Thursday, July 28, 2011


What should visitors pack when going to Nigeria? In addition to a passport, anti-malarial medication and a flashlight, apparently females should take skirts—and the longer the better. This headline appeared yesterday in an online Nigerian newspaper (Vanguard): “Why We Barred Females From Wearing Trousers in Offices—Plateau Government.” The reason? It’s part of a campaign against “indecent dressing.”

This reminds me of one of my visits to the Faith Alive Hospital during 2009's hot and humid rainy season. Sitting on a bench in my khaki pants at a morning devotion, one of the more conservative staff members said that women should not wear trousers. I think he directed his admonishment to the stylish young women staffers at the back sporting slacks and jeans, because he looked at me and said something like, “Our visitors sometimes wear trousers; they are cold here and need to keep warm.”

Regardless of the temperature, I think there won't be any more sisterhood of the traveling pants for me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dr. Art

Yesterday I had the honor of sharing a meal with Dr. Arthur Ammann, President of Global Strategies for HIV Prevention. His professional bio is lengthy and includes describing, in 1982, the first cases of transmission of AIDS from mother to infant and the first blood transfusion AIDS patients. He’s received many awards including the United States Surgeon General Award for Research and the United States Public Health Service Fellowship Award. However, he holds highest esteem for me because his visit to Faith Alive in Jos, Nigeria about six years ago to train birth attendants in PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV) grafted him as part of the extended Faith Alive Family.

Even though Global Strategies is focusing their current efforts on Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, I invited Dr. Art to visit Faith Alive again. Maybe he’ll take me up on this offer because he said something like, “I need my Chris and Mercy fix.” Dr. Art holds both Dr. Chris Isichei and his surgeon wife Dr. Mercy in highest regard—quite a compliment from an expert in HIV with extensive exposure to healthcare, good and bad, in Africa. I can relate to his pull toward some of the best living examples of Christ on earth healing God’s beloved children holistically.

Cheers for the ongoing and mutually-beneficial relationship between Dr. Art and Faith Alive!

(Click here to watch a powerful short video about PMTCT.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spiritual Theme: Be My Witness

What is a witness? As anyone who has ever watched a crime show or been in a courtroom knows, a witness is someone who sees or experiences something and can legitimately testify to its valididy. Basically, we believe someone if they've actually witnessed something and didn't hear about it secondhand.

This month’s spiritual theme at Faith Alive is BE MY WITNESS. It’s based on Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This means that we need to tell others how we've seen or experienced God's presence, and we're to start by telling those close to us--even as close as our own churches. But wait. Aren’t our churches already holy and filled with love? Pastor Ben at Faith Alive says, “No! It is worldliness, hatred, envy, jealousness and all kinds of evils we find in the church of today. We therefore have to start afresh witnessing of Christ’s love, holiness and righteousness right in the church, our homes, and societies and across board to the ends of the earth. Sometimes we are deceived by assumptions and carried away by familiarity and the outward appearance of those close to us or in our inner circle that we tend to look far away with the issue of evangelism. But Jesus is saying we should look and start within the circle.”

Before pointing a finger at our churches and other people, however, we need to remember that three fingers are pointing right back at us. Are you filled with holiness and the love of Jesus Christ? If so, be His witness and tell your story to others. If not, ask God to bring someone else to share their story with you. Together, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will keep God’s story alive.

Spiritual Theme: Nothing Be Wasted

My apologies to Pastor Ben at Faith Alive for not posting the last few months’ spiritual themes. He’s been faithful to send me pages of explanations about each theme, but I’ve fallen behind condensing them into one or two paragraphs for this blog. Apologies aside, here is June’s theme based on John 6:12: “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’”

You’ve probably heard of the story of Jesus taking a little boy’s few loaves and fish and multiplying them into enough food for thousands of people. But did you ever think about the value of the leftovers? Pastor Ben says, “I know of many loaves and fish elsewhere that got eaten by goats and dogs or destroyed by fungi. But why are these so special that even their pieces are not to be wasted but preserved? It was because they were surrendered to Jesus to be used by him in meeting the needs of people. They were used to demonstrate the power of God. They were used to give life to the dying people, and they were used to bring glory to God. Thanks went to God on their account and they were blessed by Jesus. So they were no more ordinary bread and fish. They were made sanctified and consecrated and so could not be treated any how…these were preserved for future generations.

“So it is with our life’s resources. If we surrender them to God to serve and be used by Him for His glory, we will not be wasted, as he will use us to serve his purposes and still preserve our leftovers for future use. It is then we receive protection, get more useful and our work can outlive us. Anything less is a wasted life…So gather your leftovers; someone out there may need them to survive.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nigerian Physicians in the Americas

What does a white American woman writer in the non-profit world do at a conference for Nigerian physicians in the Americas (ANPA)? She listens attentively to a few lectures, but mostly meets and talks about Faith Alive with medical professionals in the hallways and during breaks.

One of ANPA’s missions is: “To encourage the development of practical solutions to Nigerian health care problems through strategic initiative and field activities inside Nigeria.” What a wonderful match with Faith Alive--a successful model of holistic healthcare delivery in Nigeria, started by a Nigerian, run by Nigerians and serving Nigerians. By God’s grace, this networking is the beginning of some meaningful relationships that will benefit Faith Alive and the Nigerian physicians living on this continent who want to support the people in their ancestral homeland.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Faith Alive's 15th Anniversary Picnic--Photos

If a picture says a thousand words, then these photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!

Independence Day

Did you realize that both the United States of America (July 4, 1776) and Nigeria (October 1, 1960) celebrate their independence from Great Britain? Both countries mark the anniversary with parades, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies. I’m guessing that Nigerians don’t share our tradition of baseball (they much prefer football, or what we call soccer) and shy away from fireworks with loud explosions and smoke (too reminiscent of recent crises).

In my post this time last year, I listed the lyrics for the Nigerian National Anthem. It’s only fair that this year I share the American version. While most Americans at least recognize the words at sporting events with caps and hands over their hearts, very few realize that this is the first of many verses or that the tune is from a popular British drinking song. If they did, perhaps they’d raise their Buds to the good ol’ red, white and blue.

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Click here to watch and listen to Marvin Gaye or Whitney Houston, two African-Americans, sing the anthem.