Last month I mentioned some of the problems that West Africa has been facing, and unfortunately things have not been getting any better. It is certainly a difficult time to be in West Africa! This past month has had an Ebola scare in Tamale, more kidnappings in Northern Nigeria, and just this past week civil disturbances in Burkina Faso that interrupted plans for a campaign in Ouagadougou.
Our Ebola scare in Tamale was caused by a decision by the Ghanaian sports authority to move the African Cup qualifier soccer game with the Guinea national team to the Tamale Sports Stadium, which brought a couple of thousand fans from one of the countries currently dealing with the Ebola outbreak streaming into Tamale. Beefed up health checks at the borders where put in place, but how do you really check for a disease that has a 21 day incubation period? In the week after the game was finished there were a number of people who had attended the game who went to the hospital with fevers and each one had to be treated as a possible Ebola contact, causing havoc with the limited health resources available. Fortunately there were no confirmed cases and the incubation period has now passed. During this period the school in Tamale continued to operate as normal, just with an extra caution to our students about outside contact. Eleven students successfully completed their seventh term and are left with just three more before graduation. Special thanks to Joe Wilkie from the Lone Tree, CO church for coming over for two weeks to teach 1st Corinthians to the students. This was Joe’s second trip to Ghana to teach at the school and the students have been greatly blessed by his efforts.
Northern Nigeria remains a concern for our brethren in the Upper East Region as well as for those in Northern Togo. So far the radical Boko Haram group has not only failed to release the hundreds of school girls previously kidnapped as they promised in a brokered peace deal with the government, but they have resumed raids on Christian villages and have kidnapped another group of students in the past week. While this activity is still over 300 miles east of Ghana we watch it closely because of the Kingdom of Hope Orphan’s School’s location in the Upper East region. It has been a difficult year in the Upper East Region as the rainy season was late arriving and much less than needed for good crops, which has caused some of the children to be taken out of school in order to help their families forage for shea nuts and firewood to sell, or do whatever else is necessary to help their families survive the upcoming dry season. The school however is carrying on and doing what it can to assist the families in need, and the church in Kuka has stepped up to help as much as possible as well. We are just finishing up the third classroom and have begun working on bathrooms for the school thanks to a donation from the Mesa church of Christ in Arizona. Other donations from the White Oak church of Christ allowed us to purchase 100 additional mango trees for the school, buy some play equipment for the children, and purchase desks and chairs for each of the teachers classrooms. We also added our first female teacher at KOH, Moses Cyntha, to teach our pre-school and kindergarten aged children. The grain mill that was provided last year is doing well and allowing the school to pay its teachers, pay the cost of fuel to run the lights at the school and church, and help with some of the feeding costs for the children who live at the school.
Burkina Faso has been in the news the past couple of days due to the political unrest that has resulted in demonstrations and riots across the country. I was in Ouagadougou this past weekend for a scheduled campaign when the news of a plan “strike day” to protest some government actions was announced, which caused us to cut short our activities. I left on Monday as the demonstrators began blockading the streets and was back in Ghana before the violence began, but we have a number of brothers and sisters who are caught in the middle of it all that need our prayers. Thanks to the Broadway church of Christ in Paducah, KY and the Mesa church of Christ I was able to leave the church enough money to rescheduled the outdoor part of the campaign for later this year, once the situation has calmed and public gatherings are allowed, as well as for a campaign in February. We are also helping the church with door to door evangelism by providing the travel and living expenses for preachers to come from Ghana and Togo to help. While we had to get everyone out of the country early on this campaign there remains a commitment from both the church and the visiting preachers to continue the work once things stabilize. The church in Ouagadougou was also able to send one of its members to the French speaking Bible School in Cote de Ivorie thanks in part to a personal donation that I was able to deliver. Ko Ciaca left at the beginning of October to begin the three year program, the first of what we hope are many who will make the decision to become leaders and preachers in the church in Burkina.
There is still lots of work to be done, but for the next few months I will have to do my part from a distance. I will be leaving West Africa soon to return to the states and begin the process of raising support once again. I will continue working with Kingdom of Hope and with the church in Burkina Faso using e-mail, phone calls and bank transfers until such time as I can arrange to travel back personally. I am also looking forward to working closely with the Bear Valley Bible Institute Extension Schools in a new capacity next year as they work to expand their ability to train preachers and leaders in their own countries. 2015 should be an exciting year!
On a sadder note my association with the Greenbrier church of Christ as my sponsoring congregation will be ending as of December 31st of this year. I have great respect for the elders and the members at Greenbrier who have done so much to get me started in this work. I will not be seeking personal support for the immediate future, but will continue to raise support for the work at Kingdom of Hope and in Burkina Faso. For those who would like to support those works I would ask that you begin sending the funds directly to me with a note regarding what the contribution is to be used for. Correspondence and checks can be sent to the following address: Tony Johnson, 3310 Ave B, Council Bluffs, IA 51501. Quarterly updates of monies received and their distribution will be provided to those who are interested.
It has certainly been an interesting month with many challenges and changes. I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this work in the past. Even more so I want to thank those who will continue to support this work as we move forward!
In His service,
Tony ‘Wintima’ Johnson