Monday, November 07, 2011

Dear Ato Sam, Son Of My Heart

(This is one of several posts written before we left for Ghana, and is scheduled to post while we're away.
If we happen to be able to access the internet while in Ghana, we will post in addition to these posts.
If you happen to be reading this while we're in Africa, please take a moment to pray for our team, for the children we will be working with, and for our hands and feet to be those of Christ for His glory.)

(God willing, we will be at GH316 today, meeting Ato Sam and Tahameena. In celebration of this day, I chose to share my letter to Ato Sam, written in September, in which I announce our visit to him. Please note the letter was addressed to the Project Director so that it could be given to him at the appropriate time.)

My precious and beloved Sam Sam! Sept 14th 2011

A year ago today, on Sept 14th 2010, you prayed that God would grant me a double portion of health and that I would be well again. At the time, you had no way of knowing that my health had not been well, but God led your prayers and God answered them that very same day. It was obvious from the beginning that your life had been anointed by God and that He was doing great things through you, I didn’t need proof to see how special you were, but God loved me enough to show me in such a powerful way… That very day, on Sept 14th 2010, I began to run in response to the prayers that you prayed that day, not knowing God would use you to make me whole in health and to change my life in incredible ways. I still run, but now I run in worship of God and in honor of you and Tia, who inspire me to keep outrunning the enemy’s attacks so that I can live my best life for God.

There are so many ways God has changed my life for the better through this most special sponsorship, and through you and your family, your church, your community and your country. He has filled my heart to overflowing with blessings upon blessings – I have learned much from you, and I love you more than could ever be contained in this simple letter. It is sometimes so amazing to me that God joined our families less than 2 years ago – it seems that I have known you my entire life.

I loved you from the moment that God placed your name upon my heart, and He has grown that love beyond what I could have ever imagined. What you and I also may not have imagined was how many lives God would touch through this sponsorship, through your faith, heart and beautiful spirit, Ato Sam. You have been a leader in so many ways, son.

From the very first letters, you demonstrated a passion for your community and your country, and your desire for your nation to rise up above its challenges, to become a nation that serves God through the heart and soul of its people. When you heard that Tia had served in Africa before, rather than simply expressing your desire that we serve in Ghana, you expressed your faith that God would bring us there, that we would meet face to face, and you had the pure faith it took to believe that “God will let it come to pass, Amen!” Your faith and heart are so pure and beautiful, Ato Sam, and we were so moved by your faith, by your heart for your country and community, and by your steadfast prayers for us to serve in Ghana. You never gave up hope, and neither did we.

We were not the only ones moved by your faith. Remember the mustard seed of faith that can move mountains? (Matthew 17:20) That kind of faith can also erase physical distance. God heard the prayers of a wise, faithful and brilliant leader, a young man of God who never gave up praying that we would someday meet face to face. God used your love and prayers, Ato Sam, to lead Tia and I to research ways that we could serve the children of Ghana in person, in honor of you and your family and in honor of the God who chose us to be a part of your lives. We researched a way to serve the children in your country who needed help the most, who were in danger and whose lives God wanted us to touch, and we found these children in the heart of Ghana, in the Lake Volta region where children as young as four years old are sold into slavery.

When we learned this, Ato Sam, our heart broke for the children of your nation, your brothers and sisters in Christ, the very same children God Himself commands us all to protect, feed, clothe and love… Our lives changed in that very instant when we were faced with the heartbreaking reality that children so young and so full of potential were trapped into this terrible situation. We knew how much this hurt our hearts – we asked ourselves how much more it would break God’s heart and yours to know that this is happening right there, in the nation He loves so much, to His precious children, to children just like you. I tried to imagine for a moment how I would feel if that happened to you or your siblings or any children in your community, Ato, and I knew… In that moment, I knew that God was answering your prayers. It overwhelmed my heart with awe, love and praise to Him who loves children so much that He would use the prayers of a child to help save the lives of many children.

There is a scripture in James that says “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." It would have been sin for me to walk away without responding to the knowledge that God had placed these children and this situation on my heart, to act and be His hands and feet, to share the hope and love of Christ with them and help them in their time of trouble.

You shared in a recent letter that you were proud of me for the love I have not only for you and your family, but because of the concern that I have for your church, your school, your community and your country. It is an honor to be serving Him in your country, Ato Sam, and just as you recently earned that award in school and shared it with me, I’m sharing the honor of this with you, Sam Sam, because God has used you to lead me to Ghana. I want you to remember, always, how powerful your prayers are and how much God loves you and cares for the desires of your heart… how much influence you have in this world and how much Glory you bless God with when you love & serve God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. (Luke 10:27)

In November of 2011, Tia and I along with a friend will be traveling to the Lake Volta region of Ghana. God gave us the task of fundraising to build a school for children who have been rescued from slavery. They need this school so that they will be able to rescue more children once they have the classroom space to provide them with an education. We know that we alone can not raise the funds necessary for the school building, but God never asked us if we could, God was only concerned with whether or not we trusted that HE could. We trust Him. At the moment of this letter, we have raised 12% of the necessary funds for the school to be built, it may not seem like enough, but remember the faith the size of the smallest seed? Faith that size was enough, and God will use the funds we’ve raised like the loaves and the fish in the Bible -- we have faith that God will continue to provide for the school, stone by stone, team by team, people by people, prayer by prayer, dollar by dollar, much as He did for Nehemiah in the Bible (do you know this story?). Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, God used Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in only 52 days. Nehemiah alone could not rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore the city and provide it with protection once again, but when God is our strength and our leader and when we serve Him with our life, He can do what seems impossible to man.

When God builds this school, it will provide for the education of these children, most of whom have never attended school or do not know how to read or write. Some of them have never played or do not remember what it is like to have freedom. While we are in Ghana, God will use us to help teach the children and to assist in their rescues, but we know in our hearts that it is the children who will teach us, and us who will be rescued from spiritual poverty through our time with these children, much as I have been the one who has been taught by you and whose faith has grown through my relationship with you and your family.

It is our prayer that through God’s provision to these children and through their rescues, they, too, can have the opportunity to become all that God desires for their lives, and so that they can be adopted into loving families like yours and grow into great Godly leaders for Ghana someday. I want them to have every opportunity you have and to know the love of the God who promises to set the captives free. We pray God will use us to rescue as many children from slavery as possible, that they will serve Him with their lives, and that one day, slavery will not exist in Ghana or anywhere else in the world.

As a blessing, part of this travel to Ghana will include meeting you and your family face to face. There are no words that could describe the emotion I feel and how much this means to me. God will fulfill the dream of running and playing soccer as you laugh at my weak soccer skills and playfully ask me if I really have been practicing running because I’m still not very fast compared to you, son! I am so eager to laugh with you and have you tease me! We shall talk face to face, so that we can share all the stories that God simply can not contain in these letters… I will see you, hear your voice, spend time with you, your parents, your siblings… My joy and gratitude can not be contained.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) – God does care, He knows our hearts and He does answer the prayers of a precious and faithful young man in Ghana who so loves God and believes in the mountains that can be moved with a small seed of faith.

Please forgive us for not being able to share these news with you sooner -- God had answered your prayer all along, but we were not given permission to share with you what God’s plans were because Compassion requires that we do not tell you in advance so that if something were to happen and plans were changed, you would not experience terrible disappointment. It was important to me to be able to share with you as soon as I was able to, so I am writing this letter to you today.

I can not help but praise God for all that He has done through your life, through mine, but most of all, through our lives combined, together…

With all our love and prayers,