If We Don't Help, Who Will?


If We Don’t Help, Who Will?

At General Conference this past April in Tampa our delegation was seated with two gentlemen from Nigeria, John Wesley Johanna (clergy and head of delegation) and Habila Charles Yola (a lay person). Our friendship grew with these two gentlemen as the Conference proceeded and we interacted with them learning about their culture. We ate lunch with them and shared their hopes and also their problems. Kelly Clem, Pat Meadows, Robert Sparkman and Steve Lyles were the members of the North Alabama Delegation that sat at the same table as John and Charles from the Nigeria Central Conference.

This group of Nigerian Clergy and Laity painted a picture of a group of school age children desperately needing help with their secondary education. They need a High School to be able to further their education once they have completed their elementary education. Education after the elementary level is just not available in Nigeria. They need someone to provide funds to build a High School.

After having several conversations with these two men and others from the Nigerian Delegation about the education needs of the Nigerian children, the Holy Spirit started working in our delegation about these needs, and especially in clergyperson Robert Sparkman.

Robert felt the call from the Holy Spirit to ask how we in North Alabama could be of help. John said that nearly 90 percent of any financial help they receive is from the United Methodist Church of the United States. Good United Methodists from Iowa and North Georgia are already helping with the other two Conferences in Nigeria. John Wesley suggested we come and visit Nigeria and see the needs of the Central Conference.

When Robert returned to Alabama after General Conference, he said he could not stop thinking about these hurting people. After some research and talking to the folks in Georgia he was offered a chance to go to Nigeria in August with a ministry team from Georgia. Robert made the trip and had an eye-opening experience learning about the needs firsthand. Robert was treated as royalty in Nigeria and he came away with even a keener sense and a deeper feeling of the Holy Spirit telling him to make something happen for these good Christian United Methodists.

They need someone to help build them a High School.  To make this dream a reality and to help build this school a partnership will be setup  between individuals and individual churches of North Alabama to make pledges that will fund this project. Perhaps churches can put this project in their Mission budget for the year or individuals may make pledges personally. If we all help a little financially, a lot can be accomplished toward the goal of a new school.

Robert has had three or four volunteer meetings at churches in North Alabama, and in the Northeast, Northwest and Southeast Districts of our Conference explaining the needs. At this time, this project is strictly on an individual basis and not a Conference project. Hopefully, it can grow into a Conference project and money can be raised for this noble cause.

Robert will come to your church and give a personal testimony and make a presentation on the needs of the Nigerian people. Robert needs our help in spreading the message.  He is in the process of preparing a video that can be used to tell the story.

When the Holy Spirit moves people to help other people, everyone should pitch in!!!! Please do your part for this noble Nigeria Partnership.

We applaud Robert Sparkman for answering the call on his life to help some that don’t have the resources to help themselves.

There are many questions that you may have and they can best be answered by Robert Sparkman at the Hartselle First United Methodist Church. His phone number is (256) 773-6952 and Email address is  rsparkman@fumchartselle.org.

At the end of September I was invited to attend the Charge Conference at the Lakeside UMC in Huntsville. It was a grand experience, and I made new friends at the Lakeside church. Dr. Thomas Muhomba is the preacher at Lakeside and he prepared a most elegant and efficient brochure for the Charge Conference. I was delighted to be in the presence of the Northeast District Lay Leader Betty Zoller and the Northeast District Superintendent Dale Cohen. Dale gave Lakeside UMC a lot of praise while challenging the church in reaching the hurting people all around them, especially the students of Alabama A&M, just up the street from the church. While there, Betty Zoller gave a good report of the Northeast District and highlighted the connectedness of the United Methodist Church in the Northeast District. It was good to see Lowell Zoller, Betty’s husband also at the Charge Conference.

It was a pleasure to meet Marsha Stewart, recording secretary of the church; Kerri-Noelle Humphrey, Lakeside Lay Leader; Joseph O Collins, Sr,. associate Lay Leader; and Geraldine Wright, Lay Member to Annual Conference.

Congratulations to Dr. Thomas Muhomba for a very organized business like Charge Conference, and also for the work he does for the North Alabama Conference with Connectional Ministries.

Recently I heard this analogy that seems to fit our relationship with God.

No matter how long or how large the parade is or how loud the band is playing,

Before you join in, you need to know two things:

Where the parade is going?

Who is leading the parade?

“Be sure God is leading your parade…….”

“Kind words are the best Kind”
Steve Lyles
Conference Lay Leader


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