I certainly don't want to make light of many of the great ministries that we worked with, but God really stirred my heart at one particular spot in Uganda. We were there a short time, but I will never forget my experience.
Our Man Up team met with Pastor Andrew of Home Again Ministries in Jin-Ja, Uganda one afternoon at his church. Pastor Andrew has a humble church in a struggling community. He has dedicated his church and life to serving the poorest of those among him, widows and children. The people that live in this community are a mixture of different tribes and backgrounds, but they have several things in common...they are almost all single mothers and widows caring for their many children (usually 5-8 children each) with little to no resources or opportunity.
Andrew broke our team up into teams of 5-6 people and sent us out into their tight communities. We were simply told to "share the Gospel." This was the moment that I became rather uncomfortable. I have never been one who feels comfortable standing on a street corner preaching the word. But, I believe God puts us in uncomfortable situations to make us stronger, better people, and to learn to rely on Him, so I pushed ahead.
As we were driving in our bus down the street, our driver randomly stopped on the side of the road and told us to get off and that he would be back in an hour and a half. My response..."You want me to do what?? Are you nuts?? You are going to drop me off on the side of the road in Uganda where we don't know anyone, no one speaks our language, and we're supposed to trust that you'll be back in 90 minutes?"
In faith, we stepped off the bus and started a short journey over uneven terrain and railroad tracks, until we were met with some gorgeous, anxious little faces. They were smiling ear to ear, quickly taking our hands. Most of them had some tattered and torn clothes, but several met us without pants or shirts. A 7 year old boy grabbed my hand and we immediately bonded as we walked together. It was clear as we walked with them towards their homes, this was going to be an interesting 90 minutes.
They led us to what I would describe as a small courtyard between some of their family mud structures. This is where we were greeted by 20-30 women and 1 man. We sat before them, somewhat uncomfortably (they had pooled their resources so we could sit in chairs, while they sat on the dirt), and looked around, unsure exactly what was going to happen next.
One of my team members took over and began speaking with them, sharing the Gospel, and encouraging the women who had gathered with us. It was extremely powerful to learn about these women, how they provide for their family (many pay the bills with prostitution), and the other hurdles they face (disease, hunger, no education, etc). We later found out that we were the first white men to enter their community. They seemed very happy to have us and their one request from us was to help them get bibles in their native language.
The children were eager to play with us, but sat very respectfully, waiting for the okay from their mothers. As we finished our time with them and began to walk back to the road, the same little boy again found my hand. His mother (Helen) came along side of me and we began to converse (she was one of the few there who spoke english). Our conversation hit me like a ton of bricks and showed me what Man Up is all about. It went something like this...
Helen (with a smile): "You know my son would love to go home with you."
Me: "Oh, but you would miss him."
Helen (laughing): "He is the youngest of 5, I would be free!!"
Me: "Yes, but you would miss him greatly!"
Helen: "You are right. But, you have no idea what kind of an impact you have had on that boy! Even though you have only been here a short time, he has no father, no positive man in his life. By just coming here and spending time holding his hand, you have made a huge difference for him. I can see it in his eyes!"
I was floored! We like to think that we are doing good things on our trips, but until you hear it from the people we are serving, you never really know. After returning home to the US, Pastor Andrew sent me an email, thanking me for coming and he wanted me to know that he had a record number of people at his church the Sunday after we were there.
Since that time, Andrew and I have been exploring different options of ways that we can help break the cycle of poverty and the feeling of hopelessness in this community. We have looked at several options, but keep coming back to education. So, Shannon and I have made the decision to be obedient to His calling and do our part to help these people.
We are starting by helping Andrew start a nursery school for 60 children age 4 and below. It will allow these children to get at least 1 stable meal a day, and will start them off at an early age with a basic education. The school will also give the single mothers an opportunity to work and start to earn a respectable wage to support their family.
The need is great, and unfortunately, so is the cost. We are hoping to raise $25,000 which will purchase all of the necessary supplies to start the school and fully fund it for the first year. In that time, we are hoping to secure more long term funding options for Pastor Andrew and the school. Eventually, we have hopes to bridge this into a primary school for older children and a vocational school for the mothers, but we will work on that as God provides.
- Pray - Prayer is very powerful for all of us. Pray that God will help us find the funding to reach our goal and put 60 little ones on their way to prosperity.
- Share - Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc. Anything we can do to spread our work helps us.
- Join us - The August Man Up team will be visiting Pastor Andrew and these amazing people. You can experience the people, project and everything that surrounds them yourself. For more info on the trip, visit http://www.onechildcampaign.com/.
- T-Shirt - The new puzzle shirt design is ready and waiting for you. They are a higher quality shirt than our last ones and very comfortable. They are a heather charcoal color and we are currently taking pre-orders. You can purchase one either by contacting myself or Shannon, or by ordering one here, in the right hand column.
- Donate - You can give Shannon or I monetary donations. If you are wanting it to be a tax deduction, we are now partnering with the National Christian Foundation to help us manage our fundraising efforts. They are a 501(c)3 and any donation you make to them is tax deductible and 99% of the proceeds go directly to our project. Donation checks can be sent to:
National Christian Foundation
11625 Rainwater Drive, Suite 500
Alpharetta, GA 30009
- When making your donation by check, write in the memo "The Home Again Ministry School Fund." so it gets processed to our fund. It would also be helpful to include a short note with the checkin stating the fund name to direct them. If you have questions, leave a comment below and I'll help you out.
- You can also donate by clicking on the link below and making a tax deductible donation.
Thanks so much for all of your time, prayer and support! It means a lot to have your help with this important project. Please remember to share this with all of your friends!!