Orphan Care, Sponsorship, Uganda

It’s Time to Build an Altar

meetinghall

Throughout the Bible, we see times where the people of Israel recounted their history.  They reminded each other, and they taught their children, of their relationship with the Lord, with the ways that He provided for them.  I love that this act of remembrance is modeled for us in the Bible, and I think that we can learn a lot by making remembrance a regular part of our lives.

I just returned from the Africa Partners’ Conference at Children’s HopeChest headquarters in Colorado Springs.  The sponsorship coordinators from around the country met with HopeChest staff and the African country directors from Uganda, Swaziland, and Ethiopia.  This meeting came at a good time for me, as the work on our CarePoint is reaching that middle mile of the marathon.  The beginning woo-hoo-iness of erected buildings and established feedings is wearing off, and the hard work of long-term relationship is setting in.

I think that it’s time to sit down, build an altar to the Lord, and praise Him for what He’s done.

When I first heard about Adacar back in 2009, I agreed to take a chunk of profile packets, throw a few parties with friends, and try to get some kids sponsored and $8,000 raised for a meeting hall and kitchen.  We planned an event, Karts for Kids, a golf cart processional involving glow sticks and unexpected freezing temperatures and sleet.  We presented HopeChest and Adacar for the first time to friends here in Peachtree City.  A few children were sponsored.  We raised $4,000.

Praise be to God.

The next event, a dinner planned and executed by a friend and her wonderful neighbors in Canton, resulted in several more children getting sponsors, and the other $4,000.

Jehovah Jireh, our Lord provides.

When Alex and I went with the HopeChest trip in May of 2010 to visit Adacar for the first time, I wondered what I’d think about this place.  Most people see the CarePoint first, then hop on board.  In my usual way, I’d hopped, sight unseen.

I stepped off the bus in Adacar, and my skin felt tingly, like electricity coursed through my veins.  I was home.  This CarePoint that had stolen my heart months before became grafted into my DNA.

The feeding program had begun only a month before we arrived.  HopeChest had just hired disciplers.  The women were weaving the roof for a temporary kitchen until the other could be built. It was a beginning.

Thanks be to God.

That summer, the Adacar movement grew from parties hosted by friends to a platform at our church, as we had the privilege to share with our family of believers about what we’d seen and where we were headed.  In the lobby after services, many people chose child profiles and welcomed sponsored children into their extended families.

Thank You, God.  Thank You, thank You, thank You.

That fall and winter, we began planning our first community trip to Adacar.  God brought me ten people who willingly agreed to walk, or careen, into the unknown.  A group of beautiful ladies worked to make pillow case dresses with their photos attached for the girls, a group of teens tie dyed tee shirts for the boys, and in the spring, we held a movie night fundraiser.  The goal, $5,000.  And then the tornado sirens started going off.  With turnout much lower than anticipated, sirens wailing as The Lion King music belted out of the church sound system, I felt a little sigh of defeat.  Until I counted the money, and somehow, God moved hearts and we raised $5,000.  During a tornado.

Our God reigns.

Meanwhile, our partner community around the world gave us a generous portion of land for the new CarePoint, and I received photos of men breaking the red Ugandan soil for the meeting hall and kitchen.  I continued to work to get children sponsored, one by one, always one by one.  God was teaching me the value of one by one by one by one.

The Lord provides.

When our team of eleven arrived in Adacar, I watched as my teammates fell in love like I had.  I stored up in my heart the precious moments where I saw each person melt.  When I saw the fully erected kitchen and meeting hall, I melted.  I dropped to my knees and couldn’t stand.  It was real.  These buildings represented hard work at home, each dollar earned and given, and they represented hard work in Adacar.  We watched as men smoothed the final layer of concrete on the floor inside the meeting hall.  The cooks and disciplers would now have a place to provide bodily and spiritual nourishment for the hungry children.

I saw so much hope, and yet, still, so much hurt.  We ached as a hundred children watched the children in the program eat.  I cried.  It’s too much.  There are too many.  How can we find enough sponsors?

My team said, “Now you have us.  It’s not just you anymore, now you have us, too.”

That December, I went before our church again and advocated for the 60 children left to sponsor.  The older ones, the ones nobody wanted.  The church rose up and sponsored all of them.  Sixty sponsors in one week.  And we established a medical fund for the needs that went above and beyond the sponsorship dollars.  Several children have been treated through that fund.

God, You are faithful.

With all of our original children having sponsors, we were able to bring in the hundred who had watched the children eat.  Now they, too, could join the lunch line, could have community, could learn about Jesus, could have a hope and a future.  I began looking for new sponsors for these hundred kids.  We funded the fence around the entire CarePoint, and HopeChest also build pit latrines for the children.

Alex took a BroTrip with a couple of guys and spent the week at Adacar taking videos of most of the kids in the program.  They spent time with the widows who help at the CarePoint, praying with them and hearing their stories.  He said that no one had really ever asked them before, and these women had amazing stories of loss and strength.  They cried together.  Our communities grew closer.

We planned the next trip, fourteen people headed back to Adacar, this time with an eye clinic and a midwife.  The children in our church raised over $2,000 by simply collecting coins, “Change for Adacar.”  And through an online drive, a silent auction at a Karts for Kids golf cart tailgater, and a surprise offering taken by the church, we raised enough to purchase bibles for all 300 kids in the program.

When we arrived in Adacar this time, I couldn’t believe the transformation.  The children had woven flowers into the new fence and greeted us with singing.  The CarePoint buildings were painted a cheerful orange, and the CarePoint staff had created order and beauty out of chaos.  Children who once shoved now yielded.  They shared with us their favorite Bible verses, showed us the hand-washing station, and proudly displayed the beginnings of a gardening project.  We sat in on discipleship lessons, prayed together, tested vision and made glasses, sang songs, and played games.  Our midwife led a workshop for local midwives and they performed sixty prenatal exams in one day.  We witnessed how the CarePoint is blessing the children, as well as the entire community of Adacar.  At the end of the trip, we distributed 300 Bibles into the hands of eager children.

The Lord is loving and gracious.

This is where we’ve come.  This is the provision of God.  He has poured down grace upon both of our communities as we’ve partnered together in His heart-work.  He has shown me, time and again, that this work is not about sweeping successes.  He has not given us anything easily.  We have worked hard for each dollar, for each child sponsored.  We have three hundred children in the program, and the entire project is about relationships.

Today, I build an altar to the Lord, our faithful and loving and gracious provider.  He does not change.  He is constant.  God’s hand is on Adacar, blessing the work of our two communities as we break the chains of poverty and oppression together.  We give Him all the glory and honor for each step along this journey.  We praise His mighty Name.

I’ve recounted where we’ve come.  Next, I’ll tell you where we’re headed.

 

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