I WISH…

i wish
credit: Google images

A few days ago, I saw a picture of a girl and the caption under the picture was basically talking about how she (the girl in the picture) no longer engages when she goes to church because she has so many questions and no one at her church is willing to answer her truthfully. Since I saw the picture, I have been thinking about this lady I do not know from anywhere (I really wish I did though) and just wondering how she must be feeling.

I wish I knew her so that I could listen to her

Firstly, a lot of the problems we tend to have when it comes to helping people understand religion, the church and getting to know God is that we do not listen to them. We seem to forget that when someone wants to know more about God or Christianity- there must be a personal reason why and we need to allow them to speak.

As Christians, we often go straight ahead in bombarding people with so much information on what the bible says or how God is like and other information that will probably end up confusing some people even more depending on where they are in life.

Being able to take time and listen to someone who does not know God or who is unsure whether to turn to Him or not is very crucial to the decision the person will end up taking.

The church has a huge part to play

When i saw the picture of the lady- the next thing i wished for was that churches would actually make the effort to help their members understand the importance of knowing God through his word and not just attending church to please our pastors or other church leaders.

Nowadays- what i see is people attending church to glorify their pastors and other church leaders instead of God and his word. I see this a lot in African churches and it is very sad.

In the Bible, the disciples of Jesus had a mission to go and tell the whole world about God and make Him known all over the nations and for people to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Matthew 28:19-20 says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I do not recall Jesus telling His disciples to become greater whilst His name becomes something man would use to manipulate the poor in mind.

The church that this lady goes to must be doing something wrong if she has gotten to the point where she is no longer interested in God or church. Of course, it is up to individuals to make the effort and open up their hearts to know God. However, how can this lady do this when according to her no one at the church she attends is willing to answer her?

From personal experience, i know the church can sometimes shy away from questions that they do not think are important or to them sounds controversial. On the other hand, we are in a generation where these “controversial” questions need to be answered if we want people (especially young people) to experience the church as God through Jesus Christ intended.

Finally,  I wish as christians we would put our entire faith in God and not in anyone or nothing else. Like seriously, if we were all to put our whole faith in God and believe in the totality of His word- He would help us understand certain things and give us answers to questions we need answering through people that He would choose.

Lastly, to the lady who has zoned out at church and on God, I pray that you will have the energy to ask God to show himself to you during this time of uncertainty . Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” This is how great God is- what makes you think he wont answer your questions?

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Chapter 24.

Okay so in a few days I’ll be turning 24. Yes. Yes 24. I’m so close to 30 I feel like it’s sitting right beside me. Shout out to those who are between the ages of 25-29. Life has not been easy.

I just literally finished praying by asking God to inspire me to write something to glorify him and now I’m writing this.

The thing is I am just short of words because when I think about all that God has done in my life for the past 23 years.. I just never seem to understand why.

God has done so much for me that I know for a fact that He is God.

Above all the uncountable things God has done- there is one thing he did for me that I will NEVER ever forget it for the rest of my life here on earth and in heaven.

What is this thing God did? Answer: God saved my life. He saved my life by allowing me to come to the saving knowledge of his son Jesus Christ. The most incredible part about me being saved is that I will always remember when and why and how.  God is so merciful. If you are a Christian you will understand what I am saying because God’s goodness is out of this world.

Let me let you in on a little secret: the day I got saved.. I was dealing with high levels of insecurity and I was just living in a state of constant confusion. But one thing about me is that I was always able to put on a front and pretend that I am strong and I have it all figured out. Meanwhile I was literally wasting away inside and wishing someone would genuinely ask me what’s wrong and I could pour out everything to them and not feel like the worst sinner in the world.

The day I got saved.. a very good friend of mine invited me to a youth service I very much did not want to attend but she kept asking because God was calling me. During the youth service, The pastor said “if people do not like you because of your red headband why do you care? You are a child of God.” I was shocked because I was the only one wearing a red headband in the whole auditorium (I know this because nobody at my church would put a red bandana on their big Afro looking like a black panther member ready to fight for her human rights).

God spoke to me that day so clearly and He just said to me “come as you are” so when they did the alter call I went and rededicated my life to Christ. I rededicated  my life because I knew of God. I just wasn’t ready to be loved by him.  I didn’t instantly become perfect the day I gave my life to Christ.

Do you know what happened though?

I became a new creation and God started his perfect work in me.

In him I am made whole. In him I am made new. In him I live to listen, trust and obey because there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to listen, trust and obey.

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My prayer for chapter 24 of my life:

God thank you for not given up on me. Thank you for choosing me in this generation to live for you. Thank you that I have your spirit living in me and I am no longer a salve to sin and fear.

Thank you God that each and every day new temptations appear but I have overcome because all the victory belongs to you. Thank you for this new age and how you are going to use it to bring glory to your name!

I love you.

Your precious daughter of Zion (DoZ)

Anabel Afia Acheampong.

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Anita’s Column: Dreadlocks

ANDREW BODRA

In one of our youth meetings, we were discussing identity and somehow, we ended up discussing appearance in general and dreadlocks. Since that day, Anabel and I thought it would be something interesting to look in to.  Personally, I don’t see how having dreadlocks can hinder your worship or relationship with God but of course, I may be wrong.

Now, we all know that hair is a part of us that you can change.  Just a small change to your hair can make a huge difference to our appearance. This change can make you look unrecognisable or just simply enhance your appearance. However, from this same hair, you can make assumptions about an individual (I’m sure we’ve all done one way or another).

dreads
Image credit: Google images

The history of deadlocks is more fascinating than I anticipated.  According to history, deadlocks have been around since 2500 BC.  Hindu scriptures note that one of their gods called Shiva and his followers wore dread although, this style was first discovered on some Egyptian mummies who had the dreads still attached to their head by archaeologists (1). Ancient Romans, Vikings, Nazarites and many more also rocked this style (1). From this, we can see that dreadlocks are worn by various cultures and not just one.

Dreadlocks are commonly associated with Rastafarianism. Rastafarianism is a religion that started in the 1930s by Jamaicans (1). It all began when the emperor of Ethiopia, Ras Tafari (also known as Haile Selassie) vowed not to cut his hair whiles in exile which led to the formation of dreadlocks (1). His followers considered him to be ‘God’ and believed that he was the second coming of Jesus Christ (2). On top of this, dreadlocks are also usually associated with the use of marijuana which can influence people’s view of dreads. This could potentially lead to stigmatisation and fuels the preconception of dreadlocks furthermore.

dreadlock styles
Image credit: Google images

End of the history lesson.  Now, when you think about dreadlocks, who is the first person that pops into your head?  Let me guess. Was it Bob Marley? Am I right? Most of us probably think of him when we think about dreadlocks. Bob Marley was a well-known Rastafarian who made dreadlocks mainstream as well as Rastafarianism due to his reggae music (1). These days, dreadlocks are worn for various reasons. They can be worn as a fashion statement, for spiritual reasons, and for many other reasons.

Have you ever considered that the strongest man in history possibly could have had dreadlocks? Samson was a Nazarite who was not supposed to use a razor on his head as part of the Nazarite Vow. Numbers 6:5 ESV states “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.” Samson’s hair was the source of his strength until Delilah cut it off (Judges 16:1-22 ESV).  From reading the scripture we can see that Samson had ‘seven locks/braids’ on his head. Some people imply that Samson had dreads. What do you think?

black samson
Image Credit: Google images

So, does God care about the hair on your head? Since the hair on our head is numbered, surely this shows that God cares about you (even the little details that you might overlook). Essentially, it would be okay for a Christian to have dreads however, there are things that you need to consider.

Firstly, the motive and intention behind why the person wants and/or has the dreadlocks need to be examined.  It is important to note that as humans, we look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (although, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care about how you present yourself). If your intentions of having dreadlocks are pure then proceed.

Secondly, as Christians, the focus should be mainly being on the internal rather than the external. 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV states that “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”   From this, we can conclude that the issue of having or wanting dreads is a trivial matter, there are other issues which have greater significance.

Finally, Romans 14 has a lot to say in regards to this issue. At the end of the day, the question of having or getting dreadlocks is between you and God. You shouldn’t feel judged by people if the Holy Spirit approves of you having dreadlocks. If you are personally convicted not to have dreadlocks, then please don’t condemn those who do but rather show love to those who do. If God has not judged you about having or getting dreads, then why should man?

Ultimately, you’re responsible for your action. Do what the Holy Spirit leads you.

Sources

  1. Studio, Raging Roots Dreadlock. The History of Dreadlocks. ragingrootsdreadlockstudio.com. [Online] 2017. [Cited: 28 May 2018.] http://ragingrootsstudio.com/the-history-of-dreadlocks/.
  2. Gabbara, Princess. The History of Dreadlocks. Ebony.com. [Online] 18 October 2016. [Cited: 3 June 2018.] http://www.ebony.com/style/history-dreadlocks.

The fast pace-ness of modern day life…

ANDREW BODRA

Ok sometimes I have to literally sit down for a minute and just relax because everything and everyone is so busy and sometimes i don’t even see what for. The way I see it, It’s like we have gotten so consumed in society’s definition of ‘making it’ so much that sometimes I can feel guilty of going to bed at night when I know I have things to do- things like being successful, being helpful to others, taking care of myself and everything else I need to do.

The most exhausting part of it all at times is how it seems like, everybody is becoming successful in their busyness and you think to yourself “woow, I’m here feeling tired after going to sit at the office all day”.

ANDREW BODRA (1)

For like the past month or so, I have been praying to God over my life and telling him all the things I want to do and how I don’t want to go at anybody’s pace- not even at my own pace- but HIS. Because the truth is, my own pace is comprised of my parents’ definition of where I should be in life now, the stage people of similar ages to me are, and even worse, people whom I don’t even know but only see on youtube or other social media sites.

All I am trying to say is that- It is a very good idea to take life easy and do what you need to do and not beat yourself up when things do not go your way. one thing God is teaching me is to be soo happy when things do not go my way because, regardless of my own plans, his ‘will’ will be established and he will work all things out for my good.

Like literally, just yesterday, I saw an advertisement on youtube and the man on the ad said: “do you want to spend your whole life working just to pay off student finance debt?!”. Then it just hit me in the face that we all don’t want to be seen as being what society defines as working all our lives just to pay off debt and bills. However, the part ads such as these and society in general don’t seem to want to make us aware of is that; everything takes time to grow. Unless you do some magic or win the lottery or steal money then- we all cannot make it overnight.

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Personally, I feel like this idea of making it so quick encourages people to throw away ideas that take time and effort to develop. It makes me so sad when I look at some of the people I know and how they are so busy chasing after money that they do not even have time to sit and nurture their great natural talents and gifts that will make them successful in every way for life.

I aways read about people like Warren Buffet, T.D. Jakes and Oprah, etc… It took these people time and work to develop everything they have now. I know we all want to make it and we need to make it because come on… THE GOD is our God. Nonetheless, let us not forget that there is a big difference between being lazy, wasting time and taking your time to diligently work and build something.

Invest time in developing yourself and do not worry about the crooked fast pace ways society is always suggesting we make it overnight.

 

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CONVERSATION WITH A MOTHER

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Mothers are the real deal. I mean they are the parent that every child wanna get permission from in order to do something. Personally, I believe mothers are the backbones of the family. They are always there to keep everything on track. BUT.. they can taaaaaaalk lool (African mothers can talk I’m not even gonna lie). I am gonna be a mother one day.. actually soon.. very soon. So I decided to have a conversation with a mother and get to understand what it is like to be one.

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Aunty Jackie

1. what do you like the most about being a mother?

I love the bond I share with my daughter the most. That unconditional love between a mother and child is an amazing feeling. Her smile is precious and I’m truly blessed to have been entrusted by God to nurture her to what He has destined her to be.

2. How is it like being an African mother living outside of Africa?

it’s a challenge raising a child outside Ghana. Back home we would have had the whole family helping to raise her. Babysitting would be much easier where as here it’s hard and costly. I find that it’s a bit hard incorporating our own traditions and culture here in England so as a parent if you’re not persistent and firm, the child will grow up without knowing any of it’s original roots.
It’s been a bit easier for me because I’m all about my culture and traditions but with my daughter being in school with other people it was a challenge to find fun ways of introducing her to everything.

3. What has motherhood taught you about yourself?

That I have absolutely no patience but over the years she has taught me exercise patience in all circumstances. I’ve learnt also of my own strengths and weaknesses. I’m stronger than I give myself credit for and I keep persevering no matter the challenges ahead.

4. Is there anything you don’t like about being a mother?

Nothing really, I love the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s all part of what makes it worth it.

 5. Do you think you can do anything different now to make motherhood better for you?

To trust God more and learn from my mistakes.

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From left to right- Aunty Jackie, her daughter Meredith and her mother.

6. What do you think about feminism as a mother?

I honestly believe women should have equal rights as men but I also believe that a Christian woman will know her place at home. Women are helpmates and not equal to their spouses so while we are fighting for everything to be equal, we also need to know how to play our roles at home in order to avoid crossing boundaries that can cause havoc to our happiness.

7. How do you see your position in society as women?

Some years ago a woman’s role was to marry, have children and stay at home to raise the children while the husband went to fend for his family. Nowadays women are getting degrees, having a career and raising amazing children married or not. Times have changed so much that women are doing more than deemed fit. I think times have changed where women were looked down on but are encouraged to explore all their potentials. In a whole, we contribute to the society by raising good children in the home who contribute positively to the betterment of society as a whole.

8. What do you think about the perceptions regarding motherhood in society lately? For example; there are a lot of talks on maternity leave and women and men getting the same maternity leave and equal pay. As an African woman, does any of this affect you?

I personally think maternity leave should be for the women to decide on if they want to share with their spouses.
I took a year off work to be with my daughter when she was born and even that wasn’t enough when I resumed work. It’s hard leaving a little one who depends on you behind so it should be a personal choice. Some women are capable of resuming work six weeks after childbirth while others struggle after a year so it should be a choice rather than an imposed one. I do believe that men should be entitled to their normal two weeks paternity leave though.

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Aunty Jackie’s mother

9. What has your mum taught you that you are teaching your child?

To solely depend on God. Everything about my mum is God centred and that is what I want to teach my daughter. For her to know that no matter how good or bad things get, her love for and trust in God should never waiver.

Thank you for sharing your experience of motherhood with me.

 

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The practical truth about being a Christian…

being a christian
Image credit: google images

OK so being a Christian is actually very very fun. It is fun because I know that regardless of what happens.. come what may, whether I am happy today or not.. God is with me and he is for me and I am for him. It is literally that simple to me and that is what makes it fun. BUT.. (this is a very big BUT by the way) being a Christian can also be very difficult if you still have not found the foundation of your Christianity. it makes everyday life sooooo draining (from my opinion). So in this post, I am going to write about some of the practical truths about being a Christian and I really hope that it helps someone.

Prayer makes it all so easy

Firstly, if you are a Christian and you often feel lazy to pray.. Hmm… then you are in trouble oo. You are in trouble and you will keep being in trouble because everything you do will be based on how you feel and not what God tells you to do. I used to find it so difficult to pray. And it’s not like I didn’t believe in prayer but I just couldn’t be bothered. However, one thing I have come to realise is that- the more I pray, the less I talk. James 1: 19 tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” If you are like me and you have an opinion on everything because you read a lot; you tend to disregard how others feel because you just want them to know what you know all the time. For example; during my undergraduate degree, I couldn’t wait for someone to say something wrong about Africa or black people or feminism so that I can pour all the numerous critical race theory, postcolonial theory and feminism books I have read on them to make that person feel dumb for whatever they said. On the other hand, do you know how it made me look? Yeah you know lol.

I realised that I was becoming really angry at people saying things I thought was wrong even if that was an opportunity for me to listen and maybe offer further explanations or alternative perspectives. So I started praying about it. I remember I used to (and I still do it now) pray so much to God about how he needs to help me use the knowledge that I acquire appropriately and not foolishly; because you can have 10 degrees in political science or philosophy and still sound incredibly uneducated if you do not choose your words wisely.

So If you want your everyday Christian life to be easy.. Pray. Pray about everything every time. I pray when I wake up in the morning, I even pray when I get in to the bathroom because I know perfectly well that there are people who cannot even walk from their bedrooms to the bathroom. Pray and just feel free about yourself and life because God has given you a spirit not of fear but a spirit that gives us power, love and self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7).

Pray thanksgiving prayers.. ALL THE TIME!

I think nowadays I don’t even know how I pray for things compared to before.. when I was at uni.. I would spend so much time praying for good grades and basically threatening God that if I fail he fails because I keep talking about how I believe in him and all that (woow those were desperate times when you have not revised and you think God is a juju man). Now, I just pray and thank God for everything because I know and I believe in him so much that anything he has called me to do, he will give me what I need to do it and he will also show me how to do it to glorify him.

Of course, when you are in need, pray and tell God about it (even though he already knows all your heart desires). As Christians, we are not told to shy away from telling God our problems. As a matter of fact.. the bible encourages us to speak to God in our most troubling times. So that God himself will direct and guide us in who to go for help or he himself will send helpers your way if that is what you need. The bible says in Philippians 4: 6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Yeah so God himself is telling you to pray to him and tell him what you need. However, the bible says “with thanksgiving”- I understand this part as just exercising my faith- because instead of saying Oh God I need to pass this course or I need to be able to control myself and not fall into sexual sin.. I say: God thank you for being my provider and knowing exactly what I need and when I need it and thank you for giving me a spirit of self-discipline and the wisdom to know that you are better than sex. Yes I said it. GOD IS BETTER THAN SEX. By praying this way.. I end up reassured and fired up because I know that there is so much power in having a conversation with God and putting all your faith in him.

 

Various ways to pray

Prayer does not always have to consist of the conventional way of eyes shut and looking up and saying stuff (when I was young I used to close my eyes so hard because I thought if I open my eyes and I see God or the holy spirit in church I’ll die). Nowadays, I go down on my knees and pray or I will lift my hands and worship or I will lay on my bed and pray till I fall asleep. Other times, when I feel someway (basically when the devil wanna bring himself) I write my prayers down and then read them out like how I write bible verses down so that I can memorise them. One thing I always do is, I pray about the prayer session before I begin because I want the spirit of God to guide me even in my prayer time. I suggest that anytime you are praying just tell God to come and take over even though you have it in mind to pray about something.. you will see that God will direct you in how to effectively pray to him.

 

Lastly, prayer goes hand in hand with the word of God so you can’t and you really shouldn’t spend all your time praying and not studying the bible because  “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. 17 The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But I think I am going to do a continuation post and talk about the bible and the role it plays in our Christian lives. I’m gonna stop writing now because even me I don’t like reading articles that are too long.

 

PRAY. IT’S NECESSARY. YOU CANNOT BE A CHRISTIAN AND NOT PRAY.

 

GOD LOVES YOU.

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GOD

God is my strenght
photocredit: google images

I woke up this morning feeling so down and I did not even understand why. Around 5.30 am, I’m lying on my bed and I have no idea why I feel so sad and because of that I do not want to do anything but cry. At 6 am, I get a call from a friend and he asks for us to pray and the answer I wanna give him is “no because I am sad with my life today and I don’t understand why so I don’t want to talk to God. But politely, I tell him that I’m gonna take a shower and call him after.

As I am in the shower scrubbing away the hands of every guy that has ever touched me, I start to tell God that he is my strength and he has done great things and he will keep doing great things. I just kept repeating these words to myself till I stepped out of the shower.

So I go back to my room and I call my friend and I lead us into an opening prayer and then he says to me “I feel like God wants us to pray about our hearts.” He continued by saying “sometimes we feel betrayed in our hearts and that makes us very sad. But imagine how Jesus felt when he chose Judas to be his disciple but still Judas did not allow God to change his heart and he ended up betraying Jesus.”

Sometimes, it is very easy for us to forget that our hearts are very fragile and when we decide to carry our hearts in our fragile hands- it will fall. The great thing though is that when each and every morning we give our hearts over to God regardless of how we are feeling- God takes hold of them and he places them in his secured hands. The word of God says in Psalm 37: 3 that we should “trust in the Lord and do good and dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” The hands of God are safe and that is where our hearts need to dwell.

After I prayed with my friend, I got dressed and as I was leaving the house I said to God: “father, I know I am feeling sad, but I will not let the devil make me forget about your greatness- take my heart now and do what you do best.” I put my earphones in my phone and I started listening to songs of praise.

I am writing this post to God because sometimes I really don’t appreciate his consistency in my life enough. No matter how I am feeling- his holy spirit always sends me a helper and he empowers me. God shout out to you for always keeping me grounded in you. It is a privilege to be able to subject my body to the spirit of God and win in all areas of my life.

Shout out to you friend for allowing God to use you to speak to me at my darkest hour today. Everybody needs friends who are in tune with the spirit of God whom at all times can be vessels for God almighty to speak through to you.

And shout out to you reading this- don’t ever suffer alone. Don’t let the devil make you think that isolation or time alone can help you through your darkest times. You have people around you whom I really hope are ready at any time to hold hands with you or be at the other end of the phone and pray that depressing spirit away. If you do not have friends like that, pray and ask God to send you some. A few years ago, I prayed that prayer and up until today God keeps sending me amazing people who are not scared to tell me to do the right thing.

God be with you as you give your heart to him to carry in his safe and holy hands.

 

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