Everyone at the center has been thrilled at the change in Abigail since she received Christ at a Compassion retreat. She now leads Bible studies, both at her home and at the Compassion center.
Margaret heard her 11-year-old daughter, Abigail, before she saw her. The girl chattered excitedly as she clattered in the front door of her family's small cinderblock house.
Abigail beamed as she told her mother stories from the retreat she had just been on with the Community Four Central Assemblies of God Child Development Center (GH-300).
Then Abigail grew quiet. Margaret worried that her headstrong daughter had been in trouble at the retreat.
Had she picked another fight? Been rude to one of the leaders? "Mama," whispered Abigail. Margaret held her breath. "Mama, I accepted Jesus into
Margaret let out her breath in a shaky gasp and pulled Abigail into her arms. To Margaret, the moment was the culmination of a gradual transformation in Abigail from an angry, troubled little girl to a cheerful, focused young person.
The transformation began two years ago, when Compassion and her sponsor's encouragement gave her hope. Now Jesus had given her faith. Together, they're giving Abigail a brighter future.
The Hope of Heaven
"What other hope can someone give you more than the hope of heaven?" says Margaret. "My daughter is now a Christian, and she is being educated. Her medical bills are being paid, and she gets gifts every now and then.
"There is hope for my daughter's future. What other hope can I ask for?"
Not so long ago, Margaret wasn't optimistic about Abigail's future she fretted over it. Her job at a toiletry factory, paired with her husband's job as a security guard, didn't bring home enough money to pay for food, clothes or school.
Abigail was often sent home from school because she couldn't pay her fees."Life has been very difficult," says Margaret. "Paying the children's school fees has always been hard. We heard about Compassion being a Christian organization and what they have been doing in the lives of children. We worked very hard to have Abigail enrolled."
Eager Young Hearts
Abigail's first year at the center was filled with struggles. Unlike most Ghanian children, who are taught to be quiet and respectful, she was outspoken and loud, often picking fights with the other children.
"We used to settle disputes almost every Saturday between Abigail and somebody," says Samuel, a social worker at the center. "She used to have very bad temper. "Then last year, Abigail went on a retreat hosted by the center. There, Abigail and dozens of other teens listened to speakers and worshiped together.
And by the end of the week, Abigail knew that something had been missing in her life. On the final day, Samuel says, dozens of children, including Abigail, crowded at a makeshift altar, saying they wanted Jesus in their hearts.
At first, Samuel and other workers hesitated to let them follow through. Were these children ready to make such a huge decision? They had been in the program for only two years, and many of them had never heard a Bible story or said a prayer before entering the program. Did they know what
it meant to follow Christ?
"We kept on talking to them, hoping that when they are old enough to understand the things of God then they can make their own decision," says Samuel.
Words of Encouragement
But after that retreat, Samuel couldn't deny the change he saw. Children who had been in constant trouble displayed a renewed focus. And Abigail was now kind to the other children and eager to help her tutors at the center.
Abigail says that at the retreat, everything finally came together. For two years, she had read the words of Sheila, her sponsor, but now they finally made sense. She says Sheila has been a constant influence and encouragement, especially in her spiritual growth.
"Sheila writes and tells me a lot about her family and asks me about mine," says Abigail. "She also advises me to read my Bible and pray every day. She says Jesus loves me and that if I love Jesus, I must be a good girl always. So I always try to be good."
Margaret says she has many dreams for her daughter. She would like to see her become a woman of God, teaching others about Jesus. But ultimately, she says, her most important dream for Abigail has already come true.
"She has the Lord in her heart now. That's all that matters to me."
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