Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gye Nyame - "Except for God"

Ghana is a very Christian country. It is "third world", yet their faith is so simple, so beautiful. They pray to God every time they get in the car, and they believe God provides the food they have to feed their family ... tonight.

It seems there is "God language" and symbolism everywhere. I walked down the dusty street near our hotel to see little shops called "The Lord is My Shepherd" and "His Mighty Hand." I saw "God's Grace Beauty Salon" and "Blessed Assurance Fashion." The bumper stickers on taxis had phrases like "Nothing without grace."

We carried the above symbol on our Ghana mission team shirts. It is common to see this in Ghana. It is called a "Gye Nyame," a sign with long history and a deep meaning. It's an ancient Adinkra symbol (used for cloth and textiles) in Twi tribal language which translates "Except for God." Referring to the supremacy of God, it is very popular not only in clothing but in decorations, woodwork, pottery, metal casting, and artwork, and says something about their faith.

If you look closely, you might see that it depicts a person inside of a hand. It is a picture of how we are held in the hand of God. The tradition is that it refers to creation - no one was alive to see its beginning and no one will live to see it end, "except for God". A local pastor also told me is that African people are taught that they are strong and to fear no one, "except for God."

In traditional Christian theology, God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (always around us). I would add that God is omniloving and omnigraceful (I like to make up words).

This is the starting place for all faiths, and it's no wonder that Christians in Ghana carry it forward in their folklore and history. As we go into the year together, let's start at that place, too. God is everywhere, in everything. Let's keep our spiritual antennas up and look for God's presence.

Thank you so much for your love and support of the 13 of us who went to Ghana over the holidays to visit the children of the Eugemot Orphanage, lay the foundation for the barn we are building, offer food relief, and visit churches to share Christian fellowship. It was life-changing.