The story of Vision Africa can be told through the eyes of a lovely young Nigerian woman. “Naomi” is confined to a wheelchair. “I used to be confined not only physically, but emotionally,” she said. “‘How was I going to contribute anything to this world? Why am I here?’ These questions haunted my thoughts and destroyed my self-worth.”
Naomi found answers through the messages she heard on Vision Africa Radio in Southeast Nigeria. “They were about God’s love and how He chose me – how He saw me. They changed my life and gave me the confidence to explore new opportunities.” Naomi – not her real name — now owns a small design and computer technician business. “I am happy,” she said. “And I have Vision Africa Radio to thank for sharing the truth that changed my view. I am perfect – created in God’s image. My disabilities do not define me.”
Vision Africa was started as a mission in Nigeria by Bishop Sunday Onuoha, who suffered hunger, pain and homelessness as a child during the 1967 Nigerian civil war. That raised many questions in his young mind about how a loving God could allow suffering. That is, until he heard the story of what Christ did for us on the cross. “I heard how God was loving, even when His Son, Jesus, was suffering on the cross. I saw God’s love even in the midst of pain,” he said.
The bishop wanted everyone in his country to understand God’s love. When he started Vision Africa in 1997, the ministry adopted the theme, “Sharing God’s Love.” It began as a church-planting ministry, which remains one of its main focuses. There is a great need for churches in Nigeria – especially in outlying villages.
“Villagers cannot call Uber,” Bishop Sunday said, smiling. “They walk to church. You see women carrying their children on their backs. So why can’t we bring the Gospel closer to them – closer to their homes, closer to their families?”
Over 130 self-sustaining, multiplying churches have been planted since Vision Africa started. As the ministry has grown, it has sought to minister in Nigeria where no one else will. It has expanded to run medical missions in remote villages, serving more than 800,000 people over the years who otherwise would have no access to medical care.
“You see people who ordinarily would have died, but they are alive!” Bishop Sunday said. “In Nigeria, over 300,000 people die every year because of malaria. It is preventable. We use community outreaches to teach people how to use mosquito nets, how to protect themselves and their kids.”
The ministry also operates a major radio station in southeast Nigeria. Vision Africa Radio can potentially reach 25 million people and has had an impact on hundreds of thousands of lives in its 14 years on air. 90.9 KCBI began training the staff and local university students in 2014 and has returned every year since. Members of the Vision Africa Radio staff have even traveled to Dallas for training, and KCBI considers it our sister station in Nigeria.
“Vision Africa goes where no one else will,” Bishop Sunday said. “We run medical outreaches and plant churches in remote villages. The radio station reaches into prisons. It reaches into the hospitals. It reaches into the cities and the villages when there is no comfort, when every hope is gone – sharing the hope of salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.”