Ghana Journey: Off-Road Perspectives

The map told me that Donkorkrom was about 150 miles from Ghana’s capital, Accra, so I figured it would only take about three hours to get there. A pounding rainstorm, a power outage, a ferry ride, and about 20,000 potholes later—over six hours of travel time, not counting meals and a night in a hotel—we arrived in this town in the center of the Afram Plains.

ghana 9183We checked into the only hotel in town—seven rooms, each with a scenic view of a few mud-brick homes and roaming goats—and then ate at the only restaurant in town. For the next few days, we would enjoy the fellowship of about 75 pastors and church leaders who had come from miles around for training.

This area was pleasant enough for us visitors, but pastors assigned by their denominations to the Afram Plains often consider it punishment, and government workers assigned there often commute six hours to their offices on Mondays and return to their homes on Fridays. Living there can be difficult. Many Ghanaians don’t venture in.

We did, and I’m glad. These church leaders have a generous spirit and tremendous work ethic. Some moved there sometime in the last decade before the area got electricity, and they did so willingly. One pastor of 12 churches makes his rounds by motorcycle, preaching at three or four each Sunday. One teacher converted from Islam only three years ago and was disowned by her father, but she exudes joy and serves faithfully. One pastor in a remote area took us to his church—no walls, just a thatch roof on four posts—and we witnessed his flock worshiping enthusiastically. These people are a profound rebuttal to American ease.ghana 9233

Travel has a way of shifting your perspective. Hearing about a woman carrying water on her head for three miles has never kept me from complaining about my workload, but seeing her do it just might. Meeting people who consider vacation to be a foreign concept might make my longing for one a little less intense. And remembering daily power outages in a small town in Ghana might make the next one in Atlanta a little more bearable. I don’t know for sure; these effects could be temporary. But having these experiences somewhere in my soul can’t hurt. They make the discrepancies of this world more personal.

That’s always a good thing. “Personal” makes the lessons of life more powerful. I already had respect for people who work so hard at daily life, but that respect has grown. I already appreciated faithfulness, but above-and-beyond faithfulness is inspiring. These experiences always expand the heart. And whenever I travel for these events, I always walk away with the same impression: leaders who gather for training leave me with some training of their own.

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©2013-present by chris tiegreen