that I wish to have the burden removed. For we, Christians, are supposed to be the bearers of this burden because, we were once the spiritually separate and alienated ones, but have been rescued, brought from death into life. We are now SET FREE to live a life completely given over to seeing our Savior magnified in all the corners of the world in all of the various ways that comes. 

  "remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:12-13)

So this burden isn't one of condemnation, but of joyful solemnity. We have the privilege of carrying this burden. One of the core passages that has motivated me for some time now is found in Isaiah 61:1-3,
"1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified."
     So Isaiah sees the calling to bring good news to the poor as a sign of the Lord being upon him. It's a blessed burden. With the full motivation being "that he may be glorified". 
 "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matt. 25:40)  So what would life look like if I believed that this what true? That I get the honor of giving food, water, and clothes to Jesus, my wonderful Savior, when I do the same to the least of these? 

Anyways, so now that I have my blessed burden, how do I take that back to America? In a way, life here in Ghana is easier in the respect that temptations for materialism are not as prevalent or as hard to fight than they are back home. Also, taking action here comes in the form of literally handing food to those without, whereas, in America, taking action may not come in such an obvious, easily-observable forms. And I know, if I try to function under my own will-power or try to bury myself in guilt in an effort to drum up some sort of permanent change within me, I will absolutely fail. It's got to be a work of the Lord. As the end of my trip was drawing nearer I had to start dealing with what action I should take back home, and I'm still working through that. Any advice and, more importantly, prayers, are so so needed and coveted.

Going into this trip one of my main prayer requests was that God would draw me nearer to Himself and-- praise Him!-- I am very thankful to be able to say that He was/is so faithful to have answered that plea! That certainly does not mean that everything was roses during my time here. All of the Beebes can testify to the fact I definitely had my rough patches. However, I am so thankful for those times, because, as most of you all can probably say as well, it was at those points, when everything else had been stripped away, that I was able to see the cross as most beautiful.

Another thing that I am so thankful for is the Lord's sovereign hand in choosing the Beebes as my surrogate family. I can't think of a better family to have lived with. It was a major risk for both parties, especially because I knew virtually nothing about them, and they of me. Little did I know what joys stood ahead of me. I loved singing The Sound of Music soundtrack while Mrs. Robin twirls and flits about the living room, but also having heartfelt conversations long into the night. Having way too long debates about arm hair with Mason, but also seeing him stand up for the truth when it was in jeopardy. Seeing Mr. Reid bear the burden of leading his family in a foreign nation while pouring his heart out in ministry, and also, graciously having to take off my door frame because I locked myself out of my room (again). I've loved having conversations with Weston about adapters, modems, Bluetooth, and ios6 (all of which were one-sided), and referring to him affectionally as many times as I could by his newfound nickname, Big Boss. Loved watching Franklin using his God-given gift by produce these wonderful works of art, and also having him order mystery-meat kabobs at night on the side of the road without a shirt on and his hair teased out into an afro (P.S. I know you will totally be able to nail that backflip soon.) Godwin never failed to make me feel better about my driving when we ran right over a huge pothole by exclaiming, "I love the big bumps!!" It was so sweet to see the love that Braden has for all of his family (here and back in the States) and also the way he used his love language of gift-giving to instantly cheer up the recipient's day.  THEY ARE ALL A HUGE BLESSING!
Well, this post has to come to an end at some point, so I'll leave with a point that John Piper makes and I wholeheartedly agree with: "Jesus has saved us from the American dream." So as I pray that the Lord engrains that into my way of life, I urge you all as well, to adopt that prayer. His blessings are so much greater than all of the stuff on this earth that will be burnt in the end anyways. And in all things, "that He may be glorified"! 
Soli Deo Gloria,
Katie Batchelor

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