I Left My Heart in Fumbisi

Women of the North at a church service.

Women of the North at a church service.

Farmers in the Builsa Region of Northern Ghana

Farmers in the Builsa Region of Northern Ghana

I’m going to tell you a real life story of Romans 8:28.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Almost 30 years ago my husband and I moved to Huntington Beach.
A little jewel of a town along California’s southern sun kissed coastline. We were attending church at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and being blessed by the outstanding Bible teaching of Pastor Chuck Smith. Then Chuck asked Gary to join the staff and help minister to the church. Things went from good to great. We had ministry that we loved, fellowship with family and friends, some of the best Bible teaching ever, faithfully ministered week after week by a pastor who truly loved his flock.
But things didn’t stay that way for long.
We had three deaths in our family in single summer. The Lord worked in our hearts and we felt a strong leading to move to Elk Grove, a small town near Sacramento. Leaving Costa Mesa was a step of faith. We didn’t want to do it, but we both felt certain that’s what God was leading us to do. We had no idea why.

Can you look back in your life and find this kind of GOD AT WORK episode?
We just don’t see at the time, in the moment, all the strings God is pulling to get us in line with His plan.

After we moved to Elk Grove we started a church.
That may seem like a natural thing to you, but it wasn’t. It would have freaked us out if we’d known that was God’s plan. Sometimes He works with us on a need to know basis. We got the details as He was ready to implement them.

Then the cough started.
A little tickle in the back of my throat that quickly became a chronic cough. I hadn’t had a cold or the flu in 18 years, but for 6 years I coughed constantly. A pulmonary specialist treating me said I’d developed asthma and the poor air quality in Sacramento was the root of the problem. Gary consulted a specialist with the State Board of Air Quality and found that Monterey had some of the cleanest air in California.

So off we went to Monterey which is a fabulous place to live and eat and play golf, but while we were there God gave our friend and pastor, Bill Holdridge, an opportunity to go to Africa and teach Inductive Bible Study.
Bill asked Gary if he’d like to go along.

Once in Ghana Gary took the place of another team member who’d become ill. He joined a group going to the North of Ghana to do an Inductive Bible Study Seminar.
That was another GOD THING.

On that trip Gary met Sam Annankra, a medical doctor and Colonel in the Ghanian military. Dr. Sam was there with a team of doctors and nurses on a medical mission outreach. Sam was born near Fumbisi, a village in that Northern region. He took Gary to meet the chief, a very elderly man called Bubba. After talking with Gary, Bubba declared that all in the village who would choose to worship Jesus Christ were free to do so.

Bubba, the Chief

Bubba, the Chief

That might not seem like anything of great significance to you, but a chief has great power and his people are under his control. God had opened Bubba’s heart and also a door to the gospel.

My husband fell in love with the people of the Builsa Region.
He saw the harsh conditions of life in that inhospitable climate and knew that God had brought him there to bring a message of new life in Christ. The physical needs loom large where people live on the edge of existence. Disease, drought, and famine are their constant companions. But the word of God brings life and hope.

At this same time The Jesus Film had been translated into the local language and teams would show it at night on a sheet hung between the trees.
Just think, the age old story of God’s great love for man and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins shown to people who had never heard any part of it. Under the stars of an African night the glorious invitation to forgiveness and eternal life brought thousands to new life in Jesus Christ.

In 2000 Gary and I went to the Volta Region to teach a group of men, mostly farmers from the North, how to study and teach the Bible.
There were many new Christians now in the North because The Jesus Film had been so effective as an evangelistic tool, but there were very few Bible teaching churches with pastors equipped to feed the flock of God.

For over 14 years now Calvary Chapel Bible Training Centre has been training men and women to study and teach God’s word. We moved our campus to the Eastern Region and the location provides students with an opportunity to come apart and focus intensely and exclusively on their studies for 8 months. Former graduates are spread across West Africa working in ministry to teach and strengthen Christians in their walk with God.

We’ve been at the Training Centre almost a week now encouraging a new class of students.
Tomorrow we leave for the North. We bought a new vehicle, but the dealer can’t seem to get it out of customs, so we’ll go in our 14 year old truck. Pray for me, oops, for us! We’ll cover as much ground as we can in a month, ministering to churches that meet under trees or under a make-shift roof of palm fronds. It’s the dry season and it’ll be hot and dusty. This is my first trip to the North and I’m excited to share the principles of Christian marriage and family life with the women of the churches.

The church is people, not a building.

The church is people, not a building.

African churches are predominately women and children, but these women can raise up the next generation, including their sons, to love and serve the Lord.
It reminds me of Pastor Chuck’s teaching of the story of Samuel the Prophet. Speaking of Hannah, Samuel’s mother, Chuck says, “God first needed a woman in order to get a man for the job”. Who knows what Christian mother is already raising the boy that might become a faithful pastor like Chuck Smith or even the Billy Graham of Africa.

For many years Gary came to Ghana on his own, thinking the environment was too harsh for me, and my asthma.
Last year I came with him for a month.
The same love God gave him for this nation and its people suddenly captured my heart as well.
These women, these women who have such difficult lives, sit with a quiet grace, many with a baby strapped to their back, listening to God’s principles for their marriages and their families.
A wise woman builds her house,
Wives submit to your own husbands as unto the Lord,
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Who can find a virtuous woman

As I speak I watch their faces and I see the Holy Spirit making the truth resonate in their hearts.
I’m just a mouthpiece. He’s the one with power to captivate them, to transform them, to enable them to live these words, each in her own life, in her own house, blessing her own husband and children. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.

But this is not what I thought I’d be doing at 60 years of age.
God has a sense of humor because right now I can’t imagine doing anything else!

That’s another GOD THING.

I still cough and I find it irritating and exhausting, but if it weren’t for that cough we wouldn’t have gone to Monterey, and if we hadn’t gone to Monterey, Gary wouldn’t have gone to Ghana with Bill, and well. . .
It’s the Romans 8:28 version of ‘If You Give A Mouse a Cookie’.

How about you?
What’s your Romans 8:28 story?
It’s God’s favorite genre when writing a life story.

7 Comments on “I Left My Heart in Fumbisi

      • Kelly, my senior English class is praying every day in our morning worship for you and Gary and the people of Africa. We are following your adventures daily. It began when I shared your blog entry with them about those who stay at home receiving a blessing and being able to help by prayer. If you run into any teens, my class would love to see pictures of them. They went on a mission trip last year too, so they know how challenging things can be in other parts of the country. God bless you as you tell others about him. We will continue to keep you in our prayers.

  1. Thank you so much Diana. I’m speaking tomorrow all day for a Women’s Conference, but I’ll keep my eyes open for teens!

  2. Kelly,
    I will be praying for you at our Sig Liv Family tomorrow morning.

    love and blessings to you and Gary,

    George

    • Thanks George, we feel your love and prayer support. Special requests are for the vehicle to clear customs and find us up here in the North, for continued strength, and for The Holy Spirit to lead us in imparting the truth in a highly “digestible” way. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Send our greetings to our whole church family there.
      Kelly

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