“We are your missionaries in Ghana because only the real power of the Gospel can transform a continent — and our approach is one student, one future leader at a time.”
— Steve & Suzanne Buchele
FUMCFW has faithfully supported the Buchele’s mission at Ashesi University in Ghana, and in a recent update of their work sent to Dr. Tim Bruster, Senior Pastor, Steve and Suzanne thanked Dr. Bruster and our church for its latest donation. Here’s a little more information on this inspiring example of two people who have “gone out to be God’s people” — across the world!
In 2006 the Buchele family made the move to Ghana. Suzanne taught math and computer science at Ashesi University, and then served as acting Academic Dean. Steve served as a teaching pastor and elder, led a church youth group music program, and interned with The Mission Society. When the Bucheles returned to their Texas roots in 2008, their hearts remained in Africa with their ministry and the people of Ghana. God’s calling for them was clear, and they returned after they were consecrated as Career Missionaries in 2012. Back in their beloved Ghana, they reunited with old friends and continue to make new ones every day.
Here is the full update from Steve and Suzanne Buchele about their mission work in Ghana:
We knew what God’s call for Suzanne was when we moved to Ghana, and starting July 1 she will be Ashesi University’s next Provost. But for Steve, the call was less clear. We thought he would pastor our old church, start a new campus church, or establish a thriving student ministry. All of those things would have been good, but as things unfolded and we came to better understand the Ashesi landscape, we saw the kingdom impact of establishing meaningful relationships with Africa’s next generation of leaders. There already were thriving churchlike student running clubs that did a great job of ministering and discipling their students, and Steve didn’t want to replace them. Instead, Steve came alongside those student leaders to support them and champion their causes.
We do the day-to-day work of the institution with Suzanne as Provost and Steve as a teacher/team lead of Leadership, but we always try to keep some margin in our lives open for divine appointments — those unplanned moments of influence when we speak clearly into the lives of our students. In truth, Suzanne stays pretty busy (with less margin) with the academic affairs of the University, but she does a good job of compartmentalizing her work and her life wherever practical.
For example, Steve has been meeting with Thomas (not his real name), who is an amazing worship leader and spiritually troubled young man. Over the past two years, Thomas and Steve have had a number of discussions, all in passing, and revolving around issues of faith and his struggle to answer a call to ministry authentically.
The trouble is, Ashesi has taught him to think critically, and that is at odds with much of the practice of religion in Ghana. Thomas is beginning to understand how God is bigger, more loving, and open to him seeking how he could best serve. Last week he came in with questions about a scripture passage and an hour later said, “I want to know for certain about God.” I love his candor; how he feels free to speak and questions these things in the safety of my office. We discuss, argue, and share stories. “I want to know for certain . . . like you,” he insists.
“You do not know what you are asking, Thomas,” I say, echoing scripture. We go round and round about what I have said and I feel him whistling past the graveyard of having a healthy fear of the Lord. It feels reckless and I caution him, finally saying, “Look, Thomas, we’ve talked about a lot. I want you to think about what I’ve said, what we’ve talked about, and then we’ll get together next week and talk again. I’ll answer any question you have, but I want you to think before you ask.”
Ghana is the most religious country in the world according to Gallup International, and at the same time according to Transparency International it is the 7th African country with a high level of corruption, or 56th out of 168 countries worldwide. To be named most religious, 96 percent of all Ghanaians perceived themselves as religious, and yet according to another study corruption is on the rise and a real stumbling block to most people. There is a serious disconnect between faith and action, between what people believe and how they act; it is a crisis of leadership. This is not only Ghana or Africa’s problem; its impact is felt worldwide. It is why we are your missionaries in Ghana — because only the real power of the Gospel can transform a continent — and our approach is one student, one future leader at a time.
The great value that we bring to this campus is that we are public, authentic followers of Jesus who are not so overtly religious, but live publicly (and I mean in a fishbowl) on campus. What I mean by not overtly religious is in comparison to religious leaders in Ghana who appeal to their followers to pray 4 – 6 hours a day, fast weekly, and arrange or attend all-night prayer meetings monthly. Instead, we are good and caring people who believe in the Gospel deeply and sincerely, and try to act that way on a daily basis. Suzanne and I love each other, and the students see us on our nightly walks, greeting them by name or stopping to chat.
And they love us too. When Steve was sick last Friday, the Ugandan students brought him a dish of Matoke, their national dish (it’s hard bananas with a peanut sauce.) “It will make you feel better,” they told him. Some of the male students call Steve their spiritual father, and come by to have conversations they wish they could have with their own fathers but can’t (mostly because they have passed). They ask about marriage, and how Suzanne and I have been married for almost 30 years and are still clearly in love. We’re not public about being missionaries since sometimes people treat you differently if they know you are volunteers. But if people ask us directly, and some do, we tell them about the Lord and how we felt called to return to Ghana.
Please thank the First Church Fort Worth family for their love and support of this ministry.
Steve & Suzanne Buchele