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Saturday-born: Hands in Ghana Series

July 27, 2017
by Sheila Leech

Sheila Leech, Vice President of International Healthcare for Reach Beyond and a team leader for the 2017 Ghana medical internship, shares a series of stories from the experiences there. This is one of them.

She sat in front of me with her head bowed. The lines on her face betrayed not only her age but her anxiety and sadness. Her thin shoulders were hunched, her hands clasped tight in her lap. Dressed in a colorful wrap as most West Africans are, the cheerful colors did little to assuage the sadness of the scene and of the story she had to tell.

Ama -- her name means 'Saturday-born' -- had suffered through many Saturdays in her life. Married to an uncaring man, she had borne him ten children, worked hard in the fields all her life and now had come to the clinic to seek help for her ongoing and severe stomach problems.

Dr. Margaret, our wonderful Ghanaian colleague, was concerned. All the symptoms pointed to a serious problem - possibly gastric cancer. Ama reported severe weight loss for over a year. Sitting in the makeshift clinic opposite this sick woman, conscious of the lack of privacy and the presence of a translator, I pulled together all of the palliative care communication skills I could muster.

Ama and I talked through her illness, her options for treatment, her family issues and who would care for her in the coming days. Then I asked about her relationship with God. She said she had given her heart to Jesus but had not yet been baptized. I mentioned that baptism is not necessary for salvation and cited the thief on the cross. He did not have time to be baptized, yet Jesus gave him the reassurance that he would be with him in paradise that very day.

Ama -- her name means 'Saturday-born' -- had suffered
through many Saturdays in her life.

Ama listened carefully, then we prayed together. After we had prayed, I asked Ama if there was anything else we could do for her. She replied "just the baptism". She really wanted to be baptized, right then and there.

So we piled into a couple of vehicles and headed to the nearest river. I kept thinking of New Testament times when people came to Jesus and His disciples to be baptized - in a small stream or river.

I think that baptism last Saturday was probably the most authentic that I have ever experienced... a group of people, gathered by the riverside - no robes, no choirs, just simple barefoot folks and a local pastor. The presence of God was powerful as Ama stepped into the water, her colorful cotton cloth wrapped around her. Pastor Ben listened as Ama made her confession of faith. He then baptized her in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I wept to see such a beautiful sight.

As she came out of the water, Ama had the most radiant smile on her face . "I feel free" she said. Many of us wept with joy.

Jesus said "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit". This is the great Commission. This is why we go.

This summer our team has been privileged to be actively involved in preaching, teaching and healing in Jesus’ name. For one aged woman named Ama alone, it was all worth it. To Him be the glory.