When Rebecca Mbok died in childbirth in 2006, along with her child, news of the tragedy spread throughout a global network of Christian nurses. Her husband, Sam Mbok, was the much-loved leader for the Fellowship of Christian Nurses in Nigeria. He also served on the Board of Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI).
Ten years later, in November 2016, Sam Mbok found himself in Minnesota, sharing his inspiring story of how God met him in his grief and sadness with nurses and students at the Twin Cities NCF meeting. He recounted how God moved him from tragedy to strategy to improve the health of mothers and infants. He spoke on God’s Plan for Improving Global Health and shared what God has been doing in Nigeria.
One of the nurses stated, “I was so moved by Sam’s response to the tragedy of his wife’s death and his development of an effective strategy for preventing maternal and infant deaths. This testimony is so potent. It helps us to realize that God does bring good out of some of our most painful experiences.”
Sam’s journey from tragedy in Nigeria to sharing strategy in Minnesota is a story of global partnerships involving a supportive network of nurses around the world.
Two years after Sam’s wife and baby died, Sam shared his grief–and emerging hope–among the 400 Christian nurses from around the world who had traveled to Jos, Nigeria for the NCFI Global Conference. By then, Sam had started the Rebecca Mbok Foundation (RMF) to promote maternal and child health and reduce mortality.
God’s call to help mothers and babies was heard by Margaret Taylor, a nurse midwife in Minnesota, who attended the NCFI conference and stayed for 11 days of service in rural Nigeria.
Margaret knew about resources which could be helpful in Nigeria. The American College of Nurse Midwives Global Outreach Department developed Home Based Life Saving Skills (HBLSS), a strategy to instruct health care professionals to teach community leaders and pregnant women how to identify pregnancy/newborn complications early in order to save their lives.
The HBLSS teaching is accomplished by using “take action cards” in the form of pictures. Each problem identifies 6 actions the learners can take to sustain life. Trainers are asked to encourage learners to teach their neighbors. This approach helps to reach a population missed in countries where women do not give birth in hospitals because of finances.
In 2009 Margaret and a nurse midwife colleague, Linda, spent a month in Nigeria, teaching and working with 42 participants (nurses, midwives, and a doctor) and some public health officials. Participants practiced by teaching groups of pregnant women what they had learned. They were presented with certificates and welcomed as new health care providers to train community leaders and pregnant women.
After the course, God also opened doors for Sam and Margaret to talk with top national health officials and receive their affirmation about HBLSS being an effective strategy for reducing maternal mortality in Nigeria.
Margaret returned to Nigeria in 2011 for follow-up that included retesting the trainers individually on their retention of what they remembered. The retention result was 98%!
Margaret also provided problem-solving with leaders and talked with them about gathering statistics for research on outcomes they were seeing. The leaders continued to train others.
Throughout the partnership of Sam and Margaret in Nigeria, people around the world were praying for this significant opportunity of spiritual and professional collaboration. God answered prayer!
As a result, 862 participants have been prepared and training is ongoing. Initial statistics record that maternal and infant mortality has been significantly reduced by eliminating avoidable causes of death that can be addressed through simple knowledge and skills, which HBLSS provides.
NCF Nurses in Minnesota continue to discuss God’s plan for improving global health through partnerships like the one Sam and Margaret developed. “We are praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria who are sharing Jesus’ compassion in Christ-centered healthcare,” said Mary Thompson, former NCF Director.
Sam knows that NCF nurses are praying for him. He left his globally-minded friends with these prayer requests:
- Pray for God’s Kingdom to expand with the holistic salvation of mothers and children through the Rebecca Mbok Foundation (RMF).
- Ask God to send us to people and organizations to be partners in this work.
- Pray for funds to expand the work of Home Based Life Saving Skills (HBLSS).
Sam is grateful that nurses in the USA and around the world are vitally connected through NCFI to equip and encourage Christian nurses to integrate Biblical principles and Christ-centered values within clinical practice, leadership, education and research.
“Sam’s work is fulfilling the NCFI mission and he has given us a glimpse of what God is doing in Nigeria. We are linked to this ministry,” said Mary Thompson. “We pray that God will continue to open our eyes to what He is doing through Christian nurses and students globally through NCFI. It is exciting to be involved in God’s work in our world!”