Children and youth worker Jo Chant saw God open many doors during her nine months on our Immerse mission internship programme in Ghana. You could do just the same - just email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how
Serving alongside experienced mission worker Penny Bakewell (right) in the northern town of Tumu, Jo was involved in running a youth club for 12-16-year-olds and teaching English to younger children.
Jo (pictured above, teaching), who was sent by Dorchester Community Church, Dorset, said: “Seeing the difference that you can make in another culture that does not have the luxury of some of the things that we have in the UK made a big impact on me.
“I knew that I wanted to do children’s work before I went, but this has definitely confirmed it to me. It was incredible to see God opening the door to have a greater influence on the lives of the children we had already begun to build relationship with.”
The youth club attracted children from both Catholic and Muslim backgrounds and Jo was astonished at how open to the gospel they were.
She said: “The opportunities God gave us there were amazing! Everyone in Ghana is religious in one way or another. They know God exists, there’s no question about that, it’s just what God is like that is questioned, especially in the North where most people are Muslim.
“They were open to hearing the gospel but actually understanding was harder for them."
During the youth club, Jo and Penny would read a Bible passage to the young people before they split into groups to work through questions.
Jo said “Towards the end of my time in Tumu we started to get some of the young people to lead the groups. It was really exciting.
“There were two girls, both about 12 years old from Muslim backgrounds, who took everything in so well. We put them with a group of slightly younger kids and gave them questions to work through – they would find the answers in the Bible and talk about it with the others. If there was a child who was not so confident at finding their way around the Bible, they would help.
“We could see leadership skills in these children and it was a joy to see them grow.”
While the youth club was a huge encouragement, Jo could see how difficult it was for some of the children to keep up. School class sizes are huge and those who fall behind find it very difficult to catch up. Jo was asked to help a young boy called Chris with his reading.
She said: “He came on so fast! Seeing how much he learnt in a few months was really encouraging. After a few weeks, he asked if he could bring his cousin along with him, then one afternoon they turned up with two girls. Because we held the lessons outside, other children saw what we were doing and more and more wanted to join in!”
One thing Jo learnt about Ghanaian culture was how inclusive it is, and she didn’t feel it was right to turn away children who were so keen to learn. The class continued to grow until it was impossible to work with the children one on one.
Jo said: “With so many children at so many levels, the only way to do it was to give them things that they could work on on their own.
“I started writing up some of the Bible studies that we had been doing in the children’s club. I wrote them as simply as I possibly could and then wrote a more complex version for those who were more advanced. I wrote out questions for them to answer to see whether they had understood what they had read.”
Experiences like that have convinced Jo God is calling into children’s work, but she has yet to decide whether that will be in the UK or overseas. She has no doubt that the Immerse programme played a key part in developing her gifts.
She said: “I would definitely recommend others to do Immerse. The way Penny put together my time at the beginning was really good - she helped me to see everything that was going on, gave me time to think about what I might like to be involved in and got me linked in with a language helper pretty quickly.
“There was a balance between talking about the types of ministries that would be available and being able to reflect with her on what I saw, but also there wasn’t any pressure to decide within the first fortnight.
“Everyone on the field is so supportive. For someone who is going out for the first time, you know that you have a good team to go into that will help you. In Tumu there are amazing opportunities in children’s and youth work.”
Pray for Jo as she seeks God’s will for her future.
Praise God for the many opportunities that he provided for Jo to share the gospel.
Pray for the children involved in the Bible studies and reading classes that they would grow to understand Christ’s love and sacrifice for them and share this with their families.
Praise God that the Church in Tumu recognises the role that they have to play in reaching the children. Pray for them as they work out practically how to do this. Pray for Penny as she works with them.
Pray for more workers to continue this gospel ministry.