By Chuck Eckerson
Prior to coming to the US for a sabbatical in 2014, the Olaurés had been asked to provide executive leadership to a new organization in Nigeria called the Family Revival and Support Initiative. This was formed to be an umbrella organization for churches and individuals ministering to marriages and families in Nigeria. It will conduct research on marriage and family issues, present radio and television programs, and initiate legislation in support of Christian family values.
The Olaurés wanted to learn as much as they could about how to run a marriage and family ministry. And they wanted to learn from a seasoned organization they knew and respected: FamilyLife. (In previous trips to the US, they have attended Weekends to Remember® and led HomeBuilders® groups.) So in July 2014, Chuck Eckerson, FamilyLife’s International Representative for West and Central Africa, organized a three-day intensive learning experience for them at the FamilyLife headquarters.
They returned to Nigeria in September 2014 and began leading the new organization. Through their research, they have discovered that medical professionals in Nigeria face particular challenges in their marriage and family relationships. So the Olaurés have developed a marriage enrichment workshop targeting health care professionals. They have written a proposal to take this biblical workshop to a teaching hospital in Nigeria, get feedback, make adjustments, and then expand the program to other hospitals and clinics.
Often, we think of “FamilyLife” ministries primarily targeting churches and Christians audiences. It is refreshing to see the Olaurés find ways to specifically target a scientific audience in a secular institution and offer them biblical help and hope.
In January 2015, Chuck and Kathy Eckerson had the privilege to visit with the Olaurés in Ibadan, Nigeria. Just the day before, Israel and Augusta presented a marriage seminar at a church. It should be noted that in Africa, it is common for singles to come to marriage seminars. Perhaps this is because there is so little teaching about marriage in churches. Here is what the Olaurés wrote about the seminar:
We gave a joint presentation to the group of about 70 individuals with about 25 married couples present. We then divided into two groups of male and female adults. Israel facilitated the men and Augusta facilitated the ladies’ group. After about one and a half hours we came back together for a foot washing service as part of a Holy Communion service. Married couples washed each other’s feet and single persons washed each other’s feet. There was a time of reconciliation and forgiveness for couples while they washed each other’s feet, praying over each other in the process. The Holy Communion Service followed, after which Israel blessed the congregation and their children as the presiding elder.
Here in America, we might not think much of a foot washing service in which a husband and wife wash each others’ feet. But in the local culture, a husband washing his wife’s feet violates powerful cultural norms. But that is what Jesus did when He washed his disciples’ feet. So husbands washing their wives’ feet is truly a picture of humility and Christ-like, sacrificial love.
Ending an African marriage conference with a communion and foot-washing service is a powerful, unforgettable experience because it 1) reminds us of Christ’s humility and sacrificial love, and 2) gives husbands a chance to demonstrate this same love to their wives.
FamilyLife exists to provide proven biblical solutions for your marriage and family, and help you as you help others. This is clearly demonstrated in the ministry of Israel and Augusta Olauré. FamilyLife has helped them help others.