United Methodist clergywomen in Nigeria brought a message of hope to patients and prison inmates during a recent outreach trip.
Under the leadership of the Rev. Lami Hussaini and accompanied by the Rev. Titus Ibrahim Loh, director of the board of evangelism and discipleship for the North East Nigeria Conference, the women visited the private Sauki Clinic and a government-run maternity clinic and prison yard in Karim Lamido.
Addressing the staff at each site, Hussaini talked about the mission of the church and purpose of the group’s visit: to share Christ’s power of healing and offer material blessings from the church.
“Jesus sent us to you today with good news,” said the Rev. Francisca Abubakar, pastor-in-charge of Ngurore Jabu United Methodist Church in the Munga Lelau District. “The woman in Matthew 15:25 prayed to Jesus until her son was healed. Therefore, all of you who are sick in this Sauki Clinic should trust in God…,” she said.
Loh called the visit eye opening as the group witnessed the challenges that inmates and patients are facing, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The lockdown has added to the suffering of the sick ones in the society because there is low supply of drugs in the rural clinics, maternity and dispensaries,” he said, adding that the discipleship board will ask the North East Nigeria Conference to include money in its budget for the fight against COVID-19.
“As a church, we must rise up and face the challenges we saw today, not only praying for them in our homes and churches, but we (must) use our material and financial resources to help the needy,” he said.
Sauki Clinic was filled with patients, some of them critical. All patients were tested for COVID-19, but no cases had been confirmed at the time of the visit, said Stephen Geofrey, assistant coordinator and head of the laboratory.
The United Methodist team went around to the different wards preaching good news and sharing items to alleviate suffering.
Geoffrey said it filled him with joy to see patients receiving hope and gifts, including soap and money.
“This is the first time a church is visiting the clinic with items enough for all the patients, and this can only be done by women clergy,” he said.
He also thanked Nigeria Area Bishop John Wesley Yohanna for empowering and supporting the women clergy in his episcopal area.
The Rev. Rifkatu Danladi, pastor-in-charge at Nwatal United Methodist charge in the Arewa District, also echoed his appreciation.
“I thank (the bishop) for making the ministry of the women clergy relevant. Without his passion for evangelism and the suffering people in the hospitals and prison, we would not have visited these places today.”
Blessing Yakub, a patient at Sauki Clinic, said she hoped the visit would be the first step in her healing.
“Though you wore black suits, I can see Jesus Christ alive inside you,” she said. “As you were coming in, an extraordinary power followed you and I was feeling the healing hand of Jesus Christ.”
A Fulani herder patient, Haliman Modibo, said he was thankful for the simple gift of soap.
“I did not have soap to wash my dirty clothes, but God provided it today through you. It is God who sent you directly to me … I can see love from you people. Please continue to pray for our quick healing,” he said.
The clergy offered prayers in all four wards of the clinic.
Ruth Banki, head of the family planning unit at Primary Health Care Center, the government-run maternity clinic, said she appreciated the outreach.
“Your visit is timely and very unique because you carry a spiritual and physical message. … You are the complete message of hope,” she said.
Monde Karim, assistant medical officer at Primary Health Care Center, said he felt fortunate to host the guests. “Our joy is complete as we see women clergy share the Gospel with the sick ones.”
At the prison yard, the team was allowed to share the message with staff, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the inmates were not allowed to come out of their cells.
Head of the inmates, Usman Yahaya, and senior staff received items on behalf of the inmates. The gifts included loaves of bread and soft drinks.
“One of the tasks assigned to Christians, particularly pastors, is to visit and pray with the prisoner,” said Simon Tafawabalewa, senior staff of the prison yard. “But yours is not only prayer; you donated gifts so that inmates will eat and drink. I believe that your Gospel message is complete.”
He said he will share the gifts during the inmates’ dinnertime.
“Today, we will eat our dinner like any other persons in the home. Thank you, United Methodist women clergy and all your leaders.”
Danjuma is a communicator for the North East Nigeria Conference. News media contact: Vicki Brown at 615-742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.