Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” These words were meant for my son, Joshua, at his dedication ceremony in the fall of 1988 but over the years since I have referred to them often for encouragement in my own life. Pastor Rick Duncan officiated that ceremony and years later also initiated a stirring in my heart and soul to take on what he called a BHAG. You might ask, “What is a BHAG?” In his words, a BHAG is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. He encouraged us to find an injustice somewhere in the world and go and do something about it. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal, however, is not something for the faint of heart or easy to accomplish. In fact, it is something that takes much strength and courage and actually can only be accomplished with the help of God.
At the time I wondered what taking on such a task might look like for me personally. I was a busy professional with four children and a comfortable family life. I didn’t really have the time to take on something like this. I initially told myself I could worry about this issue later. But the voice kept stirring and finally became loud enough that, in 2007, I entered the mission field in Ghana, West Africa, one of CVC’s focus mission areas. The primary goal of the team was to plant churches (a daunting task in itself) but I had a secondary goal to assess the status of medical care in the Nzema region where we were serving. I had in mind a small goal to determine if there was any need for some laboratory support in the region since working in a hospital laboratory had been my career. Of course, God had a much bigger goal which I quickly learned when I started my medical assessment. It turned out there was no need for laboratory support, not because it was already there, but because there were few or no medical facilities to attach them to. It was evident that, if God wanted us to do something about the medical disparity in the region, we would need to build a hospital ourselves.
I must admit that I came back from that trip somewhat disappointed about my assessment. How could we at a relatively small church in Ohio possibly build a hospital in rural West Africa? It seemed like an impossible task and one that was doomed to failure even if we tried. But the words of Joshua 1:9 kept coming back to me: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you.” So the journey began. I told God that we would walk this path, putting one foot in front of the other. Where He opened doors, we would walk through them and, where He sent us in a different direction, we would follow His lead. Along the way there have been many fits and starts, barriers put up and barriers torn down, doubts about whether this project would ever get off the ground to the joy and amazement of today’s dedication ceremony. Through it all, God was faithful. He walked the journey with us and sustained us through it all.
Today’s ceremony was truly one fit for a celebration in Ghana. From the parade of village chiefs in their finest ceremonial linens and family staffs, to the music loudly blaring from the large amplifiers, to the two and a half hours of speeches from the dignitaries present, the sights and sounds filled the senses. When the ribbon was cut officially opening the Nzema Baptist Hospital, I was overwhelmed by a sense of what can be accomplished when we partner with God and follow His lead in our lives. The journey has been long and arduous at times but always uplifting to know that the Lord has been walking the path with us. Today there is a new hospital in the Nzema region of Ghana that God has built to care for His people there. So listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, follow His lead and see what Big Hairy Audacious Goal you can accomplish.