Monday, February 27, 2012

MCC Articles

After the senseless bombing yesterday in Jos, it’s time for some good news. Click here to read Brenda Hartman-Souder’s recently published article about Faith Alive’s social service center. The article highlights Zipporah, the young woman who made my “Big Auntie” dress for Pastor Esther’s wedding to Victor last August. In addition to being a successful graduate of Faith Alive’s skills-acquisitions and discipleship school, Zipporah is outgoing, fun and a great dancer!

I enjoyed lunch and conversation last year with Brenda and her husband Mark, MCC’s (Mennonite Central Committee) Nigerian representatives. MCC is a highly valued, long-time partner with Faith Alive; MCC is so reputable that anything they support has an automatic stamp of approval.

While I now worship at a Presbyterian Church, I cherish my Mennonite heritage with its Christian-based peace, justice, social and serving values. My late and dearly loved grandpa was a third-generation Mennonite Pastor. My mom, Eleanor Wiebe, carried on her father's compassionate heart by directing a victim-offender mediation program, and now volunteering. Her brother, Sheldon Sawatzky, and his wife Marietta have dedicated their lives as missionaries in Taiwan, and my cousin Joe Sawatzky and his wife Anna are missionaries in South Africa.

Click here to find out more about MCC. While there, enter “Faith Alive” in the “search” box to view some great articles and photos.

(The cross and dove logo above is MCC's.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Faith Alive Family Okay after Bombing

Reports are trickling in about one or two suicide bombers in Jos this morning. I've heard varying reports, from a car bomber to bombs planted inside the COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) church, killing at least three people. A quick call to Little Chris's dad, Daniel, assured me that no Faith Alive family were directly affected. However, I imagine that everyone at least indirectly feels the destruction and unrest.

I attended a COCIN church during one of my trips to Jos, but not the one victimized today. Many churches there now have security measures and blockades to keep trouble from getting too close to their buildings and congregations.

Please continue to pray for peace in Jos.

(Photo courtesy of AllAfrica)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Buying a Brothel?

Yep, you read that right. Faith Alive has the opportunity to purchase property about a block away from the main hospital. The land, currently housing a place of questionable repute, is directly next to FA’s rec center for children. The two properties combined are an ideal location for a future teaching hospital, or what Dr. Chris refers to as “A Mayo Clinic in Africa.”

Recently, the city’s main teaching hospital moved to the edge of town, making people travel up to an hour and a half. I know, because one Sunday last August I rode along with a friend’s son whose emergency required us to take that long journey over a cratered road that slowed the car’s speed to a weaving crawl. Praise God, we reached the hospital in time to put the child on oxygen and iv fluids. Someday Faith Alive will have top-quality equipment for children and a pediatrician on call during emergencies.

In order to buy this new property, we need to purchase the land by the end of this month. Impossible? Not with God! If you’re interested in contributing or want more information, contact Russ McCahan, Faith Alive Foundation-USA’s leader, at, 970-218-7200.

(Photo taken by Craig Fitzgerald. Woman in photo is a Faith Alive volunteer and not associated with the brothel.)

Monday, February 20, 2012


I’m officially on puppernity leave. On Saturday, Mark and I became the proud parents of a 10-week-old ShihPoo puppy. Other than only getting three solid hours of sleep last night, I enjoy watching new life romp around and smelling that delicious puppy breath (really).

Now it’s time to give her a proper name. I thought of Holly, a knock-off of the Holy Land that we recently visited, but that didn’t seem to fit her. Mark suggested that we look in our cupboard and name her after a spice, like Pepper, but I didn’t like that. So, what unique name could we, active in Nigeria, give a coal-black puppy? I think we might name her Jossy (rhymes with Glossy), after Jos, Nigeria. According to Dr. Chris, Jos stands for Jesus Our Savior. Yeah, that sounds good.

Now we just need to convince Toby, our 12-year-old Silky Terrier, that it’s okay to have a baby sister.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spiritual Theme: We Will Reap

Do you ever wonder if “doing good” does any good?

Below are Pastor Ben's words about Faith Alive's January Spiritual Theme and verse: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, TNIV)

“God said this is our year of reaping. With such declaration we wait and prepare with eager expectations. God does not forget any bit of our labor of love. The scripture above gives us two major admonitions about things we must NOT do in order to reap the harvest:

1. Do not become weary in doing good. There is every tendency to become wearied if we fail to heed this admonition. Weariness retards the quality/quantity of our harvest. We become wearied probably because no one appreciates us, no one sees us, no instant rewards appear, we fear the unknown, we want to explore other new ideals, etc. Are you becoming tired of the good you started? God is saying no, don’t for any reason be tired; the harvest time is near.

2. Do not give up. Weariness most times leads to giving up and that stops the flow and breaks the cycle of good. For there to be a continuous harvest, there must be a continuous sowing. Harvest stops when and where sowing stops. So for our reaping to continue to eternity, there must be consistency in sowing as the bible also instructed; “sowing your seeds in morning and in the evening also do not withhold for you; we don’t know what the day shall bring forth.” We give up for many reasons but there are two major fundamental reasons: weariness and too much harvest that brings about pride of depending on the past glory and achievement. When that happens, relaxation /idleness set in and our next season is left without harvest. We give up also because of the sufferings and frustrations we go through during sowing. But Jesus considered the reward/harvest ahead so that he neglected the shame/pains of the cross. So we are hereby admonished not to give up at any point for any reason.

Our prayer is that you will not fail to reap the harvest of your good works this year. It does not stop at you, but goes beyond you.”

Pastor Ben, I pray this also for you, especially as your words from God spread like seeds around the world through this blog. May our faithful God shower you with an abundant harvest. Your labor of love is not in vain.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Holy Land

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. That’s because I was on the trip of a lifetime, visiting sites and people in the holy land. My husband and I marveled at Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, along with other significant places.

While visiting the Wailing Wall, I noticed some women dressed in colorful Nigerian wraps. Not one to be shy, I struck up a conversation and learned that they were from Anambra State and had heard of Faith Alive. It turns out that the Nigerian government subsidizes their citizens to go to the holy land, which helps explain why Nigeria makes up the largest number of pilgrims in Jerusalem.

I doubt that any of them, though, get to visit with Archbishop Elias Chaucor in Haifa. Our group had the high honor to meet him and hear about his efforts to promote peace and reconciliation between Arabs and Israelites. After his talk, I asked him what message I can bring to Faith Alive and Nigeria where an extremist Muslim sect is bombing Christian churches. Father Chaucor said, “Remind them that Good Friday doesn’t last forever. There is resurrection and hope.”

Here’s to hope!