All You Need to Know About Missions and Family Life 2017

Our discipleship ministry, Mimesis Christou, in collaboration with the Great Commission Army, is organising a conference on Missions and Family Life. See details about the conference in the post.

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The conference is being organised by Mimesis Christou, a discipleship and mentoring ministry, and the Great Commission Army, a missionary organisation reaching out to peoples in the north of Ghana and in other African countries.

The purpose of the conference is to give an all-encompassing training to young people covering missionary work and family life.

In this regard, the conference seeks to expose young people interested in ministry to relevant information and tools needed in planning for their future and encourage them to strike a perfect balance.

There’s evidence of dysfunctionality in Christian homes where the pastor is committed to ministry but does not devote time to the family. The children are therefore left to their own plight or to the ‘singular’ care of their other parent, and are often susceptible to negative peer influence.

Missionaries (especially those engaged in full-time work) also need to be supported financially…

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Choosing A Life Partner: It’s Your Choice But Let God Lead

The search for a life partner can be stressful and confusing, but more especially when we rely on our own wisdom and ignore the leading of the Lord. While the choice is ultimately ours to make, letting God lead us in the process brings us peace.

It does not mean that marriage will be a perfect one; but it means that we will be starting from a good foundation, and if both partners cultivate the ingredients needed for a successful marriage, then that adds to their joy.

Why should I let God lead?

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer.  17:9, NIV).

Only God knows the deep intents of the heart of man. Friendship and familiarity can reveal who a person is but only to a limited extent. That is why you hear people say, “I married the wrong person,” “He/she has changed so much”. There has been no change really but just a revelation of the person’s true self; marriage has only revealed what had been lying inside. We have not even mentioned people who intentionally pretend just to get a person married to them. So, you see, it is just frightening.

But God can save us from making terrible mistakes in choosing a wrong person for a spouse. And God does this in so many ways. Those who let God lead them can be assured that even in circumstances where they are blinded, God is able to bring them out of ill-motivated courtships and relationships set to fail in marriage.

The question of the heart of man and how humans cannot see as far as God can, is seen for instance in the anointing of David as king over Israel. Given Saul’s disobedience and subsequent rejection by God, God sends Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint one of his sons. While Samuel thought Eliab, one of Jesse’s well-built, fine sons, was God’s chosen, God said to Samuel,  

Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

Eventually, God’s choice was the young boy David. Why did God not choose the more gallant and well-built men?

Because he knows the heart of man and he knows what the future holds for every intent of man. 

Yet, it does not mean that God’s leading at this stage will produce a perfect marriage. It is important to note that the ministry of marriage is not one of imposition. Rather, it’s about you and your partner collaborating with God, like a ‘three-fold cord’, to use your marriage to bring Him glory (cf. Eccl. 4:12b).

Making a right choice of partner, then, is the first step. From then, a lot depends on the couple to cultivate the necessary ingredients needed to grow a successful marriage—it doesn’t come automatically.

One key ingredient for a successful marriage is oneness—oneness with God, oneness of vision, and oneness with spouse on all levels. Any marriage that has failed, no matter the reasons given, missed out on this key ingredient—oneness. If you cannot guarantee this key ingredient as you prepare to marry a potential spouse, break off the courtship.

Sometimes our ways may seem right to us, but may lead us into dire consequences (Prov. 14:12, NIV). Marriage is a long, winding journey. We cannot see the end of that journey from the beginning. But God does. Everything may be perfect today, how about tomorrow?

It is only prudent to let the Lord lead you when considering who to walk the long corridors of marriage with. Do you want the peace that comes with walking the long journey of marriage with a right partner? Think, observe, watch, reason, but let God lead you in your choice and in your marriage journey.

How do I let God lead?

  • Give God say in your plans

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs His steps (Prov. 16:9, NKJV).

Planning our lives is very important. Illustrating with the example of the ant, the writer of Proverbs even advises us to be prepared in and out of season (Prov. 6:6-12).

In planning our lives, we sometimes need to consult with people for advice. If we want to let people to be involved directly in our plans, then it means giving them the opportunity to make suggestions to us.

But to let God in on our plans does not merely mean He playing an advisory role in our lives; rather, it describes a relationship that involves consistent deliberation and trust, and a willingness to cut short our plans and move in God’s direction when that moment arrives. Yes, plan. But when God cuts in, be willing to listen and follow where He leads.

  • Wait on God; don’t go ahead of Him

Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. (Is. 26:8, NIV)

Sometimes, finding a partner can come off as hopeless, thus many fall into desperation and eventually refuse to obey God’s word. It may be giving in to sexual sin to be accepted by a potential spouse, or giving in to anyone available because ‘you are not growing any younger’.

But letting God lead means waiting on God. It means making Him your utmost priority, and making marriage secondary. Your life must not be dictated by the pressure to marry but by the desire to glorify God.

It’s not a question of whether you marry at 20 or 40. If it’s tarrying, wait! Don’t compromise your faith in God. You need to trust that God will lead you to the right person in His own time, and that He is able, even in the most difficult situations, to fulfil His promises to you.

Contrary to what some people think, waiting on God does not mean praying and fasting for 21 days for a spouse. We must not have the kind of relationship that is transactional: “Lord give me a spouse and I will serve you”. No! True waiting results in obedience to His word and a focus on pleasing Him alone and not our selfish desires. We must desire to serve God whether we will marry or not.

Walk in His word while you wait; make His name and renown your desire while you wait (Is. 26:8, NIV). Instead of fretting during your period of waiting, take stock of the lessons God is teaching you and the processes He is taking you through in anticipation of that ‘thing’ you desire.

You, LORD, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in You (Is. 26:3, TEV).

Taken for Granted

The hospital environment has a humbling aura. It has a way of opening one’s mind to the realities of life and how we have taken important things for granted. How we take ‘the granted for granted’ is amazing. It also reveals how awesome God is and how ungrateful man can be.

As I shared my observation with my sister, I mentioned how we take the air we breathe for granted. We jump out of our beds and often forget to say thank you to God. Then the next moment we are murmuring about the money we don’t have or something God has not done for us. Lord have mercy!

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With Nyamedea, just before he was discharged.

We are able to drink, eat, move our bodies, walk and even run. But at the hospital wards, especially at the emergency ward, one’s ability to lift a finger is a miracle. To be able to take a sip of water is a miracle. And to be able to eat, pass urine and talk are all miracles. Wow! And we always take these for granted?

I was humbled when in church someone shared the testimony of how God enabled her free her bowels. She had struggled to pass stool for a while, a condition which had serious medical implications. So her joy knew no bounds when God healed her.

One may say, “But passing urine and stool are normal everyday occurrences?” No they are not. It is same with the ability to breathe. You should have seen this little boy struggling for breath at the hospital. He had to be aided with oxygen.

Let’s learn to worry and complain less and abound more in thanksgiving. God’s mercies and goodness are without limit and deserve appreciation. My four-day stay at the hospital with my son opened my eyes to things we ordinarily take for granted.

Lord I pray that anytime I find myself in seemingly dark situations, help me to count what you have granted and not take them for granted.

PS: My thanks to all who visited, prayed and supported us in diverse ways.

Counting My Blessings: Pregnancy, Fear and God

The month of July, 2016 was a very reflective month for me. My eyes had been wet with tears in appreciation of God’s goodness. You know the feeling when you have been walking with God and trusting Him, then you encounter a situation where you thought your end has come and yet God comes through for you? That was exactly how I felt.

I have always known God for His faithfulness, but He has demonstrated it towards me and my family in ways that are dumbfounding.

WP_20160315_10_18_17_ProWhen I picked seed in my first month of marriage, I had not adjusted to my new role as a wife yet.

Coupled with my first pregnancy, the experience was quite overwhelming for me. I asked God for grace daily. You could hear me say aloud ‘Lord help me!’

Then came the nightmares. I had dreams where I had miscarriage. There was one dream where someone told me that no matter how long I carried the pregnancy, they would abort it. All I could do was pray and keep trusting God. I read a lot about pregnancy from babycenter.com and the more I read the more I became afraid of what awaited me in labour.

I had to go through a Cesarean Section because I developed preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension). But God outsmarted the enemy and helped me through a safe delivery of a bouncing baby boy on the 21st of April.

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About the same period of delivery my dad got seriously sick and remained so for a long time. The enemy bargained with me to choose between my dad and my son but I rebuked him. I chose both my son and my Dad. The devil wanted to cut short the joy that the new child had brought into the family but Jesus said NO. God saved us from sorrow; He did not permit that I wore black instead of the white I was supposed to wear as a new mother. Glory to His name.

There were petty issues of unforgiveness in my family that created a doorway for the enemy but the blood of Jesus spoke on our behalf. At instances where we did not know how to pray and were weak in prayer, the Holy Spirit interceded on our behalf. He revealed whatever was hidden and helped us handle them through prayer.

When we chatted as a family, laughed together with my dad and played with my son, all I could do was to raise my eyes to heaven and say ‘Lord indeed your faithfulness abounds’.

In the month of July, I graduated with an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Ghana—a journey purely made on divine provision.

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We had the naming ceremony of our precious angel, Nyamedea (he truly belongs to the Lord) which coincided with our first marriage anniversary—what I call the triple blessings!

We owe it all to Jesus. His praise will continually be on our lips. If there is something I will never stop doing, it is trusting God with my whole being and relying on His will and directions for my life. The journey has just began; we rely solely on His abundant grace to keep us going and winning, all to His glory and purpose. I urge you to also count your blessings and give Him the praise He deserves.

Misplaced Priorities

My husband sent me pictures taken in 2010 in which I was saying an opening prayer at the inaugural ceremony of the Classics Students’ Association (CLASSA). I was the electoral commissioner for the association then. When I saw the pictures and showed them to my siblings, they laughed at me. I could not help laughing too because I was very skinny then.

As I observed the pictures, I was full of gratitude and praise to God. I could not stop pondering on God’s FAITHFULNESS. Even when we are unfaithful, He is faithful. You know, friends and family members disappoint us sometimes in various circumstances. But as for God, He never fails. He has sworn by His name that ‘I will never leave nor forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5b). 

IMG_0297Now, do you know why I never put on weight? Sacrifices, fastings, waiting, studies, sleepless nights. And why am I writing this? It is for you who say I am your role model. In life, there is nothing as important as the period of sowing because what we sow is what we reap. It is like putting up a building; the foundation is very important.

Whether you will build a story building or not depends on the foundation. The challenge is that a lot of young people are unable to decipher between the sowing season and the ordinary season. The sowing season does not last forever. It is usually for a short time. It takes the prudent soul to identify that season and take advantage of it to sow valuable seeds that bear great fruits during the time of harvest. And so the wise King Solomon says, ‘there is a season for everything under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 11:10).

One has to stay committed to whatever he or she does, be it studies, trade or work. For it is deadly for one’s youth to be wasted. Same applies to our spiritual lives. At a tender age I sought to know God for who He is and to have a relationship with Him.

As I grew up, I climbed Atwea Mountain several times alone and sometimes with friends just to seek God’s face and His will for my life. The important thing to note is that I did not go there because I wanted a husband or a child or visa or anything. All I wanted was fellowship with God. I cherished the solitude I enjoyed anytime I went there.

There, I received new strength, new directions, and I came back refreshed. And you know my favourite prayer topic? ‘God help me to know your perfect will for my life and grant me the grace to walk in it’. Will you learn to pray such prayers daily? During prayer sessions in church when the leader says, ‘Ask God for your heart’s desire’, I always said, ‘Lord help me to always stay close to you’.

The amazing thing is that the more I waited on God, the more His power was released into my life and made impossible situations possible. To be brief, it is His power that broke every family covenant and set me free from bondage; it is His power that gave me distinction in my first and second degrees, an amazing husband and a lovely son in miraculous ways. His power has done the unimaginable for me. Indeed, in ‘the presence of God there is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures ever more’ (Ps. 16:11).

IMG_0298But why am I sharing this as I do not like to write about myself? It is for myself, so that I do not forget my foundation and my source of sustenance. It is also for you to know how to set your priorities right regarding your relationship with God. God loves fellowship and not bargains. He wants your love and commitment. He does not want to be treated like a prostitute, but like a cherished wife. Do not come to Him with the long list of things you need—money, car, husband, child, visa, scholarship, among others—and behave as if He is a mean God when your responses are delayed.

What God really wants is a true relationship with Him, that of true friendship and love. No wonder the first commandment goes like ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind…’ (Luke 10:27). When this portion is fulfilled, then follows untold blessings promised in Deut 30:9-10:

‘The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground; for the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers… if you turn to the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul.’

When you seek to know God and love Him for who He is through his son Jesus Christ, His power will make things fall in place in your life. When members of the Great Commission Army (a missionary group I belong to) meet, we do not pray about individual needs; rather, our concern is to raise intercession for the universal church of Christ and for souls. Yet, you see God’s hand in the lives of our members. In 2015, we were blessed with three weddings of members and an outdooring.

There are some people I support with prayer, but I cannot invite to GCA prayer meetings because it will be boring for them; when they want a visa or a spouse, you are talking about making intercession for lost souls and the body of Christ! The day you learn to love God and place His business and matters of His kingdom first, the imaginable will happen to you. The Lord bless you.

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Professor Folake Onayemi: An Angel in A Life

Today I celebrate not just a university professor, but a wonderful woman of God, philanthropist, mother, mentor and inspirer, Professor Folake Onayemi, of the Department of Classics at the University of Ibadan.

I first met her in 2009 when I was assigned to pick her up at the airport. She was visiting our Department of Classics at the University of Ghana as a scholar for the academic year. Her stay was going to open new opportunities in my life as well as influence my crossroad stage.

In the second semester of 2008/2009 academic year, I had failed two Latin papers and performed poorly in my remaining papers (the details will be a subject for another time). Due to this I could not graduate. I had to wait until the following academic year to write the papers. I was a young man with so many challenges. I had lost my mum the same year of 2009 (she was 47); my dad had had a stroke since 1998 and wasn’t in a position to work; and I was the first of four children.

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With Prof Onayemi during my MPhil graduation, November 2013

You can imagine the burden of responsibility I now had to manage. Even when my mum was alive, and in spite of being on financial aid, I had to take a SSNIT loan and send it home for their upkeep. Now, I was out of school, a national service person, with no aid or loan but with three siblings and a father to support. It was a challenging period.

 

Professor Onayemi had already taken me as her son, but when she learned of my situation, she made it her responsibility to provide me with a monthly stipend out of her salary. It turned out I wasn’t the only one on her budget. There were several such people both in and outside Ghana. But one other thing she used to push me was her words. She never ceased encouraging me to clear the Latin papers; she never ceased encouraging my faith in God; and she never ceased monitoring my progress.

In 2010 my financial situation had worsened. I had worked for six months without pay. It was a trying moment. In my quest to get something into my pocket, I enrolled for a malaria vaccine trial, but on one of my visits to the lab, I collapsed. I was starving, depressed, and overburdened. I cried often in my room. I wept bitterly at the thought of my late mum. I sacrificed to make ends meet for my dad and siblings.

But Professor Onayemi always had a word of encouragement to lift me up. God used her to make me see light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many things I can say about her. By all means they will feature in the book I have been working on for the future.

Let me end by saying that her influence has contributed to my spiritual and professional growth and my current position. She continues to monitor my progress and still calls me “Angel”. In future, when I am delivering my inaugural address, she will surely be acknowledged, and I pray that she will live to see that day. Congratulations mum on your inaugural.

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Prof Folake Onayemi during her inaugural, June 2016

A Moment of Testing. It’s Only for A Moment

I begin with a quote from John Piper:

We will have everything we need in this life, including painful things necessary to bring us to glory.

This week has been a moment of testing. A test of my patience, a test of my faith, a test of my resolve, and a test of my joy. I got betrayed by a very good friend, and it cost me some good amount of money and time. I also lost my step-sister on Thursday.

But yesterday morning, in just a moment, in just some seconds, under the razor of the tonsor, God spoke to me in a way that I never imagined. He spoke through the barber as he shaved my hair. The message was clear. God spoke from His word, and as I sat listening to the prophecy that was coming through this young man, my eyes filled with tears.

He spoke about my soon-to-be launched book and how it was going to impact greatly on the lives of people. He spoke of the challenges I had faced that week and how He was going to turn all of them around for my good. He spoke to me. He spoke to me…through a barber.

It was in a barbering shop…with Christian music playing at the background. It was a barbering shop with printed sheets of scriptural verses pasted all around (cf. Deut. 6:6-9; 11:18-20). There was no way anyone who came to the shop could avoid reading them.

He spoke to me. He spoke to me. And by the time he was done cutting my hair, I had received healing, I had received encouragement, I felt a heavy burden lifted off me (cf. 1 Cor. 14:3). That wasn’t all. In the afternoon of the same day God spoke again, this time through my wife: “When challenges raise their heads, you count your past miracles and believe that this one too will be a miracle.”

God speaks to us in so many ways. He has prophets in both the mundane and spiritual moments of life. He doesn’t speak only through those with titles such as ‘prophet’, ‘pastor’, ‘reverend’, ‘bishop’. He speaks through His children, in whatever profession they are. And the great thing is, whenever He speaks, He speaks from His word, so you know He is the One speaking.

Let your profession and workplace be a tool for helping someone find joy, encouragement, comfort, and salvation in the Lord.

God is faithful. No matter what you are going through, if you hold on to Him, He will crown you with victory. You won’t drown.  

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa. 41:10)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isa. 43:2)