‘If you are satisfied, don’t go to Africa’

May 7, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford’s Crossfire ministries travel to Africa’s Ivory Coast by PASTOR Keith Hemmila Crossfire Ministries If you are satisfied with your life and happy with yourself, don’t go to Africa.  You will come back forever changed.  Abidjan was just another dot on the map until we visited this city. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but now it has a permanent home forever in our hearts.  We still see a multitude of faces, beautiful people going through the motions of everyday life, with a hope that someday things will improve.  Civil War broke out in early 2001 that crippled the country.  Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city of 3.8 million, was hardest hit.  The war caused 800,000 Europeans to exit  the country along with the world bank.  This beautiful city turned into a refugee camp. Young people between the ages of 16 and 25 populated the city.  Many had lost their families in the war and had come to Abidjan to reestablish themselves.  Every morning it hit us that in a few days we would be going home, but for these people, this is their life.  While we drove through the city, we felt helpless as we encountered so many people in need. Our hearts were troubled as we caught sight of an elderly woman begging for her daily food.  Children walked between the cars at intersections selling goods from newspapers to toilet paper.  But the most heartbreaking scene was a young man walking on his feet and hands because his body was so severely twisted.  Medical facilities were minimal for this unfortunate man.  It was a startling reminder of the difference between our country and a third world country. Myself and wife Judy Hemmila, Sherry Holmes, Shirlee Kamstra and Linda Penn-Davies made up the team that went to Abidjan.  The purpose of our visit was to work with Bishop Anthony Yeboah, Field Director of Free International Missions.  Pastors preached at eight services in three different churches.  The three other participants came as support staff.  Rice was purchased by Crossfire Ministries and distributed to needy people.  Also, this team had the opportunity to visit a new church Crossfire Ministries helped finance in 2008. The road trip to our first ministry event was shocking.  Garbage lined the […]

Rockford man’s ‘humanly impossible’ task saving lives

April 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA What did you do for spring break? One Rockford man and his family spent it in war-torn Sudan, Africa, seeing the result of ten years of passion, faith and miracles. Dave Bowman, with his wife, sons and daughter and their children, underwent a 24-hour trip to Sudan to see the dedication of a hospital that is the only one of its kind in a country where the people literally had no medical options.   The trip, with family members ranging in age from 11-year-old Sarah Hammond to Dave and his wife Nancy, who had her 72nd birthday on the trip. The experience included close proximity to scorpions, termites “on steroids” and two choices of toilet: the long-drop or short-drop outhouse. Still, each family member considers the venture a journey that changed their lives profoundly and permanently.   The ten family members went to see the result of ten years of passion, prayer and hands-on work: a hospital in Sudan. At the outset of the effort to build the hospital, organizers were told it was a humanly impossible endeavor. “Imaging building a hospital in New York and you have to bring the supplies to build it from Florida and there are no roads in between,” said Bowman. “Supplies either came from Nairobi, 16,000 miles away or they came from Grand Rapids, Michigan. That’s what gives me goose bumps.” In a way, the hospital is the result of a diagnosis of severe heart disease and diabetes Bowman received. His doctor recommended he no longer work and he was forced to re-evaluate his life. At the time, there had been news stories of a genocidal war in Sudan where entire tribes of people were killed so their land could be taken. Children, primarily boys as young as four, were without living family members and fending for themselves in a harsh and desolate landscape. Bowman had heard about these “lost boys” who were being brought to the United States by the U.S. government. “I thought, ‘I can’t work, but maybe I can be a father to these boys.’” Bowman picked up his new sons at the airport in December, 2000. “At that time I had absolutely no idea I’d have a second career like this.” As […]