So, what will you be doing in Egbe?
This is probably the most common question we get from people once we tell them that we’re going to Egbe, Nigeria to serve as missionaries. It’s a good question, somewhat difficult to answer, but a good question. While God undoubtedly has much planned for us in Egbe, here’s what we can tell you now. It is a bit more complicated than simply what we personally will be doing.
To set the proverbial stage, though, allow me a few comments about Nigeria. For those of you who might be a little geographically challenged, Nigeria is located in west Africa. With a population of roughly 154 million, it is the most populous nation in all of Africa. To put it in perspective, it is about a 10th the size of the US and has roughly half the population. A simplistic religious description is that it is slightly more Christian than Muslim with some indigenous animistic religions thrown in. The country is also geographically divided with Islam dominating in the north and Christianity in the south. Egbe is located in Kogi state in the southwest and has a long history of Christian missionary presence. In one sense, then, we must always remember that our ministry will be built on the shoulders of others.
The simple answer to the question posed is that Maureen will be performing surgeries and other medical services and I’ll be teaching at a missions school and interacting with the hospital chaplaincy. ECWA Hospital Egbe has been around for over 60 years, sits on 33 acres which contains 68 buildings, and has 121 beds. This might sound impressive, and it is, but over the past 35 years the hosptial has slowly deteriorated. Structurally some buildings need to be replaced and others seriously refurbished. For the past three plus years, the Egbe Revitalization Project has been working to revive the hospital and its ministry. Rebuilding is currently taking place through the help of Samaritan’s Purse. In fact, the main hospital building was recently razed and work has begun on its replacement. Missionary housing and other facilities are also being refurbished. The Egbe community is playing a major role – the hundreds of volunteers who have shown up to help with specific projects is a reminder that believers in Egbe want to make an impact on their community and beyond.
The hospital’s purpose is intentionally evangelistic. You can’t even be seen by a doctor without hearing the gospel. Last fall I sat in one morning on the OPD devotional. Basically, those wanting to see a doctor sit in a large waiting area and are a captive audience to the chaplaincy staff. The devotional I attended lasted for at least 15 to 20 minutes and included singing, a mini-sermon, and prayer.
Maureen will be ministering in an environment in which the gospel is shared routinely. She will be able to pray and share frankly with her patients about the love of God and their need to place their lives and faith in Him. Additionally, the hospital contains a nursing training school which means that Maureen will have the opportunity to impact the lives of futures nurses . . . who would go on to serve in other hospitals and clinics throughout the country and region. As a surgeon, she will also be able to help those who otherwise might not have received medical care.
I (Tim) will have the opportunity to teach at the World School of Missions located in Egbe. The school offers a modular-based program on missions. Basically, the goal is to train Nigerians to serve as missionaries in north Nigeria, north Africa, and the Middle East. Students have the option of studying a French or Arabic track and will be required to do in-field training before being permanently assigned. In 2005 the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association launched Vision 50:15 with an aim to send out 50,000 missionaries in 15 years. The missions school in Egbe is a “small” part of this massive movement. I hope also to get connected with the hospital chaplains for mutual support – there is much we can teach each other. There is another missions agency doing work in Egbe among the Fulani (nomadic Muslims) and I will be seeking opporutities to participate with them.
Well, that was more than I intended to say but I hope this gives you an idea of what we will be doing in Egbe. God undoubtedly has more for us but we know that there are wonderful opportunities for ministry and we are excited to see what God will do through us. Pray as we continue to prepare. Our desire is to be on the field within the next few months. If you’d like to join us in this ministry, please pray and consider giving – www.mcalhaney.com/giving.