It was an unexpectedly long summer of changing plans. The plan was for Steve to attend two conferences abroad and then meet up with Suzanne in Japan for their 30th Anniversary and see their daughter Grace and her husband Ryosuke. A few days before arriving in Japan, they learned Suzanne’s mother had probable cancer, and news came in while they were n Japan that is was stage four pancreatic cancer. So they cut short the holiday, postponed their anniversary and flew back Texas to be with Suzanne’s mother. Then Steve’s 96-year-old father fell and cracked his hip socket ball. While Suzanne left to get the fall semester started at Ashesi, Steve stayed in Texas to help care for Suzanne’s mother, get some newly discovered skin cancer removed, and briefly see his dad and sister.
Painting on a wall near the market in Lawra (Photo: Steve Buchele)
“Do you think you are under spiritual attack?” someone asked, and I remember saying, “no, sometimes bad things happen to people.” Then the water heater in our Ashesi bungalow burst, while Suzanne was in back Ghana. The University replaced it, but in the process created a new “water feature” (leak) in the attic. Dampness grew into mold unnoticed in the attic of an unoccupied house. Things are already pretty damp here--it is rainy season—but when we found black mold growing on our bathroom ceiling the night we got back, we knew something was terribly wrong. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize the water leak and mold had also spread to our bedroom walls and wardrobe until both of us began to feel sick a day or two later. The University came to the rescue again, but it took two weeks of almost constant attention to address the root cause of the problem, and as I write this, I can say I believe it the problem is fixed, but we we have haadIf you asked me today about spiritual warfare, I’m pretty sure my answer would be different. People make one of two mistakes with spiritual warfare, either imagining it everywhere or not taking it seriously. I hope for a more balanced approach. There is one one other time I have felt this discouraged since moving back to Ghana in 2014, and that was when we both had back issues, mine a serious
to stay off campus until the cleanup, re-plastering, and re-painting is complete.. neckinjuriy, from the very bad road. We were walking on that road through the village one Saturday morning when the thought, “You might not make it here” appeared in my brain out of nowhere. My neck and Suzanne's back are better these days, as is the road, but last week a similar thought appeared in my brain as I kept smelling the mold, and saw how sick it was making Suzanne.
Then Steve injured his lower back when he packing up our belongings so Ashesi could clean and repair the bungalow.
Then Suzanne got a sudden onset of a bacterial infection and spent a day in our favorite clinic.
If the point of Spiritual Warfare is to threaten the good we are doing here, then yes, I believe we are under attack, for we are in the midst of a credible threat to our long term viability here, a threat that could compromise our ability to work and thrive in Ghana.
This is all our stuff, taken out of the bungalow so they could clean it deeply.
Bungalow: Moses warned of a house desecrated by mold in Leviticus 14, calling it a defiled place to live and prescribed drastic measures. The house shall be emptied and scrubbed down, which is precisely what Ashesi cleaning crews are doing above. You can see all our possessions outside in the sunshine, while the inside is being deeply cleaned. The water "feature" has been eliminated.
Steve's Dad - is back home and walking unassisted.
Suzanne's Mom - continues to have a steady supply of friends and family come stay and help take care of her. She has good days and not so good days.
Steve's back - still needs prayers.
Suzanne's health - is returning to normal.
In this edition of PrayerMatters
Steve writes about the Muslim holiday Eid, and how an opportunity opened up for us to show the love of Jesus to our brothers and sisters of Islam and help them do something they could not do for themselves in Helping to Celebrate Eid Al Adha.
Then Steve wonders if we have gone about our mission here all wrong. As Americans, self-sufficiency is an admired trait, but what if the act of needing help opens up new pathways to the gospel? Read about his experience in New Tools: Accepting Help and Borrowing Money.
Rituals adapt to their context and being so far and few from home, our Ashesi Muslim students come together from their different traditions to create a truly multicultural Eid. It is like a Muslim Christmas and Thanksgiving all wrapped into one.
Sometimes I wonder if Suzanne and I have gone about this all wrong. In not wanting to be a burden to the people we came to serve I think we miss God-given opportunities to connect with people by being vulnerable.
Suzanne and Steve live on the Ashesi University Campus in Berekuso, Eastern Region, Ghana. Suzanne serves as the Provost and Steve teaches leadership and mentors and coaches a number of Ashesi students.
Ashesi University College’s goal is to educate African leaders of exceptional integrity and professional ability, and to do this in an African context. As you may know, young Africans, when they come to the States to study, often do not return home, a problem known as the "brain drain". Ashesi’s mission is to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within their students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others, and the 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.