Q. How and when did you become involved in Vision Africa?
A. Graham: We were invited by (VA board member and friend) Bob Howard to visit Nigeria in 2019, and the trip proved to be life-changing for both of us. We were awestruck by the joy we experienced from everyone we met, despite their often-desperate circumstances. After attending a church service filled with dancing, singing and praise, we began to greet the members in fellowship. Once we hugged the first person, we were rushed like rock stars by all who wanted to greet us with love and warmth. Immediately, I had the thought that “this must be what Heaven is like”—being welcomed joyfully with open arms and incredible love.
Brenda: We had no idea that we would encounter a glimpse of Heaven in Africa, but we experienced that not only in our welcome, but in countless small acts of service offered to us in genuine friendship. At the church service, which went on for several hours, the heat became oppressive, and a woman seated behind me could see my discomfort, so she lifted my long hair and began to fan my neck. It made me think of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet—an act of selfless love and generosity given freely.
Q. How long have you been VA board members?
A. We became board members in the summer of 2020 as a continuation of our trip experience in 2019 that had such a profound effect on us, and it has been our privilege to serve and contribute to Vision Africa ever since.
Q. What motivates your continued work with VA?
A. Brenda: It’s still the memory of all those people we met and what we can do for them. They are so appreciative of even the smallest gifts and gestures. Anything we did was so precious to them, and it opened our hearts to want to do more and more in any ways we can.
Graham: Our trip gave us a perspective of how blessed we are and also an understanding that whatever we share goes so far there. Every minute of time and every dollar that we donate has such a big impact, and that is very motivating. Partnering with local people, businesses, and government makes the VA model unique in Africa and provides a multiplying effect that changes lives and brings hope every day.
Q. What milestones in VA’s 27-year history have you been most blessed to witness and support?
A. Graham: Certainly, the hospital, for both of us, has been a huge undertaking that is so exciting to see nearing completion. For me, Sunday’s peace and reconciliation efforts have also been so encouraging. I see Sunday as a modern-day “Johnny Appleseed,” planting countless seeds that slowly but continuously bear fruit and will continue to do so, including through all the participants in Media Institute.
Brenda: For me, all the work in orphanages and prisons has been so important. We know first-hand what a profound effect a little love and human contact has on prisoners and precious babies, and my heart goes out to that work. More recently, the “My Stain, No Shame” program has touched me deeply, and I’m so proud that VA is reaching out in practical ways to help girls reach their full God-given potential.
Q. What do you see as VA’s greatest needs today?
A. Graham: The first near-term objective is to complete construction of the hospital and then to ensure that it has a firm financial foundation for continuous operation long into the future. The second longer-term objective is to begin replicating the model of ministry that we have established in Nigeria and expanding it further into Africa with additional medical and radio outreach and peace and reconciliation efforts. As the well-known hymn says, “they will know we are Christians by our love.” We’re convinced that if we love people well enough, all the rest will follow.
Q. What are your personal goals as chairpersons?
A. Brenda: We hope to attract additional younger supporters to Vision Africa, as board members, donors, and volunteers. As leaders today, we believe it’s our responsibility to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow so that Vision Africa’s service can continue for generations to come.
Q. What dreams do you hold for VA’s future?
A. Brenda: To establish more hospitals in more places, especially to serve women and children and reduce the devastating rate of maternal and infant mortality.
Graham: I would second that and add making significant inroads in reducing the increasing rates of violence and insurgence in Nigeria and beyond.
Q. What should VA supporters and donors watch for in 2024?
A. Graham: Definitely the completion of the hospital, and we ask for prayers as well as continued gifts for that goal.
Brenda: Additional support for the orphanages and Motherless Babies Home so that there are more staff to care for the increasing influx of children. Also, a growth in the “My Stain, No Shame” program and more emphasis on finding and providing clean water sources.
Q. What personal message would you like to convey to VA supporters?
A. Graham: Always remember that you have an incredible impact on countless lives. Your gifts go such a long way, do so much good, change so many lives for the better, and provide so much hope. When you support the work of Vision Africa, you become a part of expanding God’s kingdom, and that’s the highest calling we can have on Earth.