What’s in a name?
Sometimes one can’t help but wonder whether names of people in history were given to them after they lived the way they did (to capture the essence of their lives) or really before. Naming is important; names are prophetic.
Nana Ahomka Asamoabea Perbi
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52)
I woke up early morning on Monday, 6th February with ‘Adenyinaamu’ on his heart; yes, that this child we were carrying will be holistic and have “God in my everything,” “God over everything.”
Considering the challenge of name pronunciation in the global context we kept the idea of holistic, wholesome, bringing God pleasure in every area of her life and gave her the simpler version Ahomka, Nana Ahomka–God’s pleasure (delight). This emphasizes both our prayer that she will live a wholesome, holistic life, all aspects pleasing to the LORD, as well as that she will bring delight to us and everyone she ever encounters.
The middle name, Asamoabea, is that of my beloved paternal grandmother who was quite the prayer warrior and story-teller! And boy could she dance with delight to everyone’s delight!
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:3-6)
From ‘Fantastic Four’ to ‘Fabulous Five’
Our children with their prophetic names (from left to right)…
- Nana Agyina (God’s Purpose) | Boy, 9 years
- Nana Adwenepa (God’s Paradigms) | Boy, 5 years
- Nana Ahotew (God’s Purity) | Girl, 2 years
- Nana Ashede (God’s Principles) | Girl, 7 years
- Nana Ahomka (God’s Pleasure) | Girl, 0 years (or 1 year, the Chinese way 🙂
Focus on Family First
The following is a Memo sent from the Office of the Global CEO to all The HuD Group members, associates and partners worldwide through the various country CEOs and will be of great benefit to anyone who wants to be inspired and empowered to fulfill their God-given purpose and reach their full potential.
First of all learn to put your religion into practice by caring for your own family
(1 Timothy 5:8)
Hands up; hands down
It was the last-but-one day in November. What a delight to see the whole family waiting for me at the Pierre Trudeau international airport in Montreal—it was a surprise! Considering that I had flown over 130,000 miles on 63 flights that year alone, it would be the exception that my family would be at the airport to pick me. I had no idea Anyele and the cubs were planning to be there. My heart was deeply touched. That was upon my last overseas trip for the year 2016. The excitement was palpable.
Then I heard from my dear wife that our older daughter had said in her excitement that I was coming home that day, “I’m so happy Daddy is coming to visit. I hope he stays for Christmas.” Visit? Ouch!
Although I had for months felt a deep impression on my heart that something along the lines of family was to be our overarching 2017 theme for The HuD Group globally—including hints from observations I had made of the lives of many young professionals in our circles—that profound statement ‘out of the mouth of babes’ was the final nail.
Out there or right here?
There are seven spheres (‘mountains’ or ‘pillars’) that shape any culture and society. Somehow in our quest to ‘change the world’, ‘impact society’ ‘make a difference’ or any other such parlance people normally use to express our desire to be significant there is a tendency to focus on any and every one of these spheres except the one which should be first and foremost—FAMILY. After all, everyone is born into one (no matter how atypical or even dysfunctional) and everyone has access to one. While becoming president to affect the course of a nation may be farfetched for the average Joe, one’s family is right within their circle of influence.
It is not an overstretched metaphor that the family is the cell (basic functional unit), of Church and society. Just like a disease process in the body is traceable all the way down to the cellular level so can the ills in any society. Think of cancer for a moment. Do you realize that cancer basically just means that ‘ordinary’ cells in a part of one’s body decide to go bonkers leading to an ‘extraordinary’ pathology which in advanced stages affect the whole being, even leading to eventual demise?
So why do we want to impact Religion out there, Education out there, Government out there, Media out there, Arts & Entertainment out there, and Business out there when Family is right where we are, right within our grasp, right now?
In the HuD Group, we teach how to discover and fulfill one’s God-given purpose. Try as we may, we may be “sincerely wrong” in our feeling and conviction that our Grand Designer has called us to any of these six afore-mentioned spheres of influence but we cannot be wrong that we are called to our Families! After all, we did not choose our parents or siblings—God who formed us and called us did. Who else is better qualified and uniquely called to influence the children from your own loins? When God has joined two together in the covenant of marriage how could there be an iota of doubt that the other covenant partner is your lifetime ministry?
When it dawned on me that I very well could be wrong that I’ve been called to youth or international students or to write or whatever I’m hotly pursuing globally now but I cannot be wrong that I’ve been called to Anyele and my four children (so far) I enshrined the following in my personal mission statement: “My Queen and cubs are my first and primary protégés. … The proof of my love for my wife and children is my investment of quality TIME and substantial RESOURCES in their lives. Seeing all of these family commitments as ministry, I pledge to honour my parents as well and make myself available and accessible to my siblings.”
“He will direct his children and his household after him”
It was E.M. Bounds who said, “Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. ”” Again in The HuD Group we believe in ‘ONE Power’—the power of one person to change the world. Throughout Scripture when God has wanted to do anything significant on Earth he’s sought “a man” (male or female). Then, his/her family. In the first dozen chapters of the Bible alone think of Adam, Noah, Abraham…
In fact, do you remember why—apart from pure grace in election—God chose Abraham in particular when He wanted someone who He could partner with for global transformation?
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”” (Genesis 18:19, NIV)
From his immediate family, Abraham would later influence the whole earth with his progeny—including being the Patriarch of all three major world religions that jostle for Jerusalem as their ‘headquarters.’
Today, in the places of the world where the church is growing fastest it is partly because the Gospel is spreading along family lines and whole households are being saved and baptized. There isn’t a more rapid way to see the whole Earth filled with the glory of the knowledge of God. This is what Paul and Silas had in mind when the responded to the Roman jailer: ““…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” (Acts 16:31-34, NIV)
God’s method is men—(s)he and all their household. So important is family in God’s scheme of things that he rubbishes our so-called faith or religious fervour if first our own families are not well taken care of and says the atheist is better of! “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” (1 Timothy 5:8, NLT)
FAMILY AS CHURCH
“As for me and my family”
Thousands of years ago Joshua got the idea right. That ministry was first in here with family before out there, that God’s method was first one man and his/her family, thus his powerful statement to the rest of the nation of Israel:
“But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NLT)
One day it dawned on me that my family IS church. What is church? Is it not where two or three are gathered in His name? (Matthew 18:20) Or as Neil Cole beautifully put it, church is “The presence of Jesus among his people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.”
Then I asked myself, why I was more interested in my Chinese congregation or The HuD Group or International Student Ministry than the Perbi family? That was about two years ago. I set out a long-term “Fellowship” goal thus: “See and treat my nuclear family as the CHURCH that they are!
–> Intercede for them FIRST
–> Apply all ‘one another’ scriptures to them FIRST
–> Not do/say anything nice to anyone without Naa and cubs FIRST.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Proto people in pleasing God pronto
I know we care about family in The HuD Group. But do we care about family too; or family first. When all is said and all is done then we give family the crumbs or when family is fully well taken care of and then the rest of the world gets the remainder? In the HuD Group we believe in the Proto Principle—that in all your getting get God first (the first and foremost commandment according to Jesus Christ). However, when it comes to loving people (the second commandment), is our family our Proto People or the rest of the world is?
Family first pleases God most. For example, the young pastor in his late teens was admonished by his mentor thus: “…if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” (1 Timothy 5:8, NIV) The New Living Translation begins the verse this way, that your“…first responsibility is to show godliness at home…”
Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. Sometimes I do well to keep family first; most of the time I fail. It still beats my mind why we tend to be more concerned about strangers and ‘the whole world’ than members of our own household!
So as we focus on family first—not just family too—in 2017 what are you going to do differently after this paradigm shift? Whatever tactics, strategies and habits you take on remember that the proof of how well you’re doing in putting family first is the measure of attention, energy, time and money you’re investing in your own family.
I hope to share with you some of my SMART goals and practices for my family this year and look forward to learning from your best practices too!
Your number one calling is to your God-given family till Christ returns or calls you Home. Yes Home, to the ultimate family Person, “our Father who art in Heaven.”
So help us God! Amen!
Dr. Yaw Perbi
#1 MARRIAGE LESSON NOBODY TALKS ABOUT MUCH
In the excitement of ‘falling in love forever’ and prospects of ‘making love all night long’ we forget (or simply don’t realize) the reality that nothing works until we work it; especially the hard work on our own character in marriage all life long.
SPEAK NO EVIL
When you are a gifted speaker one of your greatest temptations is accepting invitations to address things you have no expertise or experience in or have no particular passion for, just because you’ve got the gift of the gab. For integrity sake, I’ve always strived to not fall prey to that trap just because “I can talk.” Early in my career as a communicator one of the things I promised myself was to not preach or bring the exhortation at a wedding ceremony for a long time until I had walked long enough in those matrimonial shoes. For me that was a minimum of three years; now it’s been 10.
Since I married my friend of 15 years on August 12, 2006 I’ve had the privilege of conducting and speaking at a few weddings of various kinds: African, North American, Chinese, Messianic Jew… you name it. And I always tend to speak on what others would rather not.
WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
“Already?!” I exclaim again and again. “But (s)he was many years my junior!” “Did they not just get married?” The rate of divorce in society today worries me to no end; but especially among those who call themselves Christians. One of the factors that pushed me out of not speaking or writing much about marriage was heart-wrenching conversation after conversation about several younger medical colleagues of mine whose marriages had come apart. And it’s not just the Christian doctors; it’s a myriad others.
So why do people still want to get married? Why do some societies actually even pressure people into marriage as if it’s the best thing in the world if we very well know that half of these will be dissolved before the first anniversary? On some social media platforms I know of, divorce is not only normal, it is actively encouraged. What’s all the fuss about weddings then?
The following BIG four ‘features and benefits’ may be why the majority want to marry, what excites all of us who attend weddings and what most counsellors and preachers will talk about:
- Companionship—”It is not good for man to be alone.”
- Cause—a suitable help to accomplish your life’s mission/purpose together.
- Coitus—OK, that’s doctor language; what ‘mere mortals’ call “sex.” Trust me, that alone is worth getting married for! [But then again for the heathen, what’s sex got to do with marriage, right?!]
- Children—both child-bearing and child-rearing in a loving, safe and stable socio-economic and spiritual context.
I may expand on these ‘big four’ in my future writing. My emphasis today is the fifth ‘C’ which nobody talks about much.
THE MISSING ‘C’
Yes, all these four Cs are worth making a fuss about and jubilating at weddings over but one of the most important reasons why God made marriage yet which I hardly hear anybody talking about is this fifth ‘C’ which I want to spend the rest of this blog on: Character.
This, for me, has been my #1 lesson in the mere 10 years I’ve been married (my parents are about hitting forty and both maternal and paternal grandparents made it over half a century in marriage before both grandmas passed away). A key ‘feature and benefit’ of marriage is character construction.
CRUCIBLE & COLLEGE
If you ever did Chemistry experiments in school you most likely used a crucible. It is a container in the lab in which substances are mixed at very high temperatures. Yeah, that’s what marriage is. It is a crucible. Nothing in the world produces as much heat to bring out impurities and form character like marriage! Nothing!
Yes, medical school was tough and moulded the character of my mates and I. Yet if I told you the number of smart, young doctors who finished medical school with excellence and yet are checking out from the ‘heat in the kitchen’ of marriage you will be shell-shocked! It’s not about smartness (the head), it’s not even about skillfulness (the hands), it’s about character (the heart!).
Nothing shapes us like marriage and that is why people can successfully run Fortune 500 companies, like the chap who run a multinational with over 300,000 employees worldwide but could not keep a single marriage! How many world record-setting athletes and multiple-award winning artistes don’t we know who dazzle us with their giftedness but the least said about the marriages the better? O, and archbishops who supervise hundreds of churches and tens of thousands of congregants around the world and cast out big big demons but cannot keep one marriage!
One of God’s highest purposes for making man is so that we look like him—God has always wanted us to look like him—“let us make man in our image and likeness.” Marriage is God’s best laboratory and school for that process of spiritual transformation; some call it “discipleship.” Character formation, the spiritual transformation of one another to become more and more like Christ, is one of the highest ‘features and benefits’ of Christian marriage and yet nobody wants to ‘dampen’ the excitement to talk about that.
I thought I was patient until I got married. I always knew I was prideful but not this much until I started this journey with the most wonderful woman in the world. Trust me, I look much more like Christ today than I did ten years ago, thanks to this thing called marriage. And I’m not even ‘there’ yet (you can ask Anyele my wife!) You and I may decide to ‘check out’ of our marriages for a myriad reasons, chief of them in my generation being “irreconcilable differences.’ Perhaps the secular and godless can say that, but for a Christ follower, is there anything more irreconcilable than sinful us and a perfect God? Yet He came to us and sought us out to reconcile us to Himself as His forever bride “while we were still sinners.”
If we don’t give up but keep up the hard work of “submit[ing[ to one another out of reverence for Christ;” if wives would submit to their husbands in everything as the Church (bride) submits to Christ (bridegroom); if we husbands would love our wives just as Christ loved the Church to the point of sacrificial death we all will be daily transformed more and more into the image of Christ and the longevity of our marriages will actually seem rather like a byproduct.
Your true measure of spirituality is not who you are in church but who you are at home! No better discipleship school in the world than marriage! I did medical school for eight years (and another 2 years of housemanship) before getting my full certificate to practice but marriage is a ‘strange’ college where, as they say, you get your certificate even before you start the course!!
As Ephesians 5 portrays, marriage is this beautiful picture of Christ and His Church, and God wants you and I to mirror this HIGH standard! Don’t try to lower the standard to what you can do; get on your knees and plead for GRACE to reach those heights only God can empower us to! If you’ve decided to or are contemplating this thing called marriage, welcome to the college of discipleship; welcome to the crucible of character formation! If you will both submit to Christ, His Word and His Ways, you will both look like Him more and more!
This is not just the hard work of will power or self-help I speak of but a work of grace; if we will allow it. There is grace enough for the marriage journey. “11For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-12)
MARRIAGE IS AWESOME!
Marriage is not just society’s idea; although today’s Supreme Courts and local governments think this is their invention and can tweak it however they want. Marriage is God’s idea and it is awesome when done God’s way! God made it and said it was good.
Marriage is awesome! The companionship is great!, helping each other in accomplishing our purpose is wonderful!, the sex is literally breathtaking!, the children a blessing!… and the character formation, phenomenal! Don’t just endure, enjoy! None of us is qualified to say “marriage doesn’t work” until we’ve worked it the way the Designer planned it.