My friend Adam told me it was only eight miles to the village Kpenchela. That might have been true, but the drive took more than an hour. It is one of those villages in Africa where when you arrive, the road just ends…literally the end of the road.
Adam hosts a weekly radio show in his home town in northern Ghana, and his voice is often recognized as he goes about his daily business. One day, a few years back, a man approached him in a store after recognizing his voice. Knowing that Adam is a Christian, the man told him about the needs of a tiny village called Kpenchela.
Traveling the dirt road on his motorcycle, Adam visited the village. He soon was returning regularly, often taking Joseph, a young man he is discipling. Because of the huge needs facing the people of the village, including severe shortages of clean water, food, clothing, school supplies and medicine, Adam and Joseph often returned with supplies. Through their generousity to the people, they made it known that it is because of Jesus that they love them.
Adam and Joseph also started a club for the youth in the village, where they taught Bible stories and songs. Because Bibles are scarce, they helped them memorize scripture in Dagbani, their local language.
Choosing from the youth who came to know Jesus, Adam and Joseph began training a few of them as local leaders. I met Philip, a young man from Kpenchela who is being discipled by Joseph and Adam, and now leads the ministry to young people.
As I sat under a tree in Kpenchela not long ago, listening to children sing songs about Jesus in Dagbani, I was amazed. Already, four generations of deep discipleship are taking place in this tiny village (Adam, Joseph, Philip and the kids Philip is now discipling).
Many people have experienced Jesus’ love for them and have received his life. And conditions in Kpenchela are improving. Adam is currently working on a project to provide clean well water in the village.
This is how we recognize disciples of the living Jesus: they are the ones going to the types of places Jesus went to, loving the kinds of people Jesus loved, and engaging the world in the way that Jesus engaged his world.