Hope Springs International

Lasting Change One Village at a Time


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The love of Christ is stronger than terrorism, or hate.

Chibok, where 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped on April 14 by Islamist militants.

Chibok, where 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped on April 14 by Islamist militants.

By now just about everyone has heard about the terrorist activity in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram, as they call themselves, has been responsible for the death of thousands over the last few years, but only gained national attention with the recent abduction of over 200 young girls from a school. Boko Haram’s activity has hit close to home in recent days with deadly attacks on villages in the Chibok area of

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls

southern Borno State where we have associates, and on this past Saturday June 7th when a suicide bomber killed herself and others at the military barracks in Gombe city in Gombe State, Nigeria our home base of operations.

 
Our well drilling operation and recent assistance to a local community in the completion of a maternity clinic continue to build relationships with both Christian and Muslim communities alike. Rambi Ayala, our Director of Operations for Africa, filed this report.

 
DSC_8473_1“Sir, our work continues to generate a lot of interest and goodwill from members of the public. At the weekend precisely on Saturday 7, 2014, I was called upon to receive an Award of Excellence in community service at the university of Jos by the Gombe State Students’ Association. It was an impressive gathering where the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Development and Special Duties, Mrs. Sarah Pane, delivered a keynote address at the occasion. Other dignitaries included Dr. Danlami Arabs Rukuje, Senior Adviser to the Governor of Gombe State, who doubled as the Executive Secretary of the State’s Emergency Agency. It was quiet humbling to know that what we are doing is creating impact and noted in several quarters.

 
Hope Springs International continues to gain more and more recognition by the day. We are inspired to do more in spite of

Kalkulum Maternity Clinic under construction

Kalkulum Maternity Clinic under construction

the daunting security challenges Nigeria is facing. There was a suicide bomb attack in Gombe yesterday at the Army barracks by a woman. Our country needs prayers for God’s intervention, mercy and grace.”

 
5 Nigeria WellsAlthough these are challenging times we continue to move ahead in our efforts to bring lasting change to the lives of those in need.

 

We have been blessed to work with a local commercial drilling company that has agreed to drill wells on our behalf for only $3,000 each. That is half the normal cost for a well in this area. We have requests for wells from at least 10 more remote villages that have never had a well and are presently drinking from ponds and streams they share with their animals. We have funds on hand for one of these requested wells. Would you be willing to provide or help provide one of the nine left?

 
I want to join Rambi in requesting that you keep this work in your prayers. These works continue to speak of the love of Christ for those in need and serve to open doors for others to learn about the One who loves them and was willing to die for them. The love of Christ is stronger than terrorism, or hate.

Partner with us! You may donate here: http://www.hopespringsint.com or by mail: Hope Springs Intl., 118 Wessington Place, Hendersonville, TN 37075.


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Love Is Stronger Than Death

Nigerian soldiers stand guard outside the church as the sound of worshipers singing; “blessed assurance, Jesus is mine” is heard coming from inside. One hundred yards away the smoldering city dump fills the air with the stench of burning waste. If you could see it you might be reminded of the Gehenna Jesus spoke about and likened to Hell. Pushed to this least desirable side of town by the overwhelming Muslim population, this group of Christians is just one of the many groups whose houses of worship line the streets here.  But only a few still come to worship. It has become very dangerous to be a Christian in this part of Nigeria.

The group is only about half the size it once was. Many of the families fled when the Boko Haram terrorists began targeting churches with their bombs. Striking often during services and killing worshipers, but on this Sunday a faithful remnant continues to meet under the watchful eyes of armed guards.

Celestial Church of Christ destroyed by a fire bomb.

I received an email today from Thomas (not his real name) the evangelist working with this church. It will soon be two years since our team of four visited with them and met with the churches’ Elders. The Elders are gone now, but the smaller flock continues to worship under Thomas’ capable leadership. The small farm that was located in another part of town used as an outreach of love is no longer operating, but the well continues to provide water to all who are thirsty and come to drink. A testimony to the living water that is also still available.

As I read the email from Thomas I was reminded of a different time and a different struggle, but the words of Martin Luther King still ring true as I think of this “little flock” meeting in the face of danger in northern Nigeria.

“Throw us in jail and we will still love you. Threaten our children and bomb our homes and our churches and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hours and drag us out on some wayside road and beat us and leave us half-dead, and as difficult as that is, we will still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and your conscience that we will win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory. “From: Loving Your Enemies.

Ikechukwu was a leader among the youth group of this church until he was killed in one of the early Boko Haram attacks.

Tertullian [160-220 AD], one of the early Church Fathers is credited with saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. There is something powerful about a person’s willingness to love rather than retaliate, even when faced with death. Is that not the power of the cross? Is it not also our power? Roman could not stamp out Christianity by physical force and the threat of death. In fact the more she persecuted the more the Church grew.

The email from Thomas reminded me that love is stronger than death.  Jesus told the persecuted church in Smyrna, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, [even if being faithful leads to death] and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).

Will you join me in praying for those who continue to love their enemy even at the risk of death?

“So in many instances, we have been able to stand before the most violent opponents and say in substance, we will meet your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you.” Dr. Martin Luther King


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PLEASE PRAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF NORTHERN NIGERIA, ESPECIALLY THE CITY OF MADUGURI

A radical Islamic group called Boko Haram (which means Western Education is sin) continues its terrorist attacks throughout Northern Nigeria, especially in the city of Maiduguri. Hope Springs has worked with the Wulari Jerusalem Church of Christ for a number of years and has supported a small farm here that serves as an oasis of the Love of Christ to this city of over 2 million souls. We received the follow report this morning from Rambi Ayala concern the continued violence.

“The security situation in Maiduguri has grown much worse with bombings becoming a daily occurrence. When I spoke a while ago with one of the Shepherds at the Wulari Jerusalem Church of Christ, the wife of Dr. Eni, who is currently on his Sabbatical and the youth leader for the Wulari church they all confirmed the worrisome media reports coming out of Maiduguri.

At the time of writing this letter two bombs were reported to have exploded today. Yesterday the University in Maiduguri had to be close down due to security concerns. The Wulari church, that had over 170 members in attendance on July 3, recorded just about 70 this past Sunday. The preacher and his family had to be moved to my father in-law’s house in Shagari lowcost which is considered a relatively safe area because of its proximity to the military barracks and most of the people that live there are ex-military officers. There has been a mass exodus of people from Maiduguri to other parts of the country.

This is not to say that other parts of the North is any better. There were bomb attacks on two churches in Suleja and Madalla very close to Abuja with some casualties. These are trying times for Nigeria. The Chief of Army staff described it as a “passing phase” in the security situation. For us Christians what can we say other than to console ourselves with the words of Christ, “And I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Luke 12:4)

Please urge brethren there to be on bended knees for Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria and indeed the entire country for God’s intervention.”

Rambi

Please join us in pray for this city filled will peace loving Muslims who themselves have been attacked by this radical sect. Please pray for our fellow Christians who most often are the targets of this unprovoked violence.


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EMERGENCY AID DISTRIBUTION

relief at the refugee camp.

On July 27th of this year sectarian violence swept through the city of Maiduguri, Nigeria led by radical Islamic sect leader Mohammed Yusuf. In the five days of violence to follow over 1000 people would be killed, leaving behind 1,264 orphans and 392 widows, 26 houses of worship were razed to the ground along with 50 private homes. Yusuf and the majority of his followers would be killed and peace restored.

A call for emergency relief aid was issued by the Wulari Jerusalem Church of Christ to Healing Hands International and Hope Springs International and $5,000 was promptly sent to help in the relief follow up.  The pictures that follow tell the story of the lives touch by the generosity of those who made this gift possible.

The family of Babagana Sumain, a head teacher killed by a stray bullet during the violence. He leaves behind his wife, three children, an aged mother and sisters.

The family of Babagana Sumain, a head teacher killed by a stray bullet during the violence. He leaves behind his wife, three children, an aged mother and sisters.

The family of Enoch Dogo receiving assistance. Enoch was killed in cold blood in the presence of his family. He was the Assistant Superintrendent of police. He leaves a wife and 10 children.

The family of Enoch Dogo receiving assistance. Enoch was killed in cold blood in the presence of his family. He was the Assistant Superintrendent of police. He leaves a wife and 10 children.

Umar Tella, a Muslim and tailor by profession with a large family receive assistance during his hospital stay from gun shoot wounds and amputation that followed.

Umar Tella, a Muslim and tailor by profession with a large family receive assistance during his hospital stay from gun shot wounds and amputation that followed.

Danjuma Sale, a young islamic man in his early twenties shot on the first day of violence.

Danjuma Sale, a young Islamic man in his early twenties shot on the first day of violence.

Executive board of the Borno Youth Empowerment Forum, an Islamic group we work closely with in Maiduguri, receiving supplies for distrubution.

Executive board of the Borno Youth Empowerment Forum, an Islamic group we work closely with in Maiduguri, receiving supplies for distrubution.

Local government officials expressing graditude for relief efforts.

Local government officials expressing graditude for relief efforts.

Six churches lost their houses of worship near the Wulari Jerusalem Church and each provided with 40 plastic chairs.

Six churches lost their houses of worship near the Wulari Jerusalem Church and each was provided with 40 plastic chairs.

The value of sharing the Love of Christ in this way may best be expressed in the words of a Muslim man who received assistance. “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.”

Ebenezer Udofia who led the distribution closed his recent report by saying, “There is still much that can be done for these victims – As many of them have lost the bread-winner of their family, they need to be cared for, most of those that have now become orphans were in school and would be grateful to continue, many of the victims have lost  their limbs and therefore would appreciate an artificial limbs.  Many people have lost their means of livelihood and would give thanks to God for starting business once again.  Many victims have lost their homes, and would ever remain grateful for rehabilitation.  As you ponder on the needs of these victims, may God grant you the divine privilege to make a golden deed by helping those who are in need.  May God bless you as you accompanied your faith with works.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matt. 25:40


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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.