Monday, March 26, 2012

Daughter of “White Jesus” Baptized

This post is for our Nigerian Faith Alive family who met Chris Harper, aka “White Jesus,” when he visited Jos with me in 2008. Chris and his wife Anna thank God for Emmaline, their beautiful, healthy baby girl. Pastor Cindy Frost (who visited Faith Alive with me in 2009) baptized Emmaline yesterday at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado.

I’ve never attended a Nigerian child’s baptism, but imagine that it, like Emmaline’s, consists of the parents’ covenant to raise their child to love Jesus and a church’s vow to help. In the name of the whole church of Christ (including Nigeria), our congregation committed to “undertake with these parents the Christian nurture of Emmaline, so that in due time she may confess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” and by our “example and fellowship, to strengthen her family ties with the household of God.”

The prayer for children's baptisms is one of my favorites and usually brings tears to my eyes. I know it’s long for a blog post, but it’s worth the time.

“Gracious Heavenly Father, from whom all children are a precious gift. Today we confess anew that we are but stewards of the lives You entrust to us. For we know that when we give our children unto You, we are able to keep them forever. When we deliver them into Your bondage, we know it is the perfect freedom. And when we bid them to love You first and best, they love us and others all the more. We pray for this child. Give her enough tears to make her tender, enough hurts to make her compassionate, enough of failure to keep her hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough of success to make her sure that she walks with You. Give her a real concern for the needs of others, and help her to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, who was baptized Your Son and servant and who is our risen Lord.

“We pray for these parents. Grant that their lives might be the window through which this child shall better see and understand You to be her heavenly Father. Help them to teach her to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, molding her young life into the likeness of Jesus Christ. May they love with Your love, teach Your truth, and share the gospel with this child, that Your Word may be heard, and Your will be done, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Holy God, remind us of the promises given in our own baptism, and renew our trust in you. Make us strong to obey your will, and to serve you with joy, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

(Check out Chris's expression in the top photo. He's looking at Emmaline the way I think God smiles at us, his children--even if we are about to do something as silly as Emmaline and take off our pretty pink headbands.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Faith Alive Foundations

Do you know the difference between Faith Alive Foundation-Nigeria and Faith Alive USA, Inc.?

FAF-N started in 1996, is Nigerian-led (Board of Directors that includes Dr. Chris Isichei, Founder and Coordinator) and operates in Jos, Nigeria with these statements:

Vision Statement: Faith Alive Foundation envisions a self-sustaining internationally recognized medical and social services center which meets the needs of humanity in a holistic way.

Mission Statement: To serve humanity by expressing God’s love through compassionate voluntary services and the provision of free holistic health care and social serves for improved quality of life.

FA USA, Inc. started in 2010, is American and Nigerian-led (Board of Directors that includes Russ McCahan, Dr. Chris Isichei and Sally Barlow) and operates in the United States with the mission to support approved projects at FAF-N. FA USA, Inc. is an offshoot of a foundation that began in the mid-2000s that has morphed into two current foundations—FA USA,Inc. and Hope for West Africa that supports a couple of Nigerian non-government organizations (including FAF-N).

In case you’re wondering where I fit, I am the U.S. Coordinator for FAF-N, a position created before FA USA, Inc. that coordinates visitors/volunteers, medical supplies and an array of other things that Dr. Chris needs. I also stay in close contact with both HFWA and FA USA, Inc. that are doing great work to support FAF-N.

Okay, enough acronyms. All you really need to remember are the thousands of people still living today because of these foundations rooted in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sweet Mother

Happy Nigerian Mother's Day! Whether you call the woman who birthed and/or raised you Mother, Mom, Mommy, Mum, Mummy or something else (hopefully) endearing, today we give God a big NAGODE (thanks) for her.

Click here to read another post about Mother's Day (and see a photo of my mom), and click here hear the upbeat Nigerian "Sweet Mother" song.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We Bought a Brothel

That’s not something I’ve ever said, or even thought to say, before now. Faith Alive wanted the brothel property, just down the street from the main hospital and next door to Faith Alive’s recreation center, to expand into a full-scale teaching hospital. Founder and Coordinator Dr. Chris Isichei, with God’s faithfulness and the efforts of Faith Alive USA, Inc. run by Russ McCahan, is getting closer to the dream: an African Mayo Clinic based on the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where Dr. Chris studied.

What will happen to the brothel staff? It’s up to them to accept or reject what Faith Alive offers them: free, holistic services that include HIV testing, counseling, rehabilitation, skills-training and jobs, as well as unconditional love and grace in the name of Jesus. Please pray for them to make the best decision. I’m sure that this is the beginning of at least a few transformative life stories for another book.

Thanks to everyone whose donations helped purchase the property and empower these women to set and reach new goals. While we have two-thirds of the money, we had to take out a loan for the final one-third. Donations are still gladly accepted. Click here for the address of where to send money so that you, too, can say that you bought a brothel. Doesn’t that feel better than telling people you bought a new smart phone or took an exotic vacation?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Donate Wisely

Have you seen the video or heard chatter about the Kony video? The tape by Invisible Children is compelling, for sure, but brings up a bigger issue.

Their plea is one of thousands vying for your dollars. But before you donate to them or anyone else, make sure to do your homework. Is what they say true? How are they spending their money? Are the indigenous people prioritizing their needs or is a foreign agency trying to decide what's best? While money for direct aid is needed in some situations and for a limited time, look for agencies whose goal is empowering people to be sufficient over the long haul. I love Faith Alive for many reasons, not the least of which is because we invest in human lives by providing holistic care and skills-training.

It's hard enough to decide which quality organizations and people to support. Let's not add to the frustration by reacting to those who aren't fully transparent and helping well. Click here to read my recent post about Faith Alive's "seal of approval" by the highly respected Mennonite Central Committee.

For non-profits, I highly recommend that they study the book When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. I just ordered the book Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) by Robert D. Lupton; I plan to post my reflections.

Back to Invisible Children. Click here to read their statement of validity. Please note that I am not "for" or "against" their campaign. I'm simply pointing out that donors need to do their homework. You be the judge.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women’s Day, Nigerian-Style

True or false about Nigeria:

1. Among Nigeria’s approximately 155,000,000 citizens, the annual maternal mortality ratio is 840,000? There are 39,000 child marriages each year?
2. 30,000 females’ genitals are mutilated annually?
3. 35% of male adolescents (aged 15-19) think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances?
4. 40% of female adolescents (aged 15-19) think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances

According to UNICEF, all these statements highlight a sad reality. That gives us reason to stand with International Women’s Day. At the Faith Alive hospital in Jos, Nigeria, we work toward empowering women through healthy bodies, educated minds, skills-training for employment and spiritual strength from Jesus Christ.

Click here to read an article by a Nigerian woman about the need for this special day. I like the article's statement that one woman can change anything,and many women can change everything.

(Photo is me in 2009 with surgeon Dr. Mercy Isichei, Dr. Chris's wife,who is one of my role models. Can you tell which one is me?)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Shunts Needed

When we say that someone has a big head, we usually mean that their ego has ballooned out of control. Not the case in Nigeria. At the Faith Alive Hospital in Jos, we have some children with heads swollen from water on the brain—a condition known as hydrocephalus. Their prognosis without surgery is dire.

Dr. Chris Isichei, founder and coordinator of Faith Alive, says that God has blessed us with a neurosurgeon willing to help. However, we need some donated shunts, even if they are past their expiration. This is the best chance for these children to grow into healthy adults. If you know of anyone in neurosurgery who has access to shunts, will you please let me know a.s.a.p.? It’s a rewarding experience to know that you made a lifelong difference in a child’s life.

(I took the top photo two years ago at Faith Alive. The bottom photo is taken from the website: