The US State Department in November sent an entourage to Nigeria to investigate the ongoing slaughter of Christians there. International Christian Concern estimates that In October, there were 260 Christians killed at the hands of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, bringing the total to over 2,300 killed so far this year, and 16,000 Christians killed in the past three years.
This is the same issue we are dealing with in our Ghana ministry. In September 2011, I interviewed eyewitnesses in the Northern Region of Ghana to how the Fulani sized up a village, attacked it, killing the elders who resisted, raping the women, and stealing what they could. It was in this way that they brought villages under Islamic control.
Many did not believe my reports. We had to travel under armed guard to even visit the area. Our missions partner in Ghana, Pastor William Agbeti, says the reports sparked awareness. He says the villagers decided to fight back, and much to the Fulani’s surprise, the tables turned. He wrote in November 2011: “Many were those who did not believe you when you started reporting on the atrocities that Fulani herdsmen were meting out to Ghanaians. Your reports were wake up calls. Today, the truth has finally come out. Everybody in Ghana now knows the Fulani herdsmen have been and are responsible for most armed robbery cases, murders, rapes and destruction of farms and villages; as several of them have been arrested and caught in the act of committing various crimes.”
This, however, did not stop the ongoing Christian persecution by Islamists in neighboring Nigeria or in Ghana. Islam continues to roll across the rural areas, invading villages, establishing an organized shadow government of control and crime. In addition to the steady harassment, threats and bullying, the Muslims are now just stealing land and stripping it for its soil to sell for profit. Agbeti reports:“I went to take a look at the devastation the Muslims caused when they bulldozed the top soil away at the village. I took pictures, and the spectacle wasn't good. I also traveled through various villages bringing in building materials and saw massive destruction of land all over the place. These guys come with bulldozers and begin digging sand away from buildings and structures, destroying farms and all.”
William noted that these Muslims are armed with machetes and pistols, and “have formed themselves into various groups--illegal sand winners, notorious land guards, village raiders, forced marriage and child marriage contractors, harassing beasts, land jihadists, etc.--spread across the length and breadth of villages.” This is why our church project in the outpost rural bush area of Busuafise is so important. Food, clothing, clean water—are all part of Christ’s lovingkindness in our ministry to these gallant people who are laboring amidst peril. At times it seems overwhelming, but we remember 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
By Pastor William Agbeti [NOTE: In addition to our ongoing clean water, feeding, and clothing efforts when you support The Daily Jot, you are helping wipe tears off the faces of suffering mothers and fathers seeking rehabilitation of their disabled children--Blessings, Bill W]
In Ghana alone, there are some 3 million persons living with various forms of disabilities. When placed together in a geographical space, these will form the third largest region in the country; comprising the poorest of the poor, the least, the littlest, the last, the lost and the loneliest. Hardly any free meal program that we organize passes without attracting the disabled, who come looking for help.
Our Ghana ministry serves where others will not. This two-day residential program for children with disabilities provide food, clothing and recreation.
Their plight is demoralizing. Many in the Ghanaian society consider them taboos. Scores of local churches have not opened their doors to them. Several families neglect their disabled children, to fend for themselves. Sadly, some communities go to the extreme to put a newly born disabled child into a mortar and use a pestle to pound it to death, with the belief that their souls will not return to the communities again. In the main, the disabled are ostracized from the society. Only a handful of homes, families and communities treat them with a modicum of respect and acceptance.
It is against this backdrop, that we do our best to extend our feeding programs to incorporate as many disabled persons as possible. In the recent past, we partnered with The Epicenter, a small inclusive nonprofit rehabilitation center, to provide a two-day residential program for 50 children with disabilities. We fed and gave them the most memorable time in their lives as they had opportunity to swim (many of them for the first time) and enjoy lots of recreational activities, including dancing and bouncing castles.
The two days residential program ended with a church service embracing all the children and their parents. Many of the children and parents accepted Jesus during the church service! On parting, the parents and their wards openly wept! Some of us on the volunteer staff could not help weeping too! Ours were tears of love and compassion! Love for the disabled as persons and compassion for their plight!
We again visited The Epicenter to donate used and new dresses, drinks and biscuits to some twenty children with disabilities. The number one challenge facing the school is a critical need for sponsorship for its current 20 children with disabilities. The parents are unable to fully support rehabilitation of the children, so the school needs monthly support of part or all of the US $180 required per child to help finance an inclusive, individualized rehabilitation program.
This figure is way beyond the means of many of the parents, but the fact remains that, that is what is needed to engage the services of trained social workers and other specialists to provide direct care for the children. When ministries like ours, and donors like you don't extend helping hands to such children living with disabilities, this people's group faces several dehumanizing challenges, leaving their parents under unbearable pressure and societal stigma.
Together, let's show them that we care, we share, we serve with love!
By Pastor William Agbeti
As early as 8am Sunday morning, February 5, they started pouring in. Two hundred and sixteen children, forty eight parents and a handful of the disabled, coming from various poor homes and communities, eagerly looking forward to a good, free meal.
The atmosphere was electrifying and heartrending - an entire community of children and parents showing up for a free meal.
Meals were served to the satisfaction of all. All had soda to drink and water to quench their thirsts.
Everyone participated in some sort of games and danced to popular local music. Joy, laughter, merry making and the spirit of love hung heavily in the air.
This was heaven to many.
Then what we always dread at our feeding functions happened. It was time to say good bye and depart. A surprise announcement was made, that all the children and their parents, including the disabled, would be given free food to take home!
They were asked to line up for the extra food. Suddenly there was a stampede. Children and adults started fighting for first place in the queue to receive their free meals.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of volunteers, as they served in total silence.