William Karshima was born and raised in the Nigerian city of Jos, and he can remember when it was a peaceful city.
The pastor at Oasis Community Church is returning to his hometown — now a city full of violence, Boko Haram attacks and religious conflicts, he said — and he’s taking six members of his congregation on a 10-day mission trip in September.
Traveling with Karshima are Blessing Freeman and her husband, Terry; Romita Harris; Tracy Lewis; Tonya Bell; and Juan Cotto. This is the church’s first mission trip, although several member have been abroad before on similar trips. Karshima served in Uganda, Blessing Freeman went to the Czech Republic, and Terry Freeman has been to Kenya.
It will cost $17,500 to go on this trip, so the church has held multiple events, including two bake sales and a Taste of Nigeria, to help raise the necessary funds. The church is currently collecting used shoes through funds2orgs. The church will receive 40 cents on the dollar for every pair turned in. These shoes are then sold to third-world countries, where citizens sell them in the market to sustain their families.
The mission team will accept any shoes, including flip-flops, boots, high heels and cleats.
While in Nigeria, the team will work in three locations: an orphanage, hospital and prison.
“Because of the increase of violence and crisis, a lot of kids, they don't have parents, (and) they end up in these orphanages,” Karshima said. “They lost their parents or they lost their homes and (parents) cannot provide for the kids. Most of the youths now end up in prison because of the crisis and no jobs. They just steal or do some things that are illegal and end up in prison. Because of the crisis … most of the women don't even have money to go to the hospital when they are pregnant or need medical treatment.”
The Winter Garden group will be at the Safe Motherhood Partners hospital to help with cleaning, maintenance work and feeding patients.
At the state prison, the mission team will do mentoring work alongside another organization that already works there.
“We will be teaching the prisoners about God and to live their lives when they get out of prison, basic life skills, how to be good citizens,” Karshima said.
The orphanage is where the Oasis team will do the most serving, taking part in construction work, Karshima said.
He has another reason for visiting this orphanage, called Gidan Bege, or “House of Hope.” Karshima and his wife, Shiloh, plan to adopt two children from there, and he hopes to start the adoption process while he’s in Jos.
“We want to do a partnership with the orphanage there … to provide support and pretty much a long-term relationship,” he said.
At the hospital, the mission team will be tasked with learning what the needs are and how the church can help meet those needs, as well.
“For us, it's living our mission,” Karshima said. “Our mission statement is to grow faith, give hope, go love. So for us, this is life on mission. We're excited for that.”
Contact Amy Quesinberry at [email protected].