Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category

Inspired, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

August 4, 2010

Have you ever caught a vision of something? Something bigger than yourself? Maybe you even got a panicked feeling and at the same time a moment of exhilaration? Last week, I experienced all of those emotions after Esther (a girl from OLA, an orphanage we serve) graduated from secondary school.

Esther with her classmates (Ester is in red and black in the center)

I was full of emotion not just for Esther, but for the other children, Hope, Daniel and Joe, who were there watching Esther’s graduation ceremony.

I was so excited for her and for them to be able to see the fruit of what hard work and diligence and perseverance can produce. At the same time I became a bit panicky, as I thought about the statistics stacked against them: being poor and fatherless, being behind in their schooling due to lack of supervision with their studies, the struggling Nigerian education system.

Esther's classroom, as many in Nigeria, lacks basic supplies

I was quickly reminded that for more success stories to take place, God will have to step in and intervene for them through funding, mentoring, and tutoring. I also realized that me alone, or even Back2Back alone could not tackle this gigantic task. It is for the body.  A body of believers who are committed to the orphan child. Believers who are willing to lay down their life for someone else. People who are interested in considering others better than themselves and worthy of all that can be offered.

Sitting through the ceremony yesterday I felt choked up because these Nigerians truly celebrated the moving forward of each individual and child. They are proud of where they are coming from and even more proud of where they could be headed and where God might lead them.

Esther can make a difference, not just because she is educated.  Even more, her education will give her a platform to be able to reach more people and she will be able to use her God given mind to discern what is God’s perfect and pleasing will for her.

Daniel, Joe and Hope saw Esther celebrate a new season and stage of life. A new beginning and my prayer is that as we were all sitting there, they were becoming inspired to take another step forward, no matter how daunting the task is for them. We are all a part of the body, the body of Christ that can together raise another generation of believers who are willing to move forward.

Esther during the graduation ceremony (second from left)

Esther with those of us who came to watch her graduation

World Cup Outreach in Nigeria, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

June 17, 2010


This past Friday, the first World Cup game of the year was played on South African soil. As a ministry we used this event to kick-off our new “Oasis Community Center”. It was our grand opening of a Center that will host the viewing of futbol games and other media events.

It is a joint effort between three different people groups. Back2Back, SSE and the village itself. All three have different focuses but all three want what is best for the Rukuba people. The day was filled with food, fun, fellowship and a lively band that kept the kids hips moving.

These pictures show different aspects of the day unraveling. The ariel shot is Gus, my son, climbing the boulders that surround this plot of land and snapping a photo before it began.

We had a food station, a face painting station (my daughter, Sarah, and my mom manned this booth), a music station, and of course a jumpy castle station. We are grateful as it did not rain and people came from all different walks of life to see what was going on. Jason shared parts of his own testimony as Daniel and Ibro shared the vision and mission of this center. As much as we had “planned” and hoped the details would find themselves taken care of, it is still somewhat of a risk to plan things in the village.
There are so many unpredictables that come with an event focused on a group of people that do not limit themselves to the boundaries of four walls. This wasn’t focused on a children’s home. It was focused on orphans who are living in a village with or without people who care for them.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as we see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

I pray as you find yourself meeting with your own fellowship surroundings this morning that you will pray for this community center as well.

The Reeds’ Journey to Nigeria

May 27, 2010

In the spring of 2009, Will and Theresa began to ask God what He had in store for them when Theresa graduated college in 2010. As they prayed, they were continually led to Back2Back, the same ministry they were serving with in Mexico when they met for the first time. After conversations with staff and a visit to Jos, they know it is where God wants them. In the midst of big needs, they are excited to work with Back2Back to offer H.O.P.E. to people in Jos and the Kisayhip Village.

Both Will and Theresa will be working to build relationships, host groups, and meet needs. However, of all the things they will be doing in Jos, they are most excited for what Theresa will be doing. She will be working to provide an education to the children in the Kisayhip Village, the fulfillment of a life-long dream for her and also the fulfillment of a big need. Will and Theresa will be leaving for Jos in September 2010. They are excited to continue the adventure God has called them to in Nigeria, as they pursue the passions He has instilled in them.

Provision through Donations, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria

May 25, 2010

As many of you know there was a large crisis that happened here in Jos in January and then again in March. In the wake of those two specific crisis, there is a hole of need for those who have been left behind.

Many, many children have been left with no earthly possessions, no clothing, some have no more families and some left with no homes. Not only children, but adults as well. A woman named Lydia came to my gate last week. She had lost her husband and her eldest son as well in the crisis in March. She was asking for work because she is now a widow with three other children, a ten, an eight and a five year old. She was not asking for a handout but she was asking for work. Not only work, but prayer. Before she left I told her I would keep my eyes open and we prayed together as I was under the realization that there are now three more orphans in the world, according to the United Nations definition of orphan, “a child who has lost one or more parents.” Our ministry had the privilege to join in with other ministries to donate to those left behind in this massive wake of destruction. The pictures above and to the left are some of the items that we were able to contribute to help this need. I really want to thank those of you who gave to the Christmas catalog, especially for mosquito nets. As you can see from the picture, we were able to buy them with that money and then hand them to help create some shelter for these specific children.

I am actually in awe as God, knowing all things, was able to prepare us as a ministry to be able to have much needed items to be able to give to those within our ministries reach.

Then, we found out late last week, that the house of a man on our SSE borehole team burned down. So, again, we were able to help this man “get back on his feet” by providing some basic provisions.

It does not look like much, but he was grateful and so were we, as we realized these donations were never ours, nor did we purchase them, we were just able to hand them to those in need. Thank you again to all of you who support us and the ministry in finances and prayer. It is not in vain and it is meeting many, many needs.

Please have a blessed day as you may come to realize as well how fortunate we all are and how much we have been given.

Seventh Grade Girls to the Rescue, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

May 7, 2010

I have been praying to the Lord as to how ministry will be accomplished this summer since Back2Back made the decision to postpone summer internships/short-term groups.  How will His promises be fulfilled without the hands and feet of His body?  How will we as Back2Back Nigeria staff be able to meet all the needs of the Fatherless around us?  Well, I want you to meet the seventh grade girls discipleship group at Hillcrest school.  There are about fourteen of them who have chosen to use their Tuesday afternoons to help us care for the orphans that Back2Back Nigeria serves!

They are full of spunk, energy, excitement and desire!  Their leader is a good friend of mine and she asked if she could take her bible study to Our Ladies of Apostles (OLA) orphanage one Tuesday afternoon.  She went on to further explain that she was having some trouble with them: they were bickering between themselves and not interested in things of God.  If there is one thing I have learned being on the mission field is that the moment you take your eyes off of yourselves and pour out, your own vision starts to become a bit more focused and that is when God starts to take over.  Which is of course the answer to my own questions above.

By the end of the day, the children were loved on, protected, held up and played with, and there seemed to be a spirit of hope that filled the room.  A hope for these orphans as each and every one of them, no matter how challenging they might have been physically or emotionally were picked up and loved on.  A hope also for these seventh grade girls who were laughing, finding refuge in each other and asking when they could come again.  And there was a hope in my own heart as well as I realized that God in His providence is answering my prayer by bringing an unlikely group of girls here to serve and that He will fulfill His promises in His own way. I need not fix my eyes on me, but I need to fix my eyes on Him, the author and perfecter of my faith who just wants me to see Him at work.  I guess it is what I said about the seventh grade girls, the moment I stop taking my eyes off of myself and pour out is the moment God starts to take over and work out my vision.

World Malaria Day

April 23, 2010

Nearly one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children younger than five years old. When insecticide-treated nets are used properly by three-quarters of the people in a community, malaria transmission is cut by 50%. It is estimated that less than 5% of children in sub-Saharan Africa currently sleep under any type of insecticide-treated net. Sunday, April 25 is World Malaria Day 2010, a day created to raise awareness and action in the fight against this preventable disease. To donate toward the purchase of mosquito nets for families served by Back2Back Nigeria, contact Claire at 513-754-0300 or donate at our website and designate “malaria nets” in the memo line.

A Fishing We Will Go, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

April 16, 2010

Welcome to the beginning stages of the fish farms that are being brought to life at one of the children’s homes we work with here in Jos, Nigeria. OLA (Our Ladies of Apostles) has started some fish farms and they are also working on some chicken farms to help them create food and funds for their needs. Back2Back is choosing to come alongside them and help them whenever possible. Do you see some of the little fish in there? Cute huh? Cute enough to eat hopefully!

Something that encourages us as staff is when you see someone who is already in place move forward with an idea that will better their situation. Sister Fidelia is such a woman. She is in charge of the inner workings of this facility and she is doing a great job. She has innovative ideas and wants to see them come to fruition. Back2Back is super excited about seeing where some of her gaps and needs are and then filling them where we can. Below is Jason (the director of Back2Back Nigeria) with Sister Fidelia. The fish hatcheries are behind them.

Below is the beginning ground work for the chicken homes. I know I am getting some of these words wrong, so sorry if you know a lot about these things. My husband would be cringing right now. Either way, they are moving forward and we are coming alongside of them. We are grateful when God makes some paths easy for us to see. We know it is not always this convenient, but boy, when it is, we are ecstatic! We thank you Father for your good gifts!

Journey to Nigeria, by Chad Powers, Mission Trip Participant

April 2, 2010

First of all, I need to get something off my chest…I didn’t believe that I could get there. I didn’t believe that the voice that was inviting me on an adventure was the voice of God. I thought that I was probably making it all up, that I was stirring up an old longing again.  I just didn’t believe. There, I said it, and now I feel better.

Let me back up…  It was December, cold and windy and less than two months before a group of men that I didn’t really know were scheduled to depart on their voyage to Nigeria. I bumped into one of the guys at a gathering and he offered me a standing invitation to join him on any trip of which he was a part. Little did he know that even while I was thanking him and making plans in my head, I was really beginning to cope with the fact that I could never afford a trip to Africa.  So, I began to let the dream die.

But something in that dream persisted.  I began having thoughts and visions of what my time there might look like. I felt something in my chest, I call it a ‘pressing.’ But it was really more like a ‘knowing.’ A ‘knowing’ that God was inviting me on a journey, that He was asking me to take a few steps, and that He would take care of me even in my weakness and trembling.

I knew that if I didn’t do something about this ‘invitation’ that my courage would bow to fear and that I would continue to carry the weight of this moment for a long time. So I jumped. I took the first step by telling my friend about this ‘pressing’ and asking him more about his trip. I confessed my fear in pursuing something that seemed so implausible for me to accomplish. I expressed my hope but then immediately expressed my fears. I began naming all the hurdles that would have to be overcome in order for me to get there. Money, visas, shots, airline tickets, time away from family and work. It was like I was giving a list of excuses as to why the dream wasn’t going to happen.

But God wasn’t impressed with my list!  One by one He began knocking down the barriers, proving to me that He is the God that overcomes… and overcomes… and overcomes.

In a month-and-a-half all the barriers were gone, and I was on a plane with some of the best men I’ve ever met. I’ll always have the pictures and the stories of what we did while we were there.

But the greatest impression I have from the trip is what God did to get me there.

He is greater than my circumstances. He is greater than the obstacles. He is greater than my fears. He is greater.

Our mission team with Back2Back Nigeria Staff

To see and read more about the experience in Nigeria, check out my blog from the trip.

Giving Thanks, by Todd Guckenberger, Back2Back Executive Director

March 19, 2010

I have been bombarded with questions of safety for the sites we serve.  Many know that it has not been smooth sailing in India, Nigeria, and Mexico and the press does not make it any easier.   I do not have all the answers and the older I get the more and more I realize that there are no guarantees, so I can not promise safety. I can only promise that Back2Back stands by the orphan whether it is easy or difficult. In my lack of having the answers, I am certain that we must pray.  I am not ready to walk away.  I am not ready to let fear win.  I believe in the impact that we have on the orphan around the world, and Back2Back will be relentless no matter how we choose to serve.

Beth and I have been talking about an article by Steward Brisco that encourages people to give thanks in the midst of fear.  This practice works for my 11-year old daughter who can sometimes work herself up with worry.

Join with me in giving thanks for what God has done in the ministry areas in which He has lead us to serve.

Mexico:

Jesus, I give thanks for Your provision for the 500 orphans we serve in Mexico.  I give thanks that regardless of whether or not people go and serve that they will not be forgotten.  You know each of them and that You have counted each and every hair on their beautiful brown heads.  I give thanks that You will “defend their cause”.   I give thanks for restoration of the hearts of the children that we have ministered to over years.  I give thanks that there are men and women on our staff who build into the teens and children we serve.  We are seeing fruit after years of investment.  It is not overnight, but rather through thousands of hours of friction against what the enemy has stolen from them.  I give thanks that some of those teens are now leading Bible studies, raising the bar spiritually for their “brothers and sisters” in the Hope Houses in which they live.  I give thanks for how You have used individuals to support the ministry as child sponsors, offer physical labor, and financially sustain entire orphanages, projects, provide birthday and Christmas gifts.   I give thanks that we have hosted thousands of servants, who have always been safe.  I give thanks that You have always protected our staff, both nationals and Americans.  I give thanks that our staff would only want to be where God has called them.  I give thanks that You have raised them up.  I give thanks to You, Jesus, that You have led us to understand that “sustainability” is what we are about.  I give thanks that we are able to be a part of seeing children get an education and stand on their own, breaking the cycle of poverty.

Nigeria:

I give thanks that in Nigeria You have raised up great nationals and Americans to serve in Nigeria.  I give thanks that You have quadrupled our staff team in less than three years. I give thanks that You have called our team to be there to serve the community of the Rekuba tribe.  I give thanks that You will provide for the neglected abandoned and abused in Nigeria.   I give thanks for the friction we have encountered in our commitment to go “deep not wide”.  I give thanks that You have brought us to serve in the most densely populated nation in Africa. I give thanks that You have led us to be about community development.  I give thanks that You have clarified that there are times when we need to say “no”.  I give thanks that You have provided a large boost of capital to get started.  I give thanks that You are in control and that we do not have to live in fear.

India:

In India, I give thanks that You relentlessly love the orphan child. I give thanks that even in a society that labels the orphan as the least of these that the least of these will come to You and be protected by You.  I give thanks that You are providing free private education for the orphans at EJH hostel (children’s home).  I give thanks that You are not dependent on us to provide for the orphan in India, but still choose to use us.  I give thanks that You have provided money for food from donors who have never even been to India.  I give thanks to You for great stewardship of Your resources. I give thanks for Brent and Lisa who have stepped out to serve You.  I give thanks that You have brought us to a country that has more than 35 million orphans that You call by name.

In India at one of the children's homes Back2Back serves

Chicken Dinner for Families in Need, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria

March 17, 2010

This past fall, Back2Back sent out a Christmas gift catalog, in which people could sponsor “gifts” in various ways in different areas of ministry within Back2Back. India, Nigeria and Mexico were all represented and one of the opportunities was a chicken dinner for those in need in Nigeria.

We have two people here from Riverview Church, Ryan and Sara, and yesterday they were able to be a part of handing out some of the chicken dinners that were bought from this catalog. Now, probably people picture a nice cooked chicken with cooked rice and beans and presented on a table for dinner. That is not quite how these dinners get done here, especially in the village where refrigeration is not an option. Here are some pictures to show it all unfolded.
Every person who received a chicken dinner received, one live chicken, bouillon cubes, beans, rice and a liter of oil. All the makings of a delicious chicken dinner (for at least two maybe three meals). For this moment, we chose to take the meals to the village doctor because he is the one who cares for those in the village (and sometimes outside the village as well), the orphan and all those in need in the Kisayhip area. Not only were meals given, but the staff and Ryan and Sara prayed for each patient there, for wisdom for the doctor and healing for the patients. It was good and right to care for those who were at the moment in even more need. They were grateful for each gesture and gift given.

Below is the village doctor’s son, Moses (who is currently in school for medicine), with Ryan and John as afterward they all took him to a local pharmacy to purchase much needed medicine to better and further care for those who are under his dad’s supervision. We are so grateful to all who helped make “care for today, hope for tomorrow” happen in this little village in Jos, Nigeria.

Ice Cream and Pizza Party, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

March 9, 2010

For Christmas, my parents gave all of sixteen of their grandchildren $30 USD. But, the gift itself was for them to see the joy in giving, so a letter was written to each of them about it and what they had to do was find a “cause” or a “need” other than their own life that could benefit from $15. They could keep the other $15 for themselves. After they gave their money to wherever they chose they then had to write a letter back to grandma and grandpa about where the money went, etc…

The grandkids with the grandparents

So, majority of my nieces and nephews proceeded, through time, to hand John and I $15 to go for an ice cream party for some children we work with. We were overwhelmed with the amount handed to us that there was enough for not only an ice cream party, but also a pizza party, as well.

Yesterday afternoon, we took twelve kids from a children’s home we work with (OLA) to a restaurant, called Summerland, for ice cream and pizza.

The children from OLA

When we arrived there, I started finding out from the children one by one as they were ordering ice cream, they had NEVER eaten ice cream before. NEVER!!! They had NEVER been to a restaurant before. And they had NEVER had pizza before. NEVER!

The manager who was running the ice cream parlor asked one of the girls who was 19 years old, if she liked ice cream, she said she didn’t know what it was and has never had it before. You should have seen the man’s face.  He was floored.  From that point on, he was giving double the portions for half the price. It was a blessed day.

A few of the children from OLA, with my son, Gus

Emilee had to show the kids how to hold the pizza (with your hands) because they didn’t know what to do with it. In the end, they behaved quite well in the restaurant and ate all their food (we also ordered Jollof rice, just in case our great idea was a bust. I think they liked having it as an option).

Afterwards, we took them to my kids’ school, Hillcrest, to play on the elementary playground. It was such a fun day. I hope it is one that is not quickly forgotten.

We are blessed for sure.  Gus, our son, said to me near the end of the day, “They really had never had ice cream before?!” I think my whole family was overwhelmed with our own blessings and was reminded of how good we have it, even if it can seem that we are sacrificing.

Redemption, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

February 5, 2010

One of the ministries that our ministry tries to support is Gidan Bege. It is basically a ministry that teaches and trains widows how to sew. They undergo a year of discipleship that teaches them the Word and trains them and gives them and their children a place to stay. After that year, they are given the gift of a sewing machine and encouraged to go back to their village to start their own shop. It is amazing what these women can do. Now, realize this is coming from a woman who can BARELY sew on a button. But, we all play our part in the bigger picture.

We take short-term mission groups to Gidan Bege when they arrive to buy skirts, aprons, purses and bags, journals, etc… And they also make whatever you want if you come in with an idea. These ladies have personally made all of our curtains in our home and our throw pillows and whatever Nigerian clothes we have, they have made. We are blessed by their friendship, as well as their giftings and talents.

The pictures are of their working area (you will notice nothing is done with power), the shop where they sell their items, and their “office” where they store extra material and items that are ready for pick up. One thing that I find interesting is that the location where they are currently living, in the past, was once a brothel. How cool is that this ministry bought it and has now redeemed what was once used as evil and is now being used for good. I love the idea that God can even redeem land. I look forward to when you come visit us, that you too, can buy something in this little shop.

The Latest Update from Jos, Nigeria, by Corrie Guckenberger

January 25, 2010

We continue to receive lots of emails of people praying for us, the community and the city. Thank you so much.  We are confident that they are being heard.  Things have quieted down tremendously and we are learning that as quickly as conflict rises, it settles just as fast.  Yesterday as the curfew was lifted to a half day, our family walked in our neighborhood to our director’s home and everyone was out in the street, greeting each other and smiling and glad to be out again.  There was a strange feeling of community within our own little area.  We knew we were all coming out of the conflict okay and no harm was done.   People were genuinely kind and spirited.

I am aware that even though that is what we are experiencing that is not what the greater Jos area is experiencing.  Although the streets may be quiet, people are scrambling looking for their loved ones.  Their minds are trying to figure out why again did this happen.  Families are trying to piece together damage that may have been done to their area.  Hearts are concerned for where do we go from here.  Some families have been displaced from their homes, experienced injury and in a few instances, even faced loss of life. It is at this point, that the real work begins.   This is the time for ministry.  We have already heard of people coming to hand out blankets, water, mats and food.  We don’t want to miss out!  We have been hearing from the sites we serve, that as far as people know, no one has been harmed.  We praise God for that alone!  Continue to pray with us for wisdom and discernment and how best to use our time and resources.  The need is great and there is work to be done.

The pictures posted are of some of the common scenes that we are seeing within a mile of our home.  The one of the armed forced gentleman is Mr. Fire.  We talked with him and he is stationed at his post, two minutes away from our home.  He is a kind man who prays to our same Lord Jesus Christ and we are glad he is here keeping our streets safe.  The other is just a common road block.  These are currently all over the city of Jos for random check points for the comings and goings of all.  We are thankful for the measures being taken to assure the safety of the people.

Update on Situation in Nigeria, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

January 20, 2010

We have been getting lots of questions being asked of us about the crisis here in Jos, Nigeria. Here is what is going on around us personally and in the city.

First, our family is good and safe and so are the Munafos. We are grateful for the close proximity in which we live to them. (We live right behind them.) There is currently a 24-hour curfew in place that started yesterday and at this point, we don’t know how long it will last. (I am guessing for the next couple of days.) Usually after the initial 24-hour curfew, there will be in place a twelve hour curfew from 6pm to 6am.

On Sunday, there was a disagreement between a man and a hired worker on receiving pay. The worker did not receive his money; therefore, hired men to come and beat the other man up. All of that to say, is it led to other rivalry and havoc. There has been rumors (that I do believe at this moment) that men were brought in from the North to cause riots within our city. This is becoming more of a religious issue at this point. The Muslims are attacking and the Christians are defending. There have been deaths and injuries (we are receiving mixed reports on this at this time). It appears that a group of men made their way from central Jos toward the southern part of Jos (where we live) during the last few days. Yesterday morning is when it hit our specific area. We were never in danger (we live in locked/gated little neighborhood with security guards) but our neighbors down the street were. There was some burning of buildings and yelling going on. Right now, at 8:45am, it is quiet all around. At this point, no one in the Jos missionary community has been harmed. We are grateful.

Please know that as a ministry, we have plans in place for times of crisis that allow us to take the appropriate measures of safety for our staff and for any visitors that may be here. The greater Jos mission community also has a great communication pattern to communicate with all missionaries in the area that help us all be able to communicate in a way that is productive and helpful.

Please do pray for healing in this area. As we all know who live under Christ, that crisis can be such a tool for redemption. We believe, fully, that there is work to be done and we want to be ready in and out of season. The battle between Muslim/Christian has gone for generations and generations. We know this, and our heart is to not only be able to serve those who need serving in Christ (on both sides), but to protect the Fatherless who get caught in these crossfires. At the end of the day, there will be more orphans because of this crisis and we need wisdom and discernment on how to care for them.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and questions. I do hope this can help some of you better pray for us personally, for our ministry and for this area. God Bless.

Harvest Sunday, by Emilee Munafo, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

December 17, 2009

A few weeks ago the ECWA church (Evangelical Church of West Africa) in the Kisayhip Village celebrated the Harvest Season with a special Harvest Sunday celebration. It was the Sunday following our American Thanksgiving holiday. As I walked up to the church doors, I could see buckets, sacks and trays that were full of grains lined up against the building. Each portion of grain represented a family’s hard season of planting, cultivating, protecting, watering, and harvesting. For many of them it is their way of living. Without this harvest they wouldn’t be able to provide for their family. I felt like I was back in Biblical times. Maybe I am too much of a city girl, but in our church we usually only bring forward our monetary gifts, and even then when we bring them, we bring them to a box, near the back wall at our own convenience.

In the Nigerian church, I have always noticed that the time for offering, whether with naira or with crops, is a time of worship. There is music playing, singing, dancing, even a little bit of shouting. It always makes me ask myself, am I giving my offerings to the Lord as an act of worship, or do I just do it out of obedience? It also made me think of what things I would be willing to bring as an offering, if I wasn’t told to bring money but something that represented my hard labor. Maybe my time, my home, or my desires for my family would be on that list. What about you?  What would you bring as an offering? I’ve been sorting out what God is teaching me through my Harvest Sunday experience – it’s been a few weeks and I am still thinking about it!

The slideshow below shows an outreach that we did after church on Harvest Sunday. Only the pastor knew what we had planned. We enjoyed passing out bags of goodies that included lotion, sugar for Christmas baking, spices, and noodle packets to those who faithfully come to church on Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Back2Back Ministries!

November 25, 2009

As Thanksgiving approaches, we cannot help but celebrate the many ways in which God has been faithful and blessed Back2Back Ministries. We would like to take this opportunity to share just a few highlights from 2009 for which we’re thankful!

In Mexico: As a result of the Back2Back Hope Education Program, six children who we met when the ministry first began have now graduated from college, forever breaking the cycle of generational poverty in their families.

Junior, one of the six Back2Back Hope Program students who graduated from college this year (pictured with B2B Directors, Todd & Beth Guckenberger)

In Nigeria: We have expanded our full-time staff to include John and Corrie Guckenberger and Will and Theresa Reed. Through the generous land donation of Self-Sustaining Enterprises, we are beginning to develop a permanent Back2Back campus with staff and group housing. We are also launching the Hope Education Program in Nigeria and building an education center on this land, allowing us to provide more opportunities to the children that we serve.

Will & Theresa Reed will soon be joining the Back2Back Nigeria team

John & Corrie Guckenberger joined the Back2Back Nigeria staff this year

In India: We have begun a partnership with EJH Children’s Home, as the directors of this home share Back2Back’s vision to show love and provide care to children in need.  This particular home cares for children with disabilities, a ministry that is desperately needed in India, a country where those that have a handicap are marginalized by society.

A few of the children from EJH

In the U.S. Office: We have increased our staff in the US, allowing us to expand and improve our communications and have a greater impact in meeting the need of orphans. We also have begun a child sponsorship program, the Back2Back Shelter Program, which enables us to better meet the physical, spiritual and educational needs of the children we serve.

Beatriz

Beatriz, the first child to receive a sponsor through our new child sponsorship program

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.  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.

Back2Back Christmas Gift Catalog: Give a Gift to a Child in Need

November 18, 2009

Celebrate the true spirit of Christmas by giving 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 listing impact in the life of a child this Christmas!

View the gift catalog online and choose an item by clicking here.

Back2Back Christmas Cards

November 12, 2009

Lift Them Up Cards, by 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.

B2B Christmas Card

Three Ways to Place an Order
1. To pay by credit card call 513.754.0300 Monday through Thursday between 9am and 4 pm 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.

Back2Back Breakfast

November 3, 2009

Last week, Back2Back hosted a breakfast in Mason, Ohio.  The purpose of this particular event was to expose new people to the ministry by providing an opportunity to learn how Back2Back is meeting the orphan care need in Mexico, Nigeria and India.

Thank you to all those who attended or partnered with us to make this event a success.  We’re grateful for our supporters who weren’t there, as well as those who were able to partner with us by hosting tables.  For more information about being involved or attending our banquet next year, please contact us at 513-754-0300.

A Farming Tradition, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

October 2, 2009

John, our children, and I were invited by the Chairman of the Kisayhip Village that we work with to experience and witness one of the farming/wedding traditions that they practice.  We picked up the kids right after school and went to go “be a part” of traditional Africa.

Corrie and her family

Corrie with her children, Gus, Sarah, and Sami

Upon arriving, we learned more…. when a man marries a woman from another village, the husband’s village during the next year, has some responsibilities.  Three different times the village will come over to the wife’s village and “farm” or till the land and then the two villages share a meal and celebrate.  It just so happened that the Chairman’s youngest daughter was married this past year, and the man’s village was finishing up their agreement and coming for the third and final time to “farm” the Chairman’s land.

It was actually really fun.  John got a try and I think within time, he would be great.  No, seriously, it was amazing to be there firsthand and see the excitement and encouragement that both villages shared for one another.  The one came with about sixty men and within an hour tilled maybe three acres, row after row after row of their corn.  They worked together like a machine.

As the men were working, the women and kids were either dancing and encouraging or they were cooking and preparing for the meal afterward.  Overall, I liked the gesture and thought it would be really cool if we could somehow put this practice into place in the States.  Maybe it is not tilling or farming, but maybe it is something different.  I don’t know…. something to think about.  How sweet to see one people group take care of another people group.  Even though they didn’t all get married, obviously, they all took part in the responsibilities of it.  I like it!

Okay, I just spent about an hour having this video download (and it wasn’t finished) and our power went out.  SOOO, no video.  I have included a couple of pictures.  It won’t do the scene justice because you need to see these men work with their tools and the women singing and dancing… but here are a few photos.  I hope you can catch the moment somewhat.

A Farming Tradition

A Farming Tradition 2

Christmas Cards from Back2Back are now available! All proceeds to benefit the children we serve!

September 28, 2009

Lift Them Up Cards, by 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.

B2B Christmas Cards

Three Ways to Place an Order
1. To pay by credit card call 513.754.0300 Monday through Thursday between 9am and 4 pm 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.

Interested in an Internship with Back2Back?

July 30, 2009

Back2Back summer interns gain practical hands-on ministry experience by serving at our sites in Monterrey, Mexico; Jos, Nigeria; or Hyderabad, India.  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.

Intern applicants must have participated in a week-long mission trip at the ministry base where they wish to intern and possess a mature Christian faith. Interns are required to be 17 years or older and have completed their junior year of high school at the time of the internship.  Priority is given to applicants 18 years and older.  All internship positions are unpaid.

The deadline for Mexico summer 2010 internship applications is October 31, 2009.  The deadline for Nigeria and India internship applications is October 15, 2009.

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

Hannah Cessler (far right), Back2Back India 2009 summer intern

A few of the July 2009 Mexico summer interns during an evening out

A few of the July 2009 Mexico summer interns during an evening out

Nigeria staff and interns (left to right): Angela Ramos (staff), Sara Dundon, Amanda Shrom, Corrie Guckenberger (staff), Stephanie Hasso, Tina Black

Nigeria staff with a few of the summer 2009 interns (left to right): Angela Ramos (staff), Sara Dundon, Amanda Shrom, Corrie Guckenberger (staff), Stephanie Hasso, Tina Black

Zach Nachazel with Abigail at a Nigerian children's home that Back2Back partners with

Zach Nachazel, 2009 Back2Back Nigeria intern, with Abigail at a Nigerian children's home

Back2Back 2009 intern spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

Back2Back 2009 intern, Stephanie Hasso, spends time with a local girl in Nigeria

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

Sara Dundon, 2009 summer intern, holds Amina, a little girl at a children's home & school with which Back2Back Nigeria partners

Emily Greider, a summer 2009 intern, along with Tim Couch, Back2Back Mexico staff member

Emily Greider, a summer 2009 intern, along with Tim Couch, Back2Back Mexico staff member

Emilee (back row, center), a 2009 Back2Back Mexico intern, along with Becca Gantz (right)

Emilee (back row, center), a 2009 Back2Back Mexico intern, along with Becca Gantz (right)

Shawn, a summer 2009 intern, at a work project in Monterrey

Shawn, a summer 2009 intern, at a work project in Monterrey

Some of the June 2009 interns and B2B staff members enjoying a night out at Fede's Tacos

Some of the June 2009 interns and B2B staff members enjoying a night out at Fede's Tacos

Rita Haworth (left) & Emily Geib (right), two of our July 2009 interns

Rita Haworth (left) & Emily Geib (right), two of our July 2009 interns

Helping out during a concrete project

Helping out during a concrete project

During a work project

Shawn Gerber during a work project

Spending time with the children

Quin Bergh with a new friend

One-on-one time with the children

Adam Gellenbeck spending one-on-one time with a child

Shelter, by Angela Ramos

July 29, 2009

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord. “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91: 1-2

Shelter is the theme of this year’s Back2Back devotional.  Every group member, along with staff, receive this five day devotional during their trip.  As staff in Nigeria, we are taking a deeper look into each daily devotional.  We are thinking about questions like: What do you think of when you hear the word shelter?  In what ways does God provide shelter?  How does God provide shelter to the less fortunate?

When I first think of shelter, I think of protection.  But after studying God’s word and being in the midst of the less fortunate, I have found a deeper meaning.  Yes, God is our protector, but if something bad happens that doesn’t mean that God has ceased to protect me.  When we walk in the ways of the Lord we are not promised to live a pain free life.  God’s shelter is always with us no matter our circumstances.  His shelter is a constant peace that no matter what happens, nothing can take away His love from us.

On day three of the Shelter devotional, it states that God’s shelter is a “state of mind”.  That really hit home with me.  In America we can have a lot of false shelters.  We rest easy in our spouses, cars, homes, finances, our grocery stores, clothing stores….basically our modern day conveniences. Sure, we know God is there, but do we really know this?  Do most of us rely on the things around us rather than God himself?  Is it easy to just assume that God’s shelter is with us because we have all of these conveniences?

In Africa we don’t have any of the American conveniences. Everything here is more difficult and time consuming.  Like I said before, the need here is so great.  How does a widow who lives in a tiny hut with five children and no electricity and running water see God as her shelter?  In their hearts they know God is with them and they trust the Lord to provide for them and to protect them.  They have nothing, yet they are content with God and what He has given them (which is not much by our standards).  God’s shelter is a state of mind.  He is constant no matter the circumstances.  He is constant no matter what one has or does not have.  He is the same God to me and to the poor orphaned child in Africa, and to you.  His love never fails and is unending.

To be honest, it is going to be hard to come back home to the modern day conveniences.  Chris and I really like the pace of Nigeria.  Being here makes you appreciate what you have all the more.  Even our boys have been able to see the differences; one is in the education they are receiving compared to what the children here receive.  We are trying to help teach them these truths about who God really is.  It’s not about what we have, even though we are thankful for EVERYTHING He has provided.  All we have is because of Him.  It’s about who we are in Christ and living our lives fully for Him.  Giving everything, holding nothing back.

Visiting local waterfalls near B2B Nigeria base   (Top: Chris &  Angela/Bottom L to R: Caleb, Micah & Noah)

Visiting local waterfalls near B2B Nigeria base (Top: Chris & Angela/Bottom L to R: Caleb, Micah & Noah)

Making a Difference, by Angela Ramos

July 6, 2009

Being in Nigeria for almost four weeks I have often wondered if we are making a difference here.  Will we ever fully know the answer to that question?  Before coming here our desire was to come to help out where needed and to serve the people here – whatever that looks like.  Now that we are here it seems that what we do is so little because the need here is so great.

A few Fridays ago we handed out a bag of corn and rice along with oil to each family in the Kisayhip Village.  We split up into teams and along with a translator we went into everyone’s homes and gave them the elements.  We also prayed with them.  We told them we were there because we wanted them to know that God loves them.  We also wanted to let them know that Back2Back is building a compound close to their village and that our goal is to help them and the community.  We will use this future Back2Back compound to host our missionaries and groups that come for a mission trip.  We felt it was important to make an impact on the village so they know we are here to serve them.

Chris Ramos praying with a family in the Kisayhip Village

Chris Ramos praying with a family in the Kisayhip Village

We know that we made an impact, but will we ever really understand how much?  As we left the village to return to our house where we have electricity (sometimes), running water and food, I don’t think we can completely understand without being in their shoes.

I was struggling with questions about what it means to make a difference here until God began to show me that this is not about me.  I may never know the extent of our impact but I am to be obedient to the calling on my life.  I may never get the warm fuzzies.  I may never see the benefits of our labor here.  But, that is okay.  God has given me peace and God is right, of course, this isn’t about me.

In Isaiah 58 God talks about true fasting.  From that scripture, I am learning that God sees our hearts and true intentions.  He doesn’t just want one day of fasting, a fasting that is like “Okay, I fasted for a day, I did my duty, and now I’m done.”  Our lives are to be lived day in and day out by feeding the hungry, setting free the oppressed, providing shelter for the homeless and clothing the naked.  I love the part of the scripture where it talks about what God will do when we fast in such a way.  I love it that He goes before me and His glory will be my rear guard. He will answer me when I call and when I do cry out to Him He will say “Here I am”.

We are called to resist the urge to live our lives for ourselves.  Yes, God has a plan for my life here and He will grow us personally and as a family. We may never know how much we’re helping, but what I do know is that God is our protector, our healer and he answers us when we call.  That is so much better than a warm fuzzy.

The Gift of Hope, by Angela Ramos

June 6, 2009

This week, Chris Ramos, Back2Back Director of Missions, is heading off to Jos, Nigeria with his wife, Angie and their three sons.  For three months, they will be staying at the Back2Back Nigeria base and serving in the local community.  As they prepare to leave, Angie reflects on her first visit to Nigeria, nearly three years ago when she and her husband Chris served alongside Back2Back missionaries, Jason and Emilee Munafo.  Continue reading to discover how Angie experienced hope in a fresh way.

It was October of 2006 and we were mid-way through our stay in Jos, Nigeria.  I sat on the floor of the place where we were staying and I looked at the four of us Americans sitting there.  I was overwhelmed and scared and feeling sick to my stomach.  The need there is so great and so many were depending on us to help them.  I thought to myself, how? How is this all going to fall into place?  How is God going to make this all happen through Chris and me and Jason and Emilee?

I remember feeling so small and powerless and what was before us was so big.  I knew there would be so much work that needed to be done when we got back to the US and in my sense of panic, I felt like there wasn’t much time.  My mind was spinning with so many different thoughts.  I knew right then that God was going to stretch our faith and we were going to grow and learn to depend on the Lord more than we had thought.  With so many people there looking to us for help, part of me wanted to just turn around and go back and say forget it, it’s too much.

Later that week we were at the village telling everyone good-bye and reminding them that we would be back soon.  Word that we were there spread so quickly, that by the time we were getting back into our car to go to the airport, we were informed that Ikira, the “agricultural guy” of the village of 1,000 people, contracted typhoid.  Ikira had showed us the village a few days before.  He walked us around the place.  We had spent several hours with him and many of the villagers that day.  Now, he was very sick and needed money for medicine.  He thought if he could just let us know that he was sick, that we would be able to help.  Not really knowing what we could do at this point, we asked one of the villagers to help us.  Minutes later the three of us were getting into the car and the villager was directing us to the medical facility where Ikira was staying.

We walked into the dirty hut-like building not knowing what to expect.  From the outside, it looked like an old condemned building.  It was dark and very small.  My bathroom medicine cabinet probably had more supplies in it than this place.  There was a women sitting on a cot holding her very sick baby.  Ikira was lying on another cot, hooked up to an IV.  When Ikira saw us he sat up and smiled.  He had hope.  We had felt so helpless, but despite that when Ikira looked at us he had hope.

Looking back at that moment, it all seems so clear to me now.  It’s as if I am experiencing that moment all over again.  HOPE.  That’s what we bring through Christ.  How could I turn back and say “forget it”? God has a plan and that plan involves us.  As we reach out our hand to help others, it’s really God’s hand reaching out.  It was really God’s feet that walked into that medical building to check on Ikira, not mine.  He reaches when we reach out and He steps when we step.  God loves the Nigerians we’re serving (John 3:16) and has a plan of hope that involves Chris and me (and our boys).  It involves everyone who will step up and give to this ministry.  It’s in these moments that we have such an amazing opportunity to tell them how much our Creator in heaven adores them and wants to have a relationship with them.

Ever since that trip Chris and I have been amazed at “how” God is putting all of the pieces together.  As I sat on that floor in Nigeria and wondered how, I sure didn’t know, but God did.  I am so glad He has a plan.  Chris and I are humbled that He has chosen us to be a part of it.  Now we are on the brink of a new experience as we get ready to leave for Nigeria.  This time it’s with my whole family.  It’s a different dynamic.  But we are still offering the same thing:  HOPE through Christ.

Children in the Village

Children in the Village

Handing out soccer balls to children in the village with the Munafos

Handing out soccer balls to children in the village with the Munafos

Chris spending time with a child from the village

Chris spending time with a child from the village

Where in the world are we?

June 3, 2009

Back2Back Ministries serves in four areas:

Monterrey, Mexico

Jos, Nigeria

Hyderabad, India

Mason, Ohio (the Back2Back home offices)