I was raised in Mbaitoli in Imo State of Nigeria. Mbaitoli is a community about the size of Kalamazoo County, Michigan, with a population of well over 200,000 residents. Like most American kids, I played with the sand, danced in the rain and occasionally picked a fight with my siblings. I did not however play in the snow as a kid. My closest encounter with the snow was in psalm 51. “wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” and was a regular feature in our prayer for forgiveness of sins.
I had no idea what snow was and what it felt like. Getting to see the snow, to touch it and to see the countless designs of the snowflakes was the greatest eye-popping event of my first year in the US. The second big surprise is the number of libraries. From small towns to big cities, from poor families to rich families, it is all libraries and books.
In Michigan where I live, the snow has a lot in common with the Library. Both are many in number; coming in different shapes and sizes. Like different patterns of snow flakes, there are all kinds of libraries in America; District Library, County Library, Family Library, Community Library, Memorial Library, Township Library, City Library, State Library, College Library and even a Library of Congress. Just as the snow purifies the air, the knowledge available in a library wipes out ignorance and poverty.
Mbaitoli, like many communities in Africa has neither the snow nor the Library. That is the setting that I grew up in. Though I did lots of reading, it was mainly recommended classroom text books. My access to extra-curricular books was limited due to lack of funding or public library. I can say with certainty that the amount of extra-curricular books read by a grade 4 kid in the US is more than all the extra-curricular books read by an average student in Mbaitoli from kindergarten through high school. It was the same experience for most of my generation. Even today, there is no single functional public library in Mbaitoli, a community of over 200,000 residents. The result is increasing return to old abandoned superstitions, rise in poverty and decline of authentic Christianity arising from ignorance and untrained leadership.
Thankfully, the Lord is empowering LEMA (Leadership Education Mission for Africa) to change this trend. The video above shows the 27,000 volume library donated to LEMA by the Vine Institute (formerly Salt lake theological Seminary, Utah) video recorded prior to shipping. In addition, LEMA received nearly 3,000 books in sciences and technology and non-theological disciplines from different libraries and families in the US. These books and resources are meant to be used by LEMA to set up a community library in Mbaitoli where LEMA Institute has a school for training pastors. We need your prayers and support to ship these books to Mbaitoli and establish the Library.
Imagine with us the great impact this library would make on the young people, the lives that will be transformed; the community that will come alive and the improved general well-being of the common people. Tim Brown, the president of Western Theological Seminary once said that “God does great things in the world and He does it through people like you and me”. This Library offers us another opportunity to partner with God in changing lives.
Thank you for donating generously and supporting what God is doing. All donations to LEMA are tax deductible. You can donate using our secure website: www.lemainstitute.org/lema-community-library or by check made payable to the LEMA Institute (with Library on the memo line) and mail to LEMA, P.O Box 43, Plainwell, MI 49080.