In Ghana everyone is a Christian, or ‘at least’ a Muslim. When you go to the hospital and have to fill out a form to get treatment, you have to fill some basic information and things like what tribe you are from and what religion you follow. Ok, since we’re all obroni’s, the volunteers obviously don’t belong to a tribe, but then the religion question comes up. I’m a Christian, yeah, but the other volunteers aren’t. The person that fills out the form for us asked “I hope you’re a Christian?” When they get no as an answer he looks up with a worried expression. “Ok, but at least you are a Muslim?” Like being a Muslim means that you’re less than a Christian, but you still get a small reference. “At least.” Isn’t everybody equal anymore? Does equality have to change per country? The volunteer says no again, worried that she won’t get treatment because of this. The guy looks up, looks down at the form and just awkwardly crosses the whole question out.
Being here in the volunteer house, I’ve been learning a lot about tolerance. Since everybody here is different in a way, we all have different opinions, and that’s ok. For me, it doesn’t matter how someone thinks or if I think differently. I’m not going to try to force my opinion on anyone just because I think it’s right. I can tell them what I believe and why I believe it, but for me it’s not important to have someone believe in the exact same thing. I just think people should think about life every once in a while and decide for themselves what is the best way to live it.
That brings me to deciding for yourself. That is what has been bothering me lately. I was born and raised a Christian and I have always thought that was the right way to live my life. Even if the rest of the world doesn’t believe it, my mom believes it so I do too. It’s not like my mom told me that Christianity is right and everything else is wrong, it’s just the way it worked in my head while growing up. Coming here and seeing there are different ways to live your life is one of the most important lessons I could have ever learnt. It is so important to know who you are in this world and not who other people want you to be. I have always believed in God, but this year it has been really hard for me. Coming here I had to make the transition from believing because I was taught to and believing because I was thinking for myself. And the hardest part of all is to separate my own thoughts from my church’s thoughts and my family’s thoughts. I tried and I’m still trying to distance myself from everything I have learnt, and finding it all out for myself, but it’s so so hard to see if what I’m thinking is really coming from myself.
I was raised in a relatively atheist environment and seprating these things is already hard for me. Here in Ghana, it’s the complete opposite. Everybody believes in God. They pray before meals, they pray for forgiveness, they pray for blessings, they pray for healing. Most of the time they don’t do it because they believe in God, it’s just that they don’t know how not to believe in God. When I ask them why they believe, they don’t know how to answer me. Don’t get me wrong, I want them to believe in God, but just not like this. I want them to know God because of God and not because of the world. I want them to think and not just follow.
Being a Christian in Ghana is really hard for me, because I want people to know what they believe and why they believe it instead of just believing. For me, not believing in God and knowing exactly why is better than believing in God because everyone does it. Listening to the kids pray should make me feel happy, but it makes me feel uncomfortable instead, because I feel it’s not true. One of my favourite verses is 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and it goes like this: “Test all things and hold fast that which is good.” Another translation says “Examine everything carefully and hold fast to what is good.” Not everyone believes in the Bible, but you have to admit that this is a good verse. The Bible is telling us not to just accept, but to examine everything carefully and to stick to what is right. That right there is what really matters, in my opinion.