Sunday, 20 June 2010

Nigeria Health Care Project celebration service

On Saturday I joined trustees of the Nigeria Health Care Project at Wesley’s Chapel in London for a service to celebrate the work of the project which has just raised a total of £1 million since it began in 1992. We were joined by many supporters from around the country as well as visitors from Nigeria, including the Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, His Eminence Dr Sunday Ola Makinde.

The London Nigeria Fellowship Choir ensured the service had a strong Nigerian feel and even our preacher, the Superintendent Minister of Wesley’s Chapel, The Revd The Lord Griffiths was seen dancing next to the Prelate. The whole congregation had an opportunity to do so as we brought forward our offertory, dancing down the aisle of Wesley’s Chapel.

Peter Grubb, the project co-ordinator, told us about the work of the project and what had been achieved over the last 18 years. When Anne and I were mission partners in Nigeria in 1992, the hospital we were working at was the first to receive support from the newly established group. They are now able to support 19 different projects across Nigeria, including hospitals, rural clinics, 3 centres for mentally ill homeless people, 2 motherless babies homes and the leprosy centre at Uzuakoli.

The Prelate, in his address, reminded us that Peter is now known as Sir Peter Grubb, having been given, along with Margaret Webb who had been another key member of the NHCP, the Knight of John Wesley award, the highest merit award the Methodist Church in Nigeria can give. This is in recognition of the immense amount of work Peter and Margaret along with others in the project, have done over the years and which has benefited so many in rural Nigeria.

It was wonderful that Ros Colwill could join us in the service. I wrote about Ros in my last Methodist Recorder article, and I commented during the service on how much of an inspiration she has been to many people around the world. She suffered a stroke following a serious illness, but that has not reduced her commitment to serve in Nigeria, and she is now in the process of establishing a centre for spiritual reflection. This is ground breaking work in Nigeria, and again the site she has chosen to establish this work is in a rural area. Those working with her are making bricks as and when they can secure funding, which is proving difficult to do in the current financial climate. When they have enough bricks they’ll start building the centre they need. It is faith in action, but we would expect nothing less of Ros.

Leslie Griffiths reminded us of the way Methodists from the earliest of days not only preached and sung their faith, but put it in to action. John Wesley famously had an interest in health care, although Leslie said that he was glad not to have been one of his patients. He commented that the NHCP was a practical outworking of the gospel, for what good does it do to say you love God is you don’t show that through love of your neighbour. Finally he encouraged us to start work on raising the next million pounds to ensure this important work continued – and he offered to preach again once we’d done it!

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