Monday, September 22, 2014


I just spent a whirlwind four days in Ghana. 

The International Council for ICM was meeting, with all the country directors including:  Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, USA, and Canada.  Liberia and a few others were not in attendance due to other issues.  It was very good to hear the reports of what is going on through the work of ICM in these other countries, both the strengths and the challenges.  It was especially good to spend time in prayer and to refocus our attention on the big picture of what it is we are trying to achieve by equipping Church leaders.  Every country is independently run and it was wonderful to see so many strong leaders wrestling with the changing times in theological education and the changing times in the Church as well.  I was privileged to sit at the table with them.

ICM Country Directors from Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana.
I was given the opportunity to present Church based Business as Mission (CbBaM - get used to this acronym - you will see it more) and was pleasantly surprised when the International Council decided to have CbBaM as one of the three focus areas for ICM going forward.  There was a lot of interest in figuring out how to go forward in the respective countries, so that is very exciting, but also challenging for me.  I additionally had a chance to see a bit better how I fit into the ICM USA team and whether or not there are needs/opportunities/callings for me to get involved in the greater work of ICM.  There are some definite areas of convergence between some of my gifts of organizational development and business and some of the needs of the individual partnerships.  Time will tell.  Dr. Walker continues to encourage me to "narrow my focus and go deeper."

The International Council for ICM
They have done great advertising as well!
As the IC was meeting from 8 am until 7 pm, I had to sneak in meeting times before and after with other dear friends and colleagues from Ghana, like Laurie Korum, Emily Daher, and the whole Hopeline Institute team.  On Friday morning, Hopeline Institute had a breakfast meeting for all their businesses and I was able to meet a lot of old friends and acquaintances.  It was great. 

Hopeline has had amazing growth in the two years that I've been gone.  When I met them in 2009, they had one small office and seven staff.  They now have 25 staff, serving over 6000 businesses, have a central office, a microfinance unit that looks and operates like a bank in the central market area, a full training center with three simultaneous classes going on at a time, and an IT center with sixteen computers, teaching businesses basic computer skills.  It is amazing.  Despite all the growth and success that they have had, they continue to be very grounded spiritually and seek to serve all those with whom they come in contact.  The servant leader heart of Fanny Atta-Peters, the Director, has infected the hearts of her staff, and that is very apparent when you meet them.  In fact, the day I was to fly to Ghana I realized that I would not be able to get a visa upon arrival as I had earlier been told.  The staff there went into full swing to do everything in their power with their contacts in immigration in Ghana to make contact with the Ghanaian Embassy in Nairobi, and with their help I was able to get a visa within a few hours, rather than missing my flights and having to wait 24 hours.  They then met me in full swing at the airport to greet me at ten pm, despite my flight having numerous delays and ICM having a bus to take me to the guest house. 
The Hopeline Microfinance Unit and staff in the Market.

Think that's amazing already?  Well, the next day, I found out that the day I asked for help for my visa, their office had been broken into during the night and they lost most of their laptops and equipment.  While they were helping me, they were dealing with police and with this major loss.  But they didn't speak a word of complaint and instead were gracious and helpful and called me every twenty minutes or so to check up on me.  THAT is a team that is amazing and has a servant heart.  I am honored and blessed to know them.  [By the way, if anyone wants to bless them with a laptop to replace one that was stolen, let me know!]

On Saturday, before taking off for Kenya again, Fanny and Dennis had me over to their house to have every Ghanaian food that I have missed, as well as to visit the new window factory that Dennis has started.  It is called "PROFAD" (with FAD standing for Fanny and Dennis) and it really is quite remarkable.  Several years ago, they brought me to this plot of land in the middle of nowhere where Dennis was producing cement blocks for his construction work.  They have now built this huge factory on that same piece of land, and the area is so developed now that I didn't even recognize it.  Dennis was trained in this work in Turkey when he went there to get windows for the housing development that he built.  He now has so many orders that it is a challenge for him to keep up with the demand.  Praise God!

But things are not easy in Ghana right now.  We stopped for gas while we were out and Fanny asked for 220 Ghana cedis of petrol to be put in.  I looked at her with astonishment and asked how big the tank was, as when I was in Ghana it only took 50 Gh to fill my tank!  When I left Ghana in 2012, the exchange rate was $1 US to 1.5 Gh (it had been that rate pretty consistently for the three years we lived there).  At the beginning of 2014 it increased to 2.5 Gh and right now it is 3.6 Gh.  Prices have increased with the increase in the exchange rate but salaries have not kept up.  So someone making 300 Gh per month at the beginning of this year, is now barely able to do much more than fill a tank of gas with that same salary.  The business owners we met expressed much stress and fear about this trend.  A number of businesses have closed.  When you add to that the high interest rates on loans (upper 30%s) and the frequent power outages, it reminds me how to pray for our brothers and sisters in Ghana. 

Please pray with me!