Friday, October 2, 2009

Dr. Chris Isichei

His Nigerian name is Ogoegbunem Isichei. His first name means “my kindness will not destroy me”. But we all know him as Dr. Chris. Dr. Chris is the founder of Faith Alive Hospital and the Faith Alive Foundation. The meaning of his name does describe him. He is very kind and he believes his kindness in serving has made him stronger by bringing him closer to God.

Dr. Chris is a small wiry man, who would not be noticed in a crowd. But once you get to know Dr. Chris, you will never forget him. He has a huge heart and a smile to match. Our whole team fell in love with him. Dr. Chris is married to a wonderful woman named Mercy. She is not only his marriage partner; she herself is a surgeon and serves at Faith Alive Hospital. They have three children – Emily (9), Prince (7) and Joseph (5). They live in a simple house just like their neighbors. They do not ask for comfort for themselves.

Dr. Chris’s story is a powerful one. He was born into extreme poverty. His father was a carpenter and his mother a housekeeper. When he was a young man, Dr. Chris made a vow to God to help his people out of poverty. He believed that by being a doctor, he would be able to reach the most people. From the poorest of the poor to the President of his country – all of his people at some time would need medical care. He thought this would be the best way to accomplish the mission he knew he was called to do, and that was to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ. “There are people who never go to church,” he says, “but most people need a health care institution even if it is where they will die.”

He struggled through medical school and upon graduation; he decided to give free counseling and medical care to his people. He visited the U.S. and was very inspired to follow through on his plan. He tried fundraising and only raised $330. He thought what would this do? He says he heard God answer him, “I have given you all the resources you need.” So Dr. Chris obeyed. In June 1996, he literally put a table and chair in the middle of an empty space – he sat down – and people started coming. At first they came to him for any problems they had and he did everything he could to help them. Mostly, he believes he told them about Jesus Christ and prayed for them. Eventually his dream of a hospital grew. He inspired many of those he helped to become volunteers and help build his dream. Hope had been given to those who previously had none.

The Faith Alive Foundation uses scripture (NEH 2:20) to help explain what happened: “The God of heaven will give us success, therefore we His servants will rise and build”.

Faith Alive Foundation funds the Hospital (now a three story structure) and a Social Services building for counseling and job training. There is also a home-based care unit that reaches out to those who can’t get to the hospital. And now there are three satellite clinics that also reach out to the more rural areas. HIV has now become the most common disease of his patients. Dr. Chris says that these patients are usually the poorest and most vulnerable in that society – women and children. All of these services are provided free of charge and are funded completely by donations. Their motto is “Investing in and infecting lives for Jesus Christ our Savior”.

Dr. Chris believes in treating the whole person with compassion and loving care, both physically and spiritually. He is amazed himself at how fast Faith Alive has grown. He says he is humbled before such an awesome God, for how could any man do this? For him, to see Faith Alive is to see God at work.

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