LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Kevin Binkley had done construction work his entire life.
But as student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., he was looking forward to going on a mission trip and focusing strictly on evangelism. Construction work, he figured, would literally be a world away.
God, though, had different plans.
Binkley and a team of seven other men traveled to Kumasi, Ghana, in January as part of a mission trip to teach in the Ghana Baptist Seminary and preach in the local churches. As soon as Binkley arrived, he discovered that the seminary building was in need of construction work.
Binkley, who owned a construction company in Minnesota before moving to Southern, was the man for the job. The Ghana seminary — which partners with Southern — had a large open room that needed to be divided into separate offices for professors.
There were no electrical saws. Everything was done with a handsaw.
“We worked five days on it,” Binkley said, smiling.
Another student, John Craven, was also seeing God at work. Craven went on the trip feeling somewhat inadequate, but ended up using his computer knowledge to repair a handful of the Ghana seminary’s computers.
Craven was a master at using Windows ’95, an operating system for computers. But in the world of computers, Windows ’95 is somewhat obsolete. It just so happened, however, that all of the computers used that same system. When the Southern team left two weeks later, the seminary had nine working computers — six had been donated by the Southern team — giving it its first computer lab.
“I think the two of us,” Binkley said, “really saw that God could just pick two people out of a place and say, ‘You go and work on the computers for two weeks.’ He said to me, ‘You go and do construction.’
“It was very fulfilling to see that happen. We know that God can do these things and we believe it, but we’re so encouraged when we see it around us.”
Said Craven, “Nobody called each other before. This was a God thing.”
In addition to the computers, the Southern team also took around 500 pounds of books for the Ghana seminary library. Some of them came from Eerdmans Publishing Company, which donated about $600 worth of Bible commentaries.
The books, computers and offices will help the seminary attract students and attain accreditation.
Of course, the trip had goals that were not so temporal. During the day, team leader Rob Plummer taught in the Ghana Baptist Seminary. At night and on Sundays the men preached in local churches, discipling Christians and evangelizing the lost.
“I really think when someone goes on a mission trip, the reason they’re going there is to share the gospel and to train people and disciple them,” Plummer said. “If they’re not having opportunities to do that, then it’s not a good mission trip, in my mind.”
It just so happened that the Ghana Baptists were in the middle of a time of prayer and fasting. It made for a spiritually rewarding trip.
“People came forward and there were decisions for Christ,” Binkley said. “The last Sunday I was there we had 11 come forward — four for salvation, seven for rededication.”
The Southern team also got quite a bit of practice at baptizing. When the men arrived, the Ghana churches had a backlog of people needing baptized. The Southern team was more than willing to help the situation.
“They brought this load of people out to the seminary and they asked us to help baptize,” Plummer said. “That was fun. We probably got to baptize 50 to 100 people. The people were terrified of water. They had never been all the way under water in their lives — I guess because there’s no lake around there.
“But it was a joyful occasion.”
Another task involved teaching Ghana Baptist Seminary students. For two weeks Plummer taught some 26 students Christian theology using the books of 1, 2 and 3 John. Each day, one of the Southern students would visit the class and guest lecture on a certain topic.
“It was extremely encouraging to see God’s Word work on people,” Plummer said. “It was incredible to see it just cut to the heart of people.”
On one occasion, Plummer had been teaching on Christian love when a student came up to him after class.
“He said that 10 years ago he loaned his brother money, and his brother had never paid him back,” Plummer said. “He had been bitter and angry at him ever since. After studying 1 John, he became convicted that a genuine Christian has to live in love and [that] you can’t hate your brother.
“He called his brother and confessed his sin to him. It was amazing to see. It brought about an increased fervor.”
Plummer and the students also combated the heresy of modalism, a belief that denies the Trinity.
“I think it was beneficial to address that,” he said.
But the teaching and witnessing didn’t end when the team left Ghana. On the plane back to the United States, Binkley found himself sitting beside a woman who had been searching for truth.
“She said to me that she had been searching to know God and that I was the answer to her prayers,” he said. “I told her, ‘You are the answer to mine, because we pray that we’ll be able to teach and minister and share the gospel.'”
The woman prayed to receive Christ. Binkley has since mailed her a copy of John Piper’s book, “Desiring God.” He said such incidents are simply a testament to God’s providence.
“When somebody comes up and says, ‘Come up and help me,’ it’s God,” Binkley said.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: READY TO BAPTIZE, MISSIONS IN GHANA.