Monday, December 7,2019, Dr. Jewlee Weah Tweh and myself boarded a plane to Ghana
. This mission has two parts. The first leg of the trip was highlighted with two days in Accra, Ghana. As a continuation of discussions between myself on behalf of the Plymouth United Church of Christ and Simon Oddamtin, treasurer of the Bethel Presbyterian Church, Ghana, we embarked upon an agreement in principal between the two churches for a memorandum of understanding with several significant points. First, that the relationship between the two churches should be evangelical. Second, that an exchange partnership between the two churches would allow for younger members and others to experience opportunities to visit the other church. Third, a health care component would focus on Ghana health care near the Bethel Presbyterian Church. Fourth, the relationship would also attempt to address health care issues. The visit to Ghana was only over a period of two days, but very impactful. During our stay in Ghana, Dr. Tweh and I visited with the staff of the Bethel Presbyterian Church. We also toured a k-12 high school sponsored by the church with 2000 students. On of the highlights of the mission observation was meeting with the medical staff at a hospital in close proximity to the church.
The second day was for the most part a long driving trip to the Boti Falls. About 30 members of the church accompanied us to the Falls. At the end of the second day, a farewell dinner was spread in our honor at the home of our host, Simon Oddamitten, who also housed Dr. Tweh and myself.
The second part of this mission trip will take place in Liberia. Dr. Tweh is a Ph.d chemist who was born and raised in River Gee County and the Sarbo Tribe in Liberia. After the 3rd grade in a sparse village in the interior of the country, Dr. Tweh was taken by his father from village to village, seeking families that would take him in as a “House boy” so he could earn his keep while obtaining an education. The children in Dr. Tweh’s village have to leave the village after the 8th grade to obtain a high school education. Last year, Dr. Tweh sold his house and invested half of the sale with the purpose of building a high school. I became involved with Dr. Tweh’s tribe, the Sarbo Tribe in 1997, when Dr. Tweh’s tribe was refugeed during the civil war in Liberia. Over a two month period, Dr. Tweh was absent from church. When he reappeared, I asked him what was going on in his life? He told me about the war and how his people fled to the Ivory Coast for refuge. At that point I became engage in the effort to repatriate his tribe back to Liberia. The members of the Plymouth United Church of Christ were extraordinary in their generosity and raised several thousand dollars to help the tribe return to Liberia. Additionally, the Detroit Medical Center Foundation provided thousands of dollars of medical supplies and equipment to assist the tribe. Rev. Dr. Jimmy Womack accompanied me and Dr. Tweh with Dr. James Zender. The 1999 mission trip to bring assistance to the Liberian refugees of war included the following members of our church: Willie Bell, Gail Burton, my sons, Noah P. Hood and Nathan P. Hood, who were only 12 and 16 years of age, and Robert Johnson – who secured medical supplies from the Detroit Medical Center. Also traveling with us on the 1999 mission trip were the Rev. Dr. Otha Gilyard, pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio and his wife, Freda, and a husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Coleman, who are deacons at the Shiloh Baptist Church. That trip ended in a wild way. After leaving the Ivory Coast, we flew into Ghana to take in a couple of days of the culture, the slave deportation castles and history and frankly, better accommodations. When we arrived two sharply dressed young men met us outside the baggage claim. As we left the airport, one of the fellows who was dressed in a white suite with a Neru collar and gold stone at the neck, drew what appeared to be a 9millimenter gun and holding it at the head of a youth begging for money outside the van that drove us from the airport. As we got in the van, our entire group became silent. Breaking the ice, I asked the guy with the gun, “I thought you were with the ministry of tourism.” He replied with a smile, “I am a soldier.” It was a wild end to a powerfully impactful mission in the Ivory Coast, where the Liberians were in refugee villages.
Dr. Tweh and I flew from Accra, Ghana to Liberia this afternoon. Bowdeya Tweh and Meah Tweh, the son and daughter of Dr. Tweh are arriving this evening from the USA to join us. Sunday, we will leave before dawn to drive to Sweaken, the ancestral village of Dr. Tweh. My wife joined me on a mission trip to Sweaken in 2013. It is a long, hard, road – 400 miles from Monrovia. The first 200 miles will be paved. The second two hundred miles is unpaved, bumpy and dusty. It is a hard drive, but I am excited and looking forward to the journey. Why? Because in 2013 during the meeting with the tribal chiefs a handful of women stole the ceremony by dancing and singing a song about how in 1997 and 1999, when they were refugeed from their country, Dr. Tweh and I searched for them, found them and made it possible for them to return to their country. When a translator told Denise what the words to the song were about, she shook her head and told me she doubted if she could ever deflate my inflated head because of the power of their words.
So, I ask your prayers. The last time I made this trip there were 17 military check points between Monrovia and Sweaken. The second to the last check point on the return to Monrovia, I was made to leave the vehicle and taken to the guard shack for what I think was an attempt to force me to give money for my release. The only thing that saved me was a national police guard who traveled with us into the interior. He threatened the policeman who confiscated my passport and told him he should be ashamed of himself because I was a missionary intent on helping his people. He also told the officer who detained me that he knew his supervisor and would report him. I sharing this story with you, because your prayers will be appreciated. Over dinner this evening, I told Dr. Tweh how meaningful it has been to me to be able to do something worthwhile to assist him in his vision to build a high-school in his village, but also to help his tribe to return home after the war. I believe that in life, if we can do just one thing that makes a difference, our living will not be in vain. Thank you for reading this and pray for us.
Written by Pastor Nick Hood3
Photos by Pastor Nick Hood3 and photographers from Bethel Presbteryian Church, Accra, Ghana Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Pastor Nick Hood3 at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
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