David’s Sling

Our three-year-old’s favorite Bible story is – no surprise here – David & Goliath. She loves the part where he swings the sling and tosses the rock, hitting Goliath. Here she is narrating it at the dinner table:

Slingshots are common in northern Ghana but are usually the “Dennis the Menace” type with a forked branch and a rubber sling tied between them.

In the old days before rubber was introduced, the Mamprusi made and used slings much like what David would have had in 1 Samuel 17. Occasionally, I find someone with one of these traditional or “old-school” slings.

In eastern Mamprugu they call these slings “kalɔbiga” meaning ‘millet thrower’ because they are used to throw stones at birds trying to eat sown millet seeds in farm. I had always assumed the intention was to hit the birds with the stones. However, the release of the stone also makes a loud popping sound as the rope snaps back. This sound scares off the birds even if the stone comes nowhere near them.

Here’s a short clip of a Mamprusi boy using one to scare off birds from his family’s farm. Notice the snap or pop sound when he hurls it. If this were are leather sling and not just woven vines, it would have been much, much louder.

My First Day… 11 Years Ago Today

Eleven years ago today was Heidi’s first day of clinic at BMC. It’s fun to go back and read her first impressions on October 8, 2007.

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SBC This Week Podcast Interview

The weekly podcast from Amy Whitfield and Jonathan Howe interviewed us for a special episode. Amy talked with us about the challenges we face and how God is moving in West Africa. Have a listen!

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Pastor Appreciation in Sumnibooma#1

Yesterday was Pastor Appreciation Sunday at Sumnibooma#1, one of the village churches on my preaching circuit. After I preached, the kind folks there presented me with a brand new smock. The church also gave their pastor George a new mattress and his wife received some cloth to make new clothes for the family. I’m always humbled by the generosity of Ghanaians. Showing appreciation is such an important part of their culture and something I’m always reminded to strive for.

We were also excited to see the pastor’s daughter again. A couple months ago, she fell out of a shea nut tree and had a horrible broken arm. Heidi took care of it at the hospital, set it and put it in a cast. Yesterday we got to see her with the cast off and her arm has healed perfectly. Praise the Lord!

As per usual, Heidi also did some impromptu post-church service consultations. She can’t really treat anyone right there on the spot, but often she can save them a trip to the hospital if the problem isn’t serious or convince them to come if it is!

The baby she is examining in the photo below was stung by some insect in his arm over a week ago. The mother was worried about the mark but Heidi assured her it was healing well and she didn’t need to go to the hospital or buy any more medicine.

Zuu lu kpakpuri zugu n-kyɛ n-kyɛ n-gyɛ.

The vulture lands on the tortoise, pecks and pecks and gives up.

Mamprusi Proverb

Missionaries You Should Know: David George

I penned an article for the IMB’s ongoing “Missionaries You Should Know” series. It’s about one of my missions heroes David George. He pastored the first all-black Baptist church in America, planted the first black Baptist church in Canada, and established the first Baptist church on the continent of Africa.

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Ghana’s Historic Mosques: The Lost Ones

This is the last in of a series of posts about Ghana’s only six remaining historic mud mosques built in the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style.

When I embarked on my project to visit the last of Ghana’s mud mosques, I thought I would be seeing nine according to the Ghana Museum & Monuments Board website. Unfortunately, there are only six still standing and in use: LarabangaBanda NkwantaNakore, Maluwe, Bole, Wuriyanga.

How Many Mud Mosques did Gold Coast/Ghana Have?

A century ago, every mosque in the north was made of mud simply because that was the primary material used. Look through archival images from the early colonial era and every mosque is some sort of variation on the Sudano-Sahelian* style.

Rudolph Fisch’s images of Mamprugu in 1910 show the Gambaga mosque as a white-washed mud structure in the Sudanic style. Famed American modernist photographer Paul Strand shot a mud mosque in Tanina, Ghana on his 1964 photographic tour of the country that culminated in the incredible book “Ghana: An African Portrait.” Additionally the British National Archives contain images of mud mosques in 19th century Bimtuku (though it’s hard to determine where that village is and it’s possible the images are of Boundoukou, Cȏte d’Ivoire).

Why Have Ghana’s Mud Mosques Disappeared?

There are several factors that have made these mud mosques so rare today. The primary reasons are of function: Read More