By ZOË WATKINS
The Whosoever Will Pentecostal Church, located at 219 E Cedar St. in Shelbyville, went on a mission trip to Accra, Ghana early in early September.
Fourteen members packed light and took flight to the capital city to attend a convention and women’s conference at Redeemed Calvary Church.
But the mission trip wasn’t to solely help a church in need. Instead, the local group said they got more out of the trip than they ever imagined.
“What I did not know nor realize was that it wasn’t the church who needed us; we needed them,” said Asha Tarrant. “They did what was normal for them in their everyday life, as we watched riding the bumpy roads wondering how have they not prospered in so long?”
“It’s like we stepped back in time 100 years,” said Stefanii Singleton.
Dirt roads, animals running freely, huts held by poles and tarps, lack of clean water and electricity—everything felt unreal. But it made the missionaries grateful for being from such a blessed country as the United States.
“It was a trip that humbled me and made me more grateful,” said Stefanii.
As part of the trip, the missionaries provided flip-flops and candy to the people there, which Stefanii said they absolutely loved. “Things that we take for granted mean so much to them.”
Despite the poverty, the church members also witnessed how the people of Ghana praised the Lord.
“It didn’t stop them from praising the Lord. The lights went out and they didn’t care. They kept praising,” said Joe Singleton, referring to one of the power outages they experienced at the church. They said the attendees used flashlights as they continued to worship.
“When I saw the way they praised God I was put to shame,” said Stefanii. “We had an amazing opportunity.”
At first, Stefanii and Asha said the two groups were shy of each other. Asha, who is self-described as shy, said the trip made her want to come back and “stomp her feet a little more.”
“It wasn’t until the next day that when we arrived at church, I diverted away from the group and couldn’t take it any longer. I just had to go see the children. That right there, in that moment, was my favorite one of the whole trip. They were so happy we decided to greet them,” said Asha.
“Before I knew it I had some sisters and brothers,” said Stefanii with a laugh. “It felt like we had known them all of our lived.”
In addition to helping with the church, the Whosoever Will missionaries also explored parts of Ghana, visiting the beaches and touring one of the slave castle and visiting the “Door of No Return,” in addition to learning more about the Ashanti tribe.
Since they’ve been back, Stefanii explained they are hoping to one day partner with the Ghana church to start a non-profit called The ARC (American Redeemed Connection). The goal is to get the eight pastors of the church, who have little more than the ground to sleep on, warm beds.
“In some ways they were ahead of us as a church. They had their own media team. And that was impressive to me,” said Stefanii. “I walk by faith in everything I do. So my faith in concerning this trip is there are things we can do that we don’t feel we’re capable of doing to help them.”
Member Michelle Berry said, “I think if you go over there and see how those people have to live and then you come back here and something hasn’t changed with you, then there’s something wrong with you. I feel like I will not be complaining.”
One thing is for sure, each member said they hope to go back next year.