OUR LAST TWO DAYS IN NIGERIA
OK, although the subject line might otherwise imply, we were not country and western dancing with Boko Haram. It might be more accurate to say we were side-stepping them.
Before we left for Nigeria, we all knew about the girls Boko Haram had kidnapped in the far northeast area of Nigeria. We knew about the village they more recently torched in the same area and we knew about the killings and bombings since then in Abuja, Jos and Kano. But we thought that would remain far north of Aba where we were conducting our medical mission, our crusade and planting our church. WE WERE WRONG. I did not want to report any of this to you until we were safely back in the U.S., and thank God we are now back in our safe and secure homes.
Our plan was to spend the last two nights in Aba and participate fully in our medical mission there during the day and our crusade every night, and wrap up our stay there with an official church planting on the last day (the church plant in honor or our former Board Chair, Natalie Jones). Unfortunately, right before we were to head just one hour south to Aba, the Nigerian government intercepted a caravan of vans and buses in Aba with over 400 suspected Boko Haram members. To get to Aba they had to travel through Umuahia (where we were doing our radio mission work). And the bad news is that when they were intercepted, three buses escaped and no one knew where they might be lurking. Immediately below is a link to a news article about the interception.
So, we decided not to go to Aba, at least not completely as planned. We were not to be totally shutout and we remained at least partly undeterred, as our plan was to prayerfully get to Aba for at least some of the mission work. Our plan was to “not announce” when we would go to Aba (just in case the bad guys were somehow listening), not spend the night there and not be there after dark. On our next to last day in Nigeria, we doubled our usual security detail and we took a quick trip to Aba (getting there quickly in the morning and getting out of Dodge almost as quickly in the afternoon). We met with both the Bishop for Aba, as well as the Arch Bishop for that area and several surrounding areas. The Arch Bishop said a blessing over us for our safety (he also blessed the food he was about to feed us and ask the Good Lord to ensure it was disease free – that did not do too much for my appetite – but we all ate and no one got sick).
We left the Arch Bishop’s office and went with him to the home of the Chief of the Village where the church was being planted. He was a very nice gentleman and seemed very happy to have a church planted in such a crucial area. We presented him with a very nice “minister’s” study bible (donated by Sharon Geiger), which he seemed thrilled to get (see picture below). From there we moved on to the area where the medical mission was being conducted. The doctors and nurses had the medical mission indoors the first couple of days, but because of the heat, they had moved it outdoors on a long porch by the time we got there. Below are some pics from both the indoor sessions and the outdoor sessions. They were seeing over 200 patients a day!! We were not there long enough to get involved in the medical mission, but we were there long enough to see the very grateful faces of some very kind looking elderly patients and several very young mothers and young children. I did not want to leave! The people in Nigeria are such kind and loving people (which does not lead to very Christian thoughts on my part about Boko Haram). Although we wanted to stay longer, our safety plan called for us to move out of there and on to the church site where the Arch Bishop would do a very quick, short and private blessing of the new church (see pictures below) – and we were out of there and back to Umuahia before dark.
So, I hope you will join me in praying for all the victims of the Boko Haram violence, as well as the Boko Haram terrorists themselves (that the Good Lord will reach out to them and soften their hearts). I must confess, under the circumstances, my prayers to God about Boko Haram tend to lean towards to the God of the Old Testament (if you get my drift), but after many deep breaths and some soul searching I usually come around to asking Jesus to save them from their evil ways (after God softens their hearts in whatever way He sees fit).
Here is a link to a very good article (hot off the press) summing up the recent Boko Haram violence.
Fortunately, the end result was – a very successful trip. Chuck and Sharon did a great job training and working with our radio staff (as well as the State radio staff and students from Abia State University). Because we did not spend as much time in Aba as we had hoped, that gave us more time to train smaller management groups at the radio station to a deeper level than we would have otherwise been able to.
It is great to be home. I immediately went out for Mexican Food the first night and a big juicy hamburger the second night. I am still trying to get back on Dallas time. I have been pretty regularly falling asleep at home around 8:00 or 9:00 (which is 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. in Nigeria) and then waking up at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. here (which is 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning in Nigeria).
We thank each of you for all of your prayers and your kind and generous donations to Vision Africa – we really appreciate your support. This trip would not have been possible without your kindness and generosity. Thank you and God Bless.
Vision Africa – Executive Director
Below are pictures from the medical mission
The next to last day, the medical mission was moved outdoors where it was cooler.
Below are Pictures from the Church Plant