He said that when he came to Jesus, everything in his life changed.
He stopped drinking. He went to mechanics school. He learned to drive and he started a business driving others around Ghana. Now he has other drivers working for him too.
He’s a leader in the church now. He’s married and has one son that he has put through school. He had another son that died, and when he tells us this I see the pain in his eyes.
He drives the treacherous Ghanaian roads with the skill of a Nascar driver, weaving in and out among the thousands of cars on the busy city streets, and dodging the potholes the size of ditches and disabled cars left abandoned, on roads winding through jungle and remote villages.
He looked out for us like a mother hen, especially my grandchildren. He was strong, protective, funny, kind.
We stayed at an American hotel chain on the coast, and not far from the Accra airport, our last night in Ghana.
He said he didn’t know how to swim, as he watched our grandson and granddaughter paddling around like fishes, there in the deep end of the hotel pool. He’d never been in a swimming pool, he said. Evidently, this was the case with most of the Africans at the hotel. It looked like segregation, them all in the shallow end, and us “obruni” the only ones in the deep end.
My son-in-law said he would teach him to swim. He taught the grandkids before they were old enough to go to school.
When it was just us at the pool, he got in. This strong African man had fear in his eyes. My son-in-law tried to explain that he just needed to relax, that if you relax you will float, the water will hold you up. His muscles stained and time and again his head went underwater as he flailed and fought. He came up snorting water, grabbing his head for the burning pain of water in his sinuses. Aloud he cried, “Father, help me. I want to learn to swim!” Long after my son-in-law got out of the pool, giving him a few simple things to continue to work on, he stayed there in the shallow end of the pool, straining, struggling, fighting the water. Relaxing didn’t come naturally to him, and neither did giving up.
My eight year old granddaughter wouldn’t give up on him either. She stayed right there with him, encouraging him, coaching him along. That big, strong Ghanaian man laid all pride aside, and let this little eight year old girl help him. It was one of the most tender, dearest things I’ve ever seen.
He didn’t figure it out, not his very first time ever in a swimming pool. He told us he wants to find a way to get access to a swimming pool near home, somewhere that my son-in-law can work with him some more.
Even now, remembering, my heart cries out, “Father, help him! He just wants to learn how to swim!”
An addendum to the post above. Just received this photo from Ghana. The swimming lessons continue at a local pool at the university. Here our dear friend gets a little confidence boost from a yellow inner tube. Will you remember “K” in your prayers?