Height Family Update: Ghana, Trees, and Chickens
"One tree does not make a forest."
It has now been two months since we landed here in Ghana after spending the previous 5 months in the wonderful country of Senegal. As we help our ministry organization relocate our West Africa headquarters to here in Accra, Ghana, we are making some amazing friends and getting to participate in beautiful ministry opportunities.
In a recent conversation with one of our Ghanaian church leaders, we were discussing the importance of every church working together to achieve our vision of: "Christlike disciples in every community in West Africa." As we talked, he stated that this is not a vision that one person or one church can reach by themselves. We must do it together. And that is when he dropped this Ghanaian proverb on us:
One tree does not make a forest.
Since we have spent all (Jeremy) or most (Reetu) of our lives in the United States, the Western mindset of individualism is deep-rooted in our psyches and God is using our time here in West Africa to weed out the issues that individualism can produce. We are not meant to journey through life alone. We are created for community as daughters and sons of God.
We are blessed to be learning this life lesson through some amazing friends and church leaders here in Ghana.
This concept of the power of community was driven home for Jeremy recently on a trip he took to northern Ghana (here it is on a map) to visit churches and community development projects in that part of the country. During his time there he also taught a course on Biblical Interpretation to a group of students studying to be ordained pastors!
While he was there he saw several young children planting seedlings outside of a child development center that our ministry organization runs. When he inquired about the plants and what the children were doing, he learned about a woman that embodies this principle.
She is literally building forests in northern Ghana.
Several decades ago this woman and her husband were visiting the area when they saw many shea trees go up in flames during the community's preparations for farming season. As they burned up the brush to clear room for their new crops, the loss of shea trees was not avoided because they were not considered important to the farmers.
This lady, however, knew of the market for shea butter in other areas of the country (and beyond) and set out on a two-pronged mission: education and investment.
She began educating children and families on the potential profitability of shea butter and then helped invest in the community by suppling shea tree seedlings for individuals and groups to grow.
It was a group of her seedlings that Jeremy observed being planted during his trip during the month of June. And as he rode across the countryside via motorcycle, he saw hundreds of her trees - the fruit of decades of obedience and hard work.
Her investment in this community in northern Ghana is creating forests - both of shea trees as well as financially stable families.
Our strength is found in community. Not isolation.
As we have joined the Church in Ghana over the last two months, we have had a variety of exciting experiences as a family and in ministry.
Here are a few of the highlights:
- The first (and most obvious) highlight is that we moved to Ghana on May 1st!! We're excited to be here and continuing to serve in our ministry roles - just in a new country.
- We helped host a team of volunteers from Trevecca Community Church (Nashville, TN, USA) that delivered 9 Jesus Film projection backpacks to church leaders in the country of Togo! These tools will be used for evangelism and church planting. The photo below with the green handkerchiefs show the team helping leaders set up one of the projection screens.
- Throughout this summer we are also hosting a student from Mount Vernon Nazarene University - Bailey. Bailey is living with us during here time here and is helping support an amazing ministry. She is working with the Girls' Justice Clubs across the country as they expand and develop their ministry in local churches. You can read more about their ministry here.
- Nazarene churches across southern Ghana are working together to help begin a chicken raising business and use the profits to help repair existing churches and plant new churches in this part of the country!
- On June 1st we moved into our new home (a fourth floor apartment) and a few weeks later our shipment of belongings arrived! After a year of living out of suitcases across the United States and West Africa, we are thankful to be unpacked!
- We are finding creative ways to make new friends here in Accra - through play groups for Zane, a women's association for Reetu, and attending local church events. We are slowly but surely building a network of friends!
- Jeremy had the opportunity to take a 10 day trip to northern Ghana with a team of leaders from Accra, as well as Bailey. It was an awesome chance to see the Church at work in that part of the country.
In the coming weeks we will be helping host two separate youth events here in Accra as we continue to serve West Africa through our roles in finances and partnerships.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Exciting days are ahead for all of us!
-Reetu, Jeremy and Zane
p.s. - here are a few photos from our time in Ghana: