Thursday, 29 October 2009

A “Lord of the Rings” fan who loves history and is the son of a teacher at SIM’s Bible School. The daughter of an optometrist, who comes from Pakistan and likes to write plays. A born leader, who is the son of the director of World Health Organization in Niger. The daughter of a Nigerian pastor who never lacks a song to sing nor a greeting for all she passes. A natural conversationalist and serious student, who is the son of a church-planter. The daughter of mission administrators who draws and acts with skill from the Lord.

These are the Grade 11 students that make up my homeroom class. I enjoy them immensely. We only meet three times a week, but we’ve had lot of good discussions about trust (my personal theme for the year!). We’ve talked through questions like… “Why we can trust the Lord”, “What we can and can not trust Him to do”, “What trusting looks like”.

Once a year, each home room plans a school assembly. I was happy when my class chose “trust” as their assembly theme! We worked on it for several weeks. They wrote and presented a great skit. The whole secondary student body laughed through the skit and two activities. One featured a blindfolded person feeding another blindfolded person a banana with instructions from a crowd. The other activity placed one blinded person in the middle of a circle of people to be passed from person to person. Both activities took a lot of trust!

We’re very thankful we can trust God who is all-powerful and all-loving. Imagine how frightening it would be to live in a world with a God who is only powerful or only loving!
O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him. Power, O God, belongs to you ; unfailing love, O Lord, is yours. Psalm 62:8 and 12

Friday, 2 October 2009

Caring for the Outcasts

She is just 15 years old, but like many girls in her culture, she is already a mother. While her counterparts in many parts of the world worry about the next math test or the latest fashion, she finds herself isolated and lonely, caring for her newborn son. These days should be joyful ones of watching him grow and develop, sharing milestones with her husband and the village. Times to cherish and savor. They should be – but they are not.

Instead, she has been unable to control her bladder since the delivery. She smells. It is unpleasant to be near her. As a result, her husband has divorced her. The village wants as little to do with her as possible. She lives with her son in a dilapidated hut on the fringe of the village, and her mother brings occasional food and conversation. She lives an isolated existence in a society that places high value on community life.

The life she grew to love and treasure as a little girl has been destroyed. How? Through the simple fact that she gave birth before her body was fully developed in a country with little to no accessible pre-natal care. Her underdeveloped pelvis was not yet ready to accommodate the baby’s head, destroying tissue between her uterus and bladder. A hole (or obstetric fistula) is the result. This tragic condition is made worse by the fact that the needed operation is not widely known or practiced. As a result, innumerable women are condemned to lives of hopeless despair.

Niger has one of the highest incidences of obstetric fistula in the world. At least 100,000 women and girls in Niger suffer from obstetric fistula, which can occur in various forms, affecting both bladder and bowel control.

About two years ago, SIM Niger formed a partnership with the Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) to build a fistula clinic onto SIM’s existing Health and Leprosy Center in the village of Danja. With two experienced fistula surgeons as key members, WFF brings expertise to this partnership. Over 80 years of ministry in Niger - as well as an ideally-situated medical facility at Danja - represents SIM’s side of the bargain. A month of bed-rest and medical observation would provide an unparalleled opportunity for Danja’s staff and evangelists to articulate the message of the Gospel alongside the tangible love expressed through the fistula treatment.

The partnership was formed. Things seemed ready to move forward. Then, political complications resulted in an obstacle to this important ministry getting off the ground. The needed government authorization seemed impossible to attain. The project stalled. As we waited - so eager to begin ministry to these needy women - we also prayed for nearly a year. We knew the apparent obstacle was not an obstacle to God.

Just three weeks ago, SIM Niger was given approval to build the fistula clinic by the Minister of Public Health herself!

Rejoice with us for the possibility we now have to alleviate the suffering of so many women – and demonstrate to them the goodness of God in Jesus Christ.

If you are interested in being a part of this ministry’s development…

A SIM project is being developed to raise a portion of the funds for this clinic and its equipment. Stay tuned…

For more information on WFF…