Book Review: Francine Rivers’ ‘The Atonement Child’

A young lady, Dynah, is raped and gets pregnant as a result. Her fiance, who was a pastor in training, her parents, and roommate in college, all Christians, thought the only way out of that ‘dreadful’ situation was for Dynah to abort the ‘unwanted child’ and move on with her life. The Dean of the Christian College, where Dynah was a student and where the incident happened, also thought abortion was the way to go or the young lady had to leave the institution. This book slowly weaves the calamities Dynah had to face as a result of taking the unpopular decision.

‘The Atonement Child’ compared to the two other books I’ve read from this author (The Scarlet Thread and The Shofar Blew) was a bit slow and sad and I felt the writer tried a little too hard to push the theme of the book into the reader’s face. In one family alone, grandmother had had a therapeutic abortion, the mother had had an abortion and the child who had been raped was also being pushed to carry out an abortion. Dynah’s mother’s former schoolmate was also an abortionist and Dynah’s friend in college (Joe) had a girlfriend who had died from committing an abortion. How coincidental can that be?

Perhaps since the story is set in a country where abortion is legal, some of these issues are real and likely to come up in an everyday conversation. That notwithstanding, the theme of this book is very relevant, especially, now that a bill has been passed in New York permitting mothers to abort babies even at the point of birth. One thing this book did so well was to provide the reader with a clear picture of the other side of committing an abortion. The guilt and regret of taking out a life (fetus) may be carried throughout one’s lifetime and that is likely to affect their families and generations. Mostly, abortion is seen as the easiest and direct way of solving the problem of an unwanted pregnancy while the spotlight dims on the emotional and psychological damages this action may have on the women who undergo it.

In Ghana, compared to the US where the story was set, abortion is a criminal offense regulated by Act 29, section 58 of the Criminal code of 1960, amended by PNDCL 102 of 1985. However, section 2 of the law makes exceptions for victims of rape or incest and abortion can be conducted to protect the mental or physical health of the mother, or when there is a malformation of the fetus. According to the Ghana Medical Association, abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality (15-30%) because many women turn to unqualified providers and receive unsafe procedures (Rominski & Lori, 2015; Chauvkin, Baffoe & Awoonor-William, 2018).

The argument of whether a fetus is a baby yet and the legality/ illegality or the process of carrying out the abortion (safe/unsafe) will always remain and looking at the World’s politics, there will always be a divide but the most important person to take the decision is you, the individual/woman. What exactly do you want and what do you stand by? What would God have you do in that situation? It may seem difficult and challenging at a glance and the straightforward option will be an abortion, but, have you explored other alternatives? You may want to consider putting the child up for adoption and that is possible even in Ghana.

One beautiful trait about the character, Dynah, was how she remained calm amidst all the pressure and kept insisting she wanted to know God’s mind before taking any decision concerning the child in her womb. How many of us, in the midst of the storm, will insist on hearing from God first?

This 384-page book is a must-read and ideal for a book club/discussion.

Favourite Lines from Atonement Child:

Those on the side of abortion were the loudest, the most logical, the most appealing to her bruised and battered spirit. And yet there was another voice, quiet, calm, almost imperceptible, that said NO, THERE’S ANOTHER WAY.

“Well, you tell me how we can do that, Dean. Tell me how on God’s green earth we can dare offer salvation to a dying world when we’re so busy shooting our own wounded.”

– The Atonement Child,

Bibliography

Chavkin, W., Baffoe, P., & Awoonor‐Williams, K. (2018). Implementing safe abortion in Ghana: “We must tell our story and tell it well”. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics143, 25-30.

Rominski, S. D., & Lori, J. R. (2014). Abortion care in Ghana: A critical review of the literature. African journal of reproductive health18(3), 17-35.

©  

Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul

For the Christian going through challenging times and looking for testimonies to rekindle their faith or that person who keeps wondering if God is still performing miracles as He did in the Biblical era then the Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, is the book you need to read. I chose this book purposely to improve upon my Christian storytelling ability but as I went through the pages, I realised that the Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul was not just a book, but an epistle to the modern Christian which leaves an indelible mark on the heart.

The 378-page book is filled with 101 short motivational stories under the headings of ‘giving,’ ‘love,’ ‘facing obstacles,’ ‘parent and parenting,’ ‘dealing with death,’ etc. The stories are written so clearly that it is almost impossible to decipher who the target readers are. This probably indicates that the book can be read and assimilated by anybody in any age group.

When going through the book, you can almost feel your soul moving along with the different characters and some of the stories are filled with so many emotions that if you are the type who is easily moved to tears, you need to psyche yourself up for that.

It is quite challenging to select the most inspiring story from the book but being a new parent myself, stories under the ‘parent and parenting’ and ‘facing obstacles’ categories blessed me tremendously. One of the most touching stories titled ‘Medicine’ almost moves the reader to tears. The story is narrated by a single mother whose child had developed an ear infection. She had no money and because she lived on the outskirts of town and it had snowed heavily, it was almost impossible to take the child to the hospital. She made an urgent call to a doctor who prescribed a drug and listed places where she could get it from. She made frantic phone calls to all of these places but they all asked for money.  After several attempts which failed, the mother decided to break into one of the pharmacies and steal the drug since perhaps, that could save her child. When the option of stealing occurred to her, another voice immediately directed her to make one last call to a pharmacy which she obliged. She made the call and this time, the pharmacy decided to give the drug to her on credit. Not only that, one of the workers drove through the snow, to her location to deliver the said medicine. If this is not the work of God, then tell me who else can cause such a turn-around in someone’s life.

There are several stories in that book and it is not far-fetched to say the reader can see him/herself in at least two or more of them. As Christians, the Bible even admonishes us to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonian 5:11) and Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul did exactly that to me and I highly recommend it.

NB: I would like to see the African or probably the Ghanaian version of this book so that we can relate properly to the characters and the environment better (maybe I will do that collection).

3 Biblical Principles to Having a Successful Year

Christian Blog Ghana
Dr Emmanuel Sogah || Medical Doctor|| Budding Minister

When the clock strikes midnight on the 1st of January, there seems to be some glimmer of hope that the New Year will automatically be better than the previous one. It is not bad but to have a successful year requires deliberate steps and like a soldier preparing for war, it is important to have a plan and strategy.

People start the year with different ambitions and resolutions but half-way, they lose hope even though they believe the will of God for them is to have an amazing and successful year.

To ensure 2018 becomes one of the best years yet, believers are required to follow these principles as listed by Dr. Emmanauel Sogah: 

  1.  Abide in the Word

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you – John 15:7

To have a great year, you need to be a person of the word.  It is in the word that you’ll find strategies and ideas to accomplish whichever goal you list. When there is a union between the Christian and the word of God, whatsoever you ask will be granted.

In God’s mind, there is no prayer of a Christian that should be rejected. Jesus in his earth walk demonstrated that when he, for example, spoke words to the fig tree and it was done (Mark 11:12-25).  As a Christian, this should be our everyday experience – when we speak we ought to receive answers and that can only be done when there is a perfect union between the Christian and the word of God.

  1. Allow the Holy Spirit to Influence you

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. – Luke 1:35

After setting our goals for the year, we wonder how we are going to achieve them. Just as Mary conceived her baby after she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, so shall we achieve our goals this year by the influence of the Holy Spirit.  This point is also emphasised in Zechariah 4:6

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

If you are going to achieve anything, then it is going to be by the Holy Spirit. It is also important to fellowship with the Holy Spirit by praying with other tongues. He (the Holy Spirit) will help you as emphasised in Romans 8:26.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

The Spirit gives us insight into the future for us to understand the details of projects we wish to undertake. The Holy Spirit also helps us in our shortcomings when it comes to goals we have set for the year. Joshua received unorthodox directions from God to march around the walls of Jericho, seven times (Joshua 6) in order to bring the walls down. If we are going to succeed this year, we’ll need to go by the strategies of the Holy Spirit which is sometimes uncommon and not according to the systems of the world.

  1. Pursue Excellence

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge…. – 2 Peter 1:5-8

Ensure excellence is seen whatever you do as a Christian this year. Be steadfast and immovable in the decisions you take. Pay attention to expressing your inward virtues.

If these things (aforementioned) are in you in an increasing measure, fruitfulness will be inevitable.

You can also click on the link below to listen to the audio.

To my Husband on our Second Wedding Anniversary 

When you had chicken pox on the eve of our wedding day, I knew our marriage had begun on an interesting note. Yes, we missed our honeymoon because you had to recover from that condition but looking back now, I know it was all of God’s plans.

Several counsellors and marriage books predict that the first few years of marriage are the most difficult but I’m glad to say that we are bent on proving them wrong. You keep saying that our story should be different and our marriage should be seen in God’s eye and not from the world’s system.

Even though we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, God has been amazing to us. We always manage to pull through challenges and are able to look back with a suitcase full of lessons. I can confidently say my faith in God has increased tremendously because of our marriage and my association with you.

I now understand why counsellors place so much emphasis on developing friendships before jumping into marriage. I also understand the power and the role of communication in marriages. I’m certain that friendship and good communication are directly related. In fact, they are Siamese Twins. 😁 There is also the important role of praying, compromising and sacrificing.

I try to evaluate our marriage from time to time to ascertain if that feeling of ‘love’ is still there. The one with the butterflies fluttering at the bottom of your tummy. Yeah, I do feel it at times but I think my definition and feeling of love has changed over the years. It is now deeper and currently includes being more patient, tolerant, understanding and choosing words more carefully.

Being your supportive wife is also my definition of this new love which sometimes includes trying to educate myself on what is happening in the medical field in order to have meaningful conversations with you. In subsequent years, I hope to fall in love with Manchester United and the guy called Lukaku to the point that when he scores, I will have the urge to jubilate. I also hope to love the EPL, UEFA Champions League (didn’t even know they were two different leagues 😂) and all the other leagues in the world (Spanish, Italian, Chinese etc ). What I also hope to find bearable in the coming years is that Sunday afternoon live commentary on Citi FM.

It’s been two great years and I’m glad we chose each other for this journey. I strongly believe the next couple of years will be super amazing with God being our guide.

With so much love on this special day,

Your one and only sweetheart,

Dela.

True Story: When Favour did not Receive Favour

“I do not have anything to lose,” Favour thought. “God is probably giving me a second chance. Besides, I am only on a short contract with this organisation.”

Those were Favour’s thoughts when he received the job description from one of the managers of the organisation. In 2012, he had attended an interview with this company but he was not offered the job. When the managers called him the second time to re-apply for the same position, Favour was beside himself with so much excitement. This was going to be his second try and probably his final job application.

Favour knew how well the company paid its employees, not to even mention the trips and allowances which came with working there. He could not keep himself from imagining how his life was going to transform when he finally reports to the office. Before that, the Human Resource manager had also asked him to forward his latest Curriculum Vitae (CV) and cover letter. Favour felt special when an interview date was forwarded to him immediately he submitted his CV and cover letter.

During the interview, he did put up a splendid performance. Favour recalls how the Manager kept nodding at every sentence that came out of his mouth. To him, the questions were simpler compared to the other interviews he had attended. He never doubted the position was going to be his.

After the interview, he could not help but reminisce over the entire experience. He tuned in to his favourite Christian FM station as he sipped on the bottle of fanta he had bought from the shop. This is called ‘celebrating victory ahead of time.’

“I can tell there is victory ahead. Somebody is about to hear the best news ever,” the preacher on the radio said. “Can I hear someone shout a loud Amen.”

This must be the Holy Spirit speaking to me, Favour thought. He did shout his largest Amen as he made a quick trot and ended up somersaulting in his bedroom. He jumped three more times and was completely out of breath when he finally walked to sit on his bed. This preacher is indeed a man of God. He made a mental note to capture his contact details and probably sow a seed into his ministry when he is employed in the company. Indeed it is not flesh and blood that had revealed his enormous victory to the preacher.

The days following the interview were one of the longest ever experienced by this young man. He kept praying, trusting and believing that indeed, his miracle was knocking on his door. He had earlier told his mum about the job and she was also trusting and praying with Favour.

On the fourth day, after constantly checking his smartphone for updates or email from the organization, Favour decided to include a fast to his daily routine. He remembered an aspect of a sermon which was preached on the radio the other day in Daniel 10:13, where Daniel had been praying but the prince of the Persian kingdom kept resisting him for twenty-one days, thus, his prayers going unanswered. This scripture pushed Favour to pray some holy ghost crazy prayers which could last for about three hours. His shirt was always drenched in his own sweat whenever he finished praying those prayers.

That was the routine for Favour for 14 days. He barely touched his meals which were prepared by his mum. All he wanted was a phone call confirming his appointment in that company.

On the 15th Day, the heavens smiled on him when his phone finally beeped notifying him of an email from the company. The logo of the company was unmistakable. His heart flipped out of excitement while he clicked on the email.

“Dear Favour. This email is to inform you that the interview panel has decided to select another candidate for the Business Development Manager Position. We are sorry….”

This is a true story which was shared by one of our readers. Favour is seeking your response to what he should do next. Remember to leave your views and remarks in the comments box.

 

How to Use Social Media as a Christian

September is our Month of Empowerment. Let’s learn to do things right, starting with the proper way to use some social media tools like Whatsapp.

WHATSAPP

Untitled design

This is the first in the series of posts aimed at empowering Christians, particularly those of us in Ghana. Articles, which will be posted this month, will be targeted towards improving our interactions as Christians and make us better people. Today’s post intends to take us through some protocols of using Whatsapp, a popular social media platform. Make sure you read and share with people who need this counsel. 

The Bible in Hosea 4:6 says,

my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge. 

We, however, do not have any excuse to unlearn some old and unacceptable behaviours.

Here are some helpful tips on how to use Whatsapp as a Christian:

Don’t form a Group, YET

Whatsapp groups are common and very easy to form. It is very tempting to decide to form one immediately after every church meeting.

But before you decide to form a group, there should be a clear aim for setting up the page. Are you forming the group because of an upcoming event? If that is the reason, do not forget to close the group when the event has ended.

Also, let that group page be governed by some rules (Romans 13:1). It is easy for us Christians to keep bombarding ourselves with all sorts of forwarded messages. This is why as an administrator of the page, you should be as specific as possible on the purpose for the group page by clearly spelling out the rules for your members.

All Messages are not relevant; Don’t forward them

Unless some of us do not read the words, ‘forward this message and receive your miracle.’ That message will end up in all groups that we are a part of, which is sometimes annoying.

On the issue of ‘share this information and receive your miracle,’ like some principles in our faith, is not automatic. Miracles will happen in your life if only you believe. Do not share those messages and think you will automatically receive whatever you have been trusting God for. Christianity is not magic.

Let one discussion end before introducing a new topic

A typical phenomenon on some Christian WhatsApp platforms is when members of that group are discussing something pertinent and another member shares another thing totally unrelated to what is being discussed. For instance, members on a group page are discussing how best to promote an upcoming event and all of sudden, Kwame forwards a funny photo of something totally unrelated to what is being discussed.

Let’s be vigilant, in real life you may not interrupt people by introducing a new subject, why is it easy for us to do so on WhatsApp group pages?

Send personal messages before adding people to groups

One of the most embarrassing things that happened to me on a church WhatsApp group page was when I was added without being notified of what the page was about. I started criticising the very cause for which I was added to the group. The administrator immediately took me off the page, sent a personal message to introduce the group before adding me but, the harm had already been caused.

I just wondered why the administrator did not do this the first time but made me embarrass myself.

Let’s not put members of group pages in such embarrassing situations.

Introduce yourself when sending a message for the first time

When you are sending a message to someone for the first time, please introduce yourself. Why do we assume the person knows you and has your contact saved on their phones? Try to avoid the shameful situation of being asked to introduce yourself when sending a message for the first time.

There are a group of people who do not communicate with you at all. All they do is to forward devotionals and other messages to you. Please strike some acquaintance with your contacts before you forward messages to them!

Be empowered as a Christian! Remain blessed as you practise these etiquettes!

What are some of the situations you have noticed on Whatsapp but have not been captured in this post? Do share with us in the comment box.

 

Pray ‘Quality’ Prayers

It is quite easy to say we have great prayer lives because ‘to pray’ means ‘to communicate with God.’ It is simple to speak with God and whisper something to Him first thing in the morning before jumping to our duties. When we are almost late for work and need to rush to the roadside, we whisper something to Him which we describe as a form of communication. Some of us even have the special ability to shut out people mentally and start talking to God even in noisy places. We can pray to God at any place and time because the Bible has admonished us to pray without this ceasing (I Thessalonians 5: 17).

The above scenarios form the broad definition of communication or at least speaking with God but how about including ‘quality’ to that prayer time? There is nothing wrong with speaking to Him everywhere but it is even more fulfilling to have a quiet place to yourself, away from every form of distraction and tuning your whole being to the Spirit. Such times allow the Holy Spirit to minister to and with you in ways that your body cannot comprehend. How sweet it is to allow the Holy Ghost to take over your prayer time and direct you on how it should go (Romans 8:26). When you do not pray in your own understanding but with that of the Spirit.

There are so many worries in life – work issues, family, academics etc and they can easily overwhelm us into believing we can achieve success by our own strength and intelligence. Prayer times are hurried because we always have deadlines to meet or traffic to beat.

Quality prayer, steered by the Holy Spirit makes the journey through life enjoyable. Prayer meetings are good but having some personal, quality time with your Father is also very important.

The deadline which is preventing you from praying can easily be met when you spend some good time in God’s presence. As for that traffic, it is so basic. The situation you are trying to change, using your own capabilities, has the answer resting with God and it takes just quality prayer time to unlock it.

Let us stop looking everywhere but to God for answers to our lives’ issues. Quality prayer time steered by the Holy Spirit heals wounds, provides directions and answers and, makes the seemingly impossible situations with God possible.

Just give it a try and when your testimonies start to manifest, send an email to your first online Christian magazine in Ghana (christianblogghana@gmail.com) and we’ll celebrate with you.

You are blessed!