A lighthouse is something you expect to find on the coast, surrounded by lashing waves, spilling out a pathway of light in the darkness, warning travellers of the rocks. That’s why it was the last thing I expected to find in a Nigerian town called Ogugu. This lighthouse isn’t the conventional shape, it’s run on a generator and the only water by it is pumped from a nearby borehole, but in my eyes it’s still a lighthouse.
Surrounded by schools and red dirt fields, beneath scorching sunshine and nestled in tall palm trees, lies the Advance Centre. It’s a building that started as a centre providing AIDS screening and health education and over the years has become a beacon of light in the community, a safe place, a place known to provide help to the vulnerable and the lost.
The Advance centre is an umbrella for a variety of other projects that have grown out of the work started here. One of these programmes is called Circle of Hope and is a sponsorship scheme that supports around 200 kids up until the age of eighteen with school fees, books and uniforms. The children also receive food parcels four times a year and support with medical fees when needed. They attend regular bible studies at the centre, in their schools and are visited at home.
Circle of Hope shines the light and love of Jesus into the lives of these children, loving and nurturing them, directing their paths and guiding them through the dangers. It’s a project that supports children through education and guides them back into their community so that they are able to support themselves and the generations to come, it’s a light for children who would not otherwise survive.
A recent development is a brand new centre that currently serves to train in tailoring and will soon offer training in IT skills and cookery. All of these skills provide the freedom for graduates to start their own businesses. Transforming the lives of families and communities in practical ways and enabling them to strive for independence and success.
Another beam of light in Ogugu is Abigail’s fund, an initiative that I heard about whilst visiting a small compound. Whilst holding the tiniest baby I’ve ever held I heard the story of a mother who had died in childbirth along with one of her babies that was part of a set of triplets. There snuggled in my lap was one of the two remaining triplets peacefully oblivious to the heartache surrounding it’s remaining family. So where was the light in this dark situation? The light was hope that came in the form of tins of baby milk, clothes and money to buy clean, safe, water. The light was the love and concern of the staff as they visited, prayed for and gave advice to the grandmother who had taken on the responsibility of these precious babies. The light was practical love, Jesus shining through into an otherwise desolate situation.
The Advance centre shines so brightly in this community that even those unsure of getting help will come on the off chance that the centre can help or advise in someway. We are often told that we are called to be the light in a dark world and I honestly believe that this centre is just that. No matter your race, religion, ability or background if there’s help to be had then it’s here.
– Please pray that God would continue to bless the awe inspiring work that is happening in Nigeria. Not just in Ogugu but across the entire country.
In a place that is normally only hi lighted in the media when something bad happens thank God that He is here! Shining in the darkness and that there is Hope.