Ghana mission trip enriches First Dixon
DIXON—A mission trip to Africa is an adventure that can change your life. On Dec. 27, 2007, 10 Missourians left for Ghana on a mission trip sponsored by First Baptist Church, Dixon, and lives were most certainly changed.
After almost two days in transit through Chicago, London, and finally Accra, Ghana, the mission team was in the country. For most, this would be their first real mission trip, their first trip out of the States, and perhaps their first time on an airplane. So the group was happy to be planted on solid ground for a few days.
The mission was simple—train the leaders of Seed Ministry Bible Clubs to use a multi-colored soccer ball to share their faith with children and tourists coming to see the African Cup of Nations Soccer Tournament to be played in Ghana.
The team worked with Seed Ministry, located in the northern region of Ghana near the city of Tamale. Seed Ministry was started by a Southern Baptist pastor and his wife, Bob and Bonnie Parker, who went on a short-term mission trip to Ghana in 2000. While they were there, the Lord broke their hearts for the people of Ghana, especially the children. That year they decided to pack up and move to Ghana. Their ministry started in 2001 with one children’s Bible club in the yard of the home they rented in Tamale.
Today the ministry has seen the blessing of the Lord. From one club they quickly grew, and today they have over 100 Bible clubs in more than 50 villages all over Ghana. The ministry still focuses mainly on children, but they are also very involved in church planting and training pastors and leaders to share the Gospel. While the southern part of Ghana claims to be Christian, the northern region is still almost totally Muslim.
Since 2003, they have been working out of their current ministry compound. They do work with mission teams on a regular basis, and it was important to the Parkers that the teams feel welcome and comfortable while they are there. Their guest quarters will house up to 12 people comfortably. They also have a large education center where they train pastors and Bible club leaders. The grounds are beautifully maintained, which lends to an atmosphere where guests feel very safe.
First Dixon’s mission team was honored to join with Nixa Pastor Gary Longenecker and his ministry, Kingdom Sports, which donated 1,000 soccer balls for the group to use. The balls were shipped to Ghana but were tied up in customs, so at the last minute the mission team had to adapt. Every member had to condense his luggage so that each person could also take a suitcase full of deflated soccer balls. This amounted to nearly 250 balls.
Over the next few days, the mission team was in 19 villages. Many of the villages were very remote, requiring nearly an hour’s journey into the most untouched parts of Ghana. Most of the villages lacked running water or electricity. The scene was right out of a Discovery Channel program. The people of northern Ghana lived in small, mud huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors. They did not have bathrooms or kitchens.
Most of the time in the villages was spent training local Bible club leaders how to use the soccer balls to share the Gospel. Many natives had never seen a white person, or Sangurea. In many of the villages, hundreds of people flocked to see the First Dixon group. They sat and listened intently to every word that was spoken. At the end of every presentation, there was an opportunity for them to respond. Perhaps as many as 300 to 400 people made professions of faith.
There were several church/worship services in villages. Some featured full acoustic drum bands with lively worship and dancing. Others had two wooden blocks beating in rhythm while worshipers praised in their native language. The First Dixon group was amazed. In a country where they truly have nothing materialistic, they give everything they have to God in praise and worship.
On New Year’s Eve, the group traveled to five villages, and it was getting dark. As night fell, the group wandered into the middle of a very remote Muslim village. In the pitch black the Missourians huddled together preparing to do an evangelistic crusade. Part of the team had already been presented to the tribal chief, a Muslim. He was allowing us to hold the crusade right in his own courtyard. The natives would lead the worship time, but members of the First Dixon team would share in song, testimony, and the pastor would be preaching.
He gave a simple message right from the Word. He challenged the villagers, “Who do you say I am?”
For more information or to see pictures the trip to Tamale, Ghana, visit www.DixonFBC.com and look for Ghana under ministries or pictures. The Parkers are available to plan mission trips to Ghana. Their information is on their website www.SeedMinistry.com.