Friday, February 6, 2009
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Meanwhile, I encourage you to visit my permanent blog site: www.TransformedDaily.com. You can sign-up for an RSS feed or an email subscription.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Last night (Wednesday), we stayed in Accra at a hotel across the street from the airport. We left for the airport at 6AM and proceeded to go through approximately six lines of security before finally reaching our seats on the plane. We are currently (Thursday) in the air somewhere over the atlantic ocean at about 35,000 feet. As soon as we boarded the plane, I felt America.
We will land in New York in about 5 hours, proceed to Salt Lake City, and then finally reach Phoenix. We will be arriving close to lunchtime and plan on heading over to one of our favorite restaurants that serves pizza and other food we love and, at the current time, crave.
God blessed us with an incredible African experience. We will be forever changed and will never forget it. Our faith has grown, our hearts have softened, our understanding of the world has expanded, and our love for our Savior, Jesus Christ, is off the charts. May we never loose what we have gained and may we live it out in America too.
We are excited to see what God has in store for us next. He is always doing a new thing.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. - Isaiah 43:18-19
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Before I continue, let me tell you how and where the village has been getting their water. The village of Afife has no running water. Therefore, they must fetch there water from nearby marshes and ponds. The typical manner in which they fetch the water is using one large metal bucket at a time which they carry on their head back to their home. The filled buckets probably weigh 30 pounds and the distance they carry them can be as great as 1.5 miles. By the way, the water is not pure and is quite salty. Believe me, you would not want to drink it.
This new water distribution system not only delivers water to 18 strategically located spickets (fountains), but it also delivers much cleaner water which is pumped from three bore holes and stored in two water towers. The new system is a life-changer for the whole village. So, it is no surprise that people were lined-up and joyfully filling their buckets when this new system was turned on.
The dedication ceremony was held at the church while the ribbon cutting occurred at the water towers and two of the distribution locations. The whole village was buzzing and the church was packed. I had the privilege of preaching that morning.
The ceremony was attended by several village chiefs, representatives from the village council, and area pastors. All of the speakers honored Pastor Emmanuel and spoke very highly of his commitment to helping this village and the work that he is dong in the surroundings communities. The Italian contractor who installed the system, spoke very candidly and declared that it was Pastor Emmanuel's commitment and dedication to this project that caused it to finally succeed after overcoming many obstacles and roadblocks presented by local politicians. At one point, Emmanuel's life was actually threatened. The politics in Africa can be quite intense and spiritual warfare is definitely real, but we are called to be strong and courageous. Also highly honored were the Colangelo's, who's selfless gift made it all possible.
However, the ultimate praise was given to God. There was no beating around the bush. God's name was lifted up and He was given the glory for this gift. Songs of praise were sung throughout the ceremony. The gospel was preached. God was glorified. Additionally, the whole event was discussed and praised for 3-hours on a local radio station.
What a blessing to witness the work of God's mighty hand. His hand of comfort and provision. How magnificent it is to see the Body of Christ being used to quench both the spiritual and the physical thirst of man.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Life in Africa
We left Arizona on the 17th of November; our first plane left from Phoenix to New york city, (that was the easy part of the trip). They had touch pads in the plane and we played 20 Questions almost the whole plane ride! When we got to the JFK airport we had our last real american meal. We watched part of a movie in the airport while we had our layover, then we got on the airplane. When we got on the airplane Ben and Faith made a little friend; they talked until we took off. After we took off we tried to go too sleep. For the first 2 and a half hours, everybody could sleep except for me. One of the reasons why I couldn't sleep was that the little kid that Ben and Faith made friends with was asking me questions. I couldn't even understand what he was saying. We watched cartoons about 3 hours into the trip then Dad said, "no more"! After we watched cartoons we tried to go to sleep and I actually did! Two hours later, I woke up and walked around on the plane. I played a game after I walked around; and when the sun came up I ate some breakfast and enjoyed the descent. 15 minuets before we were going to land Ben was freaking out because his ears were hurting (that was one of the longest 15 minuets of my life). When we landed we got our carry-ons and walked out of the plane and realized that we are in Africa!
Life in Africa
When we got off the plane we hopped into two four wheel drive vehicles and drove to the bank to exchange American dollars for Ghana cedis. After we went to the bank we went to the mall and had a chicken sandwich (one of the best chicken sandwiches i've ever had). When we finished eating we shopped for food to last us for a couple weeks until we have to go to Accra again. When we were driving to where we would call home for the next month, I slept almost the whole way, and when we got to the compound I looked for the nearest bed and sacked it until dinner. Dinner was good. It was breaded pieces of chicken and mexicanish rice. After dinner I slept a refreshing sleep.
Life in Africa
The place that we are living is a four bedroom two bath house that is really two apartments opened up in the middle. The house has no running water; that means that people have to fetch water from the "well". The bedrooms are about normal in size and they have a built-in dresser in the wall. Grant and I sleep on one side of the house while Mom, Dad, Faith, and Ben sleep on the other side of the house. the living rooms are L shaped with the table in one part of the L and a sitting area in the other part of the L. On the side of the L there is a door that leads to a kitchen. The other side of the house is a mirror of the the first side of the house.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Earlier in the day, I attended a Life Christian University class held here at the compound with several local pastors. The topic of study was "The Ministry of Helps." We got into some lively discussion. I was blessed when this group of Christian leaders prayed blessings over me and sang Happy Birthday to me.
Early that evening, I preached at Pastor Ken's church in Sasieme. It is a recent church plant located in a small village about 3Km from Efife. Pastor Ken is also the Headmaster of The King's Voice Academy - the Christian elementary school in this area. The congregation was very kind and eager to hear God's Word. I preached from the third chapter of the book of Joshua and discussed how God goes before us and He also stays with us.
Before the church service began, we took a short tour of the village. There was a funeral going on and we found ourselves driving right through the middle of the processional. It is very different in Ghana - the cars have the right of way and they simply honk and the pedestrians must get out of the way - even when they are part of a funeral processional. It was an odd experience. The other interesting aspect of the funeral was that it was a funeral for a young person (teenager) who was an idol worshipper. You can tell this from the colors and outfits worn by the mourners.
It was a good day filled with memorable moments. After all, it's not every day that you have a birthday on Africa.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The service began at about 9:00PM and lasted until 1:30AM. It started like many other gatherings with praise and worship followed by a powerful message from Pastor Emmanuel about the authority of God's Word. However, at 11:30 the focus shifted to a very interactive and intense time of corporate prayer for the nation of Ghana. This lasted about 45 minutes which took us into Sunday - the day of the elections.
At this time, worship erupted like I had never experienced before (and I have been in many worship services). The whole place was singing and dancing. It was unbelievable. There was no holding back. Full-on worship like no other. The Holy Spirit was present in a visible and powerful way. You could literally see the presence of the Holy Spirit.
But wait, it wasn't over yet. Just when you thought it was time to go home, Pastor Emmanuel called an older man to be brought forward that had been crippled for four years. Since 2004, he couldn't walk. He was lying on a mat at the back of the meeting. His legs had very clearly experienced significant atrophy - they looked like sticks. Pastor declared that he would walk tonight. Even at that declaration, the man who was being carried to the front, began to walk on his own. He walked about 12 feet down the center isle to the Pastor and stood before him. This man hadn't walked for 4 years! Pastor Emmanuel called me over as well as other prayer ministers and we prayed for this man. He then walked another 50 feet before sitting down because of exhaustion. Did you hear what I said? The lame man walked! "Get up, take your mat, and walk." - Mark 2:9
A healing service had broken out. Many were healed. I prayed for a woman who was limping because of an injured ankle. She was jumping around the sanctuary after prayer. We prayed for people with stomach pains, headaches, leg pain - they were healed. We prayed and prayed. I was exhausted.
"And these signs shall follow those who believe: in my name they will ... place their hands on the sick and they will get well." - Mark 16:17-18. Hallelujah! This is good news and it is alive and well.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
God directed me to the first chapter of Joshua where I preached about entering the promised land. The message was very well received and it was followed by a wonderful time of ministry. That morning, as God was giving me the word from the book of Joshua about taking the land, I didn't realize that the pastors name was Joshua and their church is in the middle of acquiring new land next to their existing land in order to expand their church and build a permanent structure. God is good!
I will be preaching there tonight and tomorrow morning. In Ghana, most churches will be meeting on Saturday this week instead of Sunday because the national elections, which are always December 7th., happen to fall on Sunday this year.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
We began the day by touring a slave fort from the 18th century. It was very difficult to be on location and hear of the atrocities that were done to the people of this land. We then headed west to a small local African beach resort called "Meet Me There". They paddled us across the lagoon to the beach. The boys loved the huge, crashing waves. They body surfed and played hard like boys. They enjoyed watching Dad get knocked down by the big waves. We also played a little catch with the football. One of the highlights for Ben and Faith was the little puppy that lives at the resort. They had great fun playing with it.
We enjoyed our day at the beach. It was refreshing and needed after two weeks here in Africa filled with ministry. On the way back, we popped-in on a pastor-friend of Emmanuel's. We had the opportunity to lay hands on him, anoint him with oil, and bless him and his ministry. It was a special, unexpected moment for that man of God. He was blessed.
Velvet and the kids are on there way to the school to join the students for Wednesday morning praise time and then help in the cafeteria. This school serves all of the children breakfast and lunch every day.
I will try to upload some pictures of recent activities later today.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Pastor Raymond Soga was a very kind and encouraging host. He and his wife have been pastoring in the village of Woe for 20 years. God is good and His mercies are new every morning.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I went for it. I boldly preached the gospel message and spoke directly to the difference between Jesus Christ and the dead god's they serve that are represented by idols and made by human hands out of mere dirt, wood, and stone. I really went for it because they need the true living God, the God of love, their Creator and the lover of their souls. I told them that unlike other gods, my God, Jesus Christ, desires blessing for them and not curses. In fact, He gave His very life so that we could be free from the curse.
Then I made the call for them to come to Jesus Christ, renounce their old ways, and live for Him and Him alone. Of the 250 people present (many of whom were members of the local church), there were 25 who made Jesus their Lord and Savior that night. It was a wonderful evening of celebration. Peoples lives were changed for all eternity.
Friday, November 28, 2008
You see, last night we left the compound at 5:30PM for the village of Woe (pronounced Way) where we participated in a Video Crusade. We got back to the compound very late: 10:45PM. However, the kids were wired because they were given a Coke for the road by our hosts.
- We travel to the village (Woe is about 40 Km away)
- We drop off a crew of 3 who sets up the video screen and equipment at the location that has already been prepared by the host church (an open field).
- Pastor Emmanuel then drives through the village with a loudspeakers on top of his vehicle and invites people to join us for a free movie and to hear about Jesus.
- The people start to arrive by foot. Last night about 200 people showed up.
- The movie is played and Pastor Emmanuel provides commentary in his native tongue.
- At key points during the movie, he will pause it and preach for about 5 minutes.
- At the end of the movie we deliver the gospel message and invite people to take the first step in becoming followers of Christ.
- After praying with them and blessing them, we ask them to follow the local pastor and his wife to their outdoor chapel where they invite them to church and begin getting them connected into the local body of believers for discipleship.
- It's a wonderful means of evangelism and outreach.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
When I found out that these special guests were politicians, I remembered that one of my dear friends that is on our prayer team was praying with me the week before we left and said that she felt the Lord revealed to her that Eric and I would meet some government officials while we were in Ghana. Well, Marilyn, you heard correctly! God is bringing His purposes to pass. We are thrilled to be able to join the people here in prayer for their upcoming elections and to pray over several of their officials, as well.
We stopped by the large market in Afloa and this is where the sites and smells intensified. Whoa! It was especially rough on Grant who has a sensitive nose. But, the cultural aspect of the market and the process of getting groceries was very intriguing.
Grant's favorite part of the short trip was the stop we made at the ocean. We walked across the huge beach down to the water and Grant went in about knee deep. He said the water was very warm. We are going to go for a day of swimming in about 1.5 weeks. That will be a nice break. By the way, we saw our first Yevu (white person) while we were in Afloa.
Last night was Bible Study night for the men and for the women at the church. Velvet spoke to the women about being a praying wife - especially praying for their husbands. The women love Velvet and appreciated her so much. I spoke to the men about being Christian leaders and great men of God. I used Titus 1 as our text.
Today we are scheduled to help with the choir and band practice. This is an area they are requesting much help. We are grateful that we can offer our years of experience in this area of ministry.
We are being kept very busy. We have only had one down night. Pray for God to continue doing His work. Pray that we will have eyes to see and ears to hear. We rejoice in our good health. Pray that we would stay healthy.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Pastor Emmanuel again asked that I deliver a word. God led me to teach from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke regarding Jesus and healing. What we discover in the Gospels is that Jesus was willing and able to heal. "I am willing" He said several times and we know that He was able as He healed many. When the teaching concluded, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to call out a specific need for healing. Three ladies came forward. They were healed and the meeting rejoiced.
We then moved into more singing and about 4 hours of prayer led by Pastor Emmanuel. One of the primary focuses of prayer was for the Nation of Ghana. The elections are going to be held on December 7th (we will be here) and the church is crying out for God's will to be done and for people of righteousness to be elected. I was asked to bring a word during this time and God was faithful to give one to me - Psalm 33.
Have I told you that these people pray some seriously aggressive prayers? They go after it. They pray with boldness and with power. You could never characterize these prayers as wimpy. They pray with faith, expectation, and authority.
During the meeting, a demon manifested in one young lady. It was a sight to see and hear. Pastor Emmanuel had her carried up to the front and then called me over. I was about to enter the unknown zone. I was leaving my hinderances behind. It was time to go to a whole new level. I looked back at Velvet and told her to pray for me. It was an intense 10 minutes of prayer. But, the young lady was delivered. The demon left. Yes, she did vomit. Like I said, it was intense. But, God is good. He is the King. His name is above all other names and at the name of Jesus demons must flee. The young lady was up on her feet later in the meeting speaking in tongues for the first time in her life.
Another special prayer was prayed over all of the students in the church. We laid hands on each one of them (about 40) and blessed them and spoke words of encouragement, blessing, and truth over them. We declared Psalm 119:99-100 over them. By the way, our children attended the whole night of prayer.
Today is Saturday and we have the day off from formal ministry. We will be at church tomorrow. In the meantime, we will enjoy fellowship with our hosts.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The good news - we have a toilet. The bad news - it is quite a different experience without running water and a capable septic system. I will let you figure out the rest.
The good news - we have a shower. The bad news - we don' t have running water. I assume I will get used to bucket baths and sponge baths.
We really try to conserve the water here. Not to drink (because it would make us extremely sick), but because people have to haul the water in large containers on their heads from a shallow well about 300 yards away. It makes you appreciate every bucket-full.
We have bugs, lizards, snakes, and bats in Arizona. However, they don't compare in size to what we have found here in Ghana.
I will share other differences as we experience them. In the meantime, enjoy the comforts of home and think of us the next time you take a warm shower or bath.
I must add that while the comforts of this world are a little lacking, the power of God is ever-present and His name is lifted up boldly among the followers of Christ in this nation.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Today allowed me to catch up on some needed sleep. I took a long nap - YES! The thick humidity has been a tough adjustment.
Tonight's service was wonderful. I was preparing to preach on the importance of being a disciple and discipling others. However, by mid-afternoon, The Holy Spirit was taking me a different direction. I ended up talking about the greatest commandment, "love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength .. and love others like you love yourself." It was the message for the evening. Even in our worship we began to go this direction of God's love for us and our love for Him. It was a powerful night like last night, but it was also very different.
Today was our first full day in Ghana, Africa. And it was a busy one. We attended and taught at the church's weekly Wednesday morning prayer meeting. It is a 3-hour meeting of praise, prayer, preaching, and personal ministry. This was a completely different kind of meeting than I am used to. It was also the first time I have preached with a translator. It was a little awkward as it crimped my style a bit, but God makes a way. It looks like I will be changing my style. Like Paul said, "To the Greeks..." I found that emphatically proclaiming the name of Jesus would just about always get me a big amen.
I was asked to also preach tonight at the 1st day of a 3-day revival. Pastor Emmanuel is going to be keeping me busy. I am relying on the Holy Spirit for guidance, material, and of course the Word. The Jones Band led a worship song. We brought an electric guitar, an amplifier, some new drum heads, and other musical equipment so that we could add to and repair the church's instruments. Velvet was asked to play a role in the service and had a wonderful prophetic word for a young lady in the meeting. By the way, "God is good, all the time...". It's universal.
I was presented with my first opportunity to graciously accept a malt beverage. They love their non-alcoholic malt drinks here. It was very interesting. I don't think I will be keeping these stocked in my refrigerator at home, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. While picking up the malt drink, I grabbed a case of Coca Cola's. I had one tonight after the Revival service. It was wonderful. A little taste of Americana. By the way, I would "love to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." There is nothing worse than bad harmony - ouch.
Tomorrow is supposed to be a little bit slower. We only have one church service to attend, lead worship, and preach at. However, Friday is the final revival service and it is planned to be an all-nighter.
Note: while I have some internet connection here at the compound, it is limited and very tough to download emails. If you email me, please try to keep it to text only (no pictures or attachments unless absolutely necessary). Blessings and peace to you.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I found out just how easy it is to make a friend. Today, while waiting at the gate in New York for my flight to Ghana, Africa, a man named Amaning approached me to say hi. He was on our flight from Phoenix to NY and was also flying to Ghana - his native country. He just wanted to say hi. We struck up a conversation and I found out he was traveling with his two brothers back to Ghana to attend their sister's funeral. About 45 minutes later, I walked across the room to again say hi to Amaning and also to meet his his brothers. The four of us talked for 30 minutes about life and about the Arizona Cardinals. I made some new friends today.
Amaning was so kind and it was a blessing to meet him. May the Lord reveal Himself to Amaning and his family during this time of loss. Please pray for Amaning and his family.
But, that was just the first experience at how easy it is to make friends. My son, Ben (age 5) met a young African boy on the airplane and immediately they hit it off. Ben simply referred to him as "Friend". It was beautiful. They spent time sitting next to each other and just being friends.
Why do we make relationships so difficult? In America we live such isolated and guarded lives. It is really sad.
Lord, please help me show care, compassion, and interest in others. As you have given us the privilege of calling you friend, may I show friendship to others.
Velvet and I woke up at 2AM this morning and noticed a light on in the hallway. It turns out that all 4 kids were up and dressed. They were pumped and ready for Ghana. They even made-up a little song about going to Ghana. It was very encouraging and touched our hearts.
I am writing this from JFK airport in New York. We have experienced traveling mercies and favor from the moment we arrived at the airport in Phoenix at 3:45AM. We just finished treating ourselves to a final American meal at Chili's here in the airport. I don't know about the rest of the family, but I really need some sleep on the flight from NY to Accra. We arrive at 8:30AM and are scheduled to hit the ground running with a busy schedule.
Thank you for your prayers.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
AS YOU TRAVEL, THE LORD OF HOSTS WHO JOURNEYED WITH THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WILL GO WITH YOU AND WILL CARRY YOU ALL ON HIS EAGLES WINGS, HE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH. NO HARM SHALL COME NEAR YOU. YOUR COMING IN IS BLESSED AND YOUR GOING OUT IS ALSO BLESSED. MAY YOU WALK UNDER DIVINE FAVOR AS YOU COME. I COMMAND ALL MOUNTAINS TO BE LEVEL BEFORE YOU. I DECREE THAT ONLY WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR ENTIRE MINISTRY SHALL COME TO PASS. IN JESUS NAME. SHOUT A BIG AMEN. GOD BLESS.
Just as Noah's family was actively involved in building the ark with Noah, so my family will be actively involved in ministry with me.God's plans are big and He has blessed me with a family that will be instrumental in accomplishing the Master's plan.
Monday, November 10, 2008
By the way, the chocolate desserts were also wonderful.
Here’s the story:
It happened the week of June 15th. I had dedicated this week to some serious prayer and fasting as I was aggressively seeking direction from God and crying out for a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit. That Tuesday, June 17th, a pastor from Ghana, Pastor Emmanuel, ended up in my family room where we had a time of fellowship, prayer, and powerful ministry. When he left, I found myself telling Velvet, “I really like that guy. There’s just something about him.”What it will take: We are responsible for paying for our own expenses which are estimated to be around $13,800. Most of that cost is in the airline tickets just to get there and back. As a family, we are making efforts to raise money by having a large garage sale (our kids are contributing toys) and we are planning fund raising dinners, too. It would be a wonderful blessing to have help with these expenses. If you feel led to participate with us in this exciting mission we would be most grateful. Your donations are tax deductible. You can give online at http://www.firstgiving.com/ericjandfamily.
Two days later, Velvet and I were at a large prayer event called Prayer Quake. Jackson Senyonga, from Uganda, was ministering after a wonderful time of worshipping God. In the middle of his message I clearly heard the Holy Spirit tell me that I needed to go to Africa and spend one month with Pastor Emmanuel. With excitement, I told my wife what God had told me as we drove home late that night. She was immediately on-board.
OK, here is where it gets even better. On Saturday morning we received a message from Pastor Emmanuel that he felt like I needed to spend one month with him in Africa. Velvet and I were blown away as we had not talked to anyone about this. God had given us unbelievable confirmation. God couldn’t be any clearer.
Thank you so much. We look forward to sharing all that God does while we minister to the people of Ghana. We are expecting God to do some exciting and significant things through us and in us. Please keep us in your prayers.
In awe of God,
Eric & Velvet