By Riley Manning
TUPELO – Ghana-born missionary Akosua Frimpong grew up thinking her life was a curse, until she met a group of Nashville missionaries who introduced her to Christ.
Many miles and many years later, Frimpong now calls America home, and follows her call peer counseling victims of abuse.
Curses and blessings
Frimpong’s story begins before she was even born. Her mother became pregnant with her after being raped at age 17.
“She thought abortion was the only way out,” Frimpong said. “A month later, she was still pregnant because originally she was having twins. I’m the one who lived.”
At the time, Ghana consisted of small populations of Christians and Muslims, but largely hosted a native, polytheistic religion.
Frimpong said the residents of her village thought she was bad luck, cursed, even her aunt who cared for Frimpong in the stead of her mother.
When Frimpong was caught in a freak car accident, it worsened her neighbors’ suspicions. The incident crushed her left leg between two vehicles, but with hospitals on strike, a week passed before she could get treatment. Her leg became infected with gangrene, and ultimately had to be amputated below the knee.
“Disability is a huge thing in that culture,” she said. “Babies who are born with deformities were sent off, left in the jungle to die or be eaten. I was too old for that by then, but other kids didn’t play with me. My aunt gave me back to my mother because she couldn’t care for me after that. I was very lonely.”
But when she was 11, a group of missionaries from Nashville visited their village. Frimpong had seen missionaries before, who had given them candy and supplies, but this group were Gideons, and came bearing Bibles.
“They ran out of Bibles before they got to me, but one of them dug into his bag and pulled out this little orange Bible,” she said. “I thought for so long I was a curse. I never had a father figure, but he said he loved me and God loved me, too.”
Frimpong said she still didn’t understand what it meant to be saved until another group from Nashville visited when she was 13 years old.
It was the first time she had seen young Christians. It was also the first time she had friends who would play with her.
“I wanted to leave with them,” Frimpong said. “But they promised they would come back, and they did. They took my mother and I back with them to Nashville for three months.”
Coming to America
Nashville became an open window for Frimpong to see the world beyond Ghana.
With barely any education, Frimpong became voracious for knowledge.
“The Lord increased my capacity for learning and I became a perfectionist,” she said. “I wanted to talk like the missionaries. I read and wrote as much as I could.”
She also received her first prosthetic leg and experienced being part of a community of Christian youth. When it came time to return to Ghana, Frimpong wanted to stay, but she said God opened the door for her to attend Ghana’s first Christian college on a full scholarship.
In 2005, she graduated and returned to America with a purpose.
Frimpong hangs her hat in Kentucky, and has no plans to return to Ghana, but said she will go where God calls her.
“Everything I’ve been through has been God investing in me to prepare me for what I’m doing now, which is counseling women and children who are abuse victims,” she said. “The biggest problems I see come from broken homes, people who feel bullied, and who lack purpose. Americans take for granted the abundance they live in, but I think that’s a sign that our purpose is not material, that the only way to know our purpose is to know God.”
Frimpong said God’s presence in her life has been the only way to overcome her own demons, her bitterness toward her mother and father and Ghana. Her journey to becoming emotionally whole, she said, has taken some 20 years.
“Human beings all struggle the same way,” she said. “Healing is submission, a daily walk. It’s like when you get a wound. You change the Band-Aid every day, clean the wound every day. Little by little it starts to close. Then one day you take the Band-Aid off and all that’s left is a scar. That scar is your testimony, so when you see it, you remember where God brought you from.”