Thursday, March 7, 2013

God's People, God's Place, God's Way

Dear Friends,

This week our family has been blessed to have Debbie Lively spend a week with us.  She came here to simply...minister to our family.  We have felt a lightness with her presence and she has helped us tremendously in many areas of life!

One night, I jokingly asked Debbie if she would consider writing a blog post.  (I thought a fresh perspective would be appreciated!)  She actually agreed!!  What a blessing!!  In the past, several people have asked, "What does a typical day look like in Ghana?"  I've never been able to adequately answer that question, but in this post Debbie answers this question beautifully AND she has written it with her fresh eyes!  She has written from her experience here.

When I first read her post, there were portions that I was hesitant to include when posting for you to read.  She has complimented our family for things that we don't notice about ourselves.  (Thankfully!)  My hesitation for including these comments was because we don't want anything to point to us.  We want the focus to be on Christ.  However, after talking with Debbie (and obtaining her permission for this intro) I realized her complete focus is on Christ.  One of her main points is how God works through His people.  Our family is simply vessels for God's use, so what Debbie has seen is reflection of Him.

We are grateful to Debbie for flying halfway around the world to minister to us and with us.  We have felt loved by Christ over the past week.  Debbie has selflessly served each person in our family.  She has not complained about the heat (109 degrees one day!), lack of electricity, rice for most dinners, or having to bathe with very little water!  She has listened to Reid and I share our struggles.  She has graded assignments for the boys.  She has helped us process daily challenges, and pointed to Truth with every comment.  We have been grateful to her family as well for releasing her to come.  Lydia, thank you for sending your mother to us during your birthday week.  Joe, Claire, Aaron, Luke, Kate, Lydia, and Matthew - we recognize the sacrifice each of you have paid as well.  Thank you.  We are immensely grateful.

We praise God for the Lively family and for Debbie's willingness to share her perspective on her week in Ghana with all of you!  Enjoy!

Guest Blogger, Debbie Lively

My name is Debbie Lively.  Some of you may know me, but many of you do not.  Our family has been friends of the Beebe family for a few years.  We have children of similar ages, adopted children from Ghana, and many of the same friends.  I came to Ghana, simply put, to minister in whatever way possible to the Beebe family.  I was asked, “What are your goals?” and “What do you want to do while your here?”  My answer was simply to help you and encourage you.  No other objective.  God had laid on my heart a burden not only to pray but to also lend a hand whenever possible.  It became possible, and God prepared beforehand a way for me to be able to visit this precious family in Ghana.  My time here has been God’s gift to me.  Robin asked me to write a blog post just to give another perspective to their ministry here.  Let me apologize at the beginning for this very long post....”sorry” a commonly used word in Ghana.

What I have seen is God putting His people, in His places, and in His way.  As I walk you through my experiences here, I hope to help you see God loving people through the Beebe family.  I couldn’t help but think of a song that talks of us being a conduit through which God’s love flows to other people.  (Conduit-a pipe, tube, or natural channel for conveying water or other fluid. Just in case you needed that.)   I arrived in Ghana with a volunteer, Meghan, from Feeding the Orphans (FTO).  The circumstances surrounding that were nothing short of God’s hand at work.  We arrived a little early and apparently Reid was concerned that we would be waiting on him since traffic issues vary from 45 min to 3.5 hours to get to the airport.  However, in God’s perfect timing we were greeted by the smiling faces of many Beebe boys, Reid, and Lola (a FTO volunteer).  Upon arrival I was met with heat, love, dust, joy, hawking, and patience.  (Hawking is selling sunglasses, plantain chips, shoes, mango, water, etc from a basket usually on placed on top of their heads while weaving in between traffic and along the roadside.)  We then delivered the FTO volunteers to their orphanage.  I noticed Reid does a marvelous negotiating traffic and caring for his passengers.  In the US this may not seem like a huge task as our roads are all paved and well maintained with street signs.  Here....oh my!! I have a great appreciation for anyone who is able to handle the obstacles presented in driving and navigating.  On my first day I noticed Reid and the Beebe boys greet and minister to Americans arriving in Ghana...God’s people, in God’s place, and in God’s way.

When we arrived home to the Beebe house, I had the privilege of delivering some surprises from friends at home.  The family was so thankful for all of the goodies sent from home, but the boys seemed the most excited about their cards and letters from school.  Robin read several of the letters to the family out loud.  Each of them cherished knowing they were remembered by friends back home.  

(Each of the boys loved their letters and pictures from RECA friends!)

(One of the gifts from home I delivered were the new FTO "Love Orphans" t-shirts.  Robin and Etornam were so excited, they immediately put them on!  I love this picture of the three of us in "orphan awareness" t-shirts.  God has taught me so much through adoption.  If you would like to order a "Love Orphans" shirt, please contact Feeding the Orphans.)

On my second day, I traveled with Robin and Reid to visit a pastor that they are helping.  He has many single mothers in his congregation who are in need of help.  They have been able to set up some education sponsorships for their children.  I’m afraid I take education for granted in the US.  It costs a great deal in Ghana compared to their earnings.  There are fees for everything (uniforms, shoes, books, PTA, etc) and all this changes from term to term.  I loved seeing God work through 2 people using the gifts God has given them to manage all the complications involved in bridging school sponsorships between two very different cultures.  Their goal was to come alongside this pastor to provide the needed help while creating accountability and minimizing dependence.  I was even privileged to see the joy on one young man’s face as God provided a way for him to continue in his education.

(This young man has a bright future thanks to education sponsorship through FTO!)

(Pastor Seth, Ben, Robin and Reid - excited about the change in Ben's life.  He is fatherless and his single mother could not afford to send him to secondary school.  He is so thankful to his sponsor who is providing hope for his future!)

Later that afternoon, I went with Robin to purchase needed supplies that would be delivered Monday to single women caring for children.  I marveled as I watched her communicate and manage the task at hand.  While we were buying the supplies, an 11 year old boy named Emmanuel asked Robin to buy him something to eat.  Robin discovered through their conversation that his father had died and his mother was having trouble providing for their family.  He had been there “hawking” water to aid his family with income.  We took him home and met with his mother to discuss their situation.  The family of 6 is living in one room and barely able to keep up with their needs.  The mother was sewing a flip flop together while we were visiting with her!  Robin is pursuing setting up an education sponsorship for the children as well as brainstorming ideas to help the mother and older daughter find work.  Throughout the day, I saw God using His people, in His place, and in His way.
(Inside the store where we shopped for food to deliver.)
(Two boys resting on rice bags in the shop.)
 (The rice is separated by hand into bags.  This allows us to buy more rice for less cost.)
(This is the boy who approached Robin.  Emmanuel, age 11, has been selling water at night to provide for his family and help pay his education costs.  FTO will soon have information on sponsoring this young boy and his siblings.)

(All of Emmanuel's family with me - his oldest sister, Emmanuel, his youngest brother Miracle, Emmanuel's twin sister, Emmanuella, and his mother Doris holding his sister's 9 month old baby on her back.)

We awoke Sunday morning ready to joyfully worship the Lord.  We then left to attend a church in an idol worshiping village.  The church is not quite a year old, and the pastor has a passion to change the community through its children.  I was very impressed with the growth this church has experienced and the commitment of the pastor to his people.  I witnessed a grandmother who has begun attending the service because her grandchildren are being supported by FTO.   Like the previous day, the Beebe family is working through the pastor to aid families and bring the lost to Christ.  I love the way the Beebe boys are always interacting with the children of Ghana.   After the service, I noticed Braden helped pack up all of the chairs without being asked.
(One of the boys seated in front of me.)

(Dancing with the joy of the Lord, although Robin and I didn't have quite the groove of the other women in line, it was great to praise God so freely!)

(Weston and Elyon.)

(With the heart of a servant, Braden helps pack everything up.)

As they use their individual gifts, others notice the love they have for the Ghanaian people and children.  The Beebe family motto is “ a blessing.”  A blessing they are!  Not only for the Ghanaian people but also for American volunteers as we had some that joined us after church for a family day.  I noticed the Beebe family being a “spiritual” family for these volunteers as they simply talked, cared, played, and ate together.  Yet another incidence of God’s people, in God’s place, and God’s way.  

(The Beebes talked me into trying out the infamous rope swing into the Volta River!  Success!)

(Braden and I relax in the water.)

(Mason and Franklin, though teenagers, still enjoy playing in the mud!)
(Mason and Emily (CORM Volunteer) compare "bird" tattoos.  Mason's is drawn in mud.)

On Monday we spent most of the day delivering food to single women in a poor fishing village.  It was a difficult day just witnessing the circumstances in which these people live.  We picked up 3 Americans for the trip and Richard Wendo who serves FTO in various capacities here in Ghana.  On this day, Richard provided the important task of translating and bringing cultural understanding.  Our vehicle had a load of food as well as people.  Once again, it was a day spent ministering to the Ghanaian people in need utilizing the resources God had provided.  He provided a translator, a couple of medical professionals for an unexpected illness that was encountered, and resources to meet a specific need.  It was a wonderful picture of God using His body to care for the hurting and broken.  Another incidence of God using His people, in His places, and in His way.

(Richard ministers beautifully to Agnes as she is still mourning the loss of her husband.)

(Walking across the "Bridge of Faith" after delivering hope to Agnes and her family.)

(Reid, Richard, and Robin meet with Mary to assist her with some solutions to current challenges.)

(Reid with Mary and the food delivered through Feeding the Orphans.)

(Godwin was so exhausted from our day delivering food, he fell asleep at the dinner table!)

The next couple of days were spent mainly at home homeschooling and grading with the Beebe boys.  Quite honestly, I see this as a daunting task because of the time it takes for ministry here.  However I was able to come alongside this precious family for a couple of days to help with this project.  
(Franklin works on Geography in a comfortable position.)

(Braden concentrates on Math.)

In each of the Beebe boys I have witnessed their gifts, their talents, their heart for this people, and sometimes even their struggles.  One of the things I have loved about my time here is morning devotional times.  The boys take on the responsibility of leading devotions and sharing their hearts.  They also cook, clean, sing, laugh, hunt rats, wash clothes, and enjoy life in their present circumstances.  I have a huge appreciation for these boys (really young men) being the conduit of God’s love to people living here.  I was also privileged to attend the Bible study that Robin leads for some American women here.  Robin is very gifted in creating an atmosphere for women to share their hearts as life is poured into them.  I realized while I was here how essential each member of this family is to the ministry here.  While I spent a lot of time with Robin, I noticed Reid serving his family as a dad and husband.  The sink needed to be unclogged, gas purchased for the generator late at night, a sound barrier built for the generator, etc, etc, etc.  Simply put God using His people, in His places, and  in His ways.
(Reid's sound barrier invention - mattresses surrounding the generator!)

In conclusion (I know you are thinking finally!!), life here for the Beebe family is joyful.  They are following God’s will for their lives but it is not easy.  They experience daily challenges of African life...water shortages, power outages, long commutes on bumpy roads, rationing of resources, sickness, rising prices (20% increases this year), the heat, and the list could go on and on.  However, I have watched as each family member uses their gifts to fulfill God’s purpose here in reaching the lost in the name of Jesus and caring for widows and orphans in their distress.  Also, they are beautifully bridging the gap between two very different cultures with all the challenges that it brings.  They are calling people to live godly lives and being willing to walk in the hard places of life with them.  They are mentoring and sometimes even “parenting” the people God brings to them.  They are training, encouraging, and loving the people around them.  In short they are living out the gospel of Jesus Christ giving their lives away and truly being conduits of the love of Jesus.  God’s people!  God’s places! God’s ways!

“Each one of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  I Peter 4:10

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