Today started off with a MAJOR miscue on my part! I am trying to get around to visit some of the members in their homes in each of the areas, and this I'll hold another Bible study (same topic as last night) with a different group of members tonight. But when I got back to the hotel I asked Joseph what time he would come for me in the morning. He said because of traffic he should be here by 5:15. Wow, early start!
So my alarm went off at 4:30am and was ready to go by 5:15. But I understand things often run on "Ghana time", so I wasn’t alarmed when he wasn’t there yet. I stretched out on the bed to wait knowing he would call when he arrived.
What felt like a few moments later I looked at my watch and it was 6:30 – and that didn’t seem right. So I called him. He answered, and when I asked he explained that we must leave by 5:15 this evening to make it to the next location for Bible study! As for the visits today, he would come around 10 am. This was a cause to take ACTION – which I did by promptly laying right back down to try and make up for some of that sleep I’d lost this morning!
The day has not turned out as I had planned. On previous visits I’ve been able to travel around with the pastor and visit some of the elderly, the widows and even some shut-ins and give them some encouragement. This helps me get to know the area and the congregation as well.
After my miscue early this morning, Joseph came by 10 am and we headed to the internet café a couple of kilometers walk from here. Once again the maze of windy twisty streets (and these were all paved) got me lost very quickly, and I would have great difficulty finding either the Vodafone Internet Café or my hotel again if I were to become separated from them…
After a few minutes there I asked which members we were going to be able to visit. He said none, because they are all working today. When I asked about widows or shut-ins, he said there are none in Takoradi! Very strange, but as we talked he insisted there is no one we would be able to visit with. We could stop by a see one or two where they work, but there would be no time to talk, just a quick “hi” and we’re off. Hardly seems worth the time and effort to do that. He suggested that I might just rest at the hotel until this evening. That is certainly not how I had intended to spend this time in Takoradi.
We walked back to my hotel, and we talked quite a bit. When we got there we went to the restaurant and I bought us both a Malta and we talked for most of another hour. We discussed the kinds of challenges and problems facing the Church in Ghana. Of course financial problems plague many people, but he said the number one problem in the Church involves marriage problems. I suppose the understanding of marriage and how to work with one another within a family is a difficult thing for every human being, and that fact is an issue here.
So we sent some time talking about how a pastor can help a couple who are having difficulties. It is an area I believe we need to spend time and effort on future visits, helping educate the ministry on how best to help the members with problems, concerns, death in the family and so forth. Our conversation gave me a number of ideas of what is needed to help strengthen and build up the ministry, and by extension build up the membership.
The Bible study this evening was in Sekondi, a sister city to Takoradi. Because it was a Friday night, and everyone must travel across to Takoradi tomorrow for services, and it was also raining, so attendance was much lower than expected. We had 8. It was suggested we start a little early, which turned out to be good, because they were gearing up for a funeral in one of the other rooms nearby, and as we finished the study it was getting so loud we could no longer talk easily.
Because of the small numbers I ditched my planned study, and we just circled up our chairs and I opened it up for questions. There were questions about the Sabbath and keep the Sabbath properly, several questions about clean and unclean meats, especially what one should do if living with parents who don’t obey the food laws and cook unclean foods for the family.
Then we had several questions about polygamy. One man said other churches were preaching that it was a good thing to do because it is commanded in the Bible. We talked about it for some time. In the eight years I’ve been working in Ghana it has happened several times now that a member has decided for one reason or another to take a second wife. In every case we have been consistent in our approach and teaching, and have not allowed him to attend Church until the matter and sin is resolved. To not do so only creates confusion and hurts the membership, not to mention tarnishing the reputation of the Church of God. But because polygamy is a part of the of the culture in Ghana going back many centuries, and the fact that it is not against the law of the land today, I’m afraid we’ll continue to see this issue crop up from time to time. We must simply make sure we are consistent and firm in our teaching and response.
Friday nights in Ghana are a night for loud music – everywhere! A funeral is often a 3-day affair here, and it will typically start on Friday, and by Friday night the drumming and chanting and sometimes music (often combined with copious amounts of alcohol) are rolling right along. I would like to use some of those foam earplugs, but I’m afraid if I do that I won’t hear my alarm in the morning. To twist a quote from Shakespeare “To sleep or not to sleep, that is the question!”
Everyone from the Takoradi area is combining for Sabbath services tomorrow. The hall we are using doesn’t seem like it will be big enough, but I’ve been assured they will bring in more chairs, benches and even have people sitting at and outside the door and foyer area. No one here has ever even heard of Fire Marshall Occupancy limits for a building, so we’ll just crowd as many as humanly possible inside! I guess on the plus side, if I put someone to sleep with my sermon tomorrow, at least he won’t be able to fall over…
Scheduled day for visits and one more Bible study
Friday, January 31, 2014
Takoradi, Western, Ghana