My True A2S Baptism
By Greg Bridgeford, 2016 Team Member
If you are reading this blog, no doubt you have some knowledge of Access to Success and the life-changing work this group is doing every day in Benin City, Nigeria, and increasingly in the widening circle of A2S students. I had watched A2S admiringly from the sidelines until the summer of 2013 when Lindsay Biggers, a colleague at Lowe’s (and A2S board member) asked me to be a dunk tank target at an upcoming A2S fundraiser. So technically, I didn’t dive in to A2S that day…My seat went out from under me, and I flopped in without a shred of dignity as Davidson Wildcat basketball players reconnected with their abandoned baseball career dreams at my expense.
But that was not and is not the true baptism into A2S that keeps me up at night. The true baptism is our mission trip next month to Benin City. And I wonder today, as I wondered months ago when Andrew Lovedale invited my family and I to come to Nigeria and Benin City… “Why am I anxious about it?”
On the one hand, international travel and cultural immersion was part of my job for 10 years at Lowe’s. I ran the international development function and visited favelas in Brazil, high rises in Moscow, dense neighborhoods in Mumbai, the countryside of China. I was there to learn about people’s relationship with their homes and the business opportunity that that cultural relationship might represent. It was a somewhat detached, analytical exercise laden with demographics, trends, societal nuances and in-country consultants.
On the other hand, this trip is anything but analytical or academic. We’ll work with hundreds of kids in the sports and empowerment camps; we’ll re-decorate the nearby orphanage where 34 children live, we’ll serve at the vacation bible school; we’ll minister to the displaced Nigerians who have come to a camp in the west to escape Boko Haram’s terror in the northeast; and we’ll worship God on Sunday at the Gospel Ministries Bible Church. If a dunk tank is kind of leading with your chin, and my work international work depended on leading with my head, then this is leading with your heart. And if you are like me and your emotions are always close to the surface and you practice keeping them somewhat under cover….then this is a scary path.
I have done my homework on A2S, Nigeria and Benin City and from this and my international immersion experience, intellectually, I know what to expect. But I have no idea how it will feel. None. My best guess is I will leave Nigeria with faces and stories that will make sleep difficult and detachment impossible. And I bet God will be happy with that. Like the life his Son choose, His work is uncomfortable, challenging and wonder filled. I am looking forward to sharing this trip and these stories with you.