Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beyond Imagination

When I look at the night sky and see the works of God’s fingers—the moon and the stars that He set in place, I wonder, what is man that He should be mindful or even think of them.

But He thought about me. He considered me. He visited me.

This is the God, Who created the stars too numerous to the counted—much more than the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world. He set them in place and calls each of them by name.

And He knows my name.

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck I fall to my knees as I humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

He is the God, Who promised me that He will give me the Feet of Grace that will take to places where my natural feet could not take me—places beyond my imagination. When He gave me this word of assurance before my legs were amputated on May 30, 2013, I had no clue what He could possibly have in mind. But I knew that He can do what He says He will do. And I also knew that He has good plans for me because His thoughts for me are thoughts of good. All glory be to God Who does exceedingly more than we could ever ask, think or dare to imagine.

When God laid it on my heart to enrich lives by raising funds to provide prosthetic limbs for amputees in poor communities, I dared to imagine. I wanted to reach out to one child and one woman at a time. We began to plan the Feet Of Grace Charity Walk: Hit The Street For Their Feet. I set the figure of 15,000 Swiss francs based on the estimates we got from our partners. I put it out and committed myself.

Then, fear crept in, and the questions followed; “how shall this thing be?”

I thought if I could find 150 friends willing to give 100.00 Swiss francs each, we will reach the goal. I made a list of friends. I wrote to as many as I could. I started the campaign here on the blog and the social media. At first, the response was trickling. I went back to the Lord in prayer and released my dream into His hands. He gave the assignment, He will surely give the grace to accomplish it. I ask Him for helpers to support the preparations. I asked Him to stir up the hearts of men in my favour. I asked Him to glorify His name in it all.

He did. Exceeding beyond my wildest imagination.

Today’s post is a catalogue of praise reports of the mysterious ways God worked to perform His wonders in our lives during the Hit The Street Campaign.

Destiny Helpers:
Help came from unexpected places. God raised up people who willingly went beyond the call of duty to expend time, energy and resources to support the preparations and the runs leading to the Charity Walk. They volunteered themselves and their families. They transported me to where I needed to be. They worked hours with me. They cooked, cleaned and ran errands. They worked from afar and on the ground via the social media and word of mouth to ensure we reached many more people. They simply served in remarkable ways beyond my expectation.

Prayer Partners:
Many without being asked, across many countries, stood in the gap. They prayed for safety, security, protection and that we may find favor before men. We felt the presence of God in our midst as we gathered in the hall to take off. The genuine joy and praise to God expressed throughout the walk is beyond description.

Getting ready
Prayers answered beyond what we asked for:
The weather forecast for the appointed day was all-day rain. Three days before the event, friends called me to find out if we were rescheduling or cancelling. My answer was a firm NO. I turned to the Lord. We prayed for a great weather during the walk. We woke up on Saturday morning to a chilly weather; it had rained overnight. A few minutes before the starting time, the clouds gathered, and it became windy. Barely 15 minutes into the walk, the fingers of God tipped the clouds away, and the sun came out. The weather throughout the walk was beyond what I ever asked for. It was simply great. The rains came later in the afternoon and ended the day with a rainbow—a reminder that God is a covenant-keeping God.

On The Street
The turnout was impressive. We had seventy people participating in the event. From the baby who supported his mother with receiving donations to the toddlers who went with their parents in their strollers and the young ones who walked several times around the building to make their 5km. My GP and two of my Physiotherapists joined us. I had surprise guests coming from Senegal and Ghana. And there were people I had never met before who heard and wanted to be a part of it. It was simply beyond my imagination!

Generous Givers:
I could devote a blog post to this. As the D-day drew near; my only confession was, “God can do beyond my imagination.” He did. It was mind-boggling!!! God simply opened the windows of Heaven; they gave and are still giving. It is just amazing how God stirred up the hearts of many on our behalf. Families, old friends, new friends and even those we barely knew from many nations—all rose to support this cause.

From young David M, who cheerfully donated his 5 euros, to the new partnership that we formed with an NGO, Center for Integrated Health, willing to support Chidiebere beyond the provision of his prosthetic limb. The Charity Fund is swelling with your generous donation beyond my wildest dream.

With my doctor + physiotherapists

When I lost my feet, little did I know that the experience will position me to extend limbs to other amputees so that they may rise and walk. Something great, marvelous and beyond imagination is springing out of my dark valley of many afflictions. All glory be to God Who turns our tests to testimonies.

Your silver and gold, which you are giving so generously, will ensure that Chidi, Olivet and other amputees like them will rise and walk again.  On their behalf, I thank you all from the depth of my heart. May the Lord Who owes no man richly bless and reward your labor love.

We ended the day with a Charity Dinner organized by Harambee4Africa, a local NGO in Geneva that promotes the well-being of less privileged African women, girls, orphans and youth. It was a great opportunity for the Feet of Grace to extend the reach of our fundraising efforts.

I give all praise and thanks to God Who made 2015 Hit The Street Charity Walk a successful reality beyond what I could ever ask for, dream or imagine. To You, O Lord, be all the glory!

When I go in relentless pursuit of a dream, my husband is on high alert. I bless God for my husband who gives me the space and support to dream, spread my wings and soar high. With quiet yet resilient strength, he knows when to rein me in so I can stay focused on the goal. I am so grateful to him and my sons, Ose and Ehi. You make me proud!!!

The 2015 Feet Of Grace Charity Walk has come to pass but the work has just begun. We have just flagged off the fundraising efforts. We will begin the real work with the Irede Foundation to get Chidi and Olivet through the process of acquiring their limbs. We will continue to raise funds for many more amputees to rise up and walk.

Make your silver and gold count for eternal value. Join us to extend limbs to amputees. Together, we are touching lives for good and changing lives for better. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Celebrating Life, Love And God’s Faithfulness

The ducks quacked. The little boy on his green scooter echoed the quacking. He raced on and hi-five his mother. She laughed. I smiled. The deep blue Lake Leman merged with sky blue horizon over Evian on the other side of the lake. 

I took it all in. My heart rejoiced in God for the gift of life. Everything around me echoed life; the laughter of the two men sitting on the quay, the old couple smiling at them and the gentle lapping of the waves against the rock boulders.
Even the grey tree beside with its crown of many stumps whispered as the cool breeze from the lake passed through them; "watch out, I'll soon be green and full of life again!" I smiled and looked up to the sun blazing above it. Its warmth caressed my face.

April is a month of celebration of life, love and God's faithfulness to me. It is a month of celebrating the amazing love God so extravagantly lavished on me and my family. There are many significant landmark events in my life in April. But it is also a sober celebration, reflecting on the God's mercies to me. Indeed, it is by the mercies of God that I was not consumed. The hands of God kept so that I won't give up.

I had walked 1.5km by myself, up and down a steep slope to the bank, the florist, the shop and now at the lakeside in Versoix. It was April13th. My initial plan was to buy a bunch of long stem white roses and put them in the Lake. But, as I walked to the florist, I had a strong urge in my heart to send the flowers to someone incapacitated and with no friend. I knew where to find such as a person. So I ordered the flowers and gave instructions to the florist. Deep furrows creased above her brows.

"Do you mind if I ask you why?"

I shook my head and smiled, "Two years ago today, someone gave me a precious gift of new lungs."

The furrows disappeared and her face lit up, "how are you doing?"

"Great. Thanks be to God."

As I sat on the wooden brown chair gazing into the horizon, my heart went out to my Unknown Benefactor, I wished I still bought a stem of white rose, perhaps another day. It was sufficient that someone would smile the following morning.
My heart rejoiced in the Lord as I celebrate life and God's faithfulness.

I am a living testimony
I could have been dead and gone
But Lord, You let me live on
I am living testimony
And I thank the Lord; I'm still alive.
 (The Williams Brothers, I Am A Living Testimony)

Many times during the following days, I paused and pondered, “What was it like for my husband going through the days after the transplantation?” The surgeons told him the surgery went well. Then, they told him there had been some complications shortly afterwards. He sat by my bedside day in day out as I laid deep in a coma. I wondered what must have been going through his mind leaving the hospital, driving home, coming into our bedroom without knowing if or when I would be back home with him again.

My son told me he was calm, and he kept saying, "It is well." Perhaps, one day, he will write and share his story.
We both sighed. "Blessed be God" he whispered, as we drove on the highway passed the exit to Lausanne leading to the hospital last Thursday (April 16th). We were going to Bern. The exit was about 40km from Geneva. He drove this way, sometimes twice a day during the period I was in the hospital, until I came out of the coma and was strong enough to be airlifted back to Geneva.

I turned and looked at him, his gaze fixed on the road ahead, and I knew what was going through his mind.

Later that day and the following day, I was reminded again that I have every reason to celebrate life and God's faithfulness. I remembered my friend, Funmi Adewole. She went home to be with the Lord, on Friday April 17th, 2013.

I learnt about her home-going a few weeks after I came out of the coma. I was shocked, perplexed and confused. There's no searching the knowledge and wisdom of God. He is all Sovereign. He does what pleases Him. I could not fathom why He took Sally home and allowed me to come back from the valley of the shadow of death. She was a vibrant and passionate Christian. Her legacy lives on. In her death, she is still touching lives for good.

That was when I knew without any iota of doubt that my second chance at life is a gift from God to enable me fulfil specific and unique purposed. In her death, Funmi reminds me why I must leave behind a lasting legacy.
I thank the Lord; I'm still alive

My focus shifts back to my husband today. On Thursday, April 23rd, 1992, I married my friend. The fine man who has proved to be a treasure in heathen vessel. He is God's own special gift to me. He is a tremendous blessing to my life. He is my Chief Encourager, one-man cheer-leading squad and strong supporter. He bore the burden of caring for me through the twenty long years of affliction with grace. He carried my broken body with care and affection.
I feel truly blessed beyond measures and highly favoured, as I look forward to celebrating twenty-three years of doing life with this fine man, next Thursday. My heart overflows with joy and praise. I bless God, for my husband's devotion and commitment to our marriage and the sacred vows we shared that Thursday morning before God, our families and our friends. I thank God for the love and life we have shared to date. I give praise to God for His mighty hands, which kept us through the storms.

We will take our celebration of life, love and God's faithfulness to the next level on Saturday, April 25th, as we Hit The Street to raise 15,000 Swiss Francs to provide prosthetic limbs for amputees.

Dear Friends, wherever you may be, you can support my friends and me for the 5k Charity Walk. Together, we can make the dreams of these amputees come true. Leave a message in the comment box below for more details.

In what ways are you celebrating God’s faithfulness in your life this month? Share with us in the comment box and let’s give praise to God together for His steadfast love that never ceases and His mercies that never come to an end.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

One Phone Call and A Priceless Gift.

One phone call.

It was a hot summer afternoon in 2011. She was firm. Her voice brooked no argument. She was my doctor.

Six months of planning laid in utter disarray.

“This is not happening.”

She explained why she would not give me a medical clearance to travel. I was not listening.

“You are now active on the waiting list. You can’t travel out of the country.”

A long groan escaped. And my head reeled. She continued speaking. I tried to plead my case. She won’t bulge.

“Thank you very much.” I wiped away the tears I knew she could not see. I was overwhelmed with disappointment. I must have sat there for hours turning the events leading up to that moment in my mind. The scenes flashed by like in a movie.

December 2008 in the intensive care unit, I was in need of non-evasive ventilation. My lungs were not holding any air; I could not breath for myself. They placed a hood that looked like an astronaut helmet over my head while the machine breathed for me. The image reflecting on the window of the Nurses’ station shook me to the core.

The visit to Prof J, my lead pulmonologist, in 2010; when he told my husband and me that he had discussed my case with Transplantation team. He told us they had agreed to review me as a possible candidate for lungs transplantation.

In January 2011, I underwent an extensive medical work-up to determine whether I was a suitable candidate. What they deemed as my complex multi-systemic medical history appeared to pose a huge risk to the surgery and its outcome. I waited for months for them to make a decision. Then I deliberately allowed it to slip off my mind.

I knew this call was coming, but I was not ready for it. I knew the implication of being active on the waiting list for lungs transplantation. It meant one day I would receive the phone call that would convey the message: “Someone has given that I may have a second chance at life.” I did not know how to pray about this. How was I going to ask God to give me quickly what I needed at that phase of my life without thinking of the person who would have to give what I was asking for? I was troubled. I was perplexed. Yet I knew, humanly and medically speaking, this was the only option left for me.

I was waiting for a precious gift from an Unknown Benefactor. Someone who when he/she had the control would have made a decision to give of himself so that someone else can have a chance at life. Someone whose family at the darkest hour of their grief would have to make a decision to abide by the request of their loved one.

That was a tough period.

This one prayer I did pray with all my heart, that I would have the opportunity to meet this individual before the throne of God when I get to heaven.

Two years later, and the call came.

It was on Saturday, April 13th, 2013. It was a little past 4:00pm. I knew the time because my husband left home for Choir practice less than an hour before the call. Just when I was in the middle of preparing for a major event in my church.

“We are ready for you.” It was Prof. R on the line. It was not a social call. I knew what had happened.

Someone had given. And that person had paid the ultimate price.

My heart skipped a beat. Then it started racing and pounding in my chest.

I was panicking.

He was speaking. I hardly heard him.

“Are you ready?”

I was shaking like a leaf. My legs wobbled. I lowered myself on the black leather sofa in front of me.

“Yes” barely audible escaped like a whisper. He spoke some more—told me the team was waiting for me. I needed to be in the hospital immediately. I thanked him and dropped the phone

It had happened. Someone has given me a priceless gift.

I will never be able to thank him or her.

But I believed God answered my prayer, and I will have the opportunity to see my Unknown Benefactor in God's presence when I get home to heaven. Perhaps, then I will be able to thank him/her.

My heart went out to the family I knew would be grieving at that moment. My hands trembled as I picked the phone again. I called my husband.

“You need to get back home, Prof R just called.” I didn't need to say more. He knew what had happened. “I am on my way,” he replied.

I am a blessed recipient of a priceless gift with which God has given me another chance to live again and fulfill purpose. I understand fully well the import of this precious gift. I am also reminded that I have been so blessed so I can be a blessing to others.  I cannot be an organ donor, but I can give in many diverse ways to make a difference to someone’s life.

So again, today, in the honor of my Unknown Benefactor, I recommit myself to be a conduit of God’s blessings to as many as God brings my way. I commit to use my second chance at life to touch lives for good.

Dear Friends, I ask you to join me on the 13th of April to break your alabaster box and let the fragrance of God's extravagant generosity flow from you to touch someone's life for good. Give the precious gift of kindness. Meet a need. Give a gift of forgiveness. Give someone a reason to release exhilarating praise to God. Go the extra mile to touch someone's life for good.

Do it because it is the right thing to do. Do it because it brings glory to God. It pleases God when we perform acts of kindness in His name.

Do it in honor of those who give that others may live.

We can please God with the aromas that rise from being a blessing to others
– Joe Stowell (ODB, April 2015)

Being a blessing to others is blessing God. Ask God today to lead you to someone who He wants you to touch in a special and unique way. We are blessed to be a blessing.

This post is in honor of organ donors: those who give that others may live.
I dedicated this post to the memory of my Unknown Benefactor.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Compelling Purpose.

"The compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose."- Oswald Chambers.

There is an irrefutable, well-reasoned, overwhelming plausible, powerful, potent and irresistible purpose of God behind every event of our lives. There are no chance events in the life of a Believer. Whatever God permits or allows in our lives has a compelling purpose. God’s words and actions are never purposeless.

"The things that happen do not happen by chance—they happen entirely by the decree of God. God is sovereignly working out His own purposes.

God’s will, purpose and plan for His children, does not exclude pain and suffering, even for those He love so much. Jesus is His Beloved Son in Whom He was well pleased. But part of His pleasure is ensuring that His eternal purpose is fulfilled, and that included allowing His Beloved Son to be crushed, beaten and humiliated. It was so that the Kingdom agenda may prosper through Jesus’ pain, suffering and death. How else would you and I have been adopted into God’s family? How else would we have experienced salvation and deliverance? How else would we have had the hope of eternal life with Him in His glory?

 The compelling purpose of God behind Jesus’ suffering was so that the price for sin is paid in full by being the final sacrifice for sin. Because Jesus submitted to God’s sovereign will and purpose, He provided for every human access into the very presence of God. This is the reason you and I have a hope in glory.

Therefore, a Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God to accomplish His compelling purpose for his life in every situation, and not in his abilities. Even when he does not understand it or grasp the significance of the situation or the purpose for it. Christians are those who know that God directs their footsteps and delights in every detail of their life no matter what season of life they may be in or how dark that season may be.

“Each day is held in the hands of a caring Father. Every moment, it is kept by a loving God.” – Roy Lessin

The tagline on my email and my favourite quote is “Kept by the Hands of God, day by day, come what may.” This is informed by the knowledge that my life is kept in the hands of God. It is an assurance that if God holds my life in His hands, nothing can happen to me without His prior knowledge. If God does allow an event in my life, it is for a well-reasoned and overwhelming plausible reason and to fulfil a purpose in His Kingdom agenda.

It, therefore, behoves us as Christians to find purpose in our pain, afflictions and adversity. When we do, we will see blessings in areas where humanly speaking we should be bitter. Being fully persuaded that in all things God is working for our good. Every act of God is suffused with grace.

There are no exceptions to the ALL things. When God says ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His good purpose, He certainly means ALL things. This is applicable to everyone who loves God and to everyone who is called according to His good purpose.

I love God, with all my heart. I know God has called me for His purpose. I know my calling is to fulfil God's Kingdom agenda. So I can go to the bank on the validity of this promise knowing that God Whose word and promises are infallible is faithful to do just as He has promised.

Therefore, there is a compelling good purpose of God behind my twenty years of living with a chronic respiratory disease and a debilitating neuro-muscular disease. There's a powerful and potent purpose of God behind the amputation of my legs and every other challenging situation I have had to go through.

My pains and afflictions are not purposeless. Now, I see only in part. I am yet to grasp the full significance of all of the events of my life. But, I can definitely testify that God is not only working it together for my good, He is also using the story He is writing of my life to touch lives for good.

You see, my dear friends, God’s thoughts and ways are supremely higher than our thoughts and ways. His thoughts are composed of His eternal purpose, which we cannot fully comprehend on this side of the divide. That is why we cannot presume to know all that God is doing in us in our diverse seasons. Faith compels us to trust in His omniscience, knowing that He has complete and unlimited knowledge and awareness of all things

Many times we want to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. But we need to understand that it is God who engineers our circumstances. Since Jesus’ life dwells in us, every attack on us by the enemy is an attack on the life of Jesus in us. That’s what the devil seek to do. Jesus Christ’s honour is at stake in our bodily lives. Therefore, we need to remain faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us.

The compelling purpose of God determines that we walk in a certain path God in His infinite wisdom has assigned to us. Sometimes that path may pass through Gethsemane. In there, grace compels us to, in absolute submission to God like Jesus say, "Not my will but thy will be done." The path may take us through fierce storms where the billows rage and the waves unfurl its fury at us. There also, grace compels us to look to Jesus, sleeping peacefully in the midst of the storm and find peace resting in Him. The path may take us through the fiery furnace of trials and affliction. Grace compels to look to Jesus, Who is our Companion in the troubled and challenging times, and assures us He will never abandon us or leave us alone.

In every season, each of us is in a unique time in life, in a unique place with unique talents and gifts to play our assigned part in God’s story. I believe that God has put me in a unique position in life to fulfil my unique role in God’s story. This unique role will require me to be shaped and fitted for the role. The storms, afflictions, pains and trials I pass through prepare me for that unique role in God’s eternal purpose. This is the compelling purpose for my life at every moment and season of my life.

God has a unique place for you in His story and as part of His eternal purpose. This is the compelling reason for every season of your life. When you submit to His will in each season, soon you will see how the seasons align to lead you to fulfilling your God-ordained destiny. Be assured that the grace of God is available to sustain you through the seasons of your life. Don’t give up in the season even when you don’t understand what it is all about. Rest and trust in God’s omniscience.

Feet Of Grace 2015 Charity Walk_Hit The Street For Their Feet:
Over the past three weeks, I have had to spend many days and several hours with my prosthetist. My prosthesis, the Feet of Grace, made just last year had become very tight and painful to walk in. I have gained back some of the 30kg I lost during the last 10years of my affliction. This experience was a shocking reminder of the situation of amputees in developing countries who have no access to prosthetists and for whom the cost of prosthetic limbs is prohibitive.

The prosthetists, our partners in Nigeria, the Irede Foundation is working with, are located in Enugu. This means that the amputees have to travel to Enugu twice. First time to have the measurements and moulding of stumps done. The prosthetic limbs are then fabricated and customized to fit the amputee. The second time is for fitting and learning how to walk with their new limbs, which requires a two-week stay in a city where they don’t know anybody. Caring for the amputee and one family member who is required to travel with them is included in the cost.

It was at this time; it dawned on me again how blessed I am. The cost of changing just the cup of my Feet of Grace is more that the cost of providing prosthetic limbs to two amputees. I live in Geneva, one of the most expensive cities in the world. God has my back, and He has been taking care of how my Feet of Grace is paid for. Secondly, it takes me 30-40 minutes to get to my prosthetist. I am blessed with a loving husband and great friends who take me for these often very long visits and stay with me without complaining. Lastly, I have a physiotherapist working with me on a weekly basis, helping me to become accustomed to walking with my Feet of Grace on all terrains, climbing slopes and staircases. That’s why I can contemplate a 5k Charity Walk in less than two years after amputation.

Chidi and Olivet do not have such privileges or opportunities. Without your support, they cannot regain their autonomy. But you and I have been positioned at this unique time to help these amputees to fulfil their unique roles in God’s story. Indeed, we have been blessed to bless. They are counting on our support.

Happy Easter from my family to yours. May the resurrection power be at work in your life through this season and beyond.