If you haven’t yet, read Part One. This is part two of a three-part series.
There is a hospital in Jos, Nigeria that is run by the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA). ECWA and Evangel Hospital were started by SIM missionaries, are now Nigerian-run and have a program for the Nigerian women that develop vesicovagninal fistula (VVF).
Through word of mouth, women with VVF hear about this free program that could fix their problem with ‘leaking’ (as they call it). The only cost that these women will encounter on their journey with Evangel Hospital is the cost of transportation to and from their medical salvation. Women from all over Nigeria travel into Jos in search of hope. Some save money for years, just to buy a bus ticket. Some hitchhike. Some travel miles by foot.
As soon as they arrive, they are well taken care of. The women are given a bed and food and for the first time since developing VVF, they are also given community. They are touched; they are loved.
In most cases, these women spend a month at Evangel. They spend their first two weeks on a healthy diet, they have their surgery, then spend two weeks recovering. During their stay, they are taught a trade (mostly sewing) and counseled by the female chaplains working at the hospital.
Most of the women who make their way into this program come from Muslim communities. Because of the clear preaching of the gospel, the care and concern they are given in Christ’s name and the opportunity to be loved for the first time since developing VVF, some of the women come to Christ, meeting Jesus as their Savior. In time, these women go back to their villages and become missionaries in their own communities, proclaiming all the things that Christ has done for them.
Upon their departure, the women are given a ceremony. In typical African form, there is singing and dancing, testimonies, and a meal shared together. The women are prayed over and commissioned into their new lives. During our stay in Nigeria, we were invited to observe one of these ceremonies. And in typical African form, “observe” meant “let the white kids participate.”
That is where we’ll find part three.
For more information, there is a Christianity Today article that talks specifically about this program.