God Has Done It Again: Acting on Prayer and Belief

Have you ever got to a stage in life where you seemed stuck and did not see the way forward; where the path on which you walked seemed crooked and you wondered if you would ever find the highway?

That was where I found myself. I had completed a masters degree, yet found myself without any meaningful employment because of an embargo on employment. My brain had become fuzzy with pregnancy and childbirth. I wondered if I could pursue my goal of further studies now that I was a wife and mother. My lifelong dream of being in academia was dim.

The fact that my better half also had to do further studies made the situation dimmer. The cost of pursuing one PhD is that huge let alone two. I had doubts I could put a proposal together or bring myself to sit by books like I used to. I guess you understand the depth of my hopelessness.

But I had an option—to pray, believe, and act. I trusted God for his perfect will for my life. I discussed the possibility of applying for a PhD programme with my mentor who gave me some ideas about possible places. Within a few weeks, I had put together a PhD proposal.

One morning I visited the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) to make enquiries about their PhD programmes.

The feedback at RIPS was not positive so I went to ISSER where I was impressed about the courses on offer. I also realized for the first time that they had few scholarships available. I informed my hubby about the courses and before I was aware, he had purchased the forms and put in an application for me using the proposal I had prepared.

I was invited with several others for an interview. There were just five slots for funding. I had sleepless nights over an interview I thought didn’t go so well, but I did what I know to do best, to pray.

And bam! God did it! I was among the five people who received DAAD funding for a PhD in Development Studies at ISSER. The funding also included a two-month internship in Germany. God did not only pay for school fees but provided for my monthly sustenance. God is good indeed! His faithfulness is for ever more. I give God all the praise. His grace I do not take for granted. His daily kindness I greatly appreciate. If it had not been for the Lord on our side, where would we be?

Set on course for the future by God’s grace, I trust daily for his provision, grace and mercies. And because he began with me I have full assurance for the grace of glorious completion.

One thing is for sure, if the Lord has not responded to your call, it is because he is working on something big. If your path seems crooked, keep pressing on, the high way is a few steps ahead. God will surely come through for you.

If there is any barrier to your breakthrough, may God’s mighty power cause it to be lifted. Receive the grace of a warrior and press on till the end. Jesus has paid the price for your victory! Walk in it.

In this new year, may God give us the grace to continuously trust him for his perfect will in our lives. May the Lord go before us and make the crooked places straight. May He break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron (Isaiah 45:2). May he give us increase and abundance.

PS: Much love to my mentors Drs Deborah Atobrah and Benjamin Kwansa for their encouragement, references and guidance with my proposal. You are a true blessing!

Shout out to my wonderful colleagues who make the journey enjoyable. Thanks for the guinea fowls, kebabs, potatoes, free lunch, and lifts. Much blessings for you all. Because God himself is our help, we will hold each other by the hand and complete this journey together. Cheers!

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This One Thing: Set Your Priorities Right This Year

There are times we present our desires to God and wait patiently for them to be met. We wait, first with faith, but as time passes we become anxious, frustrated and helpless. We wonder, “Is God unkind or unable?” “Don’t I deserve what others have?” “Or have I committed some unpardonable sin?”

At a period in my life, I cried many times and walked without any joy or sparkle in my eyes. If I was not knocked down by a car, then it was grace, because drivers blew their horns at me, as I was so absent minded while I walked. It was as if I was ready to die for this one thing I so badly needed. It seemed my life was incomplete without it.

I lost sight of the abundance of God’s blessings in my life: the breath of life, the financial breakthrough, the job, the good health I shared with my family. I lost sight of them all for this one thing I did not have, hopping from one prayer meeting to the other until I lost my attitude of praise and did not want to pray any more. How forgetful one can be!

But one day, the Holy Spirit ministered to me in the following verse:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).

As a Christian, why had I not received all the “other things”?

The Holy Spirit was there to help me find the answers and to learn the following divine truths:

First, God is interested in the salvation of my soul before all other things.

In the same way he is interested in the salvation of other souls before all other things. He is, above all things, committed to reconciling the whole world back to himself. That’s his primary business.

He is also looking for people whose primary goal is to be available for his use in the ministry of reconciliation.

Yes, He is in the business of giving material blessings, but they are all geared towards one goal—the salvation of humankind.

Second, God’s will often does not fit into our individual aspirations, desires and goals.

God works with a time table that suits his plan for the salvation of my soul and the world. Interestingly, this time table is not like what I have as an individual:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Is. 55:8).

God is sovereign, all wise, all knowledgeable. No human can fully fathom his being and character. And he is meant to be known through personal relationship and through his word by the help of the Holy Spirit.

Believers are to submit their will to God’s. He is the master planner who holds the perfect and beautiful master plan. Believers need faith and absolute trust with patience and perseverance to be able to accept and conform to God’s will for their lives.

What do we learn from these things?

We need to set our hearts and minds right. There should be a rearrangement of our priorities—to have eternity in mind and know that it is urgent that we do so. Time is running out. Souls are dying everyday. There is no time to procrastinate or delay:

But this I say, brethren, the time is short, …for the form of this world is passing away (1 Cor. 7:29-31).

God knows that we need resources in fulfilling divine assignment. When we set our minds and hearts right, commit and make active move towards his work, we will use these resources in ways that please him. But when we do not set our hearts and minds right and realign our priorities to fit into God’s plans, these resources can become burdens rather than blessings.

What resource do you have? How are you using them to fulfil God’s will? May God help us to set our priorities right this year.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Photo: FreeImages.com/Joshua Parent

Destiny Aborted, Mission Unfulfilled

God has several ways of getting our attention, and today he did get my attention. I had an emergency that landed me in the children’s ward with my son. Few hours after we got there a little girl of about 3 years lost her life.

Her mother cried uncontrollably. She could not believe that her daughter was gone, I mean gone forever. She screamed and screamed, then went into a state of denial. She assumed her child was just sleeping so started calling her pet names to get her to wake up. That was the point everyone in the ward could not hold their tears back. I looked on, not knowing how to process what I was observing.

What is the difference between this pretty girl who lay on the bed and the other kids in the ward? 

Breath!

It’s that which we take for granted. That which we forget to thank God for.

Breath!

As she was gathered and sent to the morgue, I saw a future cut short, a destiny unfulfilled, a purpose forfeited. Whose fault was it? Very difficult to tell!

It was then that the Holy Spirit got my attention.

What I was observing was the sad truth about humanity. How often we die before our time, how often we die without accomplishing our call and assignments. How often we go back to God with unused talents and unfinished businesses.

This realization saddened me but also got me scared as I examined my own life.

I wondered if I had been living the life God wanted me to live, whether I had touched the lives God wanted me to touch. And whether I had made the difference God wanted me to make; whether I had not pretended to hear, or given too many excuses in responding to, his voice in the first place. And whether I was not too consumed in acquiring degrees and making family, all of which are important yet count very little in the face of eternity.

How easy it is to lose focus, to be too familiar with our environment so much that we fail to make any impact. How often we postpone that which we ought to do today for another day. I could not help but ask for grace to be all God has called me to be, to live my life to its fullest not only in years but with purpose.

It is now your turn for self-examination.

I pray that God brings comfort to this little girl’s family. I pray that God protects all children over the world and secure their purposes on earth. May they become what God wants them to be in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Waiting Moments: Be a Warrior not a Worrier

One of the most difficult moments in life is the waiting moment. It is a time when everything seems still, a stillness that feels like stagnation. Waiting moments could range from little things to major landmarks in our lives. It could be waiting for a job, marriage, a child, visa, admission, scholarship, breakthrough in ministry and many more.

There is usually a feeling of uncertainty, stress, sometimes fret, frustration and impatience. Waiting moments are not sweet moments. During these times, our character and faith are tested and, unfortunately, many of us fail the test. Some of us run ahead of God, usually in the wrong direction.

We seek shortcuts, the consequences which we face later. Some also resort to complaint and murmuring which sometimes result in blasphemy. My personal attitude has usually been of anxiety and worry which leads to frustration. These are normal human reactions but the word of God teaches us a different approach altogether, that which is contrary to our normal reactions.

The key scripture is Philippians 4:6:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.”

We see in this scripture the right attitude in moments of waiting. The sum of it is that we are not to be WORRIERS but WARRIORS. So, prayer is very crucial in waiting moments. We are to re-channel the energy used to complain, cry, curse, murmur, and blaspheme into prayer. Instead of counting our loss, we are to count our blessings (they are a lot, trust me) and give God praise.

Anytime worry knocks at your door, pray. Anytime anxiety shows up, begin to thank God, blessing Him for being in control of your future. Your assurance is that Jesus has got your back covered:

“Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

It is a great privilege to pull all your burden and worries on Christ and go to rest. Jesus truly cares. Roll it, roll it all on Him! He cares!

Photo: FreeImages.com/Joshua Parent

The Value of Human Life: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Childcare

She embarks on a long journey. For nine solid months she is not herself. She cannot eat her favourite foods nor enjoy her delicacies. Her body plays funny tricks on her. She feels hungry this moment and the next minute she is vomiting.

She has troubled sleep. Her favourite sleeping posture is on her belly but she cannot do that anymore. Sleeping on her back too gives her backache. She however manages through the nine months journey. I have not mentioned the swollen feet and the rising blood pressure and increased body weight.

WP_20160421_14_55_06_ProHow she prays hard that the days will move faster and that her long journey will finally come to an end. However while they approach, she dreads what lies ahead of her—the unimaginable pain, the possibility of losing her own life.

Finally the stranger she has been nurturing all along arrives through a huge cut, one that has to take another three months to completely heal to enable her do her normal lifting.

She sits on a plastic chair in the children’s ward looking into the incubator. Her stranger’s weight is too low; he has to be observed and put on medication for a while. She is allowed to breastfeed him from time to time.

She has to weigh him before and after breast feeding in order to know how much milk he has fed on. She has to note all the figures down and plot a graph to help track his development. He is on a drip so she carries him with one hand and pushes the drip stand with the other hand.

At night she has no bed to sleep on in the children’s ward. She is not the one on admission but her little stranger. Finding no bed to sleep on, she sits up in the night to watch her little stranger. She dozes off once in a while. She has her own surgery pains to battle with and the sitting up makes it worse.

She misses home and she prays silently for the day when she will finally leave the hospital. The day arrives.

Nyamedea at hospital“You can go home today; your baby is better now. He has picked up weight over the past days,” the doctor on duty tells her. “Thank you Lord!” she smiles and says.

Little does she know what awaits her. A fat bill! What! How on earth is she going to take care of this and why such a huge bill? Well, the Caesarean section alone cost so much aside from her own medication and that of her baby.

Her savings together with that of her husband are gone by the time she leaves the hospital. What happens to the little stranger’s upkeep–his feeding, his diapers, his clothing and other hospital bills? Family and friends step in to help.

 

Dear friend, I will leave it for you to judge the sacrifice, efforts, sweat, wealth that would have gone into this life (boy) by the time he is five years old, ten years old, twenty years old, thirty, fourth and fifty.

Yet a lot of us treat human beings as if they are a piece of paper or trash? We insult, mock and disrespect people. I have not yet talked about God’s efforts and plans as far as a single individual life is concerned. Let us repent today and learn the true value of human life including ours.

The narrative I have given are the experiences of three different women—myself and two others I shared space with in a hospital ward. This is not fiction at all. I know that other women go through worse things during pregnancy and child birth.

I wondered whether there could not be any easy way out of creating human life. But no, there is no other way or easy way because of the value of human life.

Until these experiences, I saw other people and myself as just some other human being. I had little knowledge of my own value and the productive hours, efforts and wealth that had been expended in my life.

My Pregnancy, childbirth and keen observation of other women’s lives have altogether moulded my view and perception of the value of human life which is enormous, and most valuable of all things that exist on earth.

Value your life! Value other people’s lives. They are too precious to be taken for granted.

Letters to Young People: Preparing Towards A Holistic Family Life (2)

Dear Kwesi,

It is refreshing to hear from you. When you saw Adwoa’s letter, you asked what you could also do to prepare yourself adequately for marriage and family life. I was excited about your question because it takes two well-prepared people to build a fruitful home.

I must confess that your question is quite difficult to answer compared to Adwoa’s even though it is the same question. Hmm, when it comes to marriage and family life, I think the biggest responsibility falls on the man. This is because God has made him the head of the family and if the ‘head’ is sick, there will surely be disaster in the family.

So, you need to first of all train your ‘head’. I am very happy that you have had a good education. Your certificates will pay off in your search for employment. Aside from that, the knowledge you have acquired will be useful in your daily decisions. Interestingly education has a way of sharpening one’s life. Please tell your friends who do not want to go to school because they feel it is a waste of time to do so because it will pay off for them in the future.

I am even more elated to know that you love reading. Keep reading a wide variety of materials. Your reading list far exceeds materials on marriage, relationship and parenting. It should cover materials on financial management, entrepreneurship, marketing among others. You need to be versatile. A time will come when you will need multiple sources of income. So train yourself in that regard now.

Secondly, get your hands busy. It is refreshing to know that you are hardworking. A lazy man is poison to his generation, so when you meet young men like yourself, tell them to quit ‘sleep’ and vain talk and get their hands busy in productive ventures. Do not let your education prevent you from any productive thing you can learn or do with your hands.

And for someone like you who wants to enter into full time ministry this is fundamental. Your able hands will help you earn some money for your family alongside ministry. You remember Paul’s example? He was a tent maker and did not beg for his upkeep. He enjoyed freely from the generosity of God’s people without compulsion and reproach.

Kindly tell the young Christian brothers that their desire for full time ministry does not mean they cannot do anything productive with their hands. All they need is to identify, learn and establish some productive ventures they can run alongside ministry. God’s people must not beg for bread.

Financial prudence and abundance belong to God’s children; it is high time we appropriated it. As a man the financial responsibility of your family falls on you, of course with support from your wife. You do not have to fail at this major responsibility. That is why you need to take your time to plan and lay some good foundation financially.

Yes, you do not need all the money in the world before you get married, but you need a workable plan and a regular source of income. Please note the adjectives—workable and regular. Please do not ignore this advice. Without adequate finance for your daily upkeep, your marriage can land on rocks. I always tell young men who are not ready to work not to think of marriage. This is because they will let innocent women and children suffer unnecessarily.

Also get your vision right so that the woman God blesses you with can support you in that regard. No wise lady wants to follow a man who does not know where he is heading towards. So please be very sure about that and tell your friends to do so too. Think hard, plan well, write down your goals. Where you need more direction, pray to God, but don’t live in total darkness and uncertainty in the name of faith.

I know of young men who say they want to marry spiritual ladies so that their wives will pray for them and raise their children in the way of the Lord. I always laugh when I hear this. The man is the spiritual head of the family. He is supposed to be on his feet interceding for his family like Isaac did for Rebecca. I am glad you have trained yourself to be a prayer warrior and an intercessor. When you finally get married, make sure you do not push the prayer needs of your family to your wife.

Regarding your children, purify them with the word of God together with your wife. I am glad your feet are deeply rooted in the word of God. Please teach your friends and the other young men to get the word of God into their heads and hearts. It will save them in days of adversity.

Now learn as much as you can about women. You are blessed to have sisters and to know how to relate with them. But for the sake of your friends who like to read your letter with you, let them learn how to respect women and honour them. Tell them to give up autocratic and selfish tendencies as these are not attractive to young ladies but detrimental to healthy family life.

Visionary ladies are attracted to young men who have given themselves to good personal grooming. You do not need to have too many clothes but you need to wash regularly and iron them nicely.

Some young men do not take their personal hygiene seriously. Their body odour and bad breath can cause you to faint. Tell your friends to take note of these things. I wonder why some of them do not want to shave their underarm hair and trim their nails. These are some of the reasons why the church ladies do not like dating the church guys.

Please permit me to end here because baby Nyamedea needs attention now. You will hear from me again regarding this issue. Until then, take note of these things and teach your friends to do same. Stay blessed and keep shining.

Yours,

P. G. Okyere Asante

Letters to Young People: Preparing Towards A Holistic Family Life

Dear Adwoa,

I trust you are doing great. This letter is in response to your question on how to prepare yourself holistically for family life. I was excited to hear you ask such an important question.

First of all I will encourage you to train your physical body for the task ahead. By physical training, I mean developing the discipline for daily exercise. This will keep your body strong and in perfect shape for the task ahead especially for the daunting task of pregnancy and child birth. It will also keep your mind alert and sound.

Secondly, you need to train your hands. Acquire skills that will be useful now and in the future. Put your hands to the task of learning how to do some good cooking.

Some say that not knowing how to cook does not make you less of a woman. Yes this may be true, but if you can cook for yourself and family, you will save yourself from most of the junk foods on the street that are contributing to the rising burden of chronic illnesses in Africa and for that matter Ghana.

You may ask, “How about I get someone to cook for me?” Yea, that is a good idea except that you can’t completely control what goes into that food. For instance, I don’t put magi or any other spices in my food except a lot of onions, ginger and garlic. But I have no control over these things whenever I eat from outside.

It will also be financially impracticable for your family to depend solely on food sold on the streets. Regarding the issue of a maid cooking for your family, let’s talk about it another time.

Let your hands be skillful, swift and malleable. Learn a little of everything at your disposal: bead making, baking, stitching, etc. Learning to do these things will not make you less of an educated woman. It rather increases your opportunities of earning multiple sources of income in future. That way your family will never lack no matter what.

Thirdly, attain head knowledge. By this I mean you should acquire as much information as possible about family life. Grab books on relationship, marriage and parenting. Don’t wait till you get there before you read. It may be too late as you may have already committed some mistakes.

My friends used to tease me that I loved marriage too much (aware3 y3 wo d3 dodo) because I read a lot about relationships. I had piles of books on relationship and marriage and few ones on parenting.

It was not only because I loved marriage and family but also because I wanted to help other people in this regard. I felt that family life is too precious to be ignored. How else would we secure the future of the human race if we downplayed the essence of family life? So please prepare yourself in this regard.

Fourthly, train your heart for today and the future. By this I mean submit your heart to love.  Love God, love your neighbour. Family life is built on love. Without love, there will be no meaningful relationship, marriage and family.

Learn to respect and appreciate everyone who comes your way for the value of human life is enormous. Learn good interpersonal and communication skills. These are not only important for marriage and family life but also for your professional life. Learn some financial prudence too. It will pay off in your single and family life.

Lastly, I will say that add prayers to all these things. I love to pray because prayer makes the impossible possible. Prayer moves the hand of God, and makes rivers spring up in deserts. Prayer has caused miracles in my personal family life. That is why I cannot end my letter without emphasizing the need for prayer as you prepare towards your dream marriage and family life.

If you trust God and let Him lead you towards His direction, you will have no regret. I have told you time and again that there are no regrets where God leads. Feel free to let me know if you need clarification on anything.

Yours,

P. G. Okyere Asante