by Dezra Lawson
Imagine the weight of having to keep your Christian faith or devotion to God hidden in the shadows. Picture the painful prospect of losing your father’s respect and being disowned from his will simply because you’ve chosen to follow God’s path. Envision being forcibly ousted from your own home and community, all because you’ve made the profound decision to embrace Jesus. Although such situations are less common in the United States, these were the challenges faced by Joshua Baah-Binney, a native of Ghana and a former resident of Mason, Ohio, when he wholeheartedly embraced his faith in Jesus. Joshua’s story illuminates a journey of adversity turned into a testament of unwavering dedication, starting at the age of twelve, as he fulfilled the divine calling God had placed upon his life.
In Pursuit of More
Growing up in Ghana, it was common for Joshua to witness idol worship (African traditional religion), polygamy, and sacrifices. Joshua’s father, a chief in Twifu Praso in the Central Region of Ghana, had five wives and 48 children. His father, who was raised Methodist, began to worship idols when he was enstooled as chief. Joshua, like most young boys, was enamored with his father, and at the age of eight, followed him around and started to receive training for kingship. He ventured with his father to traditional functions and was shown ways of living life that the other siblings did not receive. Joshua’s father informed him that he wanted to raise him to succeed him when he was no longer able to be chief.
At the age of twelve, a unique incident happened involving Joshua nearly being killed by a train. Everyone thought he was struck by the train, only to find him alive and well on the other side. Joshua described it like this:
“I had no choice but to stand there. Just as the train was about to knock me down, that is when the hand showed up and lifted me from the train lines.”
Everyone nearby gave praise to the gods for saving him, but Joshua was told by the idol priest,
“It was not the gods that saved you, but the ‘Righteous One’ from above.”
He continued by saying, “He is the one whom the true worshippers worship.”
Joshua ventured on a path to seek the truth and to learn more about who the priest was speaking of. Later that week, in an open-air crusade, he heard a man preaching the gospel. The man spoke about Jesus and the eternal life he offers. Fearing his father’s disapproval, he kept his curiosity and interest in Christianity a secret. He eventually gave his life to Jesus and began attending church regularly—but in secrecy. Eventually, his father found out and had asked him to denounce Jesus. He had to make a choice—the throne or Jesus! Joshua chose Jesus, truly he was the chosen One. Joshua was forced out of the village and had to find another place to live.
Despite his father’s rejection, he continued to lean into the life he was called to. In 2009, Joshua came to the United States to further his theological studies and join his wife, Victoria, who had arrived two years prior to work toward a post-grad and doctoral degree. Joshua returned to Ghana seven years later after earning his doctorate, in order to continue the ministry work that they were called to do. With the educational training and desire to serve God, Joshua and Victoria have been able to share God’s love with many villages in Ghana. Giving of their time and talents every day is their passion. Helping orphans, training pastors and leaders how to successfully shepherd a church is their passion and life in Ghana.
Their mission extended far beyond the walls of the church; they nurtured orphans, equipped pastors and leaders with the skills to effectively lead congregations, provided vital support to widows and orphanages, and even contributed to the construction of a community center for two villages, among countless other endeavors. I share the above great works they’ve done in Ghana, not for a pat on the back or bragging rights, but as an example of how we can all be a difference maker in someone’s life. If we “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . .” (Ephesians 5:1, 2, NIV), we too can make a difference by being generous with our time and talents.
Our senior minister, Brad Wilson, reminded us last week that generosity begins in the heart:
“If the heart, or if the attitude, is in the right place it needs to be with God, then the outcomes are going to work themselves out.”
Brad continues with a challenge, “Are we going to be selfish or sacrificial?” The choice is ours to use our time, resources, and talents—no matter how modest—to make a difference. As your heart changes, so will your desire to continue to make a difference for others.
You can watch the rest of last week’s message: “Difference Makers are Generous,” here.
Joshua Baah-Binney’s remarkable journey serves as an inspiring testament to the transformative power of faith and the boundless potential for generosity within each of us. Despite the challenges he faced, Joshua chose to follow his heart and dedicate his life to God’s work, even when it meant losing his family’s approval and his place in his hometown. His story reminds us that genuine generosity flows from a heart filled with love and compassion, and it can manifest in countless ways, both big and small. As we reflect on Joshua’s example, let us remember that we too have the capacity to be difference-makers in the lives of others. Whether through volunteering, financial contributions, or simple acts of kindness, we can all play a part in spreading the message of hope and love that Jesus offers to everyone. So, let us embrace the call to be generous, to walk in the way of love, and to shine as lights in the darkness in our world. Together, we can make a profound impact, just as Joshua and Victoria have done in Ghana, and continue to do so in the name of faith, love, and generosity. It’s all for Jesus, who is the King who truly sits on the throne.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV).
Dezra Lawson works part-time as the communications project coordinator at Christ’s Church. She and her husband, Mike, have four active boys ages 5-15, and two female dogs. She finds joy in all things autumn, from the sight of falling leaves to the delightful flavors of pumpkin spice, while cheering her boys on as they compete on the gridiron.