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Dear <<First Name>>,
There is an old joke in Ghana:
Q: “How do you know Jesus was Ghanaian?” 
A: When he died, the last thing he said was “It is finished.”   (Luke 19:30)
 
Its not very funny until you try to order off a menu in Ghana.  Understand menus in Ghana are highly aspirational. Just because something appears on a menu doesn’t mean it has ever been produced in that kitchen, it is more aspirational.  Order one of those items, or really anything outside of chicken and rice, and the response is likely: “It is finished.”  It is an amateur mistake, ordering before you have asked “What do you have today?”
 
In the local language, finished is roughly translated as complete, but with the urgency of depleted.  It is larger than the personification of food, it is as if the menu item has completed its purpose, its mission, and that is why it can't be ordered tonight.  It is finished.  It does make me wonder if they actually had it, but it had finished its usefulness (the reason why I wonder will become apparent).
 
For some time now Suzanne and I have felt like we were finished, as in our work here at the University is finished, Ghanaian Finished.   Complete.   It is not as if there was no more work for us to do, it is just not work Ghana or the University needs us to do.  We are finished.
 
It was Lao Tzu who wrote (in 500 BC)

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. 
Start with what they know. Build with what they have. 
But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, 
the people will say 'We have done this ourselves.”

which echoes what I've been teaching about in Leadership: "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care about who gets the credit." 

We feel like our work is done, our tasks have been accomplished. So we will be leaving our adopted homeland of Ghana at the end of June.  It is both an exciting and sad time full of dreams about what could be, and saying goodbye to what is, or has been.  

Thanks for your prayers, love and support these past five years.  It has meant the world to us and made this mission possible.  While we know our work in Ghana is finished, we are not sure our Cross-Cultural Ministry work is.  So may we ask of you one more favor?  Please continue with us until we know (as they say here) what is next coming.  We will keep you informed.  Thanks. 
 
In this edition of PrayerMatters Suzanne writes about Ashesi's Charter, and our process of transition in the Gracious Uncertainty of what comes next (that is after we become grandparents in July!).  Steve shares a Pentecost Story of a conversation he had with a Muslim student. 

Peace,
Steve & Suzanne

Ashesi University Receives Presidental Charter

Well, it finally happened. Ashesi University College is now Ashesi University! This means that Ashesi can: certify its own graduates; issue its own degrees; manage its own quality assurance, external assessment, and moderation of examinations; and generally be a self-sufficient university! Ashesi will still need to undergo an institutional audit every 5 years, and re-accredit all of its programs every 3 to 5 years, so Ashesi will still be accountable to regulatory authorities. But, Ashesi is no longer accountable to peer, public institutions who have different academic regulations and policies, and different computerized systems not always seamlessly compatible with Ashesi’s. This will ease the management of the academic program considerably. The President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, will officially present the Presidential Charter at Ashesi’s graduation on June 23. It will be an exciting day of transitions all around!
(photo credit Ashesi website)
See the actual charter letter: [letter]

Gracious Uncertainty


Two songs have been my companions lately: (feel free to click on them to play while you're reading my thoughts...)
  • No Longer Slaves, by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser. The chorus is: “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”. This was a song I first heard last fall but had lately come to be realized in my life. 
  • I Know Who I Am, by Sinach (click to get the flavor of this fun song out of Nigeria)
I was speaking with one of the lovely folks who care about us at TMS-Global recently, musing how I might be a bit, shall we say, unraveled at not knowing what is next for us. We will leave Ghana on June 24, and since we are transitioning TMS-Global allows us 6 months of discernment (and rest and recovery) to discover and prepare for what is next. Instead of being unhappy (read: freaked out), I am surprisingly leaning into the joy and even the thrill of the unknown. A year from now we could, literally, be anywhere in the world.

Our time in Ghana and at Ashesi has been very fruitful by a lot of measures. As I am pulling back and getting a bit more perspective on our time at Ashesi, I realize that God calls us to both do (be the hands and feet of Christ) and be (be Christ for those we serve). At Ashesi, I (Suzanne) have been doing more than being, whereas Steve, true to form for those who know him has been being more than doing. I don’t think this is necessarily out of line with what God had in mind for us at Ashesi, since I came to be Associate Provost with a possible path laid before me to become Provost, which is what happened. Being Provost of a university is naturally a doing vocation. We weren’t sure what Steve would do at Ashesi, but again, those of you who know Steve knew very well that he would find good work to do. At one point we thought he might be the pastor of a church in Accra, but we and others prayed about it and that, it seemed, was not what God had in store for him. Instead, Steve taught Leadership at Ashesi (definitely a good work to do) but also spent a lot of time being: being a mentor, Dad, and friend to students who needed one or more of those roles filled.

The small inkling I am getting so far about what God has for us next is that perhaps we’ll re-balance the doing and being. In the meantime, I am happy to have some time to discern and get back to a better balance of being, which is sorely needed.



In a recent Agape House (Accra) sermon, Pastor Whitcomb talked about three requirements to discover our God-aligned destiny
  1. Vision
  2. Preparation
  3. Determination
What I know going into these next 8 months or so (2 months to finish at Ashesi, and 6 months for discernment and transitioning) are that: we are seeking God’s vision for this next stage of our lives, we are planning for and starting the preparation we believe we should be doing, and we are determined to seek God’s will and live into it.

Gracious Uncertainty, according to a recent My Utmost for His Highest devotion based on 1 John 3:2: “…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be… “ states that:
Our natural inclination is to be so precise– trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next– that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, ‘Well, what if I were in that circumstance?’ We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.
 


He goes on to say,
To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God– it is only believing our belief about Him (bold mine)… If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, ‘…believe also in Me’ (John 14:1), not, ‘Believe certain things about Me’. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in– but you can be certain that He will come.



In truth, I have been sad… I have also had periods of self-righteousness and critical thoughts. But I believe that God is using all of this to prepare me for what is next, and is sowing in me a spirit of “gracious uncertainty”.

I pray that you will continue to join us in the journey, as we discover what God has in store next for us.
Thank you for your prayers and support,
Suzanne

Teach us to know the Father, Son, and Thee

a story of the Trinity for Pentecost. 
"You call her Dr. Buchele," I say, and he agrees. "When we're in a faculty meaning that is how I address her too, but if I'm talking to our children, I call her 'Mom". 

I'm talking with one of our Muslim students, after being asked about why Christians worship three gods.   "It is not so much different gods," I say, "but different aspects of our relationship with God."  I can almost feel my theology professor, Dr. Rigby, cringe as I'm saying this.  

I continue, if we're alone, I'll say, "Sue," or 
dar-ling (with a bit of Texas twang) but I wouldn't call her "Dr. Buchele" if I was talking to our kids, or "Darling" when she is wearing her Provost hat in a Faculty Meeting.  And that is how I see the Trinity, I say.  She is the same person, Dr. Buchele, Mom, or Sue, but in each case, the needs of our relationship is different. 

In the ninth century, Benedictine monk and theologian, Rabanus Maurus, wrote:
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but one,
that through the ages all along
this may be our endless song
I love this idea of God's Holy Spirit as the Trinity being an endless song, a soundtrack to our lives I explain.  When I need a friend, my prayers begin "Lord Jesus...", but if its strength or wisdom, I begin "Father," or "Eternal God".  When I've lost something, or need immediate assistance, or insight into the situation I'll pray (desperately) "Holy Spirit...".

As I'm explaining this I can almost see him on the light, as they say here in Ghana (AKA a lightbulb moment), when this Muslim student begins to understand the Trinity. While I would like to take credit for my oh so clever explanation, we all know it was God's Holy Spirit poured so long ago that povides. .

Prayer: Eternal God, we thank you for moments you reveal yourself to us in the questions of others.  Amen.
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Supporting Steve & Suzanne

Learn - visit ServingInGhana.org, and learn more about our mission. 
Give - pledge your monthly support through TMS-Global
Pray – join our prayer team [click here].
Connect - send us an email Steve or Suzanne.
 

About Our Mission to Ghana

Suzanne and Steve live on the Ashesi University Campus in Berekuso, Eastern Region, Ghana.  Suzanne serves as the Provost and Steve teaches Leadership and tends to the spiritual needs of the campus community. 

The goal of Ashesi University is to educate African leaders of exceptional integrity and professional ability and to do this in an African context.  Ashesi’s mission is to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others, and courage it will take to transform Africa.  By raising the bar for higher education in Ghana, Ashesi aims to make a significant contribution towards an African Renaissance.  

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