Week two has been another great one for Team Ghana. We got into the sports camp portion of our ministry this week by putting on a two-day basketball camp, two-day volleyball camp and a final day knockout tournament. As a college basketball manager and a high school volleyball player I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the Rafiki children about two awesome sports that have been a huge part of my life. It was great to see all the kids' positive attitudes and willingness to learn throughout the week. As part of the camp, each morning we went through a short devotion covering topics such as prayer before competition, hard work, attitude, teamwork and losing with dignity---all from a biblical perspective. The devotion portion of the camp impressed us all because of how knowledgable the kids already were on the various bible stories and lessons. They taught me a thing or two because they were so specific with their explanations!
Another very neat part of the week was getting to travel outside of the village with some of the kids (and young adults) of Rafiki to see them play a neighboring village in a soccer match. It was a long afternoon because it was an old-fashioned doubleheader with the younger kids playing first followed by a match between the high school-aged kids. It was a wonderful cultural experience to see the kids elegantly play the sport they all adore. It was also impressive to see how the conditions did not bother the kids one bit, they were just thrilled to glorify God through the game of soccer. First off, the field was all dirt with many divots and holes and secondly, it was not abnormal for a wild goat or chicken to scurry across the field while the match was going on. The younger Rafiki kids were missing some of their more experienced players so they lost to the team from the opposing village but the older Rafki kids won a great match 4-1--they claim they have yet to lose a match in two years. Soccer is these kids life so win and lose, everybody was all smiles afterwards because they spent an afternoon doing what they love. Also of note is that Brittany and I got to showcase our managerial skills by handing out water to the Rafiki team at halftime and after the game! How cool is that for a Managers on a Mission trip?!
On Saturday, our team had the privilege of journeying outside the village towards the coast and touring the Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana. To hear of and visit the various areas of the castle and learn of the treatment of the Ghanaians many years ago during the slave trade was both sobering and disheartening. One of the toughest and most confusing parts of the visit was visiting the church inside the castle where the workers (this specific castle was controlled by the Dutch and Portuguese) worshipped our Lord and Savior while many men and women were held captive just a few floors below and the workers thought their actions to be just. "How could they believe in the same God we do but do such heinous acts?" was running through my head and I am sure the head of many others. While processing all of this, I used the inspiration of the Rafiki children singing beautiful hymnals every day and kept thinking of the hymn, "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love". With this hymn and its poetic prose in mind, I, as anyone could, began to realize that loving others as Christ loved us is the one of the most important ways to live and profess our faith as Christians. This is also specifically relevant to Team Ghana because as a MOAM group, we have been going through the book of Philippians on this trip as our bible study. Philippians 2:5 reiterates this very point, "Make your own attitude that of Jesus Christ." The castle workers did not do this but we can learn from the past and do what the bible says in Philippians 2:5 on this MOAM trip and for the rest of our lives.
Relating this to what we have done and yet to do with Rafiki, the most important and valuable thing is to simply love the children and missionaries of Rafiki the same unconditional and endless ways God loves us. As orphans, love is something the children seek and yearn for everyday. They will not know we are Christians JUST by the amount of basketballs we leave, clothes we give or times we play with them but rather by doing all the aforementioned things WITH a Christ-like love. It is one of the simplest things we as Christians are charged to do but one that I and others struggle to do. We get caught up and distracted by so many other things that we forget to love one another or at least love one another the way our Father ALWAYS loves us.
-Joseph Kuykendall, James Madison University
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To God Be The Glory!
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