Thursday, March 26, 2009

You will be encouraged today!!


I know a pretty bold statement to make...but I promise you that by the time you read this post, you WILL BE ENCOURAGED. Many of you may be feeling hopeless today, feeling all alone in this world with no one listening. Or you may be having a day where you are questioning God’s faithfulness and goodness. You might be in a seemingly impossible situation and feeling ready to give up. You may be feeling despair, pain, and suffering. You may be wondering, “Why on earth would God lead me down this path?” You may be wondering if your prayers will ever be answered. Your heart may be heavy with grief. Your faith may be weak. Your trust in your Heavenly Father waning. I have been in all of these places at some point in my walk with Jesus. I have wrestled with fear, I have cried too many tears, and I have doubted my Father. I have questioned His goodness. I have. To say I haven’t would be a lie.  

BUT, despite myself, despite all of my feelings or all of my outlooks on situations and life, GOD HAS NEVER LET ME DOWN. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL!! Maybe not in the way I imagined, dreamed or hoped but in HIS way, which is always the best way. Now I have to say that I am writing this while in one of those places where tears flood my eyes minute by minute and day by day!! I am not speaking of tears of pain, but tears of JOY! Tears from beholding the beautiful mystery of our God, while crying out “HOW GOD?” “HOW ARE YOU SO FAITHFUL? “YOU BLOW ME AWAY GOD!!” “YOU ASTOUND ME!”    ...YOU BRING ME TO TEARS, TO HUMILITY, TO YOUR THRONE ROOM LOST FOR WORDS FOR YOUR BOUNDLESS GOODNESS!!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans for hope and a future."  
"Do not fear"
 "I do not leave you as orphans"
These aren’t just words. These are promises. This is truth. This is the way, heart, will and mind of our God. This is the reality we can live in.

Okay, please keep reading… I promise you it won’t disappoint!!
Do you remember our African Christmas? READ HERE if not. I will give you synapses of our Christmas. We decided to go to Mulago Hospital on Christmas Day and love on the children and families in the children’s ward. We did just that and while we were roaming the halls we were directed to a little boy in a crib. There he sat, lost, scared, confused, malnourished, sad and abandoned. 
We later found out that the hospital staff called him Uwalu (oo wa lu), I don't think this was his real name. Well, our hearts broke. We cried out to God that day as a family. Fatu and Osobie held his hand and peered at him in the crib. We spent time with him praying silently for God’s mercy and love to shower him. We left knowing we’d be back to see him the next day. Our hearts were heavy. We walked home from Mulago hospital talking with Fatu and Osobie about the boy. We talked and prayed for a mama and papa for him. We even talked to Jesus about whether or not he was to be in our family. Osobie cried that day as we left him. They knew ‘that’ pain. They had lived in it before. I am sure they were reminded of their time in the orphanage. The next day we went back to see Uwalu and dressed him in one of Osobie’s shirts. We gave him car toys and candy, hoping he would feel loved. We left Kampala and left Uwala in Mulago. We prayed and prayed to know if he was to be in our family, and we felt somehow, that that was not the plan for his life. Our hearts remained heavy but also at peace and our thoughts and prayers continued for Uwalu for weeks and months.
Now I have to admit to you all that after spending some time in Africa and visiting many orphanages my heart has ached much too much. There are days that I am completely overwhelmed at the needs of Africa. The numbers of lost, abandoned, poor, forgotten, and orphaned children is countless. Their faces run through my mind all day long and even invade my dreams. There are days where I cry out to God asking Him where he is? Has he forgotten them? Who will care for them? Why God? Why must they suffer? There are times when I am hopeless. There are times that my tears just run dry. BUT the truth is GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN. HE HAS NOT LEFT THEM AS ORPHANS. He aches more than we do for the orphans of Africa. His heart longs for them to be LOVED! He loves them! And asks us to join Him in loving them! Even when we fail, and we are unfaithful, He hasn’t and isn’t.

Back to the story….Across the thousands of miles and vast seas was a family praying. There was a family waiting for a son from Uganda. On Christmas day there was a mother aching for her Ugandan son who was somewhere out there waiting to be matched with their family. On Christmas day there was a family wondering where their little brother and son was living and how he was spending his Christmas. There was a mom praying hard for her “son” to be LOVED that Christmas!! She prayed that LOVE would find him and care for him wherever he may be!!

I got an email a few weeks ago from a woman named Sheila. She had googled “Mulago Hospital” and found our blog post from Christmas. Maybe 5 weeks after Christmas, the McDaniel’s accepted a little boy for fostering/adoption. They knew his name was going to be Elijah and low and behold, there in the baby home lie their son, with the name given to him by the staff, Elijah!! He was abandoned mid December at Mulago Hospital and taken to a baby home! After several emails and photos later, it was confirmed…UWALU…the boy…..WAS TO BE THEIR SON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have had tears streaming down my face for the last few weeks!!

God brought her son the LOVE she had prayed for her son through a family of strangers that Christmas!!   GOD KNEW. God knew the plans he had for Uwalu /Elijah. He knew the family that he would be adopted into. He cared for his son. Sheila’s and her families’ prayers and our prayers have been answered in the most miraculous way!! Look at him now!!
Never in a million years would I have ever thought we’d know what happened to Uwalu. We had no way of ever knowing what his life would turn out like. Would he be adopted God? Is he going to know the love of a mama and papa? Or is he going to spend his days in a baby home and then an orphanage, alone, and unloved?

Check out their blog and pray for them as they are still waiting to bring him home....HERE

Monday, March 2, 2009

Share the love!!!

As many of you know, Jeff and I have been working with Bethesda International for almost 5 years now! Before I continue, I also want to say THANK YOU for all of you who have supported Ruth, Bethesda, and sponsered kids over the years!! MOST OF YOU who know us, know Bethesda. And MANY of you have already given to Bethesda in times past!! THANK YOU!!!!THIS POST IS QUITE URGENT & SERIOUS this is why we are asking again for


We met Ruth, the founder, in 2003 and our hearts were stirred that very day for Africa. We were so impacted by the love and care that Bethesda was giving to the orphaned and vulnerable children of Uganda. They established foster families where the children were cared for by aunties, uncles, papa's and mama's. The children were confident, proud of their families, and full of love!!Never before had we seen such joy in an "orphanage", but that's because Ruth didn't found an orphanage, she established a community. Ruth's desire was for the children to raised in a traditional "African" way which is within a family. This is how Africa has always been but due to poverty, AIDS, and war, families have been broken leaving thousands of children to fend for themselves.

Bethesda has been serving children for over 11 years now, and despite the fact that Ruth Muga, the founder died unexpectantly, they continue in their service to children providing education, medical care, spiritual discipleship, and love. Unfortunately, in the last 2 years Bethesda International has suffered from a loss of support due to constraints on their donors in the States and elsewhere. When Ruth passed away in the fall of 2008, even more of their support had been cutoff leaving them in a financial crisis. They have 357 children in their care from nursery to University level, and all of them are suffering due to lack of money for school fees and basic needs.
They are faced with an immense challenge of paying for hundreds of children's school fees for the next term as well as paying the current debts and feeding all the kids!! They also have over 200 children attending their Rapha community school with 55 of the kids being in foster care at Rapha and in need of food. On top of this, the teachers at Rapha have gone without salary for the last 5 months. SO.....those of us partnered with Bethesda/Rapha School, (HopeChest being one of org. partnered with them) are running an emergency fundraiser! We need to raise about $18,000 to cover all the costs of school fees next term, food, care, medical care and long overdue debts!! These children will not return to school next term unless something is done!

They are in a real crisis !

The Bethesda children need us to...


How many of us have received the LOVE from a friend, family member, NGO, or employer when we really needed it? It may not have been financial love but I am sure we've all been blessed by someone at some point in our lives beyond our expectations. I know I have, many times and all we can do in return is SHARE THE LOVE!! This time with children in Bethesda International/RAPHA SCHOOL that need us to stand with them during this difficult time of transition and financial hardship. Join us this week and send others to my blog or Tom Davis's Blog or my friend Brandies blog as we try to spread the word and share the financial love with our Ugandan friends!!