Hope Springs International

Lasting Change One Village at a Time


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Letter of Appreciation From the Wulari Jerusalem Church in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Raymond and Kathren Pagouh and their son Napoleon standing in what was once their home.

Raymond and Kathren Pagouh and their son Napoleon standing in what was once their home.

The following letter was received today in response to the emergency aid that was sent by Healing Handing International and Hope Springs a few weeks ago. It confirms our faith in how important it is to share the Love of Christ with those who do not know Him.

Beloved brother,

LETTER OF APPRECIATION

Grace, peace and love of God be multiplied to you in the name of our Lord and savior  Jesus Christ.

I write on behalf of the elders and the entire Wulari-Jerusalem church to appreciate your milk of human kindness in responding to the needs of brethren and neighbors in a swift manner. Your quick response has rekindled hope and put smiles in the faces of many people who were affected by the crisis. May God be glorified through your humanitarian services.

We received the sum of Five thousand dollars ($ 5,000.00)

Which you sent. We set up a committee and appropriated the fund as follows: The sum of one thousand dollars was given to the Muslims who were affected during the crisis. This we disbursed through Borno State youth empowerment scheme through brother Ebenezer. We purchased plastic chairs and distributed to our denominational neighbors. This cost us $ 2,000.00 we shared the sum of $1000.00 to brethren who were affected by the crisis. The remaining $1000.00, was used in purchasing food stuff which we distribute to hospitals and military base where the displaced persons are presently taking refuge. Brother Ebenezer will give you full details of our efforts.

Brother, the testimonies received from the recipients of these gifts were so overwhelming. One injured Muslim man said, “see, this gift is coming from Christians who we don’t share anything in common; our Muslim brothers don’t know the road to this hospital; may God reward you Christians”. This is one out of many testimonies.

Brother, may you remain blessed and know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Cor.15:58). We shall appreciate further Aid for onward delivery to these people who are afflicted and need rehabilitation.

Your fellow worker in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ

Joshua Bindah Hamman, Evangelist

(For the Church of Christ Wulari-Jerusalem, Maiduguri)

We look forward to Ebenezer’s report as soon as he returns from his meeting with Healing Hands personal in Dakar, Senegal.

Thanks for your continued support.

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE…ONE AT A TIME

Street children in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Street children in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Richard Stearns in his book, “The Hole in Our Gospel” says, “Almost one in seven worldwide, 854 million people, do not have enough food to sustain them. This makes hunger/malnutrition the number one risk to health globally, greater than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. About 25,000 people die each day of hunger or related causes—nine million per year.”

While we realize the urgency and the need for food NOW to meet such a crisis, there is also the need to focus on the long term solution to this problem. Teaching people to feed themselves is a part of this long term solution. In many places in our world the only thing standing in the way of people being able to feed themselves is a lack of knowledge. People simply need to be taught the skills that will enable them to feed themselves.

Former Street Children Abdullahi and Yusuf now feed themselves and others who they met while on the streets.

Former Street Children Abdullahi and Yusuf now feed themselves and others who they met while on the streets.

At Hope Springs’ Pompomari Training Farm we have seen young an old alike take the simple skills of drip irrigation farming and totally change their lives. We have seen street children in their early teens learn to feed themselves and their friends. We have also seen families that struggled to find enough food to make it through the long nine month dry season turn a little piece of the desert into a thriving garden.

It is easy to look around and see people taking advantage of the system here in the US and conclude that the solution to poverty is for people to just get a job and go to work. But for the overwhelming majority of those in poverty in the world this is not an option. Millions who are suffering in poverty would gladly work or learn a skill if someone would just teach them.

Mammadu can now feed his family because of the Pompomari Farm and what he has learned.

Mammadu can now feed his family because of the Pompomari Farm and what he has learned.

Changing the statistics concerning hunger and malnutrition will not happen quickly enough for many, but for those you enable us to help through your prayers and gifts; it will make all the difference in the world.

Isa (Jesus) once said, “The poor you will always have with you…” With the poor also comes the responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference.


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IT’S CATFISH HARVEST TIME AT THE POMPOMARI TRAINING FARM

Cat-fish being harvested.

A 750 gallon water tank formerly used to store water for our drip irrigation farm was recently turned into a catfish tank. With the addition of our solar powered well constructed in early 2008 we were able to make use of this ideal location to raise catfish from fingerlings to eating size. Water from this tank also adds to the cycle of life at the farm. Once a week 50% of the water is drained from the tank and used to water our crops. This water is a great source of fertilizer.Sis. Mary is harvesting.

Now that the fish are ready to be sold they are netted and taken to the market where eager consumers wait to purchase. Funds from the sale of the fish are reinvested into a new crop of fingerlings and the expenses of running the farm. As we are able to expand these kinds of enterprises we come nearer our goal of a totally self-sustaining farm operation. Self-sustainability will mean that we will be able to hold numerous drip irrigation and food preservation workshops, as well as how to raise small animal seminars, all without the need for continuous outside sponsorship. Our workshops are offered free of charge and participants are provided with the tools to immediately go home and begin to put into practice what they have learned.

Neighbors waiting to purchase fish.

Neighbors waiting to purchase fish.

Your gifts to Hope Springs enable us to teach people how to fish, not just give them a fish.

Exitements as the harvesting progressed.


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DONKEY CART FOR DONO-MANGA

Donkeys and Cart in front of one of the meeting houses in Dono-Manga

Donkeys and Cart in front of one of the meeting houses in Dono-Manga

Back in July we told you about a report published by Healing Hands International in their newspaper about how a donkey car was being used to haul the large quantities of water needed to supply drip irrigation farming in Niger. That report resulted in a number of people sending donations to Healing Hands for the purchase of more donkey carts to be used wherever there might be a need. Dono-Manga, Chad was provided with funds from these donations to purchase such a donkey cart for there needs. We are thrilled to report that they have been able to purchase not just one donkey, but two and the cart as well.

The purchase of these donkeys and cart could not come at a better time. As soon as roads are repaired into the Dono-Manga from the capitol, Ebenezer will travel here to oversee the repair of these out of service wells in this District of Chad. As we have reported elsewhere only 6 of the 25 wells in Dono-Manga are in service. We have raised enough funds so far to repair 16 of these out of service wells. Only three more to go! Water will soon be flowing again to this area where people are dying for the lack of potable water to drink. Once the water is flowing again we will be able to teach the skills of drip irrigation farming that will enable people from Dono-Manga to raise crops 12 months out of the year and not just the three months of the rainy season. The donkeys and cart will make it possible to service a broader the area.

If you or someone you know would be interested in helping with the repair costs of the remaining three wells drop me a note at hopespringsinternational@yahoo.com. If you are reading this on Facebook, just leave me a comment or internal email.


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EMERGENCY APPEAL FROM NORTHERN NIGERIA

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We have just received more current information concerning the deadly violence in Maiduguri, Nigeria from Joshua Hamman, minister of the Wulari Jerusalem Church of Christ. Joshua on behalf of the Shepherds of this great church has also issued an emergency appeal for assistance.

Joshua reports, “The violence that lasted for four days saw about twenty six church halls burnt down out of which six are in the same neighborhood with the Wulari Jerusalem Church hall and killing eighteen Christians inside the halls beside four Pastors with their properties. Those that escaped were left with nothing except with what they wore that time. Glory be to God because the Wulari Jerusalem C of C’s hall was spared.”

Members of this congregation, other Christian groups and some of their Muslim neighbors in the area lost everything. Joshua said, “Virtually everyone in the city was affected in the violence as the death figures as now announced by the Red Cross Society is about 800 while about 4000 people were displaced and hundreds hospitalized.”

In order to reach out to all groups that have been affected by this violence the Shepherds of W J C of C are requesting $5,000 to be used in the following ways:

1.$1,000 to meet the most critical needs of the members of the W J C of C. Two families lost their homes and all personal belongings, and one of the brothers was killed leaving behind those that were depending on him for their livelihood.

2. Another $2,000 will be used to help members of the other Christian groups in the immediate area who lost their homes and houses of worship.

3. $1,000 to assist Muslim neighbors who were also victims of this period of violence.

4. Joshua says the final $1,000 will be used, “Meeting the emergency needs of others whom have become orphans, widows as a result of the violence. (In the University of Maiduguri Teaching hospital, 70 victims are on admission while in the Borno Medical Clinic, about 50 were admitted).

We are blessed by this appeal to have the opportunity to become the healing hands of Jesus through our financial gifts to these people in distress and deep need. Any amount would be such a blessing. If you would like to help send your donation to: Hope Springs, Emergence Relief, 118 Wessington Place, Hendersonville, TN 37075. If you need additional information please call me at 615.390.2134, or email me at hopespringsinternational@yahoo.com.


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A TRIBUTE TO THE FALLEN

Ikechukwu

During the recent violence in Northern Nigeria the Wulari Jerusalem Church lost a leader and respected member of their fellowship. Adieu Ikechukwu was a soldier in the Nigerian military and was killed on the first day of the conflict. His influence will be greatly missed, but his life lived for his Lord will continue to speak even now that he is gone. Dr. Uche E. Eni, a deacon in the Wulari Church and a senior medical consultant at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in Maiduguri, shares the following tribute to Ikechukwu.

Dearly Beloved in the Lord,

It is really hard to believe he is gone!

Ikechukwu has been a member of the Church of Christ, Wulari-Jerusalem here in Maiduguri twelve years on since his inaugural posting in the army. His ever smiling face does not strike you of a soldier. Though he was of good height and had become quite muscular in recent times, those were not his striking attributes.

His friendliness was infectious and universal: Both in the Church and outside of it, Ikechukwu’s friendly overtures were difficult to resist. He was always at the forefront whenever the church or an individual had any manual task to be accomplished. That was how he endeared himself to the youths who elected him as their leader. His tenure as Youth Leader saw the youths crystallize into a veritable task force in the congregation. They were involved in visitations, manual labor, song practice, youth seminars that held at different places etc. Little wonder then there was an obvious vacuum in the Youth Fellowship activities and coherence when Ikechukwu was sent on a foreign mission in Liberia. The youths have just re-elected him their leader on his return from Liberia. The demise of IGWE! (as the youths commonly called him-meaning KING!) is therefore a serious ‘blow’ not only to the youths of COC, Wulari, but also to the entire congregation.

Dr. Eni, left, taking a soldier's blood pressure on a recent mission trip to Chad

Dr. Eni, left, taking a soldier's blood pressure on a recent mission trip to Chad

Ikechukwu was close to his God: He would always phone in for the prayers of the saints whenever he was on assignment outside Maiduguri. He would request for prayers for God’s guidance, then thank God for successes and remind the Church to thank God for his birthday, even while away from Maiduguri. He was full of thanks giving. When he returned from Liberia recently, he and another Christian Soldier, Sunday Monday, made a generous thanks giving contribution towards the building of our preachers house. He was hardly absent from the gathering of the saints while in Maiduguri, and worshipped at Bauchi Church of Christ while on posting there. When he sustained injury and was apparently at the point of death, he still remembered to request for prayers of the saints. How he trusted God! How he trusted his fellow saints!!

Ikechukwu served his nation dutifully: He was highly professional. He won the laurel as the best firer/marksman in 2003. His detribalized nature and proficiency endeared him to his former boss and Commanding Officer–Colonel Olatunde, who appointed Ikechukwu his orderly. When the cream of the forces were required to go to Liberia in 2005 for peace keeping, Ikechukwu was among those selected. He served in Liberia for 9 months between 2005 and 2006. He was once again selected to go to Liberia in 2008 from where he returned just last February. He was frequently selected for operations against militants that keep terrorizing different parts of Northern Nigeria. It was during one of such operations in Bauchi that he got killed on Sunday 26th July 2009. How are the mighty fallen!

What a combination of excellent virtues in a young man, and yet in absolute submission to God. Ikechukwu was not yet married. He had only recently been engaged. Only God knows why he had to depart this sinful world so soon. Last Sunday the Church service was solemn, as Ikechukwu’s demise was announced. Tearful eyes melted as members sobbed in sorrow for our beloved, as the Church sang ‘All the Way My Savior Leads Me’ and ‘This World is Not My Home’ among others to reflect the mood.

We pray that was sacrifice for peace. Oh God may there now be a lasting peace in Northern Nigeria!

Adieu Ikechukwu (IGWE!!!). We know you are rested with the Lord.

We covet your prayers for Ikechukwu and the physical and spiritual family he leaves behind.


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SPECIAL REPORT OF RECENT VIOLENCE IN NORTHERN NIGERIA

Eze and Church

On Sunday July 26th a radical Islamic group calling itself Boko Haram, meaning Western Education is Sin, launched a series of attacks on at least three northern Nigeria cities. The capitol city of Maiduguri in Borno State suffered the most devastation and loss of life. Mohammed Yusuf, the self proclaimed leader of Boko Haram also had his headquarter in this city.

The first attacks over ran the local police station and prison. All prisoners were freed and the police station and prison were set on fire. At about the same time in the section of Maiduguri called Wulari – Jerusalem, where most all of the local churches are located, another assault began. At least 9 churches were burned to the ground and a number of people were killed. The Wulari Jerusalem Church of Christ was in the midst of all of the violence, but was left untouched. Other houses of worship within a few feet of this building were burned, but the Wulari Jerusalem Church building was left untouched. Ebenezer Udofia, our representative in Maiduguri filed the following report. (Edited for communication purposes)

“The EYN Church was first attacked and burnt down along eleven vehicles in the compound. The Pastor of the Church, Rev. Yuguda – Zibagai and his family escaped by scaling a high fence and jumped to safety at the rear of the Wulari – Jerusalem Church of Christ. At the Celestial Church of Christ, the whole compound was set ablaze including the Pastors quarters. Evangelist R.C. Eze reported that they escaped with their lives and lost everything except the clothes they were wearing.”

Lord's Chosen.

“Pastor Olusola Joseph is the Pastor in-charge of the Elijah Apostolic Church, described how he saw the militants coming in a group, numbering about 50 in uniforms that could be easily mistaken for military uniforms except for head and hand bands. They were armed with guns, machetes/knives and bombs. His church is just three meters away from Wulari – Jerusalem Church of Christ. So, he and his family used a wooden latter to safely climb over the wall into the W-J- C.O.C Compound and escape with their lives.”

“The National Evangelical Mission suffered not only the loss of their build but the loss of lives as well. Their pastor was slaughtered and abandoned to bleed to death. At the time of the attack eleven members were having all night prayers when the attackers broke in on them. Only one of eleven members escaped alive. The other ten members were burnt to ashes inside the Church building. The Deeper Life Bible Church and the Lord’s Chosen Church of God were also burned but suffered no loss of life.”

“In another part of Maiduguri the God’s Mission International Church and The Jehovah’s Witness Church buildings were burnt and both of their Pastors were killed. Word spread to the members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) at Jajeri in Maiduguri and eight of their members prepared to defend their property against an attack. Sadly they were overpowered by the Nigerian Talibanes and were all killed and their Church building destroyed.”

Inside of the Evangelical mission where Ten members were burnt to ashes while praying.

Ebenezer also reported that when Christians were found or captured they were given the choice of renouncing Christianity and becoming a Muslim or face death. Ebenezer continued, “Bodies littered the streets of Maiduguri. The actual number cannot be ascertained, but somewhere between 300 and 500 people were killed including three prison officials, police men and the military personnel. The Nigerian Government rose to the challenge and defeated this militant who had intended to turn Maiduguri into his operational headquarter.  Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf had a compound of about 4 kilometer square in Maiduguri. He was a 39 years old man and a Western educated member of the Nigerian elite who told all followers to rid themselves of all material wealth from the West, while he himself lived in luxury. In his compound, he had a medical clinic where medical attention was given to those injured or sick as well as a chemical laboratory where bombs were manufactured. His compound was penetrated by government troops on Thursday and finally, the “almighty” Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf was killed after being captured Thursday night in a goat pen at his in-law’s house outside Maiduguri.”

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“Friday morning was full of mixed emotions after Mohammed Yusuf’s death. People moved in groups to see his dead body on display at the police headquarter before it was taken away for burial. The tensions have gradually reduced and we can once again feel safe in Maiduguri. This must definitely be an answer to the prayers of the Saints committing the situation in Maiduguri to God in prayers.”

“There has been religious violence in other parts of Northern Nigeria including Maiduguri at other times; but in every respect, none can be compared to what happened during the four days of deadly clashes in Maiduguri. Personally, apart from the psychological effects of the violence, there are other events that cannot easily be deleted from my memory. The home of our Bro. Raymond Pegu was completely burnt down by the militants leaving him and his family with only the clothes on their bodies as their only properties.” And the saddest memory of all is the loss of a dear brother. On Saturday night a group of about sixty militants armed with guns and hand grenades attacked a police station in Bauchi State, and there was a gun battle between this group and the government troops resulting in the death of about 42 people. Among them two soldiers and a police officer. One of the soldiers killed in the clash was my dear brother in Christ, Ikechuku N.”

Ikechukwu

Ikechukwu

“Ikechuku was a devoted Christian in word and deed, the epitome of humility, a youth leader of the Wulari Jerusalem Church, and a very close family friend. Even before his departure to his duty post at Bauchi, he was in our home to bid us goodbye only for us to receive the sad news that he is dead. Ikechuku was the only person other than Brother Brad Blake that traveled all the way from Maiduguri to attend my wedding in Abuja March 29th 2008. He was very instrumental to the progress of our mission in Maiduguri. This late brother was concluding plans for his wedding that was supposed to take place by Nov.2009. But he is now no more…, we are being consoled by the hope and trust in Christ Jesus that he is now resting from his labor and pilgrimage on earth. We miss him greatly…the next thoughts in our minds are: what will happen to Sis. Peace (his fiancée)? She is a young convert in faith. Where does she start and how does she cope with this sad situation? How do we encourage her, a lady of about 25 years old very close to our family, but living with her relatives who are not members of the Lord’s church?

“We desire you all to help us in prayers and advice in any way you can to help us in our present situation. Every member of the church in Maiduguri has been touched by the violence and indeed the whole Maiduguri community is affected. Hundreds of people are hospitalized, others are thinking on where to start from here with their lives, and desiring that the episode should not occur again.”

Members of the Wulari Jerusalem Church - Eze Family Lost Everything

Neighbors of the Wulari Jerusalem Church - Eze Family Lost Everything

“A belief of the Islamic religion is that when a leader is killed, the gate of Paradise is closed, so anyone who is killed after him will go to hell. So when Mohammed Yusuf was killed, people rejoiced knowing that his followers would flee.”

“I wish to stop for now as it is time for us to prepare for the burial of our late brother, I will keep you updated in any other issue arising from the violence.”

It should be pointed out here that the general Muslim population abhors this kind of violence. Radical forces from outside of Nigeria are most often the reason for this kind of thinking. Our workers in Maiduguri have always had a cordial and open working relationship with the Muslim majority of this city. Ebenezer was recently appointed Vice President of the Borno State Youth Empowerment Forum, an Islamic organization working to deal with the problem of street children. Ebenezer said, “Our relationship with the Muslims before, during and after this episode is very cordial.” In fact he reported that the president of the BSYEF and other executive members of the forum have been calling to find out if they are alright and safe. Ebenezer also learned that one of the members of this forum had his own home destroyed during this attack. They are as shocked and dismayed as we are at the events that have taken place.

Why was the churches property spared when all around it there was death and destruction? Ebenezer had this to say. “One thing I cannot tell is why the Wulari Jerusalem Church building was not burnt down by this mob of Islamic militants despite the fact that Churches in the neighborhood were destroyed. Could it be God’s providence, or the fact that we engaged in humanitarian service?” I believe that at least apart of the reason is that many of you reading this have lifted this work up before God in your prayers.

What about the future? The followers of this radical kind of thinking are in 12 of the northern states of Nigeria. It is believed that some of Yusuf’s 12 children by his four wives are studying in the Middle East and their specific whereabouts is not known. So we will continue to believe that love is stronger than death, and that not even the gates of Hell can prevail against His purpose.