'A better future:' United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay holds book drive for Ghana village

WHITEFISH BAY -- An international outreach effort involving parishioners at United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay is aimed at changing lives and futures. The congregation is spreading God's love and sharing knowledge one book at a time.

The altar was replaced with a pyramid of boxes on Sunday morning, Jan. 13, as children rushed to complete an important task.

The altar, replaced with boxes of books

"Will you help me pack the last of the books?" asked one church member.

The contents of the boxes connected the children with others in Ghana, halfway across the world.

"They need these books," said Aba Baffoe-Ashun. "It's going to go a long way for them."

Baffoe-Ashun grew up in Ghana, and helped connect her Whitefish Bay church with another in her homeland. It all began with a mission to help an impoverished area.

A water system donated by the church

"They had no water, except to go to a stream," said Cynthia Boock, co-chair of the mission team at the United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay.

Children in Ghana

The congregation raised $8,000 for a water system for the rural village, but while the church members were in Africa, they noticed the school's library was bare.

"The teacher might have one book or something, and make a copy," said Baffoe-Ashun. "They were teaching them a computer class without a computer -- just a picture on the wall. That is one of the things that touches our hearts, for us to step in and help."

Congregation members helping with book donations

The next chapter involved gathering more than 2,300 books. The books were prayed over and sent along with $6,500 to furnish the library.

"We envisioned one school and it's gone way beyond," said Boock. "Now, three schools and even the community is now going be able to use the library."

"I know they are excited, waiting for these books to get there," said Baffoe-Ashun.  "I know they are going to use it to get a better future out of it."

The goal is to have the library at the Methodist School in Ghana completed in 2019.

Scenes from Ghana