REPORT OF HEART OF TEXAS BAPTIST NETWORK MISSION TEAM
MISSION TRIP WITH H.E.L.P. WEST AFRICA
JULY 30 – AUGUST 8, 2011
Network Missionary, Heart of Texas Baptist Network
Months before we departed for Nigeria, a local church in Brownwood, Texas gave us “Psalm 91 Prayer Books” to present to the children in the H.E.L.P. orphanage in Egbe. I must confess that in my busyness I never picked up the books until the night before they were presented to the kids, but God knew we needed assurance from his Word on this trip, and in his absolute sovereignty he knew our deepest need before we ever sat foot on Nigerian soil. God is so good, and we were to see his goodness throughout our week in Nigeria. Thank you for praying. I could sense a great inner peace, as could our team, during our time of ministry. Thank you for your faithfulness in intercession.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”
- Psalm 91:1
From my (Don’s) journal-
“Everyone has rendezvoused successfully at DFW airport and it was so good to be greeted and prayed for by Brother Jim Pool (pilot, American Airlines and Nigerian born. His parents were missionaries in Nigeria. Jim traveled with us in 2009). It was reassuring to see him. Furthermore, Jim was able to assist Emily Vines from North Carolina, one of our team members, who had flown down earlier in the day but did not have a boarding pass to fly to Frankfurt, Germany! Jim was able to secure a pass in short order and we (17 team-members) jumped on the plain to Frankfurt, which was a smooth and uneventful 10-hour flight. After a 3 hour layover, we were on to Abuja.
Upon arrival at the airport, we successfully passed through customs (after giving away 20 bibles or so) and were picked up by Enoch and the H.E.L.P. West Africa bus. We stayed the night at the Catholic Guest House in Abuja and enjoyed a wonderful meal with the sisters there. It rained hard that night which was very refreshing for our team from Texas. We haven’t seen rain in so long that some of our team stood in the deluge for a few seconds, enjoying the smell and sound of raindrops and thunder in the distance.
Early the next morning we left for Abuja and enjoyed a wonderful trip on a beautiful day until we came to a massive traffic jam on the main highway from Abuja to Lagos. I left the van and talked to Nigerians parked on the road, who informed me that a gasoline tanker had failed to stop at a checkpoint which precipitated a massive truck blockade, successfully closing down the highway since 9:00 p.m. the previous night! Our team got out of the van and started sharing with Nigerians on the pavement. About 3 hours later we witnessed Nigerians running for their vehicles and we immediately loaded the van and the blockage was resolved, but we did proceed at 5 m.p.h. for the next two hours or so.
Finally, the situation broke loose and we were able to travel well until we stopped to purchase fuel, which was apparently tainted by water or other impurities. From that point on we were stop and start for many miles. At each stop we would get out and strike up conversations and soccer games with children in the villages. It was a great time of ministry.
Eventually, after finding a fuel filter in a small town, we made it to Egbe and the H.E.L.P. Guest House. Everyone was exhausted, but we looked forward to an exciting day of eye clinics and VBS in the Centenary Hall in Egbe.
Tuesday morning we had a good breakfast at the guest house and went into Egbe to do some brief preparations for VBS. About 35 children attended the first day, each child equipped with a pencil, tablet or pad, a bible, and dressed in their best clothes. We found out later that day that these children were chosen by their pastors to attend the American VBS and were the “cream of the crop” from the Egbe churches. They were extremely well behaved and attentive, and it was an honor to minister to these children. Our team did a great job.
Before VBS I traveled with Ray (Evangelism Director for H.E.L.P.) to the home of the Fulani King. We talked briefly and then we told him of the eye clinic. After we asked him about his own vision, he responded that it wasn’t good and he would be at the eye clinic later that day. He seemed to be genuinely excited.
After lunch we started the first eye clinic of several during our time in Nigeria. We fitted many people with glasses, starting with the boys in orphanage care. The King came and we fitted him with glasses, after which he peered into a mirror and then broke out into a huge smile. He told us in his language- “I am a happy man.” Some of our Howard Payne University students requested to speak with him, which he gladly obliged. After the brief conversations, he requested a picture with our entire team on the steps of the H.E.L.P. facility. It was an amazing moment.
Later in the afternoon we toured the ECWA hospital with Mark and Abbie. They are doing such a great job. I very much appreciated their servant hearts and their diligence in seeing this project through. Of course they have a long way to go but God is at work and I really sensed God’s hand upon the entire hospital restoration. I told them I would return tomorrow, alone, for a more extensive tour of the facility and dialogue regarding how future teams might help.
Wednesday- This is the second day of VBS in Egbe, and perhaps twice as many children attended as day 1, with a few more behavioral challenges! Our team responded very well. I am so proud of them and their hard work, and the level of cooperation on this team is just amazing.
I spent 6 hours at the hospital with Mark and Abbie, including a shared lunch, along with Kyle Huesing, a pre-med student at Howard Payne University and intern in the NRC office. Kyle has been working in the hospital all week- observing surgery, shadowing doctors, and doing other work for Mark and Abbie. We had a great time at the meal sharing together, along with Adam Hardy, HPU student and videographer for the trip. I pray it was an encouragement to Mark and Abbie. He also conducted a more extensive tour of the hospital and we discussed how future teams might cooperate with Samaritan’s Purse and H.E.L.P and what that might look like.
At 3:00 p.m. we went to Titcombe College for the soccer match between the H.E.L.P boys and the Titcombe College boys. This turned into an event, complete with opening remarks from the principal, a big trophy, and a great deal of pomp and circumstance. Two of our team members, Kyle and Patricio, played with the H.E.L.P. boys. After the game (H.E.L.P. won 2-0), we went into the chapel facility for a great worship service. Their choir sang, followed by our team, and then 2 members of our team shared testimonies. It was a very powerful time, and I was glad to see Mrs. Sunday there as well. I believe God was glorified, and we enjoyed spending time with our friends at the college.
Thursday- We ate a good breakfast and departed for Okolokee in the two Toyota pickups. We conducted an eye clinic at Good Shepherd School and many women came from the community. We fitted about 40 pair of glasses but found it slow going due to challenges explaining the operation of the focometer in English and then translating those instructions into several different languages (Hausa, Fulfulde, Yoruba). We distributed New Testaments and materials after they received glasses. It was beautiful to hear them read the scriptures.
After lunch we journeyed into the bush to minister to the Fulani. The chief of the village greeted us and told us we were welcome to work with the children but that he would rest in his tent due to Ramadan. We worked with the kids. Two of our team shared bible stories we learned from our very brief training in “storying” the gospel from Anna Daub. We made animal balloons to match the stories of creation and gave them to the kids. We stayed about 3 hours and told them we would return the following day.
The next morning we returned to the Good Shepherd School to conduct more eye clinics and half of our team went to the bush after lunch to work with the Fulani children. Many Muslim men attended the eye clinic, whereas yesterday it was attended by the women. We were able to talk to some of them about Christ. One lectured me very sternly concerning the corruption of the Jesus Story by the west and the bible and then proceeded to give me the “true version” from the Koran, woven with elements from the New Testament. He finally walked away with 2 of his friends. He was quite animated.
Our team in the bush stayed about 3 more hours with the Fulani children. They used the chalk we gave them to paint their faces and hands white. We gave them dolls made by Eastside Baptist Church in Comanche.. Each doll had the “power band” with beads representing the core truths of the gospel. The girls loved the dolls. Someone on our team snapped a picture of the girls holding the dolls toward heaven, high over their heads, smiles on their faces, with faces painted white. The picture is amazing, and I need to get copies to everyone who participated and prayed for this mission. The girls followed the truck out of the bush for as far as they could run. We returned to Egbe after about 24 hours in the bush. We were tired but really overjoyed.
Saturday- We conducted another eye clinic at H.E.L.P. facility in the morning. It was to be a private affair for staff and their families but people came from town as well. Finally, we decided to shut it down. I (Don) conducted a Pastor’s Training event down at Centenary with about 50 pastors in attendance. I taught Discover Bible Study, which is a church-planting method utilizing inductive bible study approaches in multiplying small groups. I had a great time with the pastors. They were very gracious.
Saturday evening we conducted a worship service with all the boys, the staff, and our team at the H.E.L.P. facility. Brother San and Alvino had brought with them some Lord’s Supper elements and we decided to make Psalm 91 our theme and share the Supper. Pastor Stuart Beckwith (Pecan Grove Baptist Church, San Saba County) shared from the word of God. It was especially difficult for him because he is also a coach in the Lampasas School District, and one of his golf team members was tragically killed in a car accident two days before, and the funeral in Lampasas, Texas was one hour before our worship service in Nigeria. Several people shared testimony, including Ray. It was a very moving time, and then at the end we presented each young man with the Psalm 91 Books. We were concerned the older boys might not be interested, but they received them gladly. We hugged all of the boys and staff and returned to get rest for the trip home.
Sunday a.m.- We decided to leave early for Abuja considering the trouble we had on the way to Egbe. We traveled very slowly in very heavy traffic for miles and miles. The entire time our team sang hymns. We made it to the airport on time and we give God the glory.
After we arrived at the airport and went through customs, Brother Sam Crosby, Pastor of FBC San Saba, was reading “Tread Upon the Lion,” which he had purchased at the HELP facility. He pointed out to me that Tommy Titcombe’s favorite passage was Psalm 91!
How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep.
- Psalm 91:5
Thank you for praying. What God did through this team is for God to quantify. Of course, that is never the issue. God’s faithfulness is the theme, and we praise God for all who prayed and praised!
Trainers and Equippers For Trip Preparation:
Anna Daub- SWBTS student, former IMB missionary to Asia (taught bible storying)
Dr. Bryan Kramer- Optometrist in Brownwood, (Early FBC)- focometer training
Traveling Team Members:
Don Fawcett, HOTBN (Early FBC)
Mary Vasquez- HPU student (Nexus Church, Brownwood)
Adam Hardy- HPU student (Calvary Baptist Church, Brownwood)
Kyle Huesing- HPU student, office intern HOTBN (Early FBC)
Rebekah Reed- graduate of HPU, working in Austin, Texas
Emily Vines- high school student, Charlotte, North Carolina
Sam Crosby- Pastor (FBC San Saba)
Tarah Crosby- Texas A&M student (FBC San Saba)
Alvino Valdez- Associate Pastor (FBC San Saba)
Lisa Valdez- nurse, (FBC San Saba)
Glenna Boyd- hair stylist (FBC San Saba)
Patricio Rodriguez- construction (FBC San Saba)
Darrin Barker, LCRA (FBC San Saba)
Kyle Sullivan- Minister to Youth (FBC Everman)
Rachel Sullivan- teacher (FBC Everman)
Stuart Beckwith- coach/teacher and Pastor (Pecan Grove Baptist Church)
Lauren Beckwith- student, Lampasas (Pecan Grove Baptist Church)