Monday, July 30, 2012

International Coordinator

With Olympic athletes competing for gold in London and activists gathered in Washington, D.C. last week for the International AIDS Conference, I’m thinking globally. It’s a good thing, too, as I live into my new title with Faith Alive Foundation-Nigeria: International Coordinator.

I’ve been FAF-N’s U.S. Coordinator for more than a year, a role I gladly inherited from Sally Barlow, one of Faith Alive’s first and most committed supporters. She is now the President of Faith Alive USA, Inc., a 501c3 with Russ McCahan as Vice-President and Executive Director. His role is networking with people around the U.S. to build support for FA USA, Inc. that supports approved projects at Faith Alive Foundation-Nigeria. He’s also now doing some of the things that my position used to do, like arrange Dr. Chris’s travel in the U.S.

To alleviate confusion between Faith Alive USA, Inc. and my role as someone who reports directly to Dr. Christian O. Isichei, he changed my title to more accurately reflect what I do. My most clearly defined role is coordinating visitors and medical supplies from around the world to visit the Faith Alive hospital in Jos, Nigeria. Like most jobs, however, the “…and other duties” takes most of my time and effort.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Petition WHO for HIV Treatment

This post's title isn't a question. Instead, it's a reference to the World Health Organization. Dr. Art Ammann, President of Global Strategies for HIV Prevention and extended Faith Alive family member, urges all of us to speak up for people around the world who are HIV+. Simply click on if you agree with this statement:

"I want WHO treatment guidelines updated now so that all HIV infected women, men and children can be treated, regardless of CD4 count or clinical status, as recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in April, 2012. HIV infected people in poor countries are deserving of the best recommended treatment. It may cost more now, but it will cost a lot less later. Millions of HIV infections will be prevented, millions of HIV-infected individuals will not progress to AIDS, and millions of children will not become orphans."

Dr. Art says, "We need your help with an issue of justice and equity. In April the US Department of Health and Human Services revised their HIV treatment guidelines to state that all HIV-infected individuals should be treated. This will benefit hundreds of thousands of individuals in the US but for millions of people in resource poor countries it won't help unless the World Health Organization (WHO) changes their guidelines too. They have not done so for over two years and have no plans to update their guidelines for another year. WHO guidelines restrict treatment to individuals who have more advanced HIV infection. This makes no sense and it means that millions of poor and disadvantaged HIV-infected individuals including women, pregnant women and children will go untreated, advance to AIDS and have HIV infected babies. The epidemic of HIV infection in children and the associated HIV orphan epidemic affecting millions of children could end if all HIV-infected women were treated with antiretroviral drugs."

Let's make a statement NOW during the International AIDS Conference this week in Washington DC.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; 
come before him with joyful songs.
                                            Psalm 100:1&2 

What a pleasure to share worship with Dr. Chris yesterday at my home church in Fort Collins, Colorado. He preached at two services in the morning about life's ups and downs, weaving some of his life's experiences with the biblical Joseph's, and reminding us that God is always with us.

In the evening, he joined over 100 people from the community to sing and dance (well, only a few of us were dancing--the rest must not have been comfortable jumping up and dancing African-style to the beat of Daniel Bushrah Sesay's band!). Thinking back, I probably looked ridiculous, but I couldn't stop myself. I just had to share in Dr. Chris's joy! 

Two amazing, local young women (Ingrid and Steph) talked about recently meeting, accepting and loving the brothel women in Jos, Nigeria. Dr. Chris followed Steph's powerful testimony with his own confession of passing by these women as if they were invisible. God opened his eyes and today he sees them for who they are--beautifully created in God's image.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the evening so meaningful. Sure, there were a few sound glitches and we didn't follow the schedule exactly. We'll say that's because we wanted you to experience a little of Nigeria. A go-with-the-flow, electric worship. 

All in all, we praise God for a wonderful Nigeria-in-Colorado day! 

(Top photo with Pastors Rich McDermott and Cindy Frost. Middle photo with Dhari Dull. Bottom photo of Daniel Bushrah Sesay and band members.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Article in Today's Coloradoan newspaper

Fort Collins church buys Nigerian brothel to build hospital, rebuild lives

Buying an African brothel was not part of a local church’s strategic plans. But the opportunity arose earlier this year, and now more than two dozen commercial sex workers have support to change their lives.

Rich McDermott, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins, visited the Faith Alive clinic in Jos, Nigeria, five years ago. Since then, more than 30 others from his church and Fort Collins also have traveled to Jos.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think that one day our church would help buy a brothel there, but our Nigerian partner helps us think outside the box,” McDermott said.

Dr. Christian Isichei, Faith Alive AIDS Clinic founder and coordinator, wanted property to build a teaching hospital and dormitory. When he learned that the brothel was for sale, he asked his international partners for help.

Before Isichei can renovate the building, his staff is mentoring the 19 young women who live and work in the brothel as well as women who live in villages with their children and rent space at the brothel.

“It is a terrible fact here in Nigeria that women, even some university students, think that prostitution is their only option to make ends meet,” Isichei said.

“Buying the property proves to me how negligent I have been to some neighbors,” Isichei said. “No one cared for these women, including myself, but it took God to draw our attention to these people also created in his image like you and me.”

Isichei’s staff is taking six months to build trusting relationships with the women who have until this December to find other income.

Faith Alive is offering them various jobs at the hospital, as well as free access to the clinic’s sewing, knitting,  computer, catering and other income-generating classes.

“We encourage the women to access all of our free medical and social services that include testing and treatment for HIV,” Isichei said. ”We hope that some may even choose to enter the healthcare profession.”

So far two women have expressed interest in different careers. The lure of instant cash in large sums on a daily basis may be too strong in a country where most people survive on less than $2 a day.

Isichei said, “Some day, when the teaching hospital is complete, it will testify that anything, and anybody, is worth redeeming.”

As for the church, McDermott said, “Dr. Chris is one of the most courageous and inspiring people I’ve met. He does very much remind me of Mother Teresa whom I met about 25 years ago. His vision is much bigger than most people’s and it really challenges and attracts many people.”

Want to help?

Dr. Christian Isichei, founder and coordinator of the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria, will speak about buying the brothel, from 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 531 S. College Ave. Before his presentation, participants are welcome to enjoy a free dinner as well as music provided by Daniel Bushrah Sesay and his African band. For more information, visit or call (970) 229-0936.

Click here to see the article in The Coloradoan.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Spiritual Theme: Blessedness of Giving

An article in The New York Times yesterday cited scientific evidence that reveals the emotional benefits of giving. While the authors talk about monetary generosity, Pastor Ben at Faith Alive in Jos, Nigeria emphasizes in a recent monthly theme the spiritual benefits of giving tangible and intangible things. He cites Acts 20:35 as a reminder that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” and John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We know that giving to others, especially those in need, is a good thing. But how often do we intentionally give to attract blessings for ourselves? Isn’t that a bit selfish? Pastor Ben doesn’t think so, and encourages us consider these four factors: 

Factor 1: WHAT we give matters. “What a man sows is what he shall reap.” (Galatians 6:7) Some givers attract curses and others attract blessings. Pastor Ben says, “You don’t gather grape from mango tree.” What you want more of, give the same, whether it’s love, respect, time, money, encouragement, etc.

Factor 2: Our MOTIVE matters.  2Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Factor 3: The QUALITY of our gift matters. In Malachi 1:8-9, God rebuked a priest for offering a blind and crippled animal, a castoff that the priest probably didn’t want for himself. Consider the quality of materials that Solomon used to build the temple.

Factor 4: The QUANTITY of our gift matters. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Think of the widow in Mark 12:43 & 44 who gave a few coins. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

If you practice this radical generosity, Pastor Ben says, “You will be amazed at the blessings that follow. Try it today and you will call me to testify.”

Let’s take the challenge. I’ll gladly give you his phone number.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dr. Chris in Fort Collins for Benefit Event

What did God have planned for an African boy born in 1958, the 11th and last child of a polygamous, carpenter father and his senior wife who lived in extreme poverty? Plenty, if you know Dr. Christian Isichei, Founder and Coordinator of the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria. Whether Dr. Chris preaches on
July 15 at First Presbyterian Church (531 S. College Avenue in Fort Collins) about losing four siblings, going to university on the 1-1 plan (1 meal once a day), using his name to protect him during a deadly crisis, or being called “Mr. 9 pm,” his stories will inspire and give you a hopeful
perspective about your own life and problems.

As a university student, he read an article about what one Christian doctor can do for the poor. He saved the article and looked at it again after he returned from his first visit to the U.S. where he saw healthcare in the developed world—a striking contrast to his home country. Armed in 1996 with medical training, a desire to share Jesus Christ with a hurting world, $333, and a vision to start a holistic healthcare center, he hung a shingle outside a small office building in Jos. He prayed, waited and trusted God. Someone came. More people came. Soon thousands arrived, many with HIV. Today he runs a three-story hospital offering medicine, surgery, social services and skills-training, among other things—all at no cost to the patients.

Come hear Dr. Christian Isichei preach on Sunday, July 15 as he shares the story of God’s faithfulness in his life…and his vision for the next chapter. Then come back to First Presbyterian Church that evening at 6 p.m. for an inspiring evening of good food, fellowship, music, personal stories, and of course, the main event—Dr. Chris talking about God’s faithfulness at the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, Nigeria

We are pleased to have authentic African music by Daniel Bushrah Sesay, too! We’re doing this event “African-style”—just show up that evening with your friends and family and expect God to meet us. For more information or to help volunteer for this event, contact me at