Evangelism has always been a core issue in my life. In fact, it was evangelism that brought my wife and I together over 30 years ago. Lifelight Help Ministry came about as the result of a literal vision from God in April 2004. The bottom line is that God gave me specific instructions to help rural women, particularly those in the middle belt of Nigeria. The initial aim was to teach them how to read and write and thus help them to become more useful in God’s hands. The ministry has been built around this divine commission.
After seeing this vision of the rural poor needing the help of God in April 2004, I was invited by a friend, Dr. Kazzah, in November of that same year to a students’ conference in a village called Angwar Wakili in Southern Kaduna in Nigeria. Arriving at the venue in the village, I saw something going on that attracted a huge crowd.
When I asked Doctor Kazzah what was happening, he explained that whenever they, the Southern Kaduna Students Association, have their Camp Meetings, there would always be a medical outreach where doctors and nurses are invited to assist with free medical aid and treatment. I was intrigued and asked how it was done. He told me that they have a consulting room to meet the villagers one on one to help them with their medical needs. From the consulting room patients enter the counseling room where the gospel is preached to them in the local dialect.
After leaving the counseling room, patients then go to the drug dispensing room for their drugs and cases requiring minor surgeries would also be attended to. I was excited – the vision that God gave me to help the rural poor began to take on meaning. So I decided that if Dr. Kazzah could take the gospel to his roots in this way, I should also go to my own people in Kogi State. So in December 2005 we began carrying out this mission preaching and giving free medical assistance in various villages in Kogi State.
Between December 2005 to date we have successfully held 27 outreaches. We do this by selecting a particular village, then reaching out to surrounding villages and hamlets inviting people to partake of these blessings. We always work in cooperation with CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria). We clinics during the day and crusade rallies each evening for a period of four days each time we go out. Local pastors in those villages take over the follow-up of those who give their lives to Christ. God has been with us granting our efforts resounding success. Conservatively, at this point over ten thousand people have made decisions for Jesus, half of those numbers coming from a Muslim background.
When the ministry began, God by special arrangement linked us up with Dr. Osemwen Asemota, the owner of Rhema Hospital in Kwali F.C.T. God has greatly used this man to be a blessing to our vision, in faithfully making available his medical team of doctors and nurses free of charge to help in our vision to the rural poor. Another person that God has used to be a blessing to us is Dr. Emeka Mokwe, an ophthalmologist working with National Eye Centre in Kaduna, who has carried out more than 400 eye operations for us.
In April 2007 we went to a village called Aloma in Ofu Local Government of Kogi State. Dr Charles Omale is the ophthalmologist that accompanied us on that occasion and over 200 people came with eye problems apart from other medical patients. When the doctor had screened them, he found 16 people who needed eye surgery. Six of them were totally blind and were led by hand to the venue, so we took them to the village of Ogbonicha (the hometown of the former governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu). We entered the hospital and prepared the place. Throughout the evening and night of Friday right through Saturday morning all 16 operations were carried out. Unfortunately I had to leave Saturday for Abuja while the doctor remained behind until Sunday afternoon to attend to the patients he operated upon. When the bandages were removed from their eyes, all six people that were actually blind had their sight restored.
There was one spectacular case of an old woman that had been blind for at 19 years. After the bandages were removed from her eyes, she could see for the first time in 19 years! Can you imagine her joy and excitement? The cost of that operation was only eleven thousand naira (about $70) and yet for all those years she suffered because she could not afford this. These sorts of operations have been repeated at least 26 times now. We have seen the lives of people being blessed time and time again. Oh, how sweet to serve the Lord and to be a blessing to the poor!
We thank God for those He has used to help us from time to time. The COCIN church in Jos assisted us in August 2010 at Abocho in Dekina LGA. The Holley Memorial Hospital Ochadamu, a mission hospital belonging to Qua Iboe Church (United Evangelical Church), has also helped tremendously. Over 400 operations have been carried out in its eye theatre or with its personnel. Since this ministry began, all operations so far have been successful. We give God all the praise.
We have also been able to provide various types of medical treatment for more than 30,000 others thus far. Numerous operations of hernia, goiter, abnormal growths and the like have been performed. In all, there have been above 500 minor surgeries conducted during our outreaches in Nigeria. An outstanding theatre nurse from Rhema Hospital is Mr Gbile from Toto in Nassarawa State. The Lord reward him.
We have also had the privilege of going to Uganda twice (in 2011 and 2012). God has helped us to do incredible things for the less privileged there also. The medical needs of the rural poor there are enormous. We have seen people whose blood pressure was reading 200/170 – they were practically walking corpses. Many others that could not make it to find help are already in the grave. They needed just a helping hand from us. Sometimes the money for drugs they need may not exceed N500 -N 1,000 ($3-$7), yet many will suffer and possibly die because even this amount they cannot afford.
We are committed to providing help – both medical and spiritual – for as many as we are able to reach. Jesus always had a heart for the poor. May we be His hands to reach as many poor as possible while we can.
-Barr. Isaac Okpanachi