Saturday, October 10, 2009


A Faith Alive Success Story “Blessing” her name says it all…

During the planning stages of our mission’s trip to Jos, I got to know Blessing through stories others have shared with me. Before our departure; I would often go the Faith Alive website and submerge myself with knowledge of the hospital and people who were affected by the hospital’s services. Blessing’s story intrigued me; so of course, I could not wait to meet her.

It was our first full day at Faith Alive hospital and for most of that day, we traveled as a group touring the facility and getting to know the staff. As our day came to an end, we all looked forward relaxing and sharing a meal together.

Tired, dirty and jet lagged, we headed down Zik Avenue toward our flat for supper. As we traveled along this trash infested route, my heart sank, for in every direction we turned; we could not help but notice the poverty and the desperation of the town’s people trying to support themselves by selling anything and everything they could.

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well along Zik Avenue and every block had a small business of one kind or another.

In the midst of all this commerce, there was one small business that stood out in particular. It was the Faith Alive Sewing School Annex and this is where I first met Blessing.

Her name says it all….

She has a smile that lights up a room and wherever she goes; her radiant light goes with her. From leading discipleship classes to mentoring young women at the Faith Alive Sewing School; Blessing’s faith and joy for living has inspired those who follow in her footsteps. Her spirit is infectious and her willingness to give and change the lives of women and children at Faith Alive is nothing more than beautiful. It is truly an example of God at work.

Her past is tragic, but her come-back is triumphant. After losing her husband to AIDS, Blessing became an example of the stigmatization of AIDS in Nigeria. Alone with two baby boys, she was exiled from her family and was left for dead on the streets to survive without means of support.

Blessing traveled to Jos which was about 4 hours away by car, to seek the help of Faith Live and Dr. Chris.

Upon meeting Blessing, Dr.Chris knew there was something special about her. After several weeks of treatment, Blessing was enrolled in the social services sewing school program.

Faith Alive’s approach to treatment and healing is holistic; it embodies the whole person, mentally, physically and spiritually. From before and after faith-based counseling for HIV testing; to job training and transitional housing, every need of the patient is addressed. The life change for the patients at Faith Alive is overwhelming. And the gratitude they express as a result of spiritual change is evident from the moment anyone steps foot on the hospital floor.

Blessing is a shining example of that kind of gratitude. Her faith, her appreciation and her strong desire to give back was noticed. After several months of treatment and job training; Blessing was chosen to be the first Faith Alive patient to participate in transitional housing program. After one year of living in transitional housing center, Blessing graduated from the Faith Alive Sewing School and now runs her own shop where she employees other graduates of the Faith Alive School.

During my visit at Faith Alive, I got to know Blessing in a very special way. There wasn’t a day that passed that we did not see each other. I would walk down Zik every afternoon, and would pass her shop. I can still hear her voice calling my name in “pigeon English” …”Hello, Marina” come and see what I have made for you”….I would stop in promising myself to only stay for a moment, but those moments always ended in hours. We talked about our lives, our children and about our faith in Christ.

As the days got closer to my departure back home, I could see the sadness looming in her eyes, she would say to me” If I came to America, you would be my best friend and if you moved to Jos, you would be my best friend.”

On our last day, she and her two boys made a special trip to our flat to say good bye. While she was there, she had given me a small gift, a necklace…she had said to wear it and always remember her love and friendship.

Tears filled my eyes as I write and for many reasons. Easily, I could conclude this little story with a litany of things that I taught and educated the women of the sewing school on, but to me, what happened with building a relationship was much more profound.

I traveled to Jos, with the most sincere desire to give and what I got in return was so much more than I could have imagined. I have a friend named Blessing, who I pray for every day and who in turn, prays for me. Knowing that I have inspired hope and touched a life in friendship is just a taste of the joy my savior has for me.

It goes without saying, Blessing is a blessing and the joy that I have received as a result of our friendship will be with me for always.

My prayer is that this simple little message will inspire others to support the Nativity Nigeria mission and all its efforts to improve the quality of life for the women and children of West Africa.

Give and rejoice.

No comments: