How a first love was rekindled

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, September 29, 2016

Terry and Sue Grainger of Conway, South Carolina, were looking forward to retiring and getting to travel and just enjoy life. 

After all, for more than 50 years they had been in the public eye since being in college and Terry had decided to go into ministry. 

For the past 22 years, Terry had been the pastor of the Pawley Swamp Baptist Church. He and his wife, Sue, had worked together all their life. Terry had done many wedding ceremonies on the shores of Myrtle Beach, where they went to work daily and Sue helped to keep everything going smoothly. Terry did the work of a minister daily and preached at Pawley Swamp on the weekends and prayer meetings on Wednesday night.

They had two sons and a daughter who grew up as PKs, which most know as preacher’s kids. They have all turned out to be successful adults. They were looking forward to seeing more of mom and dad and the grandchildren were also. 

Little did Terry and Sue realize that just sitting around was not in their makeup. Soon after Terry retired, he realized something was nagging at him. He and Sue discussed this and he asked the Lord to give him an answer. He did.

At first, it did not make any sense to Terry. The Lord told him to think of his first love. The verse from Revelation 2:4, “Yet there is one thing wrong, you don’t love me as at first. Think about those times of your first love (how different you are now)! Turn back to me again and work as you did before; or else I will come and remove your candlestick from its place among the churches.”

All Terry could think of was how much in love he and Sue were when they first got married and how even in college, with very little money, they would drive for hours to go to hear someone preach or for him to preach. He thought of how happy they were and excited for it all. Their love for one another and the Lord was so powerful at first. He thought that though he always loved the Lord, somehow their excitement had waned. 

The more Terry sought to find answers in the scriptures, he found the Lord was speaking to him but was confounding him more. Then it became very apparent the Lord wanted him to do something new and exciting.

It became clear to Sue and Terry they were to be missionaries. The Pawley Swamp Baptist Church commissioned them as missionaries at large. Before long, Sue and Terry were on their way to Accra, Ghana, (Accra is pronounced like Ac Crawl).

Not having any idea what they were getting themselves into and leaving the luxuries of their beautiful home in Conway, they started on a journey that both scared and excited them. All they knew was this was what God wanted them to do. 

When they first arrived a man named John, greeted them smiling broadly and said “Welcome, welcome!”   

On the outside was a little open tiki hut. Terry and Sue joked with friends that was where they lived but then said they have a decent place to live.

They were taken to a building called the compound. There was a wall and a guard at the gate. Barbed wire and spikes were on the outside of the building. They were let inside with no problems at all. They later found out all the government buildings were like that.

There was never any air conditioning in any homes. Temperatures were above 90 degrees most days. 

They told the crowd they spoke to at the Mount Sterling church on Sunday morning, they never feared for their safety while they were over in Ghana. Sue had been a school teacher her entire life until she retired and worked to help Terry until he retired.  She had her hands full in Accra.  

Sue and Terry were involved in three different teaching programs during the week. The first program involved the “Chance  for Children” program. These were the kids who had neither a home or a parent and lived on the street and ate when and however they could. The second program was a group called the “Children of the Light.” This group of children had a type of home and parents but little else. The third program was an after-school program that was for children who had been to school but after the eighth grade, could still not read.

The social workers walked for miles to the childrens’ homes and asked the parents for them to come to get an education. They live in nothing more than shanties or huts. The biggest disadvantage was not having any supplies to teach with, so Sue had to be creative in her teaching.

After walking for miles to school, the children came to school literally in filthy rags.

Upon entering they were given baths and clean clothes to wear while they were there for the day. Their clothes were washed and hung up to dry and put back on the kids when they returned home. If they gave the children their clothes, someone or their parents would sell them on the street and they wouldn’t get to keep them anyway. At least they got to wear them while in school. The children do not have even construction paper or crayons to work with. Sue even taught them by songs such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

They do not have picture books. There is no silverware, only fingers. 

Some kids don’t want to go to school because one girl told of going to school and being beat over the head by a large hickory stick because she did not know the answer to a question. 

Once Sue had to pay $30 just to do a project with paper bags and only got about 10 or 12 bags for that amount. She wanted teach a story about the three trees and make the trees out of the paper bags. The lesson became very costly for her to teach that day.

They would go upstairs to have church service, which was called Elim International Church. Terry preached God’s word and for the first time in his life had to use an interpreter. He said he prayed the man translated what he spoke correctly. However, they said every week they would call for all traveling visitors to the church to come up front so they could pray for safe travels for them.

The area is a third world country. They told of mothers sitting in the hot sun daily with their babies beside them trying to sell their products, such as corn. These people work from daylight to dark. Can you imagine bringing your baby to work with you at daylight and sitting there working until dark? 

They told of a man named Lindell Blackwell, an African man making beads out of broken glass from the streets. This glass was melted down and he stood in the hot sun doing this horribly hot job to melt down the glass and then painting on them. Sue showed a beautiful piece of jewelry that he made.

Their work ethics are amazing to just eke out a living from nothing but trash. There are no power tools to make anything, they actually made boats with nothing but their hands. 

Goats and chickens are a delicacy there. These animals run around freely. The people there are lucky if they get one for a special day or holiday. Most days they eat only a gruel type meal made out of corn meal and water. They may eat whatever fruit grows there unless it is sold for money for other things. 

Child labor is still a big thing in Ghana. Young boys and girls are used in fishing and the making of palm oil. They work taking the husks of Palm kernels.

Not only is the food scarce, but clean water is also. Sue and Terry were told not to drink the water to keep them from getting sick and they drank only bottled water. 

Terry and Sue spent Christmas in Accra last year. It was so different from any they had ever known but they said it ended up being one of the best they ever spent. Their daughter, who lives in Dubai, flew over to be with them. They loved being with the little children they had come to love. 

They plan to go back and they have now come up with a foundation they named “The First Love Foundation.” They want to give these children hope. They want to teach them about the Lord. They want to give them love. For some it may be the first love they will all receive.

Sue and Terry are going around the United States speaking of their mission work in Ghana. Any monies taken up is sent directly to The First Love Foundation to buy supplies for the kids. They never take a penny for themselves.

They have a web site you can go to, learn more and read Terry’s daily blog. Go to firstlovefoundation.com or muse.grainger@gmail.com.

They will be glad to come to your church to speak about their experience in Ghana. 

Their love is endless for their Lord. I am so proud to have been able to call them my friends. I have never known any two people that I love and admire more.  They once drove all the way up to Winchester from South Carolina to come to my sister’s 50th birthday party — they met in college and have remained best friends — then drove all the way back to South Carolina that same night for Terry to preach the next day.

This is the type of people they are.