Reflections, thoughts off-the-beaten-path and (in)digestion of current events by a hospital chaplain from Indiana (where we're called Hoosiers) who moved to Australia in June 2008. Taking faith seriously, trying to make a real difference in the lives of people, and seeking to maintain a "balanced" perspective by clowning around on a unicycle and twisting animal balloons as my alter ego: "Clair de L'uni" are some of my favourite ways to journey through life. Grandfatherhood is also exhilarating!
A matter for prayer and discernment - about a very special thing going in Nigeria - and NO this is NOT a scam!
Friends around the world:
I'm sharing this in response to receiving a deep heartfelt plea (see below) for prayer and support from a good friend - Titus Oyeyemi. He is Nigerian with a Pentecostal background and a Master of Arts in Peace Studies from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary - and now completing his doctorate degree while working constantly to build the peace with one foot in Chicago and the other in Africa. That's what good friends do - we respond! Titus Oyeyemi, in this and subsequent communication, outlined some important ongoing commitments he feels immense responsibility to fulfill in order to sustain the core mission and various programs of AFPLI or African Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives.(hyperlinks in this column are in red)
However, Titus is not frantic - thought most of us dealing with similar circumstances and level of responsibility would have good reason to feel that! Titus models something important for us all: Though very strapped he remains hope-full, very thankful for what God is obviously doing through him and his colleagues - above and beyond his own capability and fortitude. It's without a doubt, the patient fruit of the Spirit - the "peace which passes understanding" - which sustains him and his family.
Beyond needing to meet his various significant commitments to staff and their financial support, there arereal implications for successfully provisioning the supplies and outfitting theTimeOn Kairos Peace Academy* in the Lagos area in order to meet govt inspection deadlines in December - and to secure that State government's commitment in the equation. My initial response was:
"Titus, this is deeply spiritual as well as financially hard work. As my father always liked to say (quoting Hudson Taylor) "God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply."
We are feeling the need and responsibility to reach out to others who might share the passion to expand Nigeria's capacity for peace-building and conflict resolution education - to address real needs of Nigerian young people - to help create a more positive future for them and counter the increasing violence and social/spiritual pressures that tend to flourish there.
The challenges for the average person are simply overwhelming. Nigeria has the largest population and probably some of the deepest problems of any country on that continent, especially in the Niger Delta region which is in the news quite often. Incredible issues related to big oil, pollution and violence abound! Ethno-religious conflicts are rife in many parts of that nation. Yes, these are literally life and death matters afoot in that land.
I hope this grabs your imagination and concern and you're willing to read on - or at least click on a link or two - but if not, at least breathe a prayer now for my friend Titus!
I'm trusting that someone reading this column today will have a flash of insight or a suggestion, maybe a person who comes to mind who might be included in our efforts to broaden out the support strategy for AFPLI - whether among other foundations, or among the Nigerian "diaspora" in the US and other parts of the world, or among other visionary Christian business persons, and the like. (If so, please contact me by private email - or make a comment below which I won't publish.)
I share all this sitting in Australia on a day when my friends and family in America are Giving Thanks. And I am indeed very thank-full for some of the amazing things God is doing in Nigeria the last number of years through the outreach and ministry Titus and his colleagues have developed - but often maintained "on a shoestring." Titus does not take a salary for himself and his wife Feh has consistently over many years ploughed all her extra income as a registered nurse into the AFPLI budget, as well.
·Titus has started the process of getting recognition for AFPLI as an official NGO. Though it may take some time, the chances of being approved for such are quite good given the fact that the United Nations Information Center officials in Lagos (UNIC) have personally witnessed the work and participated at their events on many occasions within this past year.
·To help waylay the suspicion of others that this might be "just another scam from Nigeria" - a constant battle for Titus and his faith-full colleagues...
- Finance accounts are audited in the USA by Omotosho and Associates Certified Public Accountants, LLC, 1525 East 53rd Street, Suite 620, Hyde Park Bank Building, Chicago, Illinois 60615. Tel. (773) 752-0035; Fax (773) 752-0037 and statements available to any potential contributor who asks.
- In Nigeria financial accounts are audited by Omogoroye Okin Popoola & Co. Chartered Accountants, 58 Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja, P. O. Box 6252, Ikeja-Lagos
I will close now with what Titus has sought to impress on me in his recent communications:
"I am doing this not for prejudice or for pity but as I have mentioned before on several occasions, just to put you in the big picture of our financial dilemmas and how, by trusting God on daily basis or shall say moment by moment; he fulfils the 'Give us this day our daily bread' supplication."
- and -
"God has always been providing and meeting my needs. I do not bring my 'wants' before God, only my needs. I am trusting that he will meet my needs."
Always looking forward,
(Still currently the APPLI/AFPLI Advisory Board Chair)
As per my previous email for sharing the big picture please find attached the payroll commitment for November 2010 due this week, or latest by November 29, 2010, according to labor law in Nigeria.
The schedule that I send you does not include or reflect project expenses ongoing nearly on daily basis; some of which I you may already know, or which I may forward to you later. Nor does the schedule include heavy school fees and scholarships granted to some of my staff and other students in higher institutions and secondary schools that we are committed to support the year round. That schedule does not also reflect overheads that are payable by law. My staff are suffering and sacrificing. Given their academic qualifications, and the quality and quantity of work they do on the field, they can easily earned tripple of what they receive at AFPLI. Many of them have second degrees or are finishing their second degrees, though with my financial assistance, because this is the only way I think I can pay them back for their sacrifices and at the same time encourage their personal development that will eventually develop the organization in the future. Either by quantity or quality, this payroll will triple next year.
And as you will see from the next forwarded emails, we have no funds in hand or in the bank to meet this commitment as I write you this email. Yet I am trusting God that he will make provisions for me to pay my staff and still make provisions for December salary and the accompanying Christmas bonuses (which in Nigeria is expected at 100% of payroll).
Thank you. Shalom. Peace. KAYERO!
Rev. Titus K. Oyeyemi (JP)
President/CEO Peace Worker
African Projects for Peace and Love Initiatives Inc. nfp