This week, Chris Ramos, Back2Back Director of Missions, is heading off to Jos, Nigeria with his wife, Angie and their three sons. For three months, they will be staying at the Back2Back Nigeria base and serving in the local community. As they prepare to leave, Angie reflects on her first visit to Nigeria, nearly three years ago when she and her husband Chris served alongside Back2Back missionaries, Jason and Emilee Munafo. Continue reading to discover how Angie experienced hope in a fresh way.
It was October of 2006 and we were mid-way through our stay in Jos, Nigeria. I sat on the floor of the place where we were staying and I looked at the four of us Americans sitting there. I was overwhelmed and scared and feeling sick to my stomach. The need there is so great and so many were depending on us to help them. I thought to myself, how? How is this all going to fall into place? How is God going to make this all happen through Chris and me and Jason and Emilee?
I remember feeling so small and powerless and what was before us was so big. I knew there would be so much work that needed to be done when we got back to the US and in my sense of panic, I felt like there wasn’t much time. My mind was spinning with so many different thoughts. I knew right then that God was going to stretch our faith and we were going to grow and learn to depend on the Lord more than we had thought. With so many people there looking to us for help, part of me wanted to just turn around and go back and say forget it, it’s too much.
Later that week we were at the village telling everyone good-bye and reminding them that we would be back soon. Word that we were there spread so quickly, that by the time we were getting back into our car to go to the airport, we were informed that Ikira, the “agricultural guy” of the village of 1,000 people, contracted typhoid. Ikira had showed us the village a few days before. He walked us around the place. We had spent several hours with him and many of the villagers that day. Now, he was very sick and needed money for medicine. He thought if he could just let us know that he was sick, that we would be able to help. Not really knowing what we could do at this point, we asked one of the villagers to help us. Minutes later the three of us were getting into the car and the villager was directing us to the medical facility where Ikira was staying.
We walked into the dirty hut-like building not knowing what to expect. From the outside, it looked like an old condemned building. It was dark and very small. My bathroom medicine cabinet probably had more supplies in it than this place. There was a women sitting on a cot holding her very sick baby. Ikira was lying on another cot, hooked up to an IV. When Ikira saw us he sat up and smiled. He had hope. We had felt so helpless, but despite that when Ikira looked at us he had hope.
Looking back at that moment, it all seems so clear to me now. It’s as if I am experiencing that moment all over again. HOPE. That’s what we bring through Christ. How could I turn back and say “forget it”? God has a plan and that plan involves us. As we reach out our hand to help others, it’s really God’s hand reaching out. It was really God’s feet that walked into that medical building to check on Ikira, not mine. He reaches when we reach out and He steps when we step. God loves the Nigerians we’re serving (John 3:16) and has a plan of hope that involves Chris and me (and our boys). It involves everyone who will step up and give to this ministry. It’s in these moments that we have such an amazing opportunity to tell them how much our Creator in heaven adores them and wants to have a relationship with them.
Ever since that trip Chris and I have been amazed at “how” God is putting all of the pieces together. As I sat on that floor in Nigeria and wondered how, I sure didn’t know, but God did. I am so glad He has a plan. Chris and I are humbled that He has chosen us to be a part of it. Now we are on the brink of a new experience as we get ready to leave for Nigeria. This time it’s with my whole family. It’s a different dynamic. But we are still offering the same thing: HOPE through Christ.