Diary Of The Work In Tamale...

One of the students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, Tony Johnson, continues his work with the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies. His most recent report about the work is posted below. If you would like to see more of Tony’s posts with pictures, you can visit his blog site.

Another week has come and gone, here are a few of the highlights…

Thursday – June 9

Today was my all day teaching day, first class from 8 to 12 in the morning, and the second from 1 to 5 in the afternoon. Since we were doing a review for the Old Testament Survey final in the afternoon I let them go early, which I’m sure they appreciated.  I don’t even like to listen to me for 8 hours so I am sure they were tired of it.  We covered everything I planned on, and I pretty much told them what was going to be on the test, so now it is up to them to go over their notes.  We will see how this all works out tomorrow.

This evening I made another attempt with the local food.  I didn’t care too much for the ground nut soup (tasted like peanut better soup with chicken) the last time, so I tried okra stew and banku tonight.  It was much better.  Most Ghanian food is eaten with your fingers, so you use the banku, which is made from milled fermented corn dough, to soak up some of the stew and then pop it in your mouth.  The custom is not to chew your banku, just let it slide down your throat, which was different.   If you want to make your own, here’s a recipe.  It’s not Morton’s Steakhouse, but it was pretty good.

Friday – June 10

Final test day for O.T. Survey.  The test involved writing all the Old Testament books in the proper order along with 66 questions and took almost 3 ½ hours for everyone to complete.  I’ll start grading later tonight and hopefully finish up by tomorrow.

While eating dinner tonight at a local restaurant I kept hearing something that sounded like a squeaky wheel going round and round.  I figured it was just some local birds that were really annoying.  I asked about it just before we left and was told that the sound was bats that make the tree next to the restaurant home!  I am told that in the daytime you can see them just hanging from the branches, so next time I eat there I’m bringing my camera for a picture.

Saturday – June 11

Finished grading the tests, and for the most part I am pretty happy with the results. There was one 100 and two others who scored in the 90’s, 5 in the 80’s, and 3 in the 70’s.  Two of the new students are struggling a little to catch up so I will have to find a way to work with them some more.  This evening we are headed to one of the villages to show a movie about Jesus and do some street preaching.  We have to go a little early in order to visit the local chief.  While it is not really necessary to get permission to preach, it is a good idea to show him some respect (and give him a few cedis for his trouble) so that he will watch over us should anyone get upset at our preaching. Should be interesting!

Sunday – June 12

At last night’s showing of the movie based on the gospel of Luke we had somewhere close to 400 people show up!  There is no telling how many more where watching from a distance because it gets really dark out there.  Alhassan did the preaching and I did the invitation.  Since this was a Muslim village the invitation is a to let them know that if they have any questions or what to know more about the church that we will be glad to talk with anyone afterwards and to let them know and invite anyone who is interested to where the church meets on Sunday morning.  The crowd stayed for the preaching but no responses, which was disappointing to the leader of the local congregation who had asked us to come and show the movie.  It is very difficult to get responses in the Muslim villages, but we still must go and make every effort.  In the morning Alhassan and I went back to the village for services, where we had a total of 5 children and 2 men in attendance.  A couple of the members were missing so we went to look for them before starting since I had seen them at the movie last night, but they had apparently gone to the bush to collect shae nuts (used to make shae butter), one of the ways they support their families.  I am quickly learning that when preaching in the village it is better to speak about what is happening right then than to deliver a prepared sermon, so I decided to speak about forsaking the assembly from Hebrews 10:25-26.  We talked about the need to encourage one another everyday regarding the privilege we have to assemble together, and the need to continue doing the things God has commanded regardless of the number of people who show up.  We also were able to give out most of the “pillowcase dresses” and shorts that the church in Sylvan Hills Arkansas sent in a couple of the villages.  The children really loved them, putting them on over the clothes they were already wearing!

Monday – June 13

Today we began the New Testament portion of the survey course.  I’ll be teaching some double shifts in order to get it in before the students break to go home and get their planting done, teaching from 8 to 12 in the morning and then from 7 to 9 each night.  It is humbling to consider what these men give up in order to be here, leaving wives and children at home in the village, living on very little support, and using their breaks to first plant their crops and then harvest them.  It has rained again which really makes them anxious to be farming so they can provide for their family.

About that rain, we have had no electricity for the past day so my plan to buy a box of frozen chickens to last me while I am here didn’t work out.  The students are having a big chicken roast tonight though, so all is well.

Tuesday – June 14

We had a very interesting discussion in class about the “rapture” today.  Apparently no-one has ever presented the idea to most of these men that the rapture is a man-made doctrine with no Biblical support.  I am very thankful for the great notes from Wayne Burger’s Denominational Doctrines class and Bob Turner’s Major Biblical Doctrines classes!  My biggest concern is that the men who believed in the rapture couldn’t tell me why, other than someone told them that it was going to happen. After our discussion (and the three pages of notes and scripture references they received courtesy of Wayne and Bob) I went into preaching mode regarding the need to study for ourselves and not take the word of any man when it comes to what the Bible teaches.  I hope I made my point because it is a lesson I believe we all need to take to heart when it comes to God’s word.

We are having a major storm blow through here this evening and the electricity is gone again, but I am very thankful for the roof over my head tonight shielding me from the wind, lightning and rain. It makes me wonder how difficult it is tonight for those in mud huts with thatch roofs/

Wednesday – June 15

Another schedule change so I had no classes to teach today.  Instead I ventured into town to get a phone.  I figured it might be a good idea before I go wandering around the country after my teaching duties are completed.  If anyone wants to talk, the numbers 0249019665 pastedGraphic.pdf  There is a church of Christ well drilling project in Yendi I would like to visit.

I am not sure what occasion it is but there has been a group of people marching up and down the street beating on drums and chanting for the past couple of hours.  Very interesting.  Tomorrow we will be studying the life of the Apostle Paul as we finish up with the survey on Acts, then jump into Romans.  I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks again for your support and your prayers that allow me to do this work!  I greatly appreciate hearing from each one of you who have taken the time to send a note or leave a comment.  Your love is appreciated more than I can express.  God bless, and to Him be the glory.


Posted on June 19, 2011 .