Anklets For A Cause

I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about this great family from our church who are currently spending 5 months over in Jos, Nigeria, doing medical missionary services. Greg and Carolyn are both doctors and that, in and of itself, blows my mind. I could be wrong, but I think that's too many smarts in one family!

But really, they are such a neat couple. They absolutely LOVE the Nigerian people and previously served as full-time missionaries there but since being back in America have faithfully stayed involved at ECWA Evangel Hospital, in Jos, Nigeria. This past year they felt God calling them back to Nigeria for a period of time, and just a few short weeks ago they hopped on a plane to Nigeria, where they are now serving until December.

I took the liberty of cutting and pasting a bit of what they're up to in Jos, so that you could get a feel for the work they are doing. {And this provides some background for the "Anklets For A Cause" title of this post!}

The Kirschner's wrote, in January, 2009:

"God has blessed the Kirschner family with many opportunities to extend the love of Jesus to Nigeria. Our major opportunity has been at ECWA Evangel Hospital, a mission hospital run by Nigerian Christians in the north central city of Jos. Carolyn, as a Gynecologist and cancer surgeon, has been able to serve women afflicted with vesicovaginal fistula. This is a devastating condition, usually brought on by trauma in childbirth, and resulting in the leaking of urine and/or stool for the rest of a woman’s life. The social consequences are enormous, as the woman is often ostracized by her husband and community. Carolyn has been privileged to operate on these woman, and to teach other doctors the skills needed for such care. The Fistula program at Evangel has been a truly remarkable blessing, funded by outside donations and serving the poorest of the poor—not only physically, but financially as the woman learn new life skills and spiritually as they see the love of Christ and hear His story in all its truth. {While vesicovaginal fistulas are rare in the United States, some estimate there are between 400,000 and 800,000 women in Nigeria with this condition.}

Greg has been serving in Nigeria as an educator of Christian doctors, encouraging them to serve with a commitment to excellence and integrity. ECWA Evangel Hospital has a residency program for family doctors—and Greg has worked as a lecturer, administrator, and mentor in that program. Many Nigerian professionals leave Nigeria for training—and never return. The figure is hard to pin down on this one. By training Christian doctors “on site”, this “brain drain” is reduced—and a heart for Christian leadership and service to Nigeria and all of Africa can be modeled. Graduates of the residency at Evangel Hospital are currently serving as the medical directors of several African hospitals."

I have a fond admiration for the Kirschners ... they live intentionally. They live below their means so that they can bless others. They're prayer warriors. They are humble, not flaunting their status as docs. And you know what, they would want God to get the glory for all of that, because they're about God, and not themselves. Pretty cool people. An example of those that are loving God and loving others.

I want to tell you about someone else for whom I have a strong admiration. {And she's probably not going to be happy about me writing these next couple of paragraphs, because she too, is very humble; but oh well, it's my blog, so I get to pick what I write.}

Anyway, her name is Ruth, more affectionately known as Mor Mor in our home.
She's one of those people that you just love, from the minute you meet them. You know the ones. The ones that make you laugh. The ones that inspire you. The ones that are interested in your comings and goings. The ones that are living life to the fullest. You know, those that are passionate about life and are making a difference in their world ... their family, their circles of friends, their churches, and those all around the world.

Ruth is just one of these people. She heard about the Kirschner's going to Nigeria for medical missionary services, and began to pray about what she could do to tangibly help the women that Carolyn was going to help. She felt compelled to help in some way. So what I love about this was that Ruth didn't just hear about a need and feel God's prompting, but she put her faith into action. And, well, followed-through on God's prompting.

And then, she got others involved, by bringing the Kirschner's ministry right to the forefront of a group of moms and daughters {plus Jackson}.
Since the beautiful Nigerian women that Carolyn was performing surgery on might need some encouragement, Ruth decided that we could bead anklets to send with Carolyn to give each woman at her special freedom ceremony, after her surgery. {I think that's what they called it.}

Ruth coordinated the effort, invited us along, opened up her home, and got us excited to be able to do our small part in God's work in Nigeria.

I just LOVE that Ruth took the initiative and brought a bunch of us along for the sweet ride of "loving our neighbours", all the way across the ocean. The poorest of the poor. And like the Kirschner's, Ruth wouldn't want any of the glory, either. She'd probably simply say, "I did what God wanted me to do." So God gets the glory.

So that's what we did. We did what God told Ruth to do, and what Ruth told us to do! {insert *smiley* face!}

Maddie, Jackson and I were only able to join once, but there was a great group of moms and daughters that spent several hours over several days, carefully beading beautiful anklets for these women.

Each anklet was so gorgeous and unique, just like each Nigerian recipient.

I believe approximately 175 anklets were made, as that is the projected number of surgeries that Carolyn will perform while she is in Jos. And last week we got together, and made ourselves anklets, to remind us to faithfully pray for what God is up to in Jos, Nigeria, through the surgical hands of Carolyn. {I cheated and made myself a bracelet instead.}
We prayed that the women would feel loved and cherished, that the surgeries would be successful and that the women would ultimately see Jesus through Carolyn's loving surgical touch.

So while none of us, sitting on Ruth's deck and in her back-yard,

could perform these surgeries (personally, I even have a hard time pronouncing the condition), we could certainly take some time out of our summer afternoons to visit, bead, and produce some tangible love for our sisters in Nigeria.

I hope through this post, that you see that you don't have to be a surgeon to make a difference in someone's life. I hope you see how relatively easy it is to put your faith into action. Sure, it took Ruth numerous trips to Michaels and Hobby Lobby. And phone calls and emails to coordinate the logistics of the beading afternoons. And collectively it took many hours of beading to produce that many anklets.

But in the end, can't you just see the beautiful faces of these precious Nigerian women, at their freedom ceremonies, being presented with a symbol of freedom to wear around their ankles? Hope. A new beginning. A symbol of Christ's love, all the way from suburban Chicago?

Isn't that so cool? Take a look around, see where God's working, and join Him in that work. You won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll be so joy-filled that you'll begin to seek out more opportunities to love your neighbors. It's rather contagious. I promise!

Ruth, thank you for inviting us to join in on this simple act of kindness and love. A forever memory and hopefully the start of many more like-minded projects. As Jack and I often say, we hope we're as groovy as Mor Mor and Boppy some day!

{Oh, and if you're interested in getting the Kirschner's update emails each month, shoot me an email and I'll hook you up with theirs. I know they'd love to have you along on their Nigerian journey.}


Kim said…
What a great post Alysa - I love both you and Ruth and miss you guys!!! I love making jewelry (and a great cause) so if you guys do it again let me know - I'd love to join you!
Sara said…
u made me cry! so inspirational
Becky Flood said…
Thank you Alysa and Ruth! What an inspiration to begin my day! I just read in my devotions this morning to make my life a living sacrifice. So hard at times to put my selfish needs aside, but it is my prayer to look outside myself to the needs of others.

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