'Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone'
In September we returned to Nigeria. The team continue to consolidate the work. In Mission, very often the first casualty, ironically, is the Gospel. Busy with plans and projects we oft times cast a quick prayer to the wind, a few verses of a devotional and rush headlong with 'our plans', assuming God will sanction them. From this imbalance the behemoth of the 'Social Gospel' has been spawned, where works supplant the Gospel and the awe and profundity of the finished work of Calvary becomes sidelined. (Conversely, you can of course be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.)
As Christians we are called to service, to firstly love God and secondly man. It is an outward looking faith, it is not about us. How do we know therefore that what we do is not just well intentioned 'good works'.
When we sense a leading of God it should be prayed over and be scrutinised that it aligns with Gods Word, that all is done , sincerely for God's glory and not ours, and that prayerfully we do not take ownership of any part of it.
The Mission, like any fellowship of believers is representative of the Church, the Body of Christ, each fulfilling the role he or she is assigned to. The body is under the direction of the head, physically and spiritually and the head of New Foundations is Jesus Christ. To fail to acknowledge this headship is problematic.
Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission recognised this fact stating, on the subject of Mission that 'Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all'. His further comment that 'If this is a real work for God it is a real conflict with Satan', is the natural corollary.
Sanitised Christianity validates our faith by good works, toilet twinning, food banks and shoe boxes at Christmas. There is nothing wrong with any of this of course, but may it never define our walk. Once we stand for Christ and walk out in service we engage with the enemy, a battle royale that can discourage and dishearten us unless we know where our strength comes from.
As Christians we are called to works, varied and challenging, often those nearest home the hardest. The Bible tells us how we win our battles in the works we are called to do: 'And they overcame him(Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.' Revelation 12:11.
Understanding the power in the blood shed on the cross, declaring the word of God to be authoritative and applicable in all situations and being surrendered to God, ( that we be dead and hid with Christ in God) will see victory ours. Christianity is far more than a lazy assent to some theological doctrine, it has a rigorous practicality about it.
We see the battle in Nigeria and at home and we asked the team to speak to us here, of such matters to admonish, encourage and challenge us as they reflect on the trials and challenges they face daily.
Security continues to be an issue, our second clinic at Oynagebene again shut due to another violent gang operating in the inner creeks. Vigilantes secure the riverbank at Enekorogha where our main clinic still operates 24 hrs a day.
In September 2019 I travelled back to Nigeria to continue the training of the eyecare team. As an eye team we seek to enable each patient to have the best eyesight possible. Yet, God’s word tells us we are not to walk by sight. Rather we are to focus on what is unseen.The eternal rather than the transient, the spiritual rather than physical. So how do these two things work together? Sight is a gift from God ,but as a Christian, my life should not be directed by what I see, but rather by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This isn’t an easy thing to do. Life can be extremely difficult at times and as we look on with our eyes, we can’t help but wonder, why? Yet we hold onto the fact that God’s word tells us that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. We are not guided by what we see, but rather by our faith in the one who is unseen. Whilst in captivity in 2017 the situation at many points felt dire and hopeless. If I focused on what I could see around me I felt lost and helpless. But when I fixed my eyes heavenwards, a peace that surpasses all understanding came. Still not knowing what the outcome of the situation would be, but choosing to walk by faith, as God was in control.So we walk by faith not by sight. This is our ultimate focus as the New Foundations eye team. Yes we seek to show God’s love through optics, but our primary aim is to walk by faith, to love God, and make Him known. ............................ ..................................Alanna
Maintaining the equipment Ian Squire put in place is rigorous and Alanna continues to build on Ians teaching , with Glaucoma screening, and outreaches to schools and communities for eye heath, disease prevention and full refraction and prescription glasses. We are grateful to INSPECS uk for continued support.
Oil theft or 'bunkering' from sabortaged pipelines is endemic in the delta. Oil is 'fried' in large drums above uncontrolled fires, to extract a crude distillate of diesel for local sale. Death and appalling burns are frequent and three men, operating a 'refinery' near the clinic came one night in extremis after a large explosion. There are no regional burns units and this was far beyond the staff's training, and resources of the clinic.
Once more, accepting of a lack of skill, and means, prayer and simple obedience saw a dramatic healing, when dehydration, organ failure and overwhelming sepsis should have been the outcome. Two of the men acknowledged the miracle of life and restoration, responding to the gospel delivered in word and compassionate care and seeing healing without contractures and scars and sight restored from flash burns within days
What a beautiful outworking of the Gospel, sight and healing restored and the Gospel penetrating these mens hearts, such that they are set free, in every sense from death to life. They now come to every discipleship meeting as shown here, testifying to God's goodness in their lives.
Snail farming is now a major program , protein rich, reliable and will, in time be profitable to help sustain the Mission......2000+ snails and counting...
The long view is to plant orchards, orange, papaya, and apple. First crops have already ripened.
Almost all babies are delivered at the clinic, and space is at a premium. The dedicated birthing suite is finished, by stealing some of the inpatient ward and a corridor beyond.
Virtually no mothers and babies die in childbirth as we strive to identify high risk pregnancies. The only case this year was because of fuel scarcity to transfer the mother by boat. The adoption of safe birthing practice and good antenatal care has taken a generation to embed but is now established. We have also provided emergency fuel stores.
To better handle problematic deliveries Doris, Bala and Vivian joined a teaching program led by Dr David Cundall of Nigeria Health Care Project in Abia State, a massive boost to confidence and competency.
Injuries and trauma continue to dominate much time and resources. With fastidiously careful suturing these hands, caught by a dough kneading machine, are now functional.
This little girl sufferred a deliberate burn, severe, extensive and life changing.
Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act 2003 to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if State assemblies also start it. Delta State did not sign so we have used our safe guarding policy for onward protection and management.
As with the preceding case physio is crucial to prevent life threatening contractures, besides the problems that will come with accepting her body image once healed.
Sadly these case are not uncommon.
Twenty young men came to enquire of the person of Jesus. Sabbath (front left) is Bala's husband , an itinerant preacher with a natural authority and peaceable nature. The young men came from a gang, local youths who smoke cannabis in the 'attelles' or riverside shacks.
They came in search of truth, and several months later the majority continue to came for teaching, enquiring of the scriptures. With no seating we purchased 20 chairs for the fellowship to establish, a small but useful investment!
At Enekorogha our discipleship camps run every two weeks on a Monday, up to 100 coming in eight boat loads for teaching, discipleship and fellowship. They come from surrounding villages some several hours paddle by canoe, though we now provide boats. Recently a fetish priestess has been actively discrediting the mission's objectives but this is no surprise when freedom is coming to the captives and eyes are opening to the love of Jesus proclaimed in His Word.
The work continues steadily. Until we can reopen Oyangbene clinic we continue to see 200-300 patients a month at Enekorogha, and have started eye screening in schools. We continue to provide subsidised electricity to local houses and our Primary School at Oyangbene, which has remained open, has a new classroom and three fulltime teachers.
From all at New Foundations, a sincere thank you for believing in, and supporting the work this year.
Godwilling, a peaceful and happy 2020 to you.
Needing a break? The cottage with a mission in the beautiful Scottish Borders www.scottishretreat.org