I made many friends in Northern Ghana when I visited there in 2008 with my then 12-year-old son Aidan. The trip was for him, to help him realize his dream of bringing water to the village of Sankpem. Unfortunately, we stood on shale, on two spots that the earth wouldn’t give up water–the wells he helped fund, unsuccessful. Now, two years later, a pipeline is making its way to the village, a completion of his dream, though in a different way.
Before his trip, Aidan’s grandparents sent some money his way to give away as he felt led. So he did, with beautiful abandon. He helped a twenty-something girl realize a dream to become a batik artist. Five months later, she died of malaria.
In God’s strange economy, money doesn’t always equal redemption. Or rescue. Or help. Sometimes it complicates. Sometimes it confuses. Often it is simply a shady scrap of the genuine reality of God. I fear I’ve trusted in the Almighty Dollar far more than the True Almighty One.
Aidan and I saw Jesus in Ghana. In so many cashless ways. We spoke with a friend who said, “For ten years I didn’t know when my next meal would come,” and we marveled, we whose bellies have always been full.
We give when we can. We hope we give when it hurts. We long to sacrifice so our brothers and sisters across the world can eat and live and breathe. But that’s not the essence of the gospel, not as Aidan sees it, at least. He’s fourteen now, and longs to go back to see his friends. He became a man in that dusty place, found parts of Jesus he’d never experienced in America. He made friends he’ll never forget.
That’s the currency of this beautiful kingdom. Not money. Not goods. But people.