Triumph And Tragedy In Tamale, Ghana...

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.

There is a phrase that I have heard often in the past couple of weeks. Anytime something doesn’t work quite right, or something unusual happens it is likely someone will say “T.I.A.” – short for “this is Africa.” After being here for a short time you understand that it means take nothing for granted and don’t assume anything. Everything may seem to be going as planned one minute, and the next minute you are wondering what happened as things you never imagined occur on a regular basis. When you try to make sense of it, sometimes the only answer is T.I.A. Sometimes the result is good, many times it is bad, but T.I.A.

This has been a T.I.A. week. The week started out with preparing for the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies lectureship, which ran Friday thru Sunday. The high point was Saturday and the graduation of fifteen men who made up the first class at the school. Bob Turner from Bear Valley came to the graduation as he was visiting the extension schools in West Africa and wrote about the graduation and awards at the Bear Valley Extension School site. I was invited to speak on the need for a commitment to the great commission as part of the lectureship on Sunday morning. It was an exciting time for the graduates and the 200+ who attended. It was certainly a triumphant day for the school here to see their dreams of teaching men the Bible in their own country come to fruition. We had our T.I.A. moments, such as the power failing every night, the cooks losing track of time which resulted in lunch being 2 hours late on day, and rainy nights which eliminated a few planned activities, but we were happy with the way the weekend turned out.

Another triumph happened Monday afternoon when a young man who came to the lectureship asked to be baptized. He had been studying with one of the current students, who invited him to the lectureship. After meeting with the young man to see if he knew why he needed to be baptized off we went to find some water! It was great to see a new brother added to the kingdom.

After being baptized we each offered words of encouragement to our new brother K. John (I can’t pronounce his Konkumba name, let alone spell it). One of the other instructors at the school offered some great words about the road ahead, the struggles that come with the name, and the need to continue to grow. He mentioned the need to be committed to Christ every day, because we never know what might happen, because after all, T.I.A.

That lesson became painfully clear later that evening when a person we work with here at the school was electrocuted while taking a shower. It was not caused by anything they did wrong, just a faulty wire connected to a hand held water heater they were using. The wire was probably damaged through the inconsistent electrical current here and the power surges and failures that are a daily part of life. We look for answers, but in the end, T.I.A. There is no 911 to call, or paramedics to come help, or even an ambulance. We did the best we could to get them to the hospital, but it was to late. It can be a hard country at times, and it is a constant reminder of the need to be ready for eternity.

As hard as it can sometimes be, we carry on as best we know how. On Tuesday I covered for another teacher, and today I taught my final New Testament survey class before the final test tomorrow. The students have done well so far in this class so I am looking forward to seeing how they do on the final, which includes listing all the books in the Bible (in the proper order and spelled correctly) and a number of memory verses in addition to 35 fill in the blank questions. If any of you would like to take it I will be glad to send you a copy!

I look forward to returning to the USA in a couple of weeks, but I have decided to come back on a more permanent basis next year. I already have my class assignments, Life of Christ 4, The Gospel of John, 1st 2nd & 3rd John, and Foundations for Missions. I have lots to do between now and then!

Thank you for your prayers. Hope to see many of you in July and August!


Posted on July 3, 2011 .