Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category

Community Development in Nigeria, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

July 24, 2012

Over the last couple months in Back2Back Nigeria, the “Dry Season Farming” projects that were started in the Kisayhip Village have progressed very well. For quite a while it was a bit boring as we watched waiting for the fruit of the peoples labor to appear.

In Kisayhip ‘A’ (the village is split in two parts Kisayhip ‘A’ and ‘B’) the women have worked very hard to cultivate a large crop of tomatoes. A couple weeks ago the women began to harvest and sell the tomatoes. Today, they have made over $300, a large amount here in Nigeria. They will continue to harvest the tomatoes for a couple more weeks hopefully bringing their total net profit to between $500-$600. We are excited to see how this money will be used in the three categories agreed upon (1/3 goes to the women who worked, 1/3 goes back into the project and 1/3 is set aside for a community development project led by the women).

Kisayhip Youth Developments farming is also starting to pick up. The potatoes they planted have started to come up (at least the plant part that grows out of the ground). They have added fertilizer to help the potatoes grow and continue to work the farm keeping it healthy. They plan to harvest the potatoes sometime in August.

With both of these projects, it wasn’t very exciting until we could start to see the fruit of the labor. Both the tomatoes and potatoes need time to develop and we must wait patiently knowing something is happening even if we can’t see it.

Community Development as a whole is a lot like this process. We plant seeds in peoples lives in the form of character, integrity or love and have to trust that God is doing something even while we can’t physically see it. It takes time for the seed to become a plant growing out of the ground and even more time for the plant to yield fruit that will be beneficial.

In the lives of some of the youth in Kisayhip Youth Development and the women in Kisayhip ‘A’ we are starting to see the plant come out of the ground and we wait in eager expectation for God to produce the harvest of fruit that will benefit their community.

Please pray for the physical harvest of food that will feed and/or provide money for the people in the Kisayhip village, and also pray for the spiritual harvest God is cultivating in the lives of the people here.

Local women contribute to the project by farming

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A Reason to Hurry, by Tallie Betscher, Back2Back US Staff

July 13, 2012

I got a phone call from a woman last week that caught my attention.  She had recently come home from spending a week in Monterrey with Back2Back and was interested in sponsoring one of the children she had connected with.  Nothing too unusual about that.  (If you met these kids, you’d probably call me too).  What made the phone call unusual was that she wanted to come into the office to drop off her donation right away.  Usually people will wait for me to mail them a Welcome Packet and send their first donation back through the mail.  This woman couldn’t wait that long.

That afternoon she came in with gift wrapped presents and a check book.  She apologized for keeping me waiting (as if I should have expected her to come straight after we hung up the phone).  As I sat down with her and started getting her all set up for sponsorship, she began to tell me her story.  Her and her husband served with us in Monterrey because her son, who worked at a church, invited them.  They had attended the church off and on, but the gospel was never real to them.  While working with Back2Back in Monterrey, they met a teenage girl who had been abandoned by her family, yet put her faith in a God who loved her enough to send His son to die for her.  That kind of faith, in spite of circumstances, opened her eyes to the reality of Jesus as Savior.  Her and her husband came home and were baptized the following Sunday.  She had written this orphan girl a letter, telling her the impact her faith had on her and her husband’s life.  She couldn’t wait to get it to our office and begin sponsoring her.  I was just blessed enough to be the one to pass that letter along.

One of my favorite things about God is how His plans are so much better than ours.  This woman thought she was doing God a favor and going on a trip to Monterrey to change the life of an orphan.  God smiled at her good intention, and decided to do her one better.  He sent the orphan to her to change her life.

Humbled, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria

April 3, 2012

In the past couple weeks some of the youth have made comments that have left me completely humbled by their perspective on life. These have reminded me of others said long ago. I want to share a few with you.

At the end of Bible study each week we take “prayer points” as they’re called here. Each week one youth will inevitably ask for prayer to pay school fees. Never in my life have I had to worry about paying school fee’s, especially in middle school or high school. In fact, I’m sure I would have thought it was great if I didn’t have to go to school in middle school, but here there are 18 year olds asking for prayer so they can pay school fee’s to attend our equivalent of 8th grade.

I would have given up.

Another comment I often hear from youth is that they only want to have what they need, which is something I’m sure I’ve said but they prove it. If they get something they almost always share it only taking enough for themselves. There is no doubt great selfishness is in the village, however, these youth seem to have not caught the bug as greatly as I have. One youth was willing to go as far as sell his mattress to help pay a medical bill for another youth they knew. Read that line again and realize he would have been left sleeping on a mud/concrete floor. He wouldn’t have just gone out and bought another, he would have gone without.

I would have thought I had nothing to give.

Just last week I could tell Emmanuel Asiko, Back2Back Staff Member, was having a bad day. He lives in the Kisayhip Village, the same village he is working to develop. I asked him what had happened and he informed me a four-year-old boy had passed away early that morning. I asked more questions about it and inquired on how he was really doing. He assured me he was fine. I then asked if he was able to visit a person he was supposed to visit that morning for work. He answered, “No, I was digging the grave.”

I wouldn’t have known what to do.

I’m humbled by these youth. I’m humbled by not only their thoughts towards life but also how they are seeking to live. I’m humbled by youth who would sell their mattress to pay a medical bill for another while I have two beds in my house. I’m humbled by youth who know how to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

I’m learning to never give up, I always have something to give and there is always something I can do.

New Shoes, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

March 19, 2012

Imagine walking over a mile to school everyday. When you get home from school, imagine walking everywhere you need to go. Now think about what that would do for the shoes that you wear. If you are a child in the Kissahyip Village outside Jos, Nigeria, you are wearing sandals everyday and the shoes that you are wearing constantly are worn with the straps coming off.

Through donations from Back2Back’s Gift Catalog, we were able to purchase new shoes for all of the students at Back2Back’s Education Center through a local shoemaker. You can imagine the excitement among the students when we announced that all of them would be receiving new shoes!

Proudly wearing his new shoes from the gift catalog

Everybody loves the feeling of new shoes. No matter how many pairs of shoes someone owns, no one can deny the excitement of putting on new shoes for the first time. For the students, new shoes means the ability to stop wearing the old, tattered shoes and know that they will not have to worry about getting their sandals fixed before school in the morning so that they can attend that day.

Something I love about serving here is seeing when ministry areas overlap. SSE (Self-Sustaining Enterprises) works with a Max, a man who lives outside the Kisahyip Village. SSE has come alongside Max as he has started a shoe business. He makes different types of shoes completely by hand. He gives one pair of shoes to a child in the village for every ten pairs of shoes he sells. We love his vision.

Max measured all of the students’ feet and then came with the completed shoes a few days later. They students were thrilled to receive the shoes and run happily home from the Education Center in their new shoes.

Children of God, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

February 3, 2012

Image

The other day one of my students, Jeremiah, asked if I would give him a red pen. I knew he needed it for school, so I gave him one of the many pens that have been donated to the Education Center. He smiled really big and said, “Auntie, thank you!! You always give me the things that I ask for”. I don’t really know what I asked this, but immediately I asked him, “Why do you think I give you those things?”. Without flinching he answered, “Because you are my Auntie.”

His response got me thinking. He claimed his relationship to me to be the reason why I give him things. I started to think about how much more a father desires to provide for his children and give them good things when they ask. A father longs to provide for the needs of his children. If we believe in God and have proclaimed him to be Lord of our lives, we are His sons (and daughters). Romans 8:15 says, “But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.””

I just finished reading a book called, “The Birthright” by John Sheasby. The book discusses the concept of being a child of God and what that allows us access to in Him. In the book, John Sheasby discusses the story of the prodigal son, but talks about it from the viewpoint of the older brother. He quotes Luke 15:29, which says, “But he answered his father, “All these years I’ve worked like a slave for you. I’ve never disobeyed one of your commands. Yet, you’ve never given me so much as a little goat for a celebration with my friends.”” The author goes on to explain how sad it is that the older son never knew the power of what he had access to through his father. All he had to do over all the years was ask his father- and whatever he wanted would have been his. He had total access to his father’s riches, but never thought to ask for it- he just did his work and went on with this daily life.

Think about this for a second- we are children of God. We have access to everything that is His. All that we have to do is ask. Just as I gave Jeremiah a red pen because I am his Auntie, God wants to give us good things because we are His children. My point in all of this is that I desire for us as Christians to see the power that we have as children of God. We have total access God’s abundance. He desires to provide for us because we are His children. The best part of all of this is that He knows what we need. It is a good thing that I do not have to figure out what I need and don’t need because I don’t know the whole picture – but God does and He gives what He knows that we need. Praise the Lord for our closeness in relationship with Him!

Back2Back Nigeria provides academic assistance and tutoring to children in the Kisayhip Village outside Jos. Last fall, we opened our doors to the Oasis Education Center to expand educational opportunities for the local orphans and impoverished children.  By improving education and providing sponsorship, the children of Jos will have a brighter future.

Merry Christmas from Back2Back Ministries!

December 24, 2011

Ephesians 4:4-7 says, “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.” This Christmas season, we are grateful for you and your commitment to joining us in providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans around the world. We rejoice that we serve a God who is in passionate pursuit of the orphan child. As you gather with family and friends to celebrate, thank you for continuing to remember the orphans we serve. On behalf of all of us at Back2Back, thank you for being a part of the Back2Back family and for serving alongside us!

 

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Back2Back Ministries!

November 23, 2011

Two orphaned children in Mexico benefit from a nutritious snack thanks to the support of friends of the ministry.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Back2Back Ministries!

We truly cannot praise God enough for the ways in which He has blessed and provided for our ministry this year. These successes would not be possible without your commitment to partner with us. As we look toward the future, we are excited about how God is working through Back2Back Ministries and thankful for your willingness to come alongside our work.  Please know that you are a part of our Back2Back family and we truly appreciate your love and support of the orphan child. Please keep the children we serve in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

Kisayhip Youth Development Update, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

November 20, 2011

The last few months have been busy for the Kisayhip Youth Development (KYD), a community youth outreach program sponsored by Back2Back.  The KYD has sought the best way to give back to their community.  Our hope is to guide the discussion for their own discovery of how they can best give back. So far these discussions have led to several ideas for the group.

One idea they are working towards is raising chickens. This work can quickly become profitable and is easy for a group to manage. KYD has been looking for ways to make money to begin this project and is currently molding mud blocks to sell with plans to use the profits to benefit the community.

Children in the Kisayhip Youth Development Program volunteer to benefit their community.

The second idea they have is one Back2Back hopes to partner much more with them on. Back2Back and KYD want to use dry season farming in community development. Dry season farming is very profitable here but not done very much do to lack of resources. We hope to provide some of the missing resources so KYD can reap the full benefits of the project. The goal is to help the individual youth in the project eventually be able to break off on their own and farm for a living.

KYD has three things they want to do with the profit of these projects. One third of the profit would go to community development projects such as paying school fees for children, providing food for widows and helping to bring electricity to the village, among others. Another third would be individual sustainability for the youth who work the specific project, so the work not only benefits the community but also the youth by providing jobs. The final third is for project sustainability where money would be used for maintenance and further project development such as increasing the number of chickens or amount of land they farm.

Back2Back realizes as KYD moves forward with these projects the individuals in the group need to progress in their personal development as well. One area of greatest need for development is biblical character and integrity. Because of the rampant corruption that has spilled it’s way into every area of life in Nigeria the youth have very few good examples of character and integrity. To combat this, Back2Back staff member and national, Daniel Asama, is leading weekly talks about biblical character and integrity with KYD. He uses practical examples to call them to a higher standard of living. We hope this higher standard becomes the example and eventual “status quo” in the village.

Please continue to pray for the youth in KYD who are stepping out in faith to bring sustainable change to their village.

Back2Back Ministries Accredited by National Financial Accountability Organization

November 7, 2011

MASON, OH  – The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) announced today the accreditation of Back2Back Ministries of Mason, OH.

ECFA accreditation is based on the ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, including financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance and ethical fundraising.

Back2Back Ministries joins a growing number of Christ-centered churches and ministries across America, supported by over 35 million donors that have earned the right to display the ECFA seal.  When an organization is accredited by ECFA, it demonstrates its willingness to follow the model of biblical accountability.

“We are pleased to include in our membership a ministry committed to being a voice for orphans and poverty stricken people,” said Dan Busby, president of ECFA.

Founded in 1996, Back2Back Ministries (www.back2backministries.org) exists to love and care for orphans and impoverished children by focusing on the whole child in meeting their physical, spiritual, educational, social and emotional needs that they may overcome their life circumstances and break free from the cycle of generational poverty, so each one experiences restoration to a life of purpose, becoming fulfilled, mature Christian adults.

To learn more about Back2Back Ministries and their stewardship opportunities, visit ServantMatch®, ECFA’s program that matches God’s servants with the stewardship options of ECFA members based on ministry sectors and categories.  It is ECFA’s newest online feature that allows you to quickly and easily find giving opportunities.

ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA Standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance.  For more information about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit www.ECFA.org or call 1-800-323-9473.

Backpacks from America, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

September 30, 2011

Children in Jos, Nigeria are overjoyed to receive new backpacks!

Generous supporters of Back2Back donated backpacks a few months ago. Because the students will be starting school next week, we passed out the bags to them on Thursday. I wish we could have captured their excitement in a bottle! Their grins were ear-to-ear as they received the backpacks. Most of these children have never owned a backpack. Most of them have spent the past few years walking over an hour to school and carrying all of their books in a plastic bag along with them. The fact that they were receiving not only a backpack, but a new one from America made them ecstatic! It is so neat to see how many people God uses to bless these beautiful children from a village in Africa. I have no idea who all was involved in sending these bags, but the students felt loved and blessed because of it. Please continue to pray for the children, as they start their new school year at the Oasis Education Center.

Back2Back Nigeria provides academic assistance and tutoring to children in the Kisayhip Village outside Jos. Last fall, we opened our doors to the Oasis Education Center to expand educational opportunities for the local orphans and impoverished children.  By improving education and providing sponsorship, the children of Jos will have a brighter future.

Interested in an Internship with Back2Back?

September 16, 2011

Back2Back summer interns gain practical hands-on ministry experience by serving at our sites in Mexico, India and Nigeria.  Interns work alongside Back2Back staff members and assist behind-the-scenes to host summer mission trip groups.  Interns help to facilitate daily work projects at local orphanages and outreaches to impoverished communities, contributing to our mission of providing care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans. The program includes discipleship and leadership training directed by Back2Back staff members.   Back2Back offers options in terms of length; selected candidates can request to intern for one-month or two-months.

All internship positions are unpaid.

The deadline for Mexico summer 2012 internship applications is October 21, 2011.  The deadline for Nigeria and India internship applications is October 7, 2011.

Interested? Email Chelsie Puterbaugh at chelsie@back2backministries.org to request an application for a Mexico internship.  Contact Chris Ramos at ramos@back2backministries.org to request an application for an India or Nigeria internship.
 
Hannah Cessler (far right), Back2Back India 2009 summer intern

Back2Back India summer intern ministers to local girls.

 
Back2Back 2009 intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

Back2Back Nigeria intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria.

2009 Nigeria intern hanging out with a girl from the village near the Back2Back Nigeria base

A Nigeria intern spends time with a girl in the village near Back2Back Nigeria.

 
During a work project

Interns participate in crucial work projects at the children's homes we serve.

Spending time with the children

Interns make meaningful relationships with the children we serve.

One-on-one time with the children

Interns enjoy one-on-one time with the children we serve.

A Brighter Future, Back2Back Nigeria

August 26, 2011

Last fall, we opened the Oasis Education Center in Nigeria, to expand the educational opportunities of the local orphans and underprivileged children like Happy. New Back2Back staff member, Theresa Reed, and a local teacher hold classes each day, leading a supplemental tutoring program, enabling children to learn the basics in reading, writing and math during after-school hours.

This summer, we launched our child sponsorship program in Nigeria, giving the children at the Education Center an opportunity to benefit from the support of a sponsor.  Thanks to the generosity of Back2Back supporters who believe in our mission, within weeks, almost all of the children had sponsors within weeks of launching the program in Nigeria.  Through the care of Back2Back and the support of loving sponsors, each child has health care, balanced meals, a safe place to learn, and ultimately a brighter future.

Children at Back2Back's Education Center are now benefiting from child sponsorship.

This week, several new children joined the Education Center.  If you could like information about sponsoring one of these children, please email claire@ back2backministries.org

A Singing Shepherd, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 19, 2011

The shepherd boy watches his sheep outside the Nigerian village where Back2Back serves. He is on the far left of the photo in a white shirt.

A few weeks ago, I was on the rocks that overlook the village with a few of the interns. We broke off and had time on the rocks alone for a while. During this time, we were serenaded by a little shepherd boy. He was joyfully singing to his herd on the grass below us for a couple hours. He was so happy and his singing endlessly with pure joy! I was reading in my devotional book today about how God is our shepherd and it reminded me of this little boy.

“We are… the sheep of His pasture,” Psalm 100:3

“My sheep hear my voice,” John 21:17

I have always thought of The Lord as my shepherd, but it was not until I saw this cheerful young shepherd singing to his flock that I realized how joyful shepherds can be. Why have I not thought before that my God, the Great Shepherd not only speaks to his sheep, but it does it joyfully… singing even!? What a joy it is to hear the melodious voice of my great Shepherd!

The shepherd boy lays next to his sheep singing to them (far left).

The image of the little boy laying on the ground peacefully, singing loudly and trusting his flock to enjoy the green pastures  has given me a new view of how The Shepherd tends to His flock of children. He trusted the flock. He knew that they would stay where he was because they knew and were familiar with his voice. This is our God. Our God loves his flock and them (us) to follow His beautiful voice and know that it is good. Praise the Great Shepherd for this great reminder!

Kisayhip Youth Development, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 2, 2011

children from the Kisayhip Village outside Jos, Nigeria

Recently, I was approached by a small group of young men from the Kisayhip Village who told me they wanted to have a meeting with me. I asked them what it was about and they said it was about a group they had put together. We set a time and place and I left excited at the thought of what it might be about.

Last Monday, I was able to meet with this group and hear what they were thinking and what their group was all about. They said they created the group, “Kisayhip Youth Development”, to serve the community. They said James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” They said they wanted us (B2B) to work with them to create ideas and ways to serve the community. I left thinking, “They are getting it!”

The youth are beginning to catch a vision for their community that is bigger than themselves, one that requires they come together to pile ideas and resources to go into their community and serve. This is community development in its very beginning stages. They are starting to catch a vision as a community and start moving toward making it a reality together with Christ as the focus.

I told the young men we would be with them every step of the way. I told them as they start something we would come and stand with them in support. Whether that means physically doing work with them, providing part of a financial need, teaching or praying we will stand with them to serve their community.

Of all that I said this one thing made the biggest impact: people in the United States are praying for you and the work you are beginning. They found great joy in knowing they are not alone, that people whom they’ve never met care enough about them and their community to pray. Our time ended with a few on the interns who were present and myself gathering around the young men to pray for them and their community.

Please join me in praying for the Kisayhip Youth Development and its leaders Joe, Ayuba, Nehemiah, Gideon, Samuel and Marcos.

Neighborly Love, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Nigeria Intern

July 11, 2011

 

A few weeks ago we began our first project with another team.  We spent the entire day doing projects at the Oasis Community Center in the Kisayhip Village of Jos, Nigeria.  The majority of the team painted the community center with a primer coat to get ready for the Back2Back team next week.  The rest of the group split in two and some worked on clearing the roadside gutter to prevent flooding during the rains and the rest of the group moved a significant amount of gravel, rock, and sand for concrete mixing an building to the other side of the compound to make it easier for future deliveries and a more central location for work. In the midst of the pounding heat we were able to completely prime the building, move all but a handful of the big rocks, and dig out a majority of the roadside.  Feelings of accomplishment ran high as we finished out the day sitting on the porches watching a thunderstorm roll by.  These types of achievements not only help boost our moral, but really help to show the community the importance of taking care of facilities and thinking a few steps ahead of the current problem.

Nigerians are a wonderful people with a tremendous sense of community and perseverance, but have been trampled and pushed down by exploitation, which turns into a terrible foundation of traditions.  A large part of community development lays in finding pride not only in your neighbors and family, but also in the actual land and buildings.  Loving your neighbor does not always entail saving them from a horrible plight or devastating circumstance, but more frequently, and perhaps more importantly, loving your neighbor means literally doing the small things that you desire for yourself for them.  If I want my yard or my house to be clean then how I love my neighbor is also desiring (and acting upon) their yard or house to be clean.  The motivation moves from being self-centered to community centered and Biblically obedient.  By partnering together and serving those around us who are incapable, either by a lack of resources or a lack of know-how, we are not only serving them we are serving Christ and following the model of love He exhibited for us and commanded of us. Oh, how wonderful it is to worship in work and service!

A Heart for the Widow, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Nigeria Summer Intern

June 20, 2011

Today marked a more substantial beginning to the activities we will be doing in Nigeria. Anna, Reed, and Emily observed and helped in the OCC (Oasis Community Center) Education classes to help prepare them for the next few weeks of helping teach and tutor a handful of kids from the village. The rest of the team split off into two groups and walked through the village informing widows on an outreach we will be doing on Saturday. The outreach will consist of giving and installing mosquito nets on the beds for the widows and any children they care for in their homes.

Personally, it was a very humbling yet joyful experience to get to meet with the widows and interact even for a brief time and limited communication. Thankfully each group had a translator to help with effective communication. Throughout the time walking I could not help but think of God’s immense heart for the poor, widowed and orphaned . Throughout the Old and New Testament, God’s desire is that the underprivileged and socially forgotten be taken care of in the same way that He loves us. Paul writes so eloquently of this fact in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 when he discusses the generosity of Corinth in comparison to Christ. Paul discusses how Jesus gave up the majesty of heaven and made Himself poor for our sake.  Chapter 9 instructs believers how to respond in similar ways with cheerful hearts and willing sacrifice.

I have spent a lot of my time praying Ephesian 3:14-21 for my time in Nigeria and that the power of the Holy Spirit would give me understanding of knowledge that surpasses understanding so that God can reveal the depth of His love for us. When I think about these two passages I cannot help but feel a swelling of joy in my heart when I remember the time spent today meeting the widows and other members of the village. I pray that God would continue to mold hearts into a deeper understanding of His love so that He would receive all the glory for our good.

Root Issues, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

June 3, 2011

I have been spending a lot more time in the Kisayhip Village, near our home in Nigeria. I’m slowly becoming more and more accepted in the community as I become a more regular visitor. The other day I walked in to find several children playing Red Rover and not one of them stopped to come over, they just continued to play and acknowledged my presence by smiling and waving. I enjoyed knowing that as I’ve become more familiar, they don’t feel the need to drop what they are doing to come greet me.

As I’ve spent more time in the village, I’ve begun to see more and more issues that I think need to be addressed…everything from marriages and childcare to medicine and personal hygiene. Each time I’m made aware of an issue I think, “If we could just help that, it will help everything.”

For example, of the approximate ten young men who come to bible study, five of them can’t read or write. I’m not talking about reading and writing in English, they can’t read or write at all, in any language. So, I start thinking…if they can’t read, they can’t study the bible on their own. If they can’t study the bible on their own and don’t go to church on Sunday because of work, when do they ever get any sort of teaching? If they don’t get any teaching, how do they apply it to their lives and take it back into their village? The cycle continues to spiral down.

What the Lord brought to my attention recently is that all of the issues the village is facing are “fruit” issues. They are what we see, taste and smell as we walk through the village. They need to be addressed, but addressing only the fruit is an endless task. If you don’t treat the root of a tree the fruit will always remain the same or simply be absent.

What is the root issue? How do we “treat” the roots?

Luke 13:6-9 is a parable Jesus tells in which the owner of a vineyard demands a tree to be cut down because it has not produced any fruit in 3 years. In verse 8 the vinedresser (man in charge of taking care of the tree) says, “…leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.”

I believe the root issue of the village, as with every community, is spiritual. The people need Jesus. They need to know who He is and what He did for them. They need to know what it means to be sons and daughters of God.

How do I figuratively dig around a village and fertilize it? All I know to do is pray and love. Please join me in praying for direction in this.

Partner with us through Prayer

May 13, 2011

Children at El Limon Children's Home spend time in prayer

We invite you to partner with us by joining us in prayer for our ministry.  Find a list of current prayer needs by ministry location below.

CANCUN, MEXICO

-God’s grace and great things to happen here for our first summer of ministry ever!

-For revival in the city of Cancun.

-For changed hearts in us, in those we serve, and in those who come alongside us over the next few months.

-For continued guidance as we move into some partnerships with local pastors in their areas of outreach.

-For God’s provision for the right volunteers, the right staff, the right facilities, and the financial resources to make it all happen!

 MONTERREY, MEXICO

-Pray for God’s continued protection and provision for Back2Back staff and ministry sites as we draw on His wisdom, continuing to exercise safety precautions that reflect the conditions around us. Pray for God’s wisdom to fill government leaders in Mexico who are working to end drug trafficking and further improve the safety of its guests and citizenry.

-Pray for God to meet the groups that are coming this summer in every aspect of their trip, from fund raising to their time in Monterrey. Pray for every moment to be fruitful in their lives and in the lives of those they will serve.

-Pray for all the focus areas of our ministry, specifically as we work for the development of each child holistically and for our local partnerships that are key in what we do.

-Pray for the staff in Monterrey. Pray for the families moving back to the States, and for the staff that will be reporting soon.

– Pray for all the house parents in the Hope Education Program to have wisdom and new ways to connect with their teens in order to lead them to freedom in Christ.

 HYDERABAD, INDIA

-For more staff in India!

– We are currently in the process of enrolling many of the children we serve in private schools. Pray that they will be granted admission.  Please also pray that we can provide tuition fees, text books, and uniforms and find tutors to help them particularly with their English skills.

-Pray for the directors of the childrens’ homes.

 JOS, NIGERIA

– Pray for the children attending our English Program. They are one parent orphans living in a rural village. Pray they would improve their grammar skills and be ready for learning how to read this summer.

-Pray as we build infrastructure and relationships inside the community center with the youth. We currently have one male Bible study and we are starting a female one this summer. Pray a female leader in the community would be raised up to lead the other women.

-Pray the Lord would provide more staff to join our team! We have big vision and need the manpower to sustain it!

Partner with us through Prayer

March 23, 2011

Children at El Limon Children's Home in Mexico spend time in prayer

We invite you to partner with us by joining us in prayer for our ministry.  Find a list of current prayer needs by country below.

India:

– Pray for the Lord to bring us more Godly staff to serve in India.

– Pray for the continued growth and development of the ministry in India

Monterrey:

– Pray for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance as we seek to grow, develop, and go deeper in the ministry in Monterrey.

-Pray for the new students who are being considered for the Hope Education program in the fall.

Cancun:

-For wisdom as we continue building relationships with local children’s homes/ministry partners.

– For God’s continued leading as we desire to zero in on a specific area of outreach.

Nigeria:

– Pray for the village we work with as we seek to use community development as the avenue of reaching the orphan child.

– Pray for the education/tutoring center that was opened in January. Currently ten students are coming to class four days a week to learn the basics of English. The hope is that this will enable them to do better in their English speaking school.

– Pray for more staff to join our ministry here.

US:

-Pray for our US staff as they provide support to the various missions bases and raise awareness and funds for the ministry.

 

Nigeria Partnerships

March 21, 2011

Self-Sustaining Enterprises (SSE), a partner organization with a focus on micro-enterprise and job creation, is serving with Back2Back Nigeria this week. Follow their trip via their blog at http://sseinc.org/blog

An Empty Stomach, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

March 11, 2011


Theresa Reed, Back2Back's education center teacher, reads with the students

A little over a year ago, students from the Vineyard  Community Church decided to “Sacrifice Christmas” by giving up gifts for themselves, and encouraging their parents and others to donate money to the development of Back2Back’s new education center for children in Jos, Nigeria.  Their sacrificial gift provided the new students at the Igmin Kibe Education Center with the incredible gift of an education. Back2Back worked with SSE and the community leaders from the Kisayhip Village to decide which children should be first to attend the tutoring that we will offer at the center.  The decision was made that they should focus on those in the most need, those children whose fathers have died and their mothers are now widows.  These ten students will receive after school tutoring and the focus will be on learning English.  In Nigeria, most of the public schools offer poor education and often times the schools are closed due to teacher strikes or the government not being able to afford to pay their   teachers.  Consequently, less than 50% of children are able to read a simple sentence at the age of eleven.

Theresa Reed, our Back2Back teacher, and Esther who just graduated as a teacher in Jos, have had great success.  For these initial students, they are taking the first steps towards breaking the cycle of poverty that have plagued their family for generations.  It is the hope of Back2Back, SSE and the village of Kisayhip that these students will become self sufficient and be able to provide for their future families.

Hannatu, one of the children benefiting from the new Education Center in Jos, Nigeria

Hannatu could not concentrate. It was only the second day of class, but I could tell that she was not acting like her usual self.  Her eyes seemed glazed over and she was un-responsive when we asked her a question. Finally, Esther, the Nigerian teacher who works with me at the Education Center, asked Hannatu in Rakuba, “What is the matter today?”Hannatu responded by saying that her stomach was paining her because she was so hungry.

It is basic psychology that humans cannot learn to their fullest potential if their basic needs are not being met. Hannatu was hungry and therefore, could not concentrate. I have no idea when the last time that she had eaten something substantial was or the last time that she actually had protein, but all I knew was that she was hungry. If she was hungry, the other students (who are from her same village) were most likely hungry as well.

Because of Hannatu’s honesty with us on the second day of class, we have now started providing a healthy snack for the students every day at the beginning of class. I cannot explain how much Hannatu’s (and the other students’)  face light up the first time we gave them a snack during class. They were so excited and are now even more motivated to come to class. They love snack time and are more responsive for class once it is over.

Hannatu is now a totally different student. Once shy and timid, she is now all smiles and quick to laugh. She brought an important need to our attention and I believe that by meeting that basic need, we have built trust and confidence in a once reserved student.


Join Back2Back in Serving Orphans

February 20, 2011

Learn how you can make a difference in the life of an orphan by serving alongside us at one of our many ministry sites.

The Heart of Back2Back Ministries

February 20, 2011

Back2Back Director, Beth Guckenberger, shares about Back2Back’s mission to provide care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans in need.

Lydia, by Crist and Eileen Hamilton, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

February 16, 2011

Let us introduce you to a widow from Jos by the name of Lydia.  She had an accident recently and is now under Dr. Zamani’s care at the Doctor’s compound in the Kisayhip Village.  We met her for the first time a few weeks ago when we took a team from the U.S. there to pray with the patients and to give them a live chicken and some food.  Diane from North Carolina and Rashell from California were the two that went in to pray with her and get to know her better. She told them that she had to take all that she had to come to the doctor’s for treatment and she wasn’t sure what she would do when she returned home since she had nothing left except her place to stay. She was thankful to the Lord, however, for His provision and her beautiful smile radiated to show proof of what she said. She was so grateful to have women spend time with her and to pray for her needs.

Lydia

Some on the team pooled their money together and last week I was able to stop in and pray with her and give her the money that the Lord had provided for her. She was speechless, thankful and smiling from ear to ear.

Yesterday at the village church, who should we notice coming down the aisle (on her crutches) during the offering but Lydia with the biggest smile on her face. She had walked down the dusty, rocky road from the doctor’s compound to the church (about 1/4 mile) with a thankful heart. We are humbled by people like Lydia – they have so little by this world’s standards, yet like the widow in the Bible who gave her last coin to the Lord, Lydia, with a thankful heart, is His treasured child and is being blessed by God for her faithfulness.

 

Removing the Obstacles, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

January 27, 2011

The driving in Jos, Nigeria is crazy! Part of that is due to that fact that there are very few traffic laws in place and even fewer that are actually enforced. But another factor is the obstacles that you encounter on the roads. Here are some pictures of a few of the obstacles that we have encountered since we have been here. Some are funny and some just get frustrating, but all slow us down (or make us stop completely) to some degree.

We were driving the other day in the midst of the heaviest traffic time. The “two-lane” road suddenly had four rows of cars that were moving slowly. All the sudden we hear sirens (very rare here). Long story short, police were trying to make a path in the middle of the traffic so that important people (probably politicians) could get through faster. This situation was very irritating at the time because of the chaos that it caused. Cars were going every-which-way and honking at everyone next to them.  It was crazy! I didn’t appreciate this situation until I was reading the Bible a few days later

“And it will be said; ‘Build up, build up, prepare the road. Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.’” Isaiah 57:14

God acts like the police in this story for his people (but with a lot more grace). He will remove the obstacles out of the way of his people. He will prepare the road. He will make the path straight for his people. This truth was so encouraging to me. With ministering in a new country, there are things that can quickly feel like obstacles that are blocking expectations that we had. However, our God will remove everything that seems like it has gotten in the way. He prepares the way for his children because He loves them. He desires to give them the desires of their heart.

 

Bringing Restoration: Reflections on Evidence of God’s Beauty in Nigeria, by Jessica Biondo, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 25, 2011

Last summer, Jessica Biondo and Ruby Moyer of the Back2Back Mexico staff traveled to Jos, Nigeria. While there, they served alongside our Back2Back Nigeria staff for several weeks.  Below, Jessica Biondo shares her reflections on the experience.

Try to image this scene with me. You are standing in a small, humble building. There are rocks piled on the tin roof so that it won’t blow off in the wind and the rain. The door stands open to let in the sunlight and the warm breeze. The entire room is bursting with the vibrant colors of patterned dresses and head wraps. Songs of jubilee and praise can be heard for miles around! The singing is joined with the beats of drums and everyone begins to clap their own rhythms, which blend together in perfect harmony. With sheer delight people begin dancing to the front of the room. Everyone is out of their seats, dancing, laughing, singing, worshiping God with all they have in them.

It is a church offering and it was unlike anything that I had ever seen before. It is a time of joy, singing, celebration and dancing. It is truly a sight to behold.

As I took in the scene around me, I looked to my right and saw Back2Back Nigeria staff, John and Corrie Guckenberger, and their kids singing in the native language of Hausa, worshipping the Lord with the people who have become their neighbors and friends. That moment was a very clear picture of what it means to present your life as an offering before the Lord. Just as my Nigerian brothers and sisters joyfully sacrificed the first fruits of their tomato crop on that Sunday, I saw Back2Back Nigeria staff daily give their lives as an offering to the Lord to bring His love and hope to the neglected and abandoned children of Jos, Nigeria.

As I reflect back on my time in Nigeria, I am reminded of my first glimpse of the country as the plane descended below the line of gray clouds. I was struck by the beauty that lay before me in the splashes of green vegetation amidst the sea of red dirt and rock. This first glimpse of the country stuck with me and came to represent a constant theme that was evident everywhere I looked.

It is a theme of beauty in the midst of hardship, joy in the midst of poverty, blessing in the midst of pain. It is the goodness and provision of the Lord shining through to bring hope to our broken world. It is this hope that I had the privilege of witnessing at the village church each Sunday. It is this hope that is evident in the lives of the people who offer their lives to fight for the cause of the orphan child. And it is this hope that will ultimately bring healing and restoration to children in Jos, Nigeria.

Serving with Back2Back Nigeria, by Aaron Broomall, Mission Trip Guest

January 17, 2011

Our time with our new friends in Nigeria seemed to pass by so quickly, yet the effects of what we experienced and learned continue to work through each of us on a daily basis.  We got home about three weeks ago from what most of us would say was the best trip of our lives; a ten day opportunity to serve, love, and learn from what many people would consider “the least of these” along side the amazing staff of Back2Back Nigeria.  It is honestly hard to pick out singular impactful events because the week was so well planned out that each event or opportunity to serve held significance from playing with and holding beautiful orphans, to using our underwhelming construction skills to help build the new educational facility and a new orphanage to praying with widows.  Every day was full of amazing experiences and encounters with people just like us, working hard to provide for their families and putting their dependence, despite their extremely challenging circumstances, on a God who loves them very much.

It was a true honor and a privilege to be a part of Back2Back’s work in Jos.  It was entirely humbling to have the opportunity to serve and serve with such amazing people.  I’ve heard very often about individuals wanting to go places to share God with people, which is certainly a noble cause.  However, in my experience, the people of Nigeria did a lot more of sharing God with us, then we could have ever shared with them.  We simply opened ourselves up to be used in whatever way God saw fit and then waited anxiously to see what He would do.  And what He did was awe-inspiring.  We are so excited to continue to share the stories of what we’ve learned through our experiences with our friends and neighbors back here in Kentucky.  We are anxious to share the challenges that our friends in Nigeria face so that we can make a small difference there.  However, we are also excited to share what we’ve learned from their dramatic dependence on a loving Savior and how that kind of dependence can cause a deeper love for God in our lives here.  Thank you Back2Back for making this possible.  We are forever grateful.

Give a Life-Changing Gift to an Orphan in Need

November 29, 2010

This Christmas, give a life-changing gift to an orphan in need.  Choose from dozens of items in our gift catalog to help the children that Back2Back serves in Mexico, Nigeria and India!  Your gift will make a lasting impact in the life of a child this Christmas.  This is a great way for individuals, families and churches to celebrate the true spirit of the Christmas season!

If you did not receive our Christmas gift catalog, please contact us at 513-754-0300 and we will be happy to send one to you.


Thankfulness, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 23, 2010

I remember as a child sitting around the Thanksgiving table with my family and all of us taking a turn to say what we were thankful for. The common things mentioned were family, friends, warm house, clothes, and it never failed that someone was thankful for turkey! We always mentioned the things that we had and gave thanks for those things. In my mind I would compare myself with someone who didn’t have the possessions or positions I did, and sincerely thank God that He had chosen to give those things to me.

After working closely with the people in the Rio, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves, my thoughts on giving thanks have changed a bit. It is easy to look at poverty and feel sympathy, pity, and guilt about what we have and what they don’t.  However, have we ever thought that poverty could be a thing to give thanks for in and of itself?

Poverty is defined as “the state of one with insufficient resources” (Merriam-Webster). It is the knowledge that you can’t take care of yourself and your family on your own. With poverty come dependence and humility and the deep realization that you need help, that you can’t satisfy your own needs. Many times we look on poverty through our self-sufficient lenses and are disgusted by it. However isn’t humility and dependence on God to satisfy our needs exactly what our Father in Heaven desires of us?

Often, when we have all the material possessions we need the thing we lack is dependence on God. We are able in many ways to provide for our own needs. We don’t really need Him. When we have too much we are tempted to disown the Lord, forget about Him and say “Who is the Lord?” (Proverbs 30:9).

In Matthew 5,  Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ‘Blessed’ is a word that means so much more than happiness. It means a spiritual joy and well-being.  Oh how much eternal joy a person has whose spirit is dependent on God and humbled before Him!

Recently, I was talking to a Mexican friend who experienced a severe time of financial need before coming to serve with Back2Back. His told me stories of walking four miles to get to school because he couldn’t pay for a bus ticket and about how he and his sisters would go to bed early at night because it helped them forget about the pain in their gnawing stomachs.

“That time was hard,” he said, “But I wouldn’t trade what I learned for anything. During those years I saw the Lord’s provision for me in ways I never could have dreamed.”

He then went on to tell story after story of the miraculous ways his Father in heaven provided him with food, clothing, school supplies, etc. Stories of people calling and inviting him and his sisters to eat the day they ran out of food, others dropping by with bags of groceries right when they weren’t sure what they would have for dinner, stories of finding the materials he needed for school laying on the side of the road. As a result of his poverty, the man’s faith in God is unlike any I have seen.

The Kingdom of God is about the least being the greatest, the last being first, and the weak being strong so that ultimately the Lord is glorified. We can praise God for weakness, humility, and poverty when it causes us to be dependent on Him and when it builds in us a testimony of His faithfulness.

Are there ways in which you can thank God for poverty this Thanksgiving?

Meet Emmanuel, by Emilee Munafo, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

November 22, 2010

Meet Emmanuel.

He lives in the Kisayhip Village and washes cars for a living. Emmanuel is different than the other boys at the car wash. His mother left his father and his family was split up. His father and brother turned to a life of alcohol, but Emmanuel chose to be different. A Christian man raised him, and Emmanuel has modeled after this mentor. He is someone people trust and admire. When we started looking for someone to help with our Community Center, Emmanuel had a key role in running and maintaining it for the community World Cup viewing. He has a vision for his community he desires to see the children become something more than what he sees himself. When we asked more about that desire Emmanuel said, “If these children don’t get an education, then they will wash cars like me and that is where it will end.”

Emmanuel has a true heart for his own community and loves that Back2Back is there to support his village. We love working alongside Emmanuel as God gives us a united vision to bring H.O.P.E. to the community!

H ealth Care

O pportunities for Spiritual Growth

P rovision for Basic Needs

E ducational Opportunities

Send a message of hope this Christmas season!

November 12, 2010

Back2Back Ministries is pleased to offer Christmas cards that reflect God’s message of hope for orphans and His promise to hear their cry and lift them up from their distress. Proceeds from the purchase of this card will help Back2Back Ministries as they provide care for today and hope for tomorrow to orphans in need.

Three Ways to Place an Order

1. To pay by credit card call 513.754.0300 Monday through Friday between 9am and 3pm EST

2. Or, mail a check noting the desired number of sets in the memo line to: Christmas Cards, Back2Back Ministries, P.O. Box 70, Mason, OH 45040. Please add $4.95 shipping for one set or $10.35 shipping for 2-13 sets to your donation. Unless otherwise specified, cards will be shipped to the address listed on your check.

3. If you prefer, you can avoid shipping charges by picking up your cards from our office during regular business hours, at 8118 Corporate Way, Suite 201, Mason, OH, 45040. We recommend calling ahead (513.754.0300) to ensure someone will be available to assist you.

You are Invited to Back2Back Ministries’ Fall Fundraising Dinner

October 20, 2010

Cincinnati Friends: Back2Back Ministries’ Fall Fundraising Dinner is on Thursday, November 11th at 6pm in West Chester, Ohio at the Savannah House. Join us as we explore the various Back2Back ministry sites and hear how Back2Back is providing care to orphans around the globe. $75/per person. To RSVP or for more information, contact Diane Siemer at dsiemer@back2backministries.org

Building Roads, by Will Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

October 15, 2010

A couple weeks ago I worked at another Back2Back staffers house digging a trench and clearing some big rocks/sand. As I cleared it from the yard I would take it to the street to fill in the big holes and ruts that force us to drive very slowly on our road. As I repeated this sequence of cleaning to “build the road” I realized this is something we are going to be doing for some time to come in a figurative way.

A lot of the things Back2Back is doing here in Jos require us to figuratively “build roads” to reach people. Theresa (Back2Back staff member and my wife) will be building roads to reach children through education. Each encounter she has with the students will help her earn their trust and know them better. As I spend time with the people in the Kisayhip Village where we serve I will do the same thing. We will not be able to love the people we are here to serve unless we are willing to “build roads” to reach them.

This process of building roads takes time. After putting several loads of dirt and rocks on one spot in the road a car would drive over it and pack it all down, still lower than it needed to be. It took several more loads to get it where it should be.

As a staff we are excited to continue to take the time of building these roads, whether literally or figuratively. Please pray with us that God gives us the patience endurance it requires.

Join us at Back2Back’s Fall Fundraising Dinner

October 6, 2010

Cincinnati Friends: Back2Back Ministries’ Fall Fundraising Dinner is on Thursday, November 11th at 6pm in West Chester, Ohio at the Savannah House. Join us as we explore the various Back2Back ministry sites and hear how Back2Back is providing care to orphans around the globe. $75/per person. To RSVP or for more information, contact Diane Siemer at dsiemer@back2backministries.org


All This Because Someone Gave and Someone Came, by Daniel Asama Ago, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

September 30, 2010

I am not just posting a blog, but giving you a testimony of my Back2Back (B2B) experience. It has been three years since I first met Jason and Emilee Munafo, the Directors of B2B Nigeria.  I was already working two jobs here in Jos, trying to make a living.  My field is Information Technology (IT).  When I first met Back2Back Nigeria Staff, Jason & Emilee Munafo, they recognized my deep desire to succeed and learn so, they introduced us to an American businessman who came alongside us, assisting us in launching a small IT business.

Current Bits System Office

With the help of a Back2Back donor who wanted to assist entrepreneurs, we were given a set of laptops and contemporary training in web-design and development by Griffith Holdings, Inc., a company in the United States.  As a result of the Munafo’s support and the generosity of Back2Back partners, we were recently named one of the top web-design companies in Nigeria.

Our Latest Group of Web Design Trainees

I wouldn’t say we have already achieved all that we hope for but we are continuing to move forward and we can see the prospect of a better market with time because of the blessings we have been given. We have started training others in the community, so as to pass on what we know and what was shared with us.  We have trained eleven people so far . . . all because someone gave and someone came.

Because of the positive experience that I have had with Back2Back, I recently joined the Back2Back Nigerian staff as the co-captain of community development, along with Will Reed, who also recently came on staff in Nigeria. He and his wife, Theresa, are going to be a huge blessing to the ministry. We have introduced our monthly ministry program at the Viewing Center in the Kisayhip Village. We call it “Forums”, where we will be discussing life morals and biblical principles to young men from the village.

I was once that child who knew education was not a quest for KNOWLEDGE but a means for SURVIVAL and I had no means whatsoever to achieve that, even though I had the zeal and understanding.  I just couldn’t pay for it. Growing up, we had only corn meal and sometimes warm water for dinner.  So,  schooling  would have been a luxury we couldn’t think about.  This makes the Education Center, which will be starting up in the village very shortly, a “hope-raiser” for many of the children in the village.

Groundbreaking of the Education Center in the Kisayhip Village

So here I am, through the special grace of God, writing this blog for B2B, and communicating in English through my computer . . . all because someone gave and someone came.

I would love to someday hear a similar testimony from the children that we serve in the Kisayhip Village.

You are Welcome!, by Theresa Reed, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

September 24, 2010

New Back2Back Nigeria Staff Members, Will & Theresa Reed

As Will and I arrived to Nigeria last Friday (September 17th) we were full of emotions. Emotions that ranged from excited to terrified; overwhelmed to secure. All the things you would expect to be feeling after leaving everything you have known to move to such a different place. One thing that we knew would take a while to acquire was a sense of belonging.

On Monday, Emilee took us into the downtown area in Jos to register for our driver’s license. On this first visit into town, we were greeted with many bright smiles from the local Nigerians and a phrase that I continue to hear daily and stuck out to me,“You are welcome!” As we walked down the street, or passed the security guards at the bank, we were greeted with this phrase. People who don’t know anything about us (except for our obvious skin color) tell us we are welcome in their county.

This not only has made us feel more secure in being here, but also has given me something to “chew on”. How often would I go up to someone who is clearly foreign in the U.S. and, without knowing anything about them, tell them they are welcome in my country? I appreciate the joy this culture brings. In the midst of a busy week of getting used to living in a new country, it has been encouraging to know we are welcome in this place. I praise the Lord for directing us here and for his friendly children in Nigeria that are eager to welcome us.

A Little Help, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

September 10, 2010

I have to say that yesterday was a big highlight for me, ministry-wise. I just experienced story after story of good things happening in OLA, one of the children’s homes that Back2Back Nigeria partners with. Let me share a few moments with you:

1) The picture below is of Big Mama.

Big Mama

She is one of the caregivers here at OLA. The girl to her left used to live in OLA. Both of her parents have passed away and her grandfather came and picked her up awhile ago. Well, as they were “checking in” on how some of the kids were doing that have been placed back in homes, they learned that she was being mistreated. Big Mama took her in as part of her family. What a kind and generous heart.
2) By now you might recognize little Kenny. BUT, do you recognize his new walker?

Kenny with his new walker

Fellow Back2Back Nigeria Staff member, Emilee Munafo, was there yesterday helping the kids all get ready when she rushed in the living room where I was and pulled me into the baby room. She said, “Oh my gosh, you have got to see Kenny!” And sure enough he met me at the door scooting, ever so professionally and big boy like, towards the hallway. I could have cried. He is getting so big and what a blessing for him to have a little help! My heart swelled as he handled the walker with grace and pride.
3) Yesterday was Abigail’s birthday, which is why we went to OLA in the first place. My mom picked out a beautiful pink scarf for Abigail as a gift from all of us and she looked stunning in it. Her party was so encouraging as friends of hers came to celebrate her life. A life full of hardship, but friendship also as evidenced by the people that came that day to recognize the gift she is to us and the kids in this home. She has grown up here, but takes responsibility for each one of these babies. She has had to receive help her entire life, but she doesn’t let that discourage her. For her, give and take is a part of life, a little help here, a little help there. She gives just as much as she receives. No pride, just relationship!

Abigail wearing her new scarf

These last photos are of big Mary as she walks full time now, and Hope who starts school in two weeks. She is excited, but nervous as well.

Mary (center) with my children

Hope

Each one of us needs a little help now and then, don’t we?  Yesterday, the little girl who lives with Big Mama, Kenny and Abigail showed me that a little help can be perceived as a weakness or it can be received with joy as a gift from God, one not to be missed out on, ever! May your day be blessed with a little help from others!

Ending the Cycle, by Jason Munafo, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 27, 2010

Jason (left) and Emanuel (right)

The other day I was talking with Emanuel who is from the village and is helping us run the Oasis Community Center. He is twenty-three years old and is well-educated. I asked him what he feels is the one thing that would most help this community.

He replied, “Education”.

So, I asked him how he became educated. He told me it was not easy. His parents, who both are still living, divorced when he was very young. His father is an alcoholic who happens to be a doctor and his mom, as he says, is a very difficult person. His parents would not continue to pay for his education.  So at the age of fifteen he left home to live on his own. He started working at the local carwash and made enough money to build a small one-room house (shack), buy food, and pay for his schooling. He said every day was hard.

Emanuel still works at the carwash and says many of his friends who work there with him were in the same situation as he was. The only difference between Emanuel and the other boys is that Emanuel knew the importance of education. He said most of those boys can not read or write and that as a result, the carwash is a dead-end for them. The money they make does not go toward things that last. Alcoholism is a big problem in this community.  When young boys have an education, but lack education, they often end up heading down that path. Emanuel is sad because this is an endless cycle. If education is not a priority for one generation then it is not going to be for the generation to follow.

“We need to break this cycle,” he said.

I agreed.

Every Christmas Emanuel buys all the children in the community a small pad of paper and a pen.

“It’s not much,” he said, “But I want to do all I can to encourage the children to push for an education.”

In January, we are opening the Oasis Education Center to help the children by brining a tutoring program to the village. We will start off small by teaching the basics. But in the end, our hope is to make a life long investment in every child in this community to end this generational cycle.

Infrastructure and Ministry, by John Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 20, 2010

In mission work, all the things that have to be done in order to actually minister or care for someone can be overwhelming.  Within Back2Back, we often talk of our personal bullseye, or our unique focus within the ministry.  Obviously Back2Back’s bullseye is to impact and care for the orphan, but that does not mean that everyone involved with Back2Back is “directly” involved with the orphan.   Many people are “indirectly” involved in impacting the orphan, serving in critical ways.

When developing a site in construction, the first thing we often start with is the infrastructure (ie: roads, underground, utilities, sanitary lines, property walls, etc.).  Although all these things are crucial in supporting the finished product of the building, many times they are not readily apparent once the building is completed and occupied.

Recently, I have been thinking of all the people and things that support the ultimate goal of impacting the orphan. I’m grateful that God’s plan is for us to be a body of believers, each person utilizing their unique gifts and talents for His kingdom, whether this is the people in the mission field or the people sending the missionaries.

In Nigeria, I am constructing the Oasis Education Center, where new Back2Back staff member, Theresa Reed, will spend time tutoring underprivileged children in the Kisayhip Village.  She will be “directly” impacting the orphan, but to make this possible, there is a great deal of upfront development of an infrastructure required.

I want to break it down to show all the people who are involved in making an impact on the orphan – the many parts affecting the orphan child as a whole.

-Back2Back US staff member, Brian Bertke, shares the vision of the Education Center to the youth at the Vineyard Church and the Daniels family in Cincinnati.

-This church and family caught the vision and they were able to raise the funds for us to begin building the Education Center.

-People in the US are supporting the Back2Back staff members, enabling them to live and minister in Nigeria.

-Back2Back staff serve in Nigeria and begin to build the Education Center.

-Back2Back US staff communicates the ongoing need, keeping supporters and advocates updated, and helps with continued fundraising efforts in the US.

-Back2Back support staff, such as drivers, assist in getting materials to the site for the building.

-Supporters donate money to buy a block machine to help make quality blocks for the project.

-Back2Back employs local block makers, masons, and carpenters from the village to construct the Education Center, providing the people in the village with an opportunity to earn an income.

-The building is completed and Theresa Reed will directly impact the orphan by helping supplement their education as a teacher.

-The orphan child in the Kisayhip Village will have a brighter future by receiving “care for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Reflections on My Experience as Back2Back Nigeria STINT Staff, by Eileen Hamilton

August 13, 2010

Recently, we Back2Back Nigeria staff had an outing with the children from Our Ladies of Apostles (OLA) orphanage. We had originally planned to have a swimming party, but we woke up Saturday to a cool, overcast day so we changed our plan quickly. We picked up the kids, packed lunches, and went to the Viewing Center (OCC – Oasis Community Center) where we showed some cartoons (which the kids loved), ate lunch and then for the fun part – we let them explore.  I loved having Daniel sitting close by my side as we watched cartoons together.

Spending time with Daniel

We brought water squirt guns and gave them to the kids and just let them run around and be children.

And, of course, they all climbed the rocks.

I stayed behind. I could barely watch as the children, in their flip flops, climbed those high rocks enjoying every minute of this new adventure for them.  At the children’s home, they are in a confined area (the hospital/home compound) so to see them running and jumping and just playing hard was a well-spent afternoon.

Back2Back Nigeria staff with the children from OLA Orphanage

I include these pictures of the “rocks” because there is something so beautiful about them. The rocks below are some of my favorite.  Just look at them for a minute. Don’t they look like a big puzzle with all the pieces fitting in perfectly? God’s Word says that “the rocks will cry out” declaring the glory of God .  It really is true – I see God’s beauty in the rocks!

Abigail (pictured below)  is the nicest woman.

Abigail

She is forty years old and has been at the children’s home since she was ten years old. The children love her and she has the sweetest disposition. She and I stayed behind behind while the kids were rock climbing and I noticed that she watched all the children very carefully the whole time. At the end of our time together at OCC, we all sat upon one of the smaller rocks and had our picture taken. Young and old alike – smiles everywhere.  It was a good day for all!