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INSIDE STORY: He takes notes, shoots photos — and preaches

AMSTERDAM — Seven time zones and 5,000 miles from home, Erik Tryggestad got an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Erik, T he Christian Chronicle’s international writer and assistant managing editor, was asked to deliver the sermon at the Amsterdam Church of Christ.
Edward Acquah, minister of the congregation of more than 100 Ghanaian immigrants, extended the invitation to preach as Erik and I greeted him in his office.
A veteran of international reporting, Erik came prepared that Sunday — with not only his notebook and camera but also a sermon tucked in his Bible just in case he needed it.
On a rare joint-reporting trip, Erik and I had flown all night from Dallas to Amsterdam the day before and then taken a train to Antwerp, Belgium, to meet up with missionary Paul Brazle and high school mission groups from Oklahoma and Ohio.
With an interpreter translating Erik’s sermon into Twi — a languagespoken in Ghana — my colleague praised the evangelistic fervor of hisAfrican brothers and sisters. “No matter where you are in the world,you build new communities of faith,” Erik said. “I find myself in aweof the faith that you have.”
I found myself in awe of my friend, who has reported from places as farflung as Cuba, El Salvador, Guyana,  India, Liberia, Nigeria andZimbabwe. In all, Erik has filed stories from 25 countries in eightyears with the Chronicle.
One of his most treasured possessions is a pair of sneakers that walkedon four continents — North America, South America, Europe and Africa —in a single calendar year. The shoes, now mostly brown, are enshrinedin his closet, much to the chagrin of his wife, Jeanie.
Erik and I boarded another plane that Monday to our ultimatedestination: Accra, Ghana. As part of the Chronicle’s “Global South”project, we spent the week reporting on a partnership between aChristian university in Texas and a sister college in Accra. Unable toresist making more international contacts, Erik made side trips toneighboring Togo and Burkina Faso.
While Erik was in Togo, a group that included Abilene ChristianUniversity President Royce Money, ACU board member Deon Fair, ACUbusiness professor Brad Crisp and I traveled to the Village of Hopeorphanage.
We also visited a former slave castle on Ghana’s coast and toured KakumNational Park. The rainforest north of Cape Coast features a130-foot-high canopy walkway suspended between trees. Supposedly youcan observe different species of birds and butterflies from the canopy.But all I saw was a whole lot of ground far, far below!
Coincidentally, we were in the small African nation at the same time asthe leader of the free world. President Barack Obama’s trip to Accracreated a traffic nightmare in a city with plenty of logjams on normaldays.
The day of Obama’s speech to Ghana’s parliament, we drove by the U.S.Embassy. Brad took out his iPhone and snapped a photograph of the sign,unaware of posted warnings against taking pictures. Within seconds,Ghanaian police, armed with rifles, came running toward us.
They escorted Brad out of the car.
Fortunately, he soon returned, having deleted the photo to theauthorities’ satisfaction. We all enjoyed a hearty laugh and promisedto keep the international incident as quiet as possible.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

  • Feedback
    Erik has been such a blessing to the Chronicle and all its readers, as well as all of the churches he has visited! The Chronicle and the entire Church of Christ community should be very grateful for all the stories of struggle and hope he has been able to share with us from across the Kingdom of God!
    Ann White
    Quail Springs Church of Christ
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    August, 11 2009

Filed under: Inside Story

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