Before Nancy, my wife, and the rest of her team visited Naboli, a village in northern Ghana, in July 2009, the church there consisted of just a few people. However, that dramatically changed after the team explained to the women who are clustered just outside the village how much God cares for them. These women live there because it is a relatively safe place for them. They have been accused of being witches, been abused, and have fled from their homes and families. The people of Naboli allow them to live there kind of like refugees. Their part of town is know as the “witches camp.”
Nancy and the other women on her team reached out to these women. They told them that they are special to God. They listened to their stories and hugged them. This demonstration of God’s love caused these downcast women to brighten. Their mourning turned to dancing. Now the church is full as dozens of these women gather each week to worship God. They have found new life in Christ!
I visited the church several weeks ago with my traveling companion Frank Ide and our hosts from Christian Outreach Fellowship. We arrived after the service had begun and as we entered the school room we were overcome with joy as we joined with the mostly female congregation in song, dance, and instruction. About 50 worshipers had gathered and they were singing with gusto with two drums.
I was asked to deliver the message that morning. I talked about us being light to the world. I told them that they are a light to the nations because of what is happening to them and the concern that the world has for them. Their response to their circumstances is an example to people everywhere. I also challenged them to intentionally be a light in their region. Much darkness, much ignorance and suffering, remains. I asked them, “What can you do to be a light right here in this region?”
The offertory was most memorable part of the service. They placed a container about the size of a paint can on a stool in front. As they sang, the women danced their way to the front and, with humble bows, they deposited their small offerings. These women have almost no income. Actually, they have almost no income potential. It is unclear where they come up with the coins that they offer, but they give joyfully.
I was reminded of the story Jesus told in Luke 21:
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”