By Tommy Drinnen, Village of Hope

Editor’s Note: This excerpt comes from Tommy’s February newsletter.

Tommy DrinnenTEMA, GHANA (BNc)-The most important trait to learn living in a foreign culture as a missionary … steady! That’s a pretty good word to describe what is needed each day.

There are so many interruptions each day, so many unannounced surprises, so many “intruders” into your journey. For the most part, as I speak of intruders, I do not mean people — although sometimes they are — trying to steal away the mission — both long-term and the mission of the week or of the day.

Simply getting through a week and taking a step closer to the goals we have is a task that takes a lot of prayer and a lot of work. People get off course. Small things blow up quickly into large issues. Teachers in Ghana are not accustomed to teaching five days a week, and it is easy to lose focus. The Spirit has to lead and guide, and I have learned so much about “loving focus.” Jesus did this so well. He never brushed people aside but was caring toward them and, at the same time, never allowed people to deter Him from keeping the Father’s agenda.

I was stepping out of my office on Tuesday to take something to the accounts person at the school. It was a very busy day, as most days are. Many tasks to perform, but all day long, people kept coming in to see me unannounced.

Appointments aren’t made in the Ghanaian culture; you just show up. So I am expected to see the person no matter what I am doing at the time. Anyway, it was a crazy day and getting crazier. Just as I stepped out of my office I saw a parent raising his arm to hit his son in the face. I told the man to stop immediately, and one of the teachers stepped in between the man and his son.

The first thing the father said to me was probably the funniest and the saddest statement I have ever heard. He told me that his son must learn to compose himself. I told him that his son would never learn such a thing with a father like him. You could tell it stung as he backed off, and I asked them to explain the problem.

He complained that he had not been receiving the report card. He suspected that the boy was hiding it. The father does not live in the same house as the boy (a student from the surrounding area), but came to school to rough him up.

The boy’s name is Patrick. He is in the 7th grade. I brought him into my office to talk with him while my principal spoke to the father about getting a copy of the report card to him. The original was being sent to his mother who takes care of Patrick.

Patrick came into the office in tears. He told me that he does not know why his father hates him so. When the father does see him, it is always to beat him. I looked for anger in Patrick’s eyes, but it was not there. What made me sad was that in his eyes, I saw only defeat.

I wonder how many people in this world have passed through the stage of anger at no one caring and are now simply defeated people. Basically lifeless and going through the motions of living.

There are plenty. I see them a lot here. I saw them a lot in the USA.

At the heart of the Christian message that we claim to follow and live is the message of hope and life. I think we have mistakenly emphasized that we are looking forward to life in the future, but that is not really the heart of the Christian message — it’s life and hope and love in the midst of some bad stuff going on in the present. When the Kingdom of God breaks out, there is life and hope. It is a message that is needed so badly. “Look, the fields are white unto the harvest.” There are so many people who simply need hope.

I tried to encourage Patrick as we talked. I told him he had come to a school where we care about him and want to help him. And I told him about God who loves him very much.

I saw the faintest flicker of life in his eyes. I asked him what I could do for him. He had big tears rolling down his face (as I do as I type this letter) and he said, “Could you get me a pen pal? I would like to have a friend.”

I am looking for a couple of faithful pen pals for Patrick Yawson, 7th grader from Fetteh, Ghana in West Africa.

Patrick does not need, and this world does not need, any more people who “intend to write,” or who “meant to write,” but just got too busy living their lives. There are plenty of people like that in this world.

Patrick and this world need people who make a decision to step out of themselves and actually do write, or love, or give — faithfully, and godly, and passionately in whatever way will bring glory to God and allow people to live as they were intended to live — with hope. I think Jesus put it this way, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.”

If you can commit to Patrick let me know you are writing to him — I will let you know how to do it <tdrinnen [at] gmail [dot] com).

If you don’t choose Patrick, then find someone around you — in your family, your school, your church, in your grocery store — they are there — and do something for them to give them hope. Your faith will grow, and you will understand Jesus a little better.

To read Tommy’s newsletter in its entirety, go here.