What I’m about to discuss you may have seen before but I’m revisiting the subject with a definite purpose in mind. In my early high school years, I began to actually examine how, what I was learning and studying in what we used to call Sunday School (don’t have a clue what they call it now) was going to affect my life. I was affected deeply enough that for a time I actually considered becoming a Congregational minister. It seemed a rather easy life to me; listening to people’s woes and complaints, then giving sage advice on how to fix their lives. Then for one hour on Sunday, wearing a black robe and telling people how God expected them to conduct their affairs.
But then somewhere along the line I was exposed to the life of a missionary in Africa and that exposure changed my entire outlook. You see, my understanding of the two roles in Christendom, that of the stateside minister and that of a missionary in deepest darkest Africa were worlds apart in more than the geographical sense. What I saw in the life of the Congregational minister was a life of relative ease. What I saw in the life of a missionary to Africa was a life of tremendous sacrifice and commitment. The effect that had on me was not one of encouragement but rather one of discouragement.
In short … I came to believe that if I really turned my life over to Christ, became totally committed to being a full-fledged Christian, that I would be relegating my future to a mud hut in Africa … and that is not what I wanted to do with my future. I wanted to be pig farmer who happened to be a Christian … most of the time. It wasn’t until I was in my third month of sobriety that I received a piece of advice that I wish I’d had years before.
When I came face-t0-face with the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him” my mind went back to the mud hut in Africa notion. Thankfully, a perceptive Larry B, my sponsor, did as Granny would have said, jerked a not in my tail. He said, “That takes someone exceptional to do that. And besides He (God) probably has something else in mind for you.” Nevertheless, I have remained in awe of anyone, accustomed to the luxuries people in this country take for granted, who could give it all up for the equivalent of today’s mud hut in Africa. And that finally brings me to the point of this message.
There is a man I have come to know as Bishop Eric. He has devoted his life to “The Good News” and has affected lives all over the world. He has traveled the world planting the seeds of salvation and forgiveness for most of his adult life all the while maintaining a full time “civilian” job. A year and a half ago Bishop Eric gave up that lucrative “civilian” job and moved to “a mud hut in Africa” to found The Hope Center in Nigeria.
While it’s a bit of a stretch to call where he is living and conducting the affairs of The Hope Center a mud hut in Africa, it’s not much of a stretch. The accommodations were primitive in the beginning and much of what he has accomplished has been a true labor of love. The thing you, my readers, need to realize is that in countries like Nigeria in central Africa, being gay is not generally acceptable. Many families, upon learning of their child’s sexuality will disown them, shun them and in extreme cases murder them to avoid public humiliation. So, it shouldn’t take much imagination to realize what a burden Bishop Eric has taken upon his shoulders.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am in total awe of the man. He embodies everything that I felt I would never have the courage or the will to be. I don’t agree with him on all things, but what I don’t agree with him on pale in comparison to the respect and admiration I have for him.
So how does he manage the day to day operations of his “mud hut in Africa”? It isn’t easy and he needs financial support desperately. His needs aren’t overwhelming by our standards, but by Nigerian standards they are mountainous. I have in my possession a copy of his monthly budget and budgets for the projects he dreams of implementing. They are next to nothing by our standards but in Nigeria they are a lot.
My purpose in sharing this is to inspire you, my readers, to consider contributing to the financial requirements and investments needed to aid Bishop Eric in his mission to give hope and a future to the people of Nigeria who are most often overlooked at best or shunned and persecuted at worst because of their emotional make up.
Check out his website at www.TheHopeCenterNigeria.org You can donate through the web site and if you want to know more about their financial need and plans please contact me and I will send you a detailed list of monthly expenses as well as proposed improvements. You can reach me through Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org .