Monday, July 6, 2015

More Confirmation...Amidst Challenges

Of the three countries where Discipling Marketplace Leaders is working, Ghana is the safest as it relates to terrorist attacks.  Ghana rates at 56 out of 162 countries on the Global Peace Index (Canada is 5, the US is 95, Egypt is 123, and Kenya is 140).

On the Ease of Doing Business (World Bank, 2014), Ghana ranks at 67 out of 189 countries measured (the US is 4, Canada is 19, Egypt is 128, Kenya is 129).  On the human development index, Ghana ranks at 138 out of 187 countries measured (the US is 4, Canada is 8, Egypt is 110, and Kenya is 147).

As it relates to religion, Ghana is 71% Christian, 22% Muslim, and 7% other (Egypt is 90% Muslim and 10% Christian; Kenya is 82% Christian, 11% Muslim, and 7% other; US is 71% Christian, 23% no religion, Judaism 3%, Islam 1%, 2% other; Canada is 67% Christian, 24% no religion, 3% Islam and 6% other).

That is a lot of numbers that tell a portion of the story - but of course, not the whole story.
The beautiful mountains on our way to Abetefi, Ghana.

Part of the story is that in the last three years (since we left in 2012), Ghana has undergone significant challenges.  It has been quite startling to see, to be honest.  Electricity, which was bad when we lived here, has now gone to being on for twelve hours, and then off for twenty-four hours.  This is incredibly debilitating for businesses.  So everyone is switching to generators.  However, the Ghana cedi has also done very poorly against the US dollar.  When we moved to Ghana in 2009, it was $1: 1.5 GH.  Today it is $1: 4.3 GH.  That means that all prices have increased at least three times.  When we lived here, we could fill our car for 50 GH.  Today, the same car, the same amount of gas, it will take 150 GH.  Yet, incomes have not increased.  Purchasing power has only decreased.  So running a generator is a huge expense for businesses; one small business told me that they are paying 1000 GH per week in gasoline for the generator.  And generators are not safe.  We passed by one which caught fire, threatening all the businesses in the area. 
Ramseyer Training Center, Presbyterian Church, Abetifi

And so the economy is struggling. And when the economy struggles significantly, poverty increases and peace decreases.

When I shared about the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders with business people, pastors, church leaders, and Bible colleges, the response was a unanimous "Amen" and "When can we start?"  I heard comments like, "We have been praying for something like this," and "This could transform our nation." 

I can only sense again that God had been working in this area prior to our arrival and directed us to the right people.  We will most likely start in September with the Ramseyer Training Center in Abetifi (central Ghana), where 4000+ Presbyterian pastors are trained for ministry, as well as in Accra at the ICM Ghana office for multiple denominations.  (Egypt will now be in November due to additional time to translate materials into Arabic.)
Pastors, Administrators, and Pastors-in-training

I continue to be humbled and thankful at the response that we continue to see to this work.  Keeping up with demand will be a challenge and we will continue to work toward building a team of Master trainers who can go out to help deliver this opportunity to different countries, through many denominations. I am so thankful for our partners, ICM Ghana and Hopeline Institute, as they have great staff who will make setting this up in Ghana much easier.

Please continue to pray for people in Ghana and their economic challenges.  Please also pray for this growing ministry.  Pray for God to send trainers, the funds to translate these into the necessary languages, and for wisdom and discernment in each and every process and conversation.

I leave for home on Wednesday.  I must admit that I'm exhausted.  I didn't feel well for most of this trip and I think it was the constant travel, speaking, changes in climate, changes in food, changes in beds, etc.  I am very ready to be home again but very thankful for your prayers and partnerships in this endeavor of Discipling Marketplace Leaders!