Monday, January 31, 2011
...brother. I asked him yesterday if he wanted a brother or sister, and he said adamantly, "A baby BOY." His dad, Daniel, said that last week's answer was "a baby girl," and still other times it's "a dog." Hmmm...I don't think that'll happen, although any of the three would eventually be able to play ball with little Chris. For now, though, the baby's practicing his or her kicks inside mommy Rahila's expanding middle, hopefully until April. They're waiting for a sonogram to confirm the due date so they can make plans for a C-section.
Unfortunately, at this time last year, little Chris's baby sister didn't survive childbirth. Please join me in prayers for safe passage in the streets for Rahila to go to the hospital for her scan, a safe delivery when the time is right, and a healthy mother and baby--boy or girl.
On another note, little Chris plans to start back at school today after the Christmas holiday. Nigerian schools took a longer than normal break to allow adults to register for the April Presidential election. Reprisal violence, expected to last until the elections, still sporadically interferes with daily life and people are careful about avoiding unfriendly areas.
(We look forward to seeing an updated family photo with four beautiful faces.)
Monday, January 24, 2011
Each month, the Faith Alive Hospital emphasizes a spiritual theme. This January it’s “Consent Not,” based on Proverbs 1:10-16. The King James version says, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause…my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.’”
How timely. With all the unrest in Jos, Nigeria this past month, there’s a temptation to seek revenge. But violence begets violence, and many innocent people become victims of unrestrained actions. Let us, especially those of us who follow Jesus Christ, be not among those who stoop to shed blood. Let us be like those at the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos who choose peace. Those who consent not.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Since the Christmas Eve bombings in Jos, New Year’s Eve bombing in Abuja, and subsequent attacks on roads and in villages since, the normally bustling streets of Jos are often deserted. People there don’t feel safe to move about freely. When they must, it’s only to quickly venture to work, markets, or businesses close to home. Just last week, a nearly seven-month-pregnant friend bolted home from the market when violent chaos erupted. Praise God that she’s resting now while her unborn baby kicks. Her scheduled ultrasound is postponed until she feels safe enough to move about the city.
Many patients on lifesaving ARVs (anti-retroviral medications for HIV/AIDS) are also too scared to come to the hospital to refill their prescriptions. This is a MAJOR problem with life or death consequences—literally. In order for the ARVs to work, patients must take them every day for the rest of their lives or until a cure is discovered. If they miss even a few days, their bodies will most likely develop a resistance to this first line of ARVs, which hastens death. I say “first line” because there are second and third lines, but they’re entirely too expensive to be available in Africa.
What makes this year different than others for the Faith Alive Hospital is that it’s an election year. Nigeria is not like the United States, where our 200+ years of peaceful democracy have allowed peaceful transitions of power. Elections there equal bloodshed. The situation in Jos is not expected to improve before the April vote for President.PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pray and invite any and all prayer groups to pray for immediate peace in Jos, a fair and democratic election and peaceful response, and that patients on lifesaving ARVs get and take their prescriptions uninterrupted.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Save-A-Life (SAL) is personal sponsorship program for HIV+ patients at the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria. For just 50 cents a day (or $183 a year), you can literally save a person's life; the money has gone toward buying his or her antiretroviral medications. Thanks to a major donor, we're able to expand this one-on-one program. Read the letter that SAL sponsors and donors received last week:
"On behalf of Dr. Chris Isichei, founder and leader of the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria, we wish you a Happy New Year and pray that the holidays were a time of drawing closer to God.
We also say NAGODE (“thank you” in Hausa, a prominent Nigerian tribal language) for your continued and loyal support of the precious Nigerian people living positively with HIV/AIDS. God has truly blessed them in this past year through trials (spates of violence throughout the year) and joys (the recent graduation of computer, sewing, and knitting students, many of whom are HIV+). Of the 176 SAL patients, all are doing well on their medications and only one, who had difficulties adhering to his medications, passed away. His sponsor was notified. May he rest in peace.
There are also joys and trials with the SAL personal sponsorship program. The very best news is that there is a major donor that has agreed to at least temporarily provide the lifesaving antiretroviral medications for our SAL patients. We don’t know how long this will continue—6 months or 2 years—and promise to keep you updated. The worst news is that many of our SAL patients experience opportunistic infections like malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis because of their weakened immune systems. Others, who need specialized surgeries that cannot be performed free of charge at Faith Alive, are denied treatment elsewhere because of lack of funds. Still others desperately need supplemental vitamins which we would like to provide for them through Faith Alive.
Therefore, for 2011 we ask that you prayerfully consider continuing to sponsor your patient(s). The $183 per patient will go toward either: 1) their antiretroviral medications if the major donor can’t continue funding, or 2) a fund for SAL patients to access when their other medical needs arise (antibiotics, vitamins, surgeries, etc.). We will assume that this is acceptable to you unless you let us know otherwise.
SAL’s purposes remain the provision of lifesaving medications for HIV+ patients at Faith Alive and also raising funds for their HIV-related needs. May we, through God’s grace, continue to provide for our brothers and sisters across the ocean and in our hearts.
Choosing hope in Jesus Christ,
Erika Nossokoff (Coordinator) & Sara Hunt (Financial Administrator)"
If you have any questions or want to donate to the SAL fund, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Joshua, on staff at Faith Alive and a leader with the Faith Alive young men’s soccer team, sent me some photos of their December year-end party. He says, “it was glorious.” It looks like they celebrated in a common Nigerian fashion—with thanksgiving, prayers, cake and Coke. On a sadder note, one of the young player’s father’s died in a Christmas eve bomb blast at a nearby marketplace. Please keep his family in your prayers.
On another note, I made a new year’s resolution to focus on writing the rest of my book of inspiring personal stories about the Faith Alive Hospital. In order to create time for that, I plan to just post blog entries on Mondays. I’m grateful for all of you who check in daily, and hope that this change won’t be a problem. If you’re itching to read more about Faith Alive, consider reading any of the 274 posts from 2010 or the 101 from 2009.
(Cake and informal photos courtesy of Joshua, blue uniform photo courtesy of Frank Lozano in 2009.)