Yesterday was one of the “memorial days” for our journey to Nigeria. March 22, 2012 was the fateful day that we were on our way back to the airport to embark on our “missionary adventure”. After deciding that, Yes, this is where God wants us, we can’t do it ourselves, the job is too big for us, for anyone. Art and Dorothy assured us that what they have done the past 10 plus years was listen to God’s leading and people were helped and God was glorified. We decided that, yes, we could do that!
We were excitedly talking about the mission trips we would have and the groups we could get to come help us when we rolled up to that fateful “check point” that wasn’t a check point. It was an attempted robbery.
It was a confusing day, it was the longest day of my life thus far BUT it was a good day. Let me tell you why March 22 is a “pile of rocks” memorial in our lives. That was the day that God spoke to each of us clearly and loudly amidst the confusion, fear, and blood He said, “This is where I want you, I will take care of you”. Immediately we were assured of His plan and we knew we were going to be okay.
Even amid Boka Haram violence, Ebola scares, and tribe riots we have not had fear. God already told us and showed us that He had our backs and He was in control of EVERYTHING.
My leg healed about 8 months after the incident, Jim’s head and thigh healed up, Peter’s hand has nerve damage and he can’t move his ring finger or little finger but it is usable and healed. Does Peter fear driving now and those check points? No, he travels hundreds of miles a month most months and is the same cheerful, singing, talking Peter the Driver that he was before.
What if we would have taken this unusual way to start our missionary career as a sign from God that Nigeria was not where God was calling us? What if we had not listened and let fear get in the way of His assurance? I tell you this, WE would be the ones missing out.
It is an amazing thing to stand back and see God work, sometimes through you, sometimes through the people around you. Working in people’s hearts and lives. Do we just stand back and watch here in Nigeria? No! It was a lot of work to get here and every day there are hard decisions to make and a lot of things to do. I just think what if we weren’t here? Not only would we be out of God’s will, but so would the people that God wants to use here.
I know I am kind of rambly today, but I do have a point. My point for today is this: Are you listening? If God told you to do something or go somewhere would you and your spouse know that it was God? Would you do it? I have to tell you something, in Dan’s and my marriage God has always worked on both of us at the same time. I can name so many instances that we were at the same place at the same time and knew it was God. Then we took the next step. Straight Ahead, as our dear friend, Pastor Joel says!
John 4:14 – But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 7:37-38 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’
Two weeks ago we had “retired” missionaries Bernie and Lily Lemke visit us. I took a trip with them to visit a community that they did a water project in. The town was Missamari. This is a picture of Amino and some children by the well that was installed there. People from miles around come and get water there. We also visited the very muddy stream where the people used to get all of their water from.
Believe me, people, since moving to Nigeria I have recognized the importance of clean water. Looking up statistics shocked me though. As a middle-class American growing up, I have never even thought about not having water. Even in the 70’s when we had to conserve energy, water was another thing my family conserved as well.
Here are some facts that I hope shock you. REMEMBER THIS IS 2016!
With a population of over 150 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Political unrest, poor governance and corruption have led to decades of water shortages, while the population has increased rapidly.
Though there is surface and ground water, rapid population growth, particularly in urban areas, has not been supported with additional resources. Only 11% of people have access to safe sanitation and 42% live without access to clean water.
Funding for water, sanitation and hygiene is low and there is little coordination within the government.
Improving hygiene behaviour is vital if the full benefits of access to water and sanitation are to be realised.
In Nigeria, hygiene is not widely seen as a big health risk, making it a more difficult issue to address. 68% of the population has no access to a toilet and it is these communities that face a higher risk of disease from poor hygiene standards.
A lack of awareness, education and a culture of hygienic living make changes in the community slow and complicated. Often knowledge about hygiene does not transfer into practice very quickly.
Around 700,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation – that’s almost 2,000 children a day.
1 in 9 people world- wide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.
443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
In developing countries, as much as 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.
Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease.
Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys to be the family member responsible for fetching water.
Over half of the developing world’s primary schools don’t have access to water and sanitation facilities. Without toilets, girls often drop out at puberty.
It turns out that water is pretty important to our bodies and to this world! Isn’t it?
God knew that, I think that is why there are so many verses about living water in the Bible. I am still learning and growing, but I hope at the end of my days people can say this about me, “She was like a drink of cold water on a hot day” or “Joy gushed out of her like a spring of living water.”
Thought for today: How about you? Do you gush forth anything? What is it?
Friends, I want to share with you just ONE of the challenges we are facing as we are serving our community here in Gembu. This week I saw something I had never seen before (pictured here) I was heartbroken for this poor woman as she is in much pain and now the Kaposi’s Sarcoma is starting to affect her other hand! This woman has been treated at another facility here in our area. The recommended treatment for this cancer is to change your HIV medications from first line to second line medications. This poor woman has been suffering with this for about two years and has never had her medications changed! This has made her hopeless as you can imagine. She came to us for help.
I am angry because this is negligence. I am angry because these are real people’s lives that are being affected. I am angry because these sort of things happen here many times over and life is not valued here. I am angry because line 2 drugs are usually more expensive than line 1, even though facilities in our area get free medications for the HIV/AIDS patients that are being treated, they may not always get the right medications. I am angry because last week we found handfuls of antiretroviral medications lying on the ground in front of our office from people who came for testing, got the correct medications, and threw them there as if to say, “I don’t need these.”
Here is what I learned about Kaposi’s Sarcoma and I know the next time I see it I will know what it is and how to pray for the person affected.
Due to weakened immune systems, people with HIV are more likely to develop certain cancers. AIDS is a later stage of HIV infection where most severe cases of Kaposi’s Sarcoma occur. Surprisingly, though, Kaposi’s Sarcoma of the skin can also occur earlier in infection. It is a sign the immune system is being suppressed. The good news is that anti-HIV drugs have caused an 80% to 90% drop in the rate of KS cases since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Also treating the virus itself is the best way to treat KS, especially early on.Researchers have discovered that Kaposi’s Sarcoma is caused by a herpes virus, called Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV-8). Affecting eight times more men than women. Keeping your immune system strong with antiretroviral therapy (called HAART) is the best-known way to prevent Kaposi’s sarcoma. In many cases, HAART is the best way to treat active Kaposi’s sarcoma. It may even clear up the skin lesions.
Friends, please pray for us as we teach, train, and encourage our staff and hire new staff for our growing needs. Pray as we are building and serving our community here. Pray for the people of our area here on the Mambilla Plateau to have Satan’s blinders removed from their eyes so they can see the true love of Jesus and His healing power.
Point for Today: Is there anything in your life that Satan may be blinding you to these days? Pray about it.