Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The generators in Jos last week rumbled for three straight days. The power usually comes on there (albeit randomly) for at least a few hours a day, but stayed off for this extended period. Imagine the frustration, the lack of productivity and the noise. It’s like hearing dozens of lawnmowers running right outside your window.
It’s a good thing that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan recently outlined a Roadmap for Power Sector Reform. He says, “As President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I and my Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo, GCON, are conscious that what we do with the Nigerian electricity supply industry will go a long way in determining whether Nigeria remains in darkness or joins the rest of the world in the race for development. Our commitment is to bring an end to our nation's stunted growth and usher in the fresh air of prosperity by pursuing a new era of sector-wide reform which is driven by improved service delivery to every class of customers in the Nigerian electricity sector.”
His plan is a good one, and I join Nigerians in hoping that its goals are accomplished. In the meantime, I wouldn’t advise them to get rid of their generators just yet.
Monday, August 30, 2010
In just 33 days, Nigeria will celebrate it's Year of Jubilee (50 years of independence since British colonization), I'll celebrate my birthday month (okay, not a big deal since I don't like counting the years anymore), and our community will celebrate Dr. Chris and Faith Alive. You, your friends and your family are invited to enjoy dinner, fellowship, music, and Dr. Chris at a community-wide benefit event on Friday, October 1 at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins. Feel free to post this flier on your facebook, twitter, blog, or email, and mark your calendars. All you have to do is click on one of the handy-dandy little buttons below. You won't want to miss this inspiring evening!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Some of you have asked if we've raised all our money for little Chris's surgery-related expenses, and the answer is almost. Praise God that Hope for West Africa has received 93% of our goal. We felt like that was enough to push the "Go" button a few weeks ago.
MANY thanks for those who have already offered prayers and/or monetary donations. Honestly, this would not be happening without your participation and God's favor. Please keep praying for safe travels and successful surgery. If you still want to make a monetary donation, click here for instructions. Be sure to write "FA Children's Fund" on your check's memo line.
Either way, take a look at little Chris's information on the HFWA website. I always smile when I see his precious little face.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Praise God that the Indian Embassy in Nigeria granted visas for Daniel and little Chris to travel to Bangalore in mid-September! We’re so grateful for Dr. Bode Thomas at Heart Aid International in Jos who helped Daniel with these papers: airline tickets, yellow fever immunization, 3 months of bank statements, proof of occupation, invitation letter from the Indian hospital, and certificate of medical validity from Indian-approved Nigerian hospital.
Daniel extends his thanks to all those who’ve helped make this possible. He says that words can’t express how very thankful he and his wife are for your prayers and support. On their behalf, I say a BIG THANK YOU!
(Photo is an example of someone's Indian visa)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I've heard it said that nothing happens, nothing happens, nothing happens, and then everything happens. That seems to be the case for little Chris. I started advocating nearly 1 1/2 years ago for his lifesaving heart surgery and it's about to happen (God willing). His daddy Daniel's been rushing to and fro to prepare for their journey to India. Daniel and little Chris now (hopefully) have all the paperwork they need to secure their visas, including a formal letter of invitation from the Indian hospital and yellow cards proving their recent vaccinations for meningitis and polio, among other diseases.
Please pray for them over the next few days as they travel to Abuja (Nigeria's capital, about a 3-4 hour drive from Jos), to appear at the embassy. We pray for their safe travels and successful procurement of visas.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
It's back-to-school time here in the Colorado, which means that it's also back-to-church time for many people in our college town. My home church, First Presbyterian, had a Connections Fair on Sunday. This year we featured more than our usual display board, photos, and fliers for Faith Alive--we had Naomi from Nigeria, smiling and wearing a beautiful Nigerian dress.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Changing a culture can take generations, but it seems that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is making a start. Today his facebook post says, “To demonstrate my belief that women are equal stakeholders in Nigeria as men, I recently appointed Prof Precious Kassey Garba as the first female Chief Economic Adviser to the President in Nigerian history. I hope this appointment as well as the performance of the Falconets at the recently concluded Female U-20 World Cup in Germany would spur women to enter the political arena and run for elective offices in 2011.GEJ”
Nigerians don't need to look far to see a woman with power. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson started as Liberia's Minister of Finance and has been President of Liberia since 2006. Her book, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President, inspired me to write about Dr. Chris and Faith Alive.
A woman president in Nigeria? Never say never. But with or without an official political position, never underestimate the power of a woman’s influence.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Please join me in saying "You are welcome" (the official Nigerian greeting of hospitality) to Naomi. She arrived safely in Colorado last night after days of travel from Jos, Nigeria where she has been a Faith Alive staff member for many years.
Naomi, may you feel warmly received by the Colorado Faith Alive family and fellow graduate students at Colorado State University.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I've heard of fish being used for a lot of things (well, really just for eating), but never as a cover for smuggled weapons. That's exactly what happened a few days ago in Nigeria when five men from northern Nigeria hid 52 Kalashnikov rifles, more than 1,700 rounds of ammunition rounds, and $32,000 under fish and vegetables headed to Jos.
Praises to the policemen who smelled something fishy, intercepted the delivery and spared Jos from another deadly round of violence. Please pray for peace to reign in Jos and for all future malicious attempts to be prevented.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Little Chris’s daddy is celebrating many things today—another year of life, his job at Faith Alive, his wife’s new assignment at Plateau Riders (a local transportation company where she just started her mandatory year of national service), and support from so many of YOU for his son’s upcoming surgery. So far, we've received 90% of our fundraising goal!
I was in Nigeria last year on Daniel’s birthday and made a Happy Birthday sign that I posted on his office door. He said to me today in an email, “When I came to the office this morning I go to the wall where you posted my happy birthday and I am feeling you are just by the door. Thanks for that; it is still on the wall.” Daniel, here's a new sign for you.
Please join me in saying a birthday prayer for Daniel, that his next year of life will be filled with even more blessings.
(Top photo of me in Colorado today. Bottom photo taken this month of Daniel with little Chris and wife Rahila, courtesy of Holly Hagena.)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
I'm like a proud mama when I see these snaps of Faith Alive staff graduating from entrepreneurship training. My friend Lydia, a leader in the sewing school, sent these to me (with Daniel's help). She's the one receiving her certificate from this month-long course.
I think the purpose of this course is to equip these staff to mentor and guide others to be successful businesspeople. In Lydia's case, this is especially important. She was already training young women how to sew and discipling them, but now she can also teach them how to successfully start their own sewing businesses. Holistic equipping at its finest!
(Photos of the graduating class, as well as Lydia receiving her certificate from Grace, Dr. Chris's sister.)
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thanks SO much to all of you first responders. We've already raised 80% of our goal to send three-year-old little Chris to India for heart surgery! I'm confident that God will continue to work through friends and family to raise the remaining 20%. Click here to learn more about our efforts.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
“As my Muslim brothers begin their Ramadan fast,” says Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (a Christian) in his facebook comment yesterday, “I want to greet them and salute their efforts to develop themselves spiritually as reflected in the piousness that is required from all Muslims during this time. Please be assured that I place a high premium on this event and am in solidarity with the aims of your fast during this holy month. As you pray during this period, I will urge you to take advantage of your uplifted spiritual state to pray for the peace, progress, and prosperity of Nigeria especially as the nation is in the process of deepening her democracy and reforming government and the economy for a better delivery of services to the populace. Also, as you devote yourselves to the study of the holy Qur’an as revealed to Prophet Muhammed (SAW), I do urge all Muslims to draw inspirations from its teachings which when applied will give a greater understanding of the religion of Islam to non Muslims and help us as we continue our peaceful existence as a multi-religious country committed to mutual religious understanding and respect. Once again, I do assure you of my solidarity throughout this Holy month and into the future.”
Click here to learn wikipedia’s full definition of Ramadan, the annual 30 day period when Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset each day. About 35-40% of Faith Alive patients in Jos are Muslim. The city sits at an invisible yet palpable fault line between northern, Islamic Africa and the southern, Christian countries. While religious tension occasionally erupts into violent massacres, at the clinic Christians and Muslims sit peacefully side-by-side waiting for hope and healing.
(Photo, courtesy of Frank Lozano, is of Faith Alive patients.)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
When my daughter and son-in-law got married, they sent save-the-date postcards far in advance. Their wedding was an important day and they wanted their friends and family to be part of the celebration.
Consider this your save-a-date for a different kind of partnership—one between us in Colorado and the Faith Alive Hospital in Nigeria. It’s actually more like an anniversary since our community has already been supporting Faith Alive for a handful of years. Invite all your friends and family to join us on Friday, October 1, 2010 for an evening to benefit Faith Alive. The dinner and presentation will be at First Presbyterian Church, 531 S. College Avenue, Fort Collins, CO starting at 6 pm.
The best part of all? Our speaker is Dr. Christian Isichei, co-founder (with his wife Mercy) of the Faith Alive Hospital.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Have you ever started something with great gusto and then lost steam somewhere in the middle? Maybe it’s too much work, there are too many setbacks and distractions, you lose sight of the goal, or you stop believing that it’s even possible to finish. You’re not alone; I’m right there with you.
Pastor Ben at Faith Alive reminds us that it’s an age-old problem. He says, “It is not just to start a thing or journey with God that matters but to stand firm and hold fast to the end. Many Israelites started with Moses from Egypt with songs of praise to God, but a majority could not hold fast to the faith and God that moved them out of Egypt, and so fell by the wayside in the wilderness.
“Steadfastness is the key factor to any kind of victory we would have in the Lord. It brings about endurance which in turn produces the character of Christ in us. It places the crown of glory on our head, for it is the only quality that will give birth to faithfulness in our calling and services. To wear the crown, we are expected to be faithful. To wear the crown we are expected to endure to the end. But without steadfastness, faithfulness and endurance become difficult to attain.”
Each month, Faith Alive focuses on one spiritual theme and bible verse that is preached daily with staff and patients. This month’s theme is steadfastness, based on 1 Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but the only way I can be steadfast for God is to stay close by His side by praying, reading the bible, participating in corporate worship, and singing His praises (literally and figuratively). When I start to lose steam for something that I feel He’s called me to do, I need to just put one foot in front of the other and trust in God’s strength for the power to continue.
Thanks, Pastor Ben, for the encouraging reminder that the destination is worth the long journey.
(Photo is of Pastor Ben with his wife and two children.)
Monday, August 9, 2010
Wow! That's not very eloquent, but I am in awe of how God is at work on little Chris's behalf. On July 29 we officially started asking for donations to send this precious three-year-old to India for heart surgery. A number of you have already responded and on behalf of the Mwajims, I extend a heartfelt THANK YOU.
Yesterday I met someone who is a friend of a friend of a friend who received our fundraising letter; this person (who wants to remain anonymous) gave me a significant check that propelled us closer to our goal. This is truly God at work through an army of people, because none of us can claim credit.
While we're well on our way to realizing our fundraising goal, we aren't there yet. Let's work together to make this happen before it's too late. You can send your donations to:
Hope for West Africa Foundation, Inc.
1810 A York Road, Suite 122
Lutherville, MD 21093
Please make your checks payable to Hope for West Africa and write "FA Children's Fund" in the memo line.
Whether you support little Chris through prayers, a dollar, or thousands of dollars, you are part of God's plan. Daddy Daniel says, "May God richly reward you a thousand-fold for all that you are doing."
Friday, August 6, 2010
This week I’m attending Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit (via satellite in Loveland). It’s a great opportunity to learn from Christian (and a few secular) leaders about leadership principles, how to coach a winning team, and listening to God’s promptings.
What I find most exciting is that the summit will be seen this year in over 70 countries, including my own beloved Nigeria. It’ll be broadcast in Jos on November 12 and 13. Nigerians will get to hear from Pastor Bill Hybels, Businessman Jim Collins, Coach Tony Dungy, and Pastor T.D. Jakes.
Jakes is going to talk this afternoon about Combustible Passion. He says, “"The challenge of the believer is to take the faith that you got in here and take it to the place out there." Because if we don’t put our faith into action in the world, what good is it, really?
(Photo of T.J. Jakes)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Thanks to a church in Maryland, Faith Alive now has over 300 lbs. of vitamins and pain relievers to give to their patients. Each summer, Church of the Nativity sends two teams to Nigeria—one to a children’s home in Abuja and the other to the Faith Alive Hospital. The Abuja team had to travel alone this year because Dr. Chris has asked no visitors to come until after the 2011 presidential elections. But that didn’t stop the grounded team from collecting, packing, and sending boxes of vitamins with the Abuja team to give to Dr. Chris.
Last summer, I travelled to Jos with the Nativity:Nigeria teams. I watched as their Faith Alive team, most experiencing Nigeria for the first time, went from worrying about their lost luggage to realizing that it wasn’t a big deal in the scope of things. As each day unfolded, their self-centered thoughts turned outward as they met people whose worries were much bigger—food, clean water, education, health, etc.. When their suitcases finally arrived days later, they said something like, “We didn’t even need this stuff. What we brought in our carry-ons was enough.”
Sincere thanks to Nativity:Nigeria for their generous donation. Maybe next year we'll be on the same flight again.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Imagine my surprise to open a local newspaper on Sunday and read that a Colorado man is running for President of Nigeria. 46-year-old Sam Wantings Nwanti actually has dual-citizenship (U.S. and Nigeria), and thinks that his background as a KGB and FBI-trained detective and business entrepreneur is a solid basis to lead his home country.
“Nigeria needs to change,” he said. “And I’m the only one who can effect that.” He added, “Criminals and corrupt politicians run my country now, and I feel I need to run now to make any kind of difference.”
I wonder if fellow Nigerians feel the same way, or if they will trust someone who only spends part of his time in their country. Either way, it’s kind of exciting to know that a man who lives 45 minutes away from me shares a passion for making a difference in Nigeria.
(Photo is from Nwanti’s website.)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
We’re about to welcome a new member to the Colorado Faith Alive family—baby boy Simmons! Mom-to-be Amanda has been a true answer to prayer for us. Two years ago she drove by our church and saw the sign advertising our involvement with Africa. Feeling called by God toward Africa, she came inside. Unbeknownst to her, we had just prayed that week for someone to help us redesign the Faith Alive website. We met her and learned that she owns her own graphic and website design business, Full Cup Creative. Since then, she traveled to Jos and is now also a Save-A-Life sponsor.
My husband took this photo last Saturday of me with Amanda and her first baby. Let’s see…what African names might we suggest?
Monday, August 2, 2010
Marian Rone and Nanci Sebeniecher work to feed malnourished people in Africa through Hope Feeds, so it was a real honor to feed these two women at my home this weekend. Marian (from Oakland) and Nanci (from Baltimore) came to Fort Collins for a few days to talk about manufacturing and distributing vitamin-laden peanut butter in Africa to severely malnourished people. Hope Feeds has projects in three locations, one of which is at Faith Alive. Another project (and the reason for this specific visit to Fort Collins) is in Liberia where other members of our church are involved.
Nanci is also a Save-A-Life sponsor to a wonderful man. She said that when she met him in Nigeria a few years ago, he held up a sign that read something like, “Thank you so much. You have saved my life.” We had the joy of calling him (yes, I do have a few phone numbers for SAL patients that I know really well) and greeting him and his family. Normally a quiet man, I could hear his ecstatic shouts of greeting to Nanci! I can only imagine that his family was singing and dancing after they hung up. Their conversation might’ve ended, but their relationship lives on.
Thank you, Marian and Nanci, for feeding people physically and emotionally.
(Photo taken on my front porch. Marian is in green, and Nanci is holding a cup of her java fuel.)