November 2011


Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving here in the US, a holiday that is foreign to me having grown up in Nigeria. Still I have so much to be thankful for, as many of us do. But the truth of the matter is, I found myself feeling really sober over the Thanksgiving weekend because of something I read.  I get a google alert every day about articles that focus on AIDS, Africa and poverty, and this one landed in my box the day after we had all given thanks.

Through a blog entry that Jeffrey Sachs (Head of the Earth Institute at Columbia) posted on the Huffington Post, I learned that Congress is re-thinking the pledge the US made to give $1.3 billion to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria for the next fiscal year. That sounds like a substantial number though its money well spent. It goes to fund various development programs including such basics as life saving mosquito nets, has saved 7 million lives over the last decade and improved the health of countless others.  But 1.3B doesn’t seem like much – because it isn’t – when you compare it to the $1.9 billion that the US spends on the military EVERY DAY.  Yes you read that right.  This country spends almost 2 Billion dollars a day to protect the interests of this country but you and I both know that in those efforts, it ends up maiming and killing thousands of civilians and devastating neighborhoods.

It’s frightening to contemplate.  And it makes me wonder what God thinks as he watches us begrudge funds to help the least of these while doling out funds that end up taking lives and destroying communities. Have  we lost sight of the fact that we are ALL created in His image, in His likeness?

Sobering stuff indeed.

Lord have mercy.

Here’s the link to Sach’s piece if you want all the gory details: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/washington-leaves-million_b_1112746.html .  And once you read it, PRAY. Pray for God’s kingdom to come, here on earth as it is in heaven.

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This past Thursday I hosted an event at the home of  Duncan and Jen, Redeemer friends, to share the news about what God is doing at Faith Alive, in Jos Nigeria.  On Sunday, I hosted a similar  event with the Health Care Fellowship Group. Russ McCahan, the Executive Director was visiting from Colorado and he shared the incredible story of how from a gift of $300 to Dr. Chris 12 years ago and a calling on his life to serve the poor,  a free HIV/AIDS clinic was started.  Now Faith Alive has a staff of 15o, including 10 full-time physicians, 6 accountants, and 4 pastors who care for 15,000 patients a month in a three-story building constructed as a gift from Covenant Baptist Church in California and in 4 satellite sites in outlying villages.

But it’s not just the volume of patients served which is remarkable, but the scope of services that Faith Alive serves as an anchor for.  There is counseling and testing, antiretroviral medicines, support groups, surgery, labor and delivery, prevention of HIV from mothers to babies, home-based care, transitional housing, directly observed therapy, nutrition, skills training,and  a school for orphans.

And there is a 5 year vision: to create a teaching hospital to train doctors and other health care workers to care for patients in a holistic way. The land has already been purchased and a task force of Nigerian doctors across the world who will help to shape the curriculum is being established.

What a joy and a gift it is for me to be able to be involved in the promotion of an HIV/AIDS clinic in my hometown which serves the poor and the disenfranchised, all in the name of Jesus.

To find out more about Faith Alive, to consider visiting Faith Alive (they welcome visitors!) or to contribute to its long-term vision, contact russellmccahan@gmail.com.

Last night at Catalyst, I had the privilege of seeing God at work in the midst of my sinful heart. It was the dinner hour and with a slice of pizza on my plate, I looked around for someone to talk to. I immediately noticed a young man sitting and eating alone. I’d noticed him in previous weeks but hadn’t felt compelled to get to know him.  I still didn’t feel particularly compelled last night either but as I scanned the room a second time, everyone else seemed engaged in conversation already.  Convicted, I  sat down beside him and introduced myself. He was fairly new to Redeemer (came in the last 6 months) and is a recent graduate of Colgate. As we talked I learned that his parents were from Jamaica – two of my close friend are from there – and his mother and I attended the same college. We sat there for at least 15 minutes trading stories, enjoying a sweet conversation, and finding many points of connection. My slice of pizza gone, I shook his hand and thanked him for chatting, and I really meant it.

I had approached him – not as a Christian first, as a brother – but because I was a staff person feeling obligated to do the welcoming thing. And instead God gave me a gift and compelled me to open it – through our shared conversation.

It was a reminder of how limited my eyesight is here  on earth. So often I fail to see that which is eternal and instead focus myopically on that which is transient and fading.

Because of my near -sightedness, I almost missed out on what God was giving me.  I wonder how ofen that happens and I don’t ever realize it…?