Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

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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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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Vision for Nigeria Land of Hope Campaign, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria

December 10, 2009

Back2Back is partnering with Self-Sustaining Enterprises (SSE) in Nigeria.  SSE  has given Back2Back fifteen acres outside of Jos, Nigeria to develop as a Back2Back ministry site with a community center, enabling us to expand our ministry to local children and families in need. If you would like more information about our campaign to raise funds for the development of the land, please contact landofhope@back2backministries.org

It was so encouraging to see more than 100 people show up on a cold rainy evening to hear what God is doing through Back2Back in Jos, Nigeria.  We had our first capital campaign on December 8th in Cincinnati and it felt a bit as if I was attending a family reunion.  I think that is my favorite character trait about serving in this ministry.  Thousands of people have gone to serve at different sites, different times, and for different purposes, but many came together that evening and there was an underlying reality that even if I haven’t met you, I know you and a sliver of your heart.

Corrie Guckenberger, relaying the vision for the Land of Hope Campaign at the Nigeria Open House

Beth & Todd Guckenberger, sharing their heart for Back2Back's ministry in Nigeria

John Guckenberger at the Nigeria Open House

I was just reminded that ten years ago, Todd and Beth had their first fundraiser for Back2Back’s Mexico ministry site at Snyder Farm, the same location where the Nigeria Open House was located. Back2Back has been on quite a journey since then, following the Lord’s calling.  He has done so much that it can be overwhelming to think that He is still at work, moving and stirring and leading us now in Africa as well.

The vision of where we feel the Lord is asking us to go was shared by everyone and it was daunting seeing it unveiled to others.  As we unfold the desire to develop relationships in the Kisayhip Village near Jos and build a host village next door for us as a staff to live, I am too aware that it is too big a project for mere man.  For that reason, I get excited to see God work out the details in His time and in His way.  Our desire is to just be obedient to Him.  We are so grateful for everyone who came to the event, encouraging us, supporting us, and cheering us on.  That is truly what family should feel like.

Back2Back Nigeria Property, "Land of Hope"

A few of the children we serve in Nigeria

Village children saying hello from the Back2Back Nigeria property to be developed

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.

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

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.

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)

Welcome from Todd & Beth Guckenberger!

June 1, 2009

Welcome to Back2Back Ministries Official Blog!  Staff from Mexico, Nigeria, India and the home office in the US will be sharing their thoughts on life, God, faith and orphan care.  We invite you to come alongside us in our journey and share your thoughts and comments!