Dan and Susan Steere - March 2021
The opposition of the entire world cannot frustrate the plans of God. But from our perspective, it can certainly appear that circumstances are conspiring to limit the work of God. In these times, we need to wait, pray, and trust that God’s agenda is moving forward – even if we cannot see it happening.
Christ's Kingdom Continues to Advance
I preached recently from Acts 4:27-28: “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” The opposition of the entire world cannot frustrate the plans of God! As I said in the sermon, “Matters are not out of his control: whether medically, socially, or politically.” But from our perspective, it can certainly appear that circumstances are conspiring to limit the work of God. In these times, we need to wait, pray, and trust that God’s agenda is moving forward – even if we cannot see it happening.
Thankfully, in my position as the Missions Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian, I receive almost daily reports about the advance of Christ’s Kingdom around the world despite, and sometimes because of, this pandemic. In particular, technology is aiding the spread of the gospel and of Biblical training. So, even as I wait to return to Ghana, I feel as if I have been afforded a ringside seat on God’s unstoppable agenda.
This perspective has been helpful for us as we wait, pray, and trust. Sadly, the potential April/May trip I wrote about in our last update has been pushed back to September because of circumstances both here in the US and in Ghana.
There is still a great deal of uncertainty here in the US about what restrictions the government will place on international travel. In addition to increased requirements for COVID testing, we are almost certainly going to need to receive the vaccine before traveling (or at least to reenter the US). Delta Airlines will soon be selling COVID self-testing kits that can be used before and after travel. However, it is unknown at this time whether these kits will be accepted by other countries like Ghana.
Ghana is holding the fort against COVID but is still severely limiting the entry of travelers from overseas. The CDC website still says, “Travelers should avoid all travel to Ghana.” The big concern for travel to Ghana is the prevalence of the highly-infectious South African variant of COVID as well as the unknown timeline of when vaccines will be made available in country.
Sam Oppong is doing well, even though several in his family have contracted the disease. We praise God that all have recovered. In addition, Sam just informed me in the past few days that Ebola has returned to West Africa. An outbreak has been identified in Guinea and Ghanaian authorities are making plans for mitigation if it should be found in-country.
During this travel hiatus, many ELI staffers have turned to virtual instruction as a stopgap and as a way of expanding outreach. We have discussed this possibility with Sam and with others. But there seems to be little interest in virtual instruction in Ghana. It is true that the internet coverage is spotty and several of the groups we work with have no access at this point. However, I suspect that the lack of interest has a great deal to do with the Ghanaian emphasis on relationships. This is true in many cultures, but in Ghana it is particularly strong. I remember that when I first started traveling to Ghana over 15 years ago, I was held at arm’s length by many of my Ghanaian brethren. However, once they knew me better and were convinced I was committed to a long-term ministry there, they warmed up and doors began to open.
So, I have accepted that any instruction I do will either need to wait until I can return in person or will take place through written materials. At Sam’s insistence I am continuing my writing, working now on Lessons from the Life of David as material for conferences. For his part, Sam will be seeking to expand the use of the new curriculum printed by the Ghana Curriculum Partnership. He plans to meet with denominational leaders around the country to introduce them to the materials. We hope that many will see the value of using these manuals for training their pastors and leaders.
An interesting side note to the GCP story is that Leadership International – ELI’s partner in the Ghana endeavor – is now planning to translate the materials into Spanish for use with their leadership partners in Cuba! Just one more evidence of the advance of God’s agenda - one never knows where He will lead!
Thank you for your faithful prayers for us! Thanks also to those of you who continue to send financial support. By God’s grace, our support level has held up during this protracted crisis, enabling us to continue the work and also to send our Ghanaian brethren regular financial assistance. All glory to God!
For Christ’s Kingdom,
Dan and Susan Steere
Equipping Leaders International