When a team of Nigerian doctors, pharmacists, social workers and missionaries stormed South Sudan for a medical mission last year, little did they know that the impact of the charitable voyage will be huge.
Phenomenal reports, from locals, who graced the occasion, attest to the success of the event. A 60-year old patient, who was nearly blinded by glaucoma, said he has recovered his eyesight.
His words: ‘I benefitted from the free eye screening exercise, by a Nigerian ophthalmologist. Today I can see and read with my eyes. I am very touched by this kindness.’
The same delight was displayed by hundreds of patients, who received free treatment and medications during the exercise.
The amazing story of this medical camp is worth sharing.
The successful medical mission to South-Sudan has continued to evoke exuberant elation and delightful reminiscence, according to the benevolent group.
Indeed, this awesome outcome, is particularly, gratifying, considering the uncertainties and challenges that trailed the voluntary venture.
The five-day outreach, which took-off on November 3, 2019, was executed by Africa Vision Tract House Society (AVTHS), the missionary arm of the Nigerian Christian Graduate Fellowship (NCGF) in partnership with Association for Peace & Development Initiative (APDI), Nigeria.
The team, ably, led by former president of NCGF and a renowned medical practitioner, Dr. Godwin Uwaoma, featured free medical and social services to communities in Juba, Jubek State. He was accompanied by his loving wife, Ihuoma.
Other members of the mission included the Missionary Director, AVTHS, Mr Polycarp Mbah, Dr. Paul Ngwu, Dr. Chukwudi Onwuegbuna, Dr. and Dr. (Mrs) Gabriel Udo-Affah and Dr. Holy Brown.
The delegation also had Dr. Chinasa Mba, Mrs Stella Ogu, Mr Shalom Nwabuoku, Mrs Iphie Ahaiwe Mrs Esther Onaiwu and Dr. (Mrs) Rebecca Etiubon.
Other ministers were Evangelist(Mrs)Mfon Okon-Umoren, Pastor Ikponmwosa Osawe, Mr. Innocent Onubogu, Mrs Charity Onubogu, Pastor Godfrey Olise and Pastor James Adebowale.
Generally, the entire humanitarian expedition was adjudged glorious, by all the stakeholders and attendees, due to the marvelous testimonies of outstanding miracles, successful surgeries and stunning conversions witnessed at the divinely-propelled assembly.
This is fascinating, because some logistical issues encountered, over venue and flight rescheduling, as well as some communication and administrative hiccups, obviously orchestrated by the enemy, were defeated through godly wisdom and favourable interventions.
In verity, this love-driven gospel campaign was replete with innumerable victories, as many people received physical and spiritual restorations.
An interview with Dr. Uwaoma, was quite revealing.
His words: ‘I embarked on this trip out of a commitment to serve God and humanity, by offering medical services and counselling. I have participated in several medical missions in Africa. I led the team to Sierra Leone in 2008 and 2010. In 2011, I participated in the mission to Liberia and also Guinea Bissau in 2012 followed by Tanzania in 2015.’
‘For several years, I have had a burning desire to be part of the country’s rehabilitation process, after a protracted war. Therefore I was delighted to lead this mission,’ he added.
He continued: ‘My experience as a young boy during the war is a strong motivation. If not for the goodwill of humanitarian organizations, many people from the East would not have survived the Nigerian civil due to many nutritional diseases such as hunger, anemia, kwashiorkor, marasmus and other.’
‘Therefore I am always happy to offer any assistance to our brothers and sisters, through this initiative. Apart from leading the team I participated in general surgical operations and evangelical activities.’
‘Furthermore the fellowships and interactions gave us the opportunity to really understand the difficulties of the new republic.’
According to him, the South Sudanese are quite open and sincere, but the problem of ethnicity was rife.
‘Hence we prayed for reconciliation, unity and peace in the society. I am glad that one month after the outreach, the warring factions reconciled. For me, it is a great miracle.’
The loving fellowship of the brethren was a good tonic that brightened the faces of the brethren, many of whom have lived under the trepidation and distress of unrelenting bloodshed and displacements.
It was therefore great to watch Muslims and animists, trooping out and enjoying the Christian gatherings.
Many of them openly and joyfully declared, submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ, as saviour of the world.
The warm reception from the Nigerian Ambassador to South Sudan, Dr. Obinna Agbugba was quite soothing and exhilarating to the team members, some of who suffered from jet lag.
Indeed the Dr. Uwaoma-led missionaries took off with uncommon zeal and compassion for a journey to share the good news.
Volunteers from other organizations also joined in social and medical services to offer the Juba communities free diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and sicknesses.
Free surgical operations were undertaken to give freedom, hope, and life back to the people.
According to Mbah, a pharmacist, the line-up also included evangelical activities including counselling, prayer as well as distribution of gospel tracts and bibles.
‘Other highlights of the project were social initiatives with several sessions of leadership trainings, financial lectures, health seminar, testimony fellowships as well as distribution of free clothes and house hold items.’
‘The team from Nigeria arrived at Juba but could not commence operations, due to delay in accessing luggage,’ Mbah added.
Nevertheless, they still, enthusiastically offered, free medical services and surgeries, while other members rendered serious intercessions for peace and development of the war-torn country.
The team, under the guardianship of the Holy Spirit prayed at strategic locations of the country’s capital.
A brief opening ceremony which had in attendance, some church leaders and health personnel as well as former and serving military officers, underscored the significance of the mission to the socio-economic and spiritual well-being of participants and the nation in general.
Cheerily, South Sudan believers in attendance, expressed great excitement about the philanthropic exercise, highly needed as a soothing balm for a society that had wearied by armed conflicts.
The tremendous results of the outing is evident in the various positive outcomes of the international engagement.
Specifically, 610 medical cases were treated, including six general surgical operations, 615 laboratory tests, 166 eye screenings with distribution of 84 medicated glasses to patients.
The pharmacy section was equally buzzing, as about 438 patients collected drugs.
The evangelical wing was also busy as 411 persons committed their lives to Christ, while 42 Bibles and 40,000 gospel tracts were shared.
The group also engaged in campus crusades, youth summit, capacity building outings and women summit.
Executive Director, AVTHs said, ‘these wonderful accomplishments, can only be attributed to God’s grace and provisions, because the initiative was quite financially challenging, due to high foreign exchange rates, inflammatory factors, dearth of medical experts due to brain-drain and spiralling flight charges.’
‘All these encumbrances have however been out-paced by the good reports, precipitated by the event. For instance, South Sudan church and people are now more receptive towards the gospel,’ Dr. Umoren added.
According to him these testimonials can be accentuated, by proper discipleship actions to ensure that new converts are not lost again.
‘This is very important given the persecution and hostilities, that may likely come from false religious teachers and jihadists,’ he added.
Sadly, the country is in dire need of well-trained health and educational professionals, a direct consequence of years of conflicts and loss of highly- skilled experts and educated professionals.
The dearth of well-horned personnel, in vital sectors of the country’s sector, especially doctors, nurses, pharmacist, engineers and teachers needs urgent response.
Government and Christian organizations may consider sending kindhearted volunteers, as part of efforts to rebuild the fragile society.
The Nigerian ambassador to South Sudan, Dr. Obinna Agbugba, and the embassy staff displayed uncommon hospitality, by hosting a welcome dinner for the visitors.
This gesture, which was followed with a convivial fellowship with the missionaries provided much needed encouragement and boost for the week’s task.
The management of AVTHS has conveyed deep gratitude to the embassy for this gesture.
The leadership also acknowledged the invaluable contributions of these groups including Calvary Mission, South Sudan, Evangelical Alliance of South Sudan (EASS), Africa Professional Resource Mission and Atla Bara, Juba, Fellowship Of Christian University Students Of South Sudan (FOCUS SS).
Others are Desert Streams Partners International (DESPI), Divine Pentecostal Church, and other Christian assemblies.
The exuberant missioners also expressed special appreciation to Archbishop Mawan Dau, founder of the Miracle Ground International Church, Juba for willingly releasing the church premises for nursing, medical, laboratory, optometry, and pharmaceutical services.
Similarly, the management and staff of Kator Medical Centre, Kator, who freely offered their facilities for the general surgical procedures, were handsomely commended for their philanthropic and humble disposition.
The generosity of Nigerian pharmaceutical companies was impressive and well acknowledged.
The list of such pharmacies, who gave out free drugs and essential supplies include the following: MERCK & Co Pharmaceutical Company, Alpha Pharmacy & Stores, SIVO Adpharm Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Owerri, Elint Pharmacy, Benin City, Emzor Pharmaceuticals Industries Limited, and Alpha 7.
Indeed the commitment of Pastor Godfrey Olise of the Africa Professional Resource Mission was also highly appreciated.
Olise was commended for, singularly, facilitating visa and diplomatic processes before the arrival of the crew.
Another notable helper, Brother Joshua Ishaku of Calvalry Production Ministries(CAPRO), South Sudan, received encomiums, for his onerous assistance, which aided the actualization of the project.
His immense help, throughout the crusade, was reminiscent of the biblical Joshua, according to Dr. Umoren.
Similarly heart-felt gratitude was expressed to partners and volunteers, all the persons and organizations, that lent onerous assistance through prayers, cash, materials and resources, leading up to audacious achievements of the vision targets, he added.
‘Most importantly the greatest honour and glory, over this wonderful medical-cum-gospel outreach were tendered to God, for providing abundant grace, peace, life, resources and expertise for the excellent accomplishment of this sacred assignment.’
.Ojukwu a journalist and Fellow of Hubert Humphrey Fellowship, wrote this report, as part of her campaign to encourage volunteerism and humanitarianism across the world. Kindly send feedback to [email protected]