NNU values relationships—relationships fostered through community that run deep enough to cross oceans. Dr. Joe Gorman, NNU professor of pastoral theology, and Frank Mills, a district superintendent of the Nazarene Church in Ghana, Africa, have been friends for years encouraging and supporting one another through ministry. “He is a dear brother,” Gorman explains, “and I’m always amazed at his love for Christ and devotion to ‘the least of these’ in rural northeastern Ghana.”
This friendship has led to a broader relationship between NNU and the North Ghana District of the Church of the Nazarene and the many unique ministries happening in that area. Whether through annual mission trips or fundraising initiatives here on campus, several NNU students have experienced the fruits of this friendship.
This summer, from May 12 to June 4, NNU students Danny Atkins (Kirkland, Wash.), Kameryn Brock (Springfield, Ore.), Halie Carley (Deer Lodge, Mont.), Danielle Miller (Meridian, Idaho), Lindee Triplett (Lewiston, Idaho) and Bailey Voss (Middleton, Idaho) learned how to participate in the ministry of presence as they traveled with Gorman to Ghana. Their activities consisted of participating in painting the Annie Gorman Clinic in Namankwan, Ghana, playing games with kids, painting faces, painting nails, spending time with the “Girls Who Love Jesus Club” (a club made up of girls who support and encourage one another in their mutual goal to further their education and create an independent life for themselves) and building relationships.
Language barriers were not a problem for the team, as Lindee explains: “I did not expect to connect with so many people. Although the language barrier made it difficult at first, there were so many girls that I was able to connect with.” The team was able to find ways to build relationships without needing to talk. “We were at one of the schools, and none of the children were able to speak English,” Lindee shares, “so Danny decided to crawl around like a monkey. The kids thought he was so funny.”
One of the biggest lessons the team learned while in Ghana and participating in the ministry of presence was to let go of their time-oriented expectations, just as Danielle explains. “While Americans are very task-oriented, Ghanaians appreciate just being around each other. I ended up loving the freedom that came with not being ruled by time.”
Letting go of a time-oriented mindset allows the opportunity for conversations and building relationships. Gorman shares about a conversation he was able to have with one of the girls from northeastern Ghana who is now attending nursing school. “Sumprecia is a straight ‘A’ student and is a very strong businesswoman. Four years ago she received a pair of pigs (from Compassion for Africa, Gorman’s nonprofit organization), grew her herd, saved the money and then invested some of the pig business money into a shop where she sells various small items. I’m praying that Sumprecia will be able to continue on in her schooling after her RN degree to become a physician’s assistant. A PA in rural Ghana is able to do just about everything a MD would/could do in the U.S.”
The relationship that NNU has with Ghana is changing lives not only in Ghana but in the students that are blessed to go and experience life in this African country. “I loved being able to see God working in the lives of our team members as they met local people, played with kids, encountered new experiences and fell in love with the country and people of Ghana. This is a relationship that will continue to deepen as the years go on,” Gorman shared.