Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.
The fog is thick, black; there is no space for light. The dog squeals, its neck is broken, dinner. A teenage girl is asleep in the dirt, her body covered in ripped cloth. Next to her sits an older man, he is weaving fishing net. An abandoned shop whispers uninvited but the loneliness brings me peace. If I get inside I can escape the darkness for a moment and just be. I leap over the trash filled sewer and quietly enter. Thousands of pirated movies fill the space and a native man greets me.
“Children movies,” I say; he leads me to a table.
I pick up a stack of movies and examine the cover. The woman’s eyes make my heart grow cold. Who made this woman pose naked and spread her legs, who made her believe she wasn’t worth something more? Men flood into the store and I can’t think straight, the smell of alcohol and sweat make me nauseous. I squeeze between 2 men and push myself out of the store grasping for fresh air.
A baby is tied with authentic African fabric on his mothers back as she sells fly covered fish on her head. Next to her stands a small boy selling water sachets. I ask how much for one and he says 1 cede. He is charging me extra because I am white but I don’t feel like arguing today. I bite the corner off the sachet and hear a horn, the taxi is coming straight at me. It skims my legs and the driver is yelling at me in Fante. The only word I can make sense of is Oburoni (white person), and everyone is rushing towards me.
I close my eyes and I pray. I ask God why. Why me? Why here? Why now? A tear rolls down my cheek and I’m screaming now, I want to go home and have my life back. I want to go to dinner with friends and go on dates and curl up in my big comfy bed. I want to go to my church and listen to American worship music and feel Holy Spirit. I’m staring through the cracked mirror into my own reflection, the words “why, why, why,” fall off my tongue and I’m losing myself, I collapse on the floor and surrender.
In Cape Coast, Ghana, I give my life to Christ multiple times a day. Christ is the one thing that is constant, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Back home, surrendering my life was something that happened once or twice a year. I lived for Christ but I didn’t have to consciously surrender my life to live in His presence. I saw the light often; I got to the point where I became a part of it, one with Christ, spreading His love wherever I went.
Here in the dark corner of Cape Coast, His presence isn’t so obvious. I search for the light with my whole heart and accept a small spark as a reason to keep holding on. I choose to believe with the same faith I had when I was swimming in His love, dancing in His presence. The same faith Noah and Abraham had, the faith that the people of Israel had when they marched around Jericho. I pray fervently, thanking God for His protection from the enemy and asking God to close my human eyes to the trouble of this place and open my God eyes to the path that is before me.
I walk through our village and children shout “Oburoni” I look to them and smile. They respond with a joyous giggle, a wave, and many stop what they are doing and run to the road to touch me. They reach for me, eager to feel that I am real, that I’m not just a character from a far away land.
I have different skin and I wear different clothes, my hair is a different texture and my eyes are light. They trust me and want to feel my love. When they reach, it isn’t me they are reaching for. The way, the truth, and the life – it’s all that they want. To feel God’s tender love and know that He sees them, that He has sent someone to intervene the dark chaos and bring peace.
If I have learned anything since my arrival in Ghana, it’s how incredibly inadequate I am and how incredibly dependent I am on God to give me oceans of grace each morning. He is everything I need. He called me to a very dark place in the world, trusting me to bring light to His people. Jesus doesn’t apologize for the mess, the hard, and the hurt, but that doesn’t keep Him from entering it. We are called to live like Jesus, so that’s what I’m choosing to do every single day, enter someone’s messy world and be present in the pain.
From the outside looking in, I hope you don’t think that I am living an extraordinary life, that I am strong and courageous. That’s not the case. I’m an ordinary person, a broken person who has sinned time and time again. I’m not living an extraordinary life, but I am serving an extraordinary God. A God who asked me to leave comfort behind and go to the Nations. I chose to say, “yes,” to His calling and I’ll continue to say, “yes” to all He asks of me.