My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Friday, March 22, 2013


It's been awhile since I've had internet access besides the simple updates I can complete via my phone.

It has been an incredibly busy month so far, but so encouraging.

I can't believe that it has been a week since Apostle Judy Shaw left us (how time flies), but she came to spend 5 days with us a couple of weeks back.  Those days were completely filled from top to bottom, but were days of joy, encouragement, and reminders of God's amazing love for us.

Pastor Judy is John and Stacy's pastor from their church back in Sioux Falls.  And she is amazing. 

She used her short time with us to simply encourage, encourage, encourage.

The day she flew in, we drove to Keta, which is a village on the way to Togo along the coastline.  Keta is known for its beautiful beaches, the fishing that happens at its shorelines, and its incredible darkness (it is a community in the Volta region).

Our friends, Pastor Paul and Angie Doe, have an incredible ministry in the community there.  Paul ministers with the youth of the community, Angie with the children and women.  Even to spend a weekend with them there, you can see the powerful impact they have upon the lives in that community.

We went to Keta to host a women's conference there with Angie and Paul.  We visited there last year with Pastor Judy and some other friends of hers and it was so powerful.  We were excited to go back and I was definitely looking forward to a little time away from our Children's Village (I love our village, but it's always nice to get away!). 

We got into Keta rather late, so we ate dinner late and then we were off to bed, lulled to sleep by the crashing waves not that far from our hotel room.

When we got up the next day, we ate breakfast out by the ocean and then we headed out to the church where the conference was happening.  About 200 women were packed into a little church building, causing the temperature of that place to skyrocket.  It felt like walking into a furnace.  But, God moved!!  Powerfully!!

Pastor Judy spoke to the women about their destiny, and the love that the Father has for them.  Angie spoke to the women about stepping forward in faith.  It was a powerful time of ministry and when we left, we were all heat soaked and exhausted, but so encouraged by the response of the women. 

We had heard, while at the church, that the power was going to be out that night (a common occurrence lately it seems), so Paul and Angie came and joined us at the hotel, thankful for the generator that would run our a/c and fans.  And then, we all gathered together and went out to Paul and Angie's land for dinner and some time in the ocean waves.  The water was actually warm (though Tyna, our administrator, thought it was too cold!).  I stuck my feet in and prayed and sang to myself as I walked through the water.  What a beautiful way to end the day!

The next day, we went back to the church and ministered again.  I sang a song, one that had been stuck in my head all weekend (thank you Will Reagan), and then Angie got up to speak.  She spoke with the women about being a part of the vine (John 15) and it was so rich and true.  It was so fun to see her ministering in this way.  God has certainly given her a heart for this community and you could tell with every word that poured from her mouth.  Pastor Judy got up to speak afterwards and just spoke a powerful word to the women, asking them to walk out in faith what they have been called to do.  It was so sweet to see the women, especially the young women, coming forward and desiring, with tears in their eyes, to live out the destiny of "Beloved of Christ" that God was calling them too.  That they had a voice.  They had that opportunity to share the love of Christ with others, the authority, the joy.

Afterwards, some people who were sick were brought to the front of the church.  Pastor Judy and John spent the next 30 minutes praying over them, that God would heal them.  The lame would walk.  The deaf hear.  Time and time again, they were sent back to their seat, encouraged to have faith, but no physical sign of healing was there.  And then, a young woman came forward who had recently become blind due to an accident.  Pastor Judy and John prayed over her...and she was healed.  She walked out of the sanctuary knowing she was loved by God because of her healing.  Such a beautiful picture.

Not long after that, we packed up and drove away from Keta.  It was a beautiful weekend of refreshing.

And again, and again, we were refreshed with our time with Pastor Judy.

She preached a message about "Remembering WHO YOU ARE" to our kids, tying in that crazy old Rafiki, Simba, and Mufasa from the Lion King.  The kids were so moved.  Everyday, I still hear them repeating, "Remember who you are!".  And from that message, some of our kids experienced real freedom as God spoke to them about their true character and personhood in Christ.  So good!

Pastor Judy also spent time with other local missionaries one evening.  Of course, the electricity went out right when we were about to start, the heat became oppressive, it was exhausting, but God won in the end!  We brought out the generator, the Beebe boys lead us in some powerful worship, Pastor Judy ministered, and we were all encouraged by the time in community and the time in the Presence of God.

Pastor Judy's last talk was with all of the CORM staff, particularly the school teachers.  She spoke directly what needed to be said, "I know you are Christians, but it is time to dig in deeper and take a step forward in faith."  Such a rich challenge for our people, something they desperately needed called into.

I was so encouraged by her time with us.  It has felt like God keeps showing up in powerful ways here lately.  It's been so rich and so good.  We need more of this...more often...more of God.

May it be so!

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