Progress and Prayers

childero

Let’s rewind back to the time we began, when all we had was a bunch of shy, hopeless kids full of fear. Guardians who did not believe in sending the older girls to school, the bullies at the bible clubs and many others. Time really fly’s by so fast. Currently our bible clubs are really doing great. Children are now free with one another. There is no more bulling, they speak freely and are getting familiar with opening and reading their bibles. The children now attend school daily in full school uniforms with enough school supplies.

The children will be breaking off for the first term holiday on the 13th of May and we hope for better grades this term. Guardians are now more supportive of their children’s education and our older girls are now excelling in school. With much joy I am pleased to let you know that currently our best student is a girl who has always come first in her class. I am glad to let you know that we have four children (three boys and a girl) who are registered to sit for their national primary leaving examinations. These examinations determine whether they can join the next level of education (secondary school or tertiary institution). This is our first lot of sponsored children who are to sit for these exams. Please keep them in your prayers.

On the other hand, three of our children have not been able to attend school and bible clubs regularly like their peers because they are sick. Mercy, a 9year old girl has been battling malaria and typhoid for the last two months. She was admitted at the Gulu regional hospital and is feeling much better now. Francis was at the intensive care unit at Lacor hospital because his CD4 count had become too low, he had little blood and is very weak. The doctors advised he gets enough rest so he could not trek to either school or bible club with his mates but hopefully he will resume school next term.

Matthew, who is a sickle, HIV positive and has hearing impairments, has also been in and out of hospital. The weather is cold and this makes him fall sick. Currently he and his grand pa are admitted at the Opit Health Center. Matthew won’t be able to write his end of term exams since he is still weak and in the hospital. Despite the sickness, he loves school and keeps insisting he wants to go to school with his friends. This makes his grandmother so sad. We took time to visit them at the health center and the doctors are trying to do their best. My humble request to you all is please remember this family in your prayers so that God can see them through this trying moment.

Thanks to all of you who take time to read our blogs, thank you for being part of this ministry. May the good God reward you. Please always remember to pray for the ministry and the children. Thank you for your support. Your support grants wishes that leave a lasting positive impact for families.

Stay blessed.

Sandra

CHILDERO

Let your light shine

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Update from David

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The latest update from David Ntogohnya, District Superintendent of the United Methodist Conference. Merry Christmas!

 

Greetings!

 

In the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I hope everyone is doing fine, as the atmosphere gets busy with Christmas celebrations preparations.
My family is well, the children are home for the long end of year break;  Peninah and baby Rhonda are traveling this evening from Kabaale in western Uganda to Kampala, where she has been on a working visit with their office branch in Western Uganda. Monday this week I was presiding over a burial ceremony of a father of my pastor friend and colleague in the Methodist fraternity in Eastern Uganda Pr Simon Walugambire . The previous week I was involved with International Leadership institute East Africa chapter for one week Conference at Namirembe Hill in Kampala. On the whole God has been in control and gracious to me.
I have been a couple of times to Gulu in this quarter for pastoral work alongside our children’s ministry Childero. I have been able to sit down with Sandra to go through our check list. She is doing fine so far on her own; she has consulted with me wherever she needed guidance on something with the program and schedule. She seems to be balancing very well with her work and school work.
We have had challenges with sickness of a few children in the program who are HIV positive in this last quarter, but we thank God who has been able to carry them through this last school term. I have been able to visit and participate in a few Bible clubs, like in Koch Corom Bible club in two of the pictures below which is doing fine.
During our last GAB meeting early this month, we observed that 5 of our children who have dropped out of the program are girls, and what is common about most of them. It is a concern for us which we felt we needed to address carefully. I requested the pastors and our volunteers to create time to give extra time not only to our teenage girls in the program, but also the others in the church. This is because early teenage marriages are a challenge to our communities especially in the north and East of Uganda. Many of the children being orphans missed the love and closeness of parents, because of the insurgency. I have told the pastors to be very close to them to counsel them, so they can open up what is on their minds and what they intend to do. Many of them reside with their extended family which as a fact cannot be able to address their problems. Our prayer and hope is that as a church family we will be able to change this trend slowly but surely.
Finally we appreciate the support given generously by the Centenary family and the GMPI partners as we make a difference in the lives of our children in Uganda. Blessings and we wish you all the best Christmas celebrations this season, indeed a child is born to us Immanuel God with us!

David

The Status of Francis

Fear, low self-esteem. It can stop us in our tracks. But Cara, my dear friend, mentor, and personal trainer inspired and taught me to be who I am today. “Just one more quiz on accounting. Would you please calculate the wire transfer and convert it to dollars? You are teaching at bible club.” Cara kept doing all this to make sure I never gave up and always made sure I was good at everything I do.

Most of the time, we keep telling our selves “no” or “I can’t”. We are afraid to do things because of the society we live in or because of what others will think or say about us. All we need to do is stand up and face the world and believe we can do it. The bible says “With God, all things are possible.”

Taking the lives of more than one million people each year, the HIV/AIDS epidemic largely affects us. A number of children and guardians do not know their HIV status due to fear, stigma or cost. At birth, Francis, a sponsored child, contracted the HIV virus that claimed the life of his father and three siblings leaving him with just his mother. Francis looked healthy but little did his mother know that he is also HIV+. The little boy’s life seemed normal until his mother left him under the care of his aging grandmother and remarried in the neighboring village. As time passed, Francis developed fevers so often and gradually lost weight but only got treatment for malaria. His grand mum didn’t know that it was HIV until she was advised to take the little boy for an HIV test and he tested positive. Everything changed for Francis, his friends avoided him, his grandmother stopped paying for his tuition since everyone thought Francis would die at any time and all the school fees would be wasted.

We thank God for CHILDERO that came in and put Francis back to school and encouraged him to live just like any other child. Francis resumed schooling as he took his medication and everything seemed normal again. But when Francis’ cousin, who followed him up to make sure he took his medicine, left home to look for a job in town, Francis stopped taking his medicine as prescribed by the doctors and would at times go without his medicine for two or more days. Francis’ health deteriorated so much that we almost lost him. He was always mocked by other children who kept on calling him “skeleton” just because he had become too skinny. We visited Francis at his home, prayed for him and gave him a few food supplements and also asked his grandmother to take him back to the hospital. A week later, his Anti-retroviral drugs (ARV’S) where changed and his grandmother was put in charge of following up on Francis to make sure he takes his medicine as prescribed. Unfortunately, Francis was diagnosed with hydrocelle, a disease that causes a swelling on the testicle and it requires surgery. Currently, Francis is also receiving medicine to boost his appetite and reduce the pain as the doctors wait for him to gain weight and energy before the operation is done.

I would love to share more with you about the CHILDERO children, my humble request to you all is, please always remember these children in your prayers. Please pray for Francis to have a successful surgery, pray for the children who are about to write their end of year exams. Remember, every prayer and penny counts. Even if all you have is loose change, it’s enough to help raise funds to support the children and families we serve.

May God bless you all.

Sandra

sweet boy

Celebration

The big news breaks to the children about the celebration and Childero Olympics, everyone cannot wait. Weeks, days and hours go by and here comes the 18th July when we are to have the celebration. Many children spent a sleepless night thinking about the car ride from their village to Gulu and how big the town and buildings will look like.

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At sunrise, dressed in their best clothes the boys and girls gathered anxiously waiting for the taxi driver to come pick them up. “Woah, woah” goes the wild screams and laughter from the children as the taxi approaches. Soon enough the taxi is filled with children talking about what they think the day will be like. Out of the excitement from the car ride and the fact that they are visiting the town, they keep chanting throughout the journey like little monkeys in the forest. On arrival, the children are served bread and peanut butter with a cup of tea. They all ate their plates clean and later had their faces painted with the Olympic color of their assigned team. We split into the red, blue, green, purple and yellow teams.

Time check 10:00am. Everyone is at the district center and the party begins. The Reverend welcomed everybody and led us in a prayer which transitioned us into colorful performances from the different bible clubs. Oops! I still cannot believe what my eyes saw. The most shy of all our children jumped on stage, singing and dancing like he has never done before and leaving everybody surprised. We went on and enjoyed traditional folk songs and dances from the Children with a great participation full of energy from our boy Bosco who is often ill. Our hearts were filled with joy and we thank God for giving him the energy. The rest of the children sung their hearts out and danced like they do not have bones leaving people begging for more.

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The most valued time at the party finally comes. Children got served plates full of hot food plus a bottle of soda making them smile to the ears. It felt like Christmas had come so early this year because it’s only then that you get to have various dishes severed at a meal with a bottle of soda. After all the eating the children got to relax as they waited for the Olympic Games to be set up.

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“Wheeeeeee” goes the whistle and everyone gathered with his/her team mates according to their Olympic colors with boys and girls ready to play. The fun began with children struggling to pick oranges with their mouth from buckets full of water with loud cheers from their team mates. The struggle continued when we went ahead and had a sack race and even involved the pastors and bible club volunteers to take part. Everyone could not help laughing at the elders struggling to do the sack race and stretching their bones (We cheered on the underdogs). We went on until it came to the time to announce the winning team. The main hall went into dead silence as everyone anxiously waited to hear their team being announced the winners of the Olympics. At last the red team took it all. “Yeah-yeah yeah-red-oh yeah” went screams from the excited red team over their victory.
Despite the fact that the red team won the Olympics, everyone else was a winner in a special way. All the children went through a month of learning a bible song and learning how to recite John3:16. In return all of the children were rewarded with their own bibles for their hard work.

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Blessed is the hand that gives than the hand that receives. Being an orphan does not mean you cannot help. They proved it when they took the proceeds from their Mandazi Project (a Mandazi is like a doughnut) to tithe a tenth of it to their church then bought a box of soap from what was left over after the tithing. They visited the sick at Gulu Regional Referral hospital, prayed to God for healing and blessed their families with the bars of soap. Just like the widow in Mark 12:42 who offered the little she had, the children decided to follow her example and give away the little they had made out of their Mandazi sells. God saw us from our darkest hour when all hope was gone and He is letting His light shine through us. God is using us to reach out to others.
Finally, the moment comes when everyone has to return back home though the children do not want the celebration to end. They only agree after being told they are to be driven back home. Out of excitement everyone wanted to sit by the window so that their village friends might see them riding back home and have evidence whenever get to talk about it. The children got out of the taxi to a crowd of village friends waiting to listen to their town experience and welcome them back to their normal village life. It was an exciting day, even better than Christmas.

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Interruptions

Interruptions derail the course of normalcy. In a way. I can’t help but notice the constant interruptions and I’m not sure if it’s combining two cultures in one program or Kingdom persons fighting against injustice or just the awkward notions in life.

The Sick

Bosco is sick. A boy who still smiles at cookies and popcorn and knows life through his 4ft perspective. He has sickle cell anemia and AIDS. The doctor says Bosco has a chronic fate. When he dances he looks kind of like someone’s grandfather … Barely bending at the joints but never missing a beat. Still, he smiles. We walked Bosco home one afternoon at sunset just to pray for him and his family. I remember sloshing through the puddles in my rainboots and he was just grinning at the funny white woman…

Bosco is an orphan. He lives with his grandparents in a hut. Most people have at least two huts in their homestead … One hut is a kitchen and the second is the home. This family only had one for both needs. That means smoke is rising from the fire long after dinner when you’re trying to study or sleep. Here we were in one of the most picturesque moments, a moment when I thought to myself, “I’m in Africa” and felt it.

In that moment: The two grandparents are sitting on the far side of the small hut. Our pastor is sitting beside Bosco on a thin mattress that is noticeably aged. Sandra, our translator, is next to me. I’m in a bamboo chair by the door, keeping my muddy boots outside. I’m listening to the rain drizzle and the warm fire crackle. I watch the sun set from my spot in a cozy, smoky hut. I can’t help but feel like I’ve been allowed to interrupt life. I look around me inside the hut as the pastor begins praying for Bosco and I see a family bruised by death, disease, and poverty. But they smile. And they allow me to interrupt their normal life to experience this moment.

(My view from inside the hut)

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The Lost

The next week we made another home visit to a widow. This trip, sadly, was to discuss problems about her daughter leaving school and running away from home. She’s lost. At this point we haven’t seen her in 5 months.

The drive takes about half an hour through mint fields, it’s my favorite drive. I always roll down my window so the sharp aroma carries through the car. Anyway, as life usually goes we had no way to contact the home and tell the woman we were coming. No phone, no mail, no anyway to tell her to expect us. It tends to be a hit or miss around here. We arrived at her home and she wasn’t there. The neighbor said she had just left for the market. Almost immediately we saw the woman running from afar … She was coming. When she arrived short of breath she explained, “Well I reached the road and saw tire tracks. I knew it must be you people coming to visit me. So I turned around.” Yet another moment when I sensed I interrupted life and thought, “I’m in Uganda” and felt it like never before. “Tire tracks…”, my mind reeled, “Who knew that was a form of communication”.

(One of the former bullies is preaching. Jesus goes after the lost.)

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The Oppressed

Another meeting we had was with a family we had to investigate. Long complicated story but something wasn’t matching up … Something was being hidden … I didn’t feel like words from mouth matched thoughts from within. The way the family didn’t answer my questions but replied with their own inquiries told me someone in the group was up to no good. People from the village tend to operate with mind games, Americans are just plain straightforward. “Look”, I warned, “We have 30 kids waiting for us at Bible Club. If you don’t start answering my questions I’m going to leave. This is your shot to plea your case.” Suddenly the course changed and the family began working together to tell me the story. But something was still off … The answers were almost perfect but for some reason we questioned the result of the family feud.

A week later a woman from that home approached our staff. She told us what we’d been looking for. She confessed she had not told us the truth because she feared the man in charge of the home. She had a different story and could not tell us at the home, but she told us in that moment.

Again, interrupted. Somehow secrecy and corruption were derailed by conviction for justice for the oppression of women. We find ourselves reaching out far beyond orphans and children. All sorts of people come to us for prayer. Women whose husbands don’t love them because they have yet to bare a son. Older youth who come to bible club probably because our translator is beautiful but stay because the teaching is intriguing. Volunteers, guardians, widows, the elderly, teachers, school principles, and even people in the US have been touched.

(Most of the kids used to be too scared/stubborn to hug me…

Some sort of transformation at heart has occurred since then)

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The Touched

Last week I was speaking at church in Kentucky. One woman wanted to support a child so she picked up a photo. “Oh I love this boy!” I told her, “He is the sweetest. He’s extremely shy but on Sundays he grabs two sticks and an empty water basin and starts playing drums for worship…” My words drowned out because the woman started crying, instantly. She was touched and her heart was interrupted because she suddenly knew something so sweet and charismatic about a little boy from so far away.

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Interruptions

Our work is all about the interruptions coming down from heaven to earth. Life here in the village is not the same as it was before. Hearts are transformed, stories are evolving, and hope is on the rise. Jesus interrupts the sick to restore inner healing within a body that barely moves. Jesus interrupts the lost to give hope to widows who have lost so much and feel like there is nothing more they can do for their children. He interrupts injustice and provides people to care for the oppressed, people they can trust. Jesus interrupts hearts, minds, curses, habits, beliefs, sadness, and life on earth.

He doesn’t need a phone call or snail mail to speak to you … It’s the tire tracks that lead us to people delivering his message. It’s the small ways that God uses us as his voice. To speak up for the weary and broken. To defend the rights of the poor and needy. To pray for the sick and lost. We are all touched somehow. I’m convinced whether it’s a person or a sunset God is sending his love, his voice, and a message to interrupt life here on earth.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” 

(‭Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭20‬ NLT)

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(Unfiltered sunset from last night)

Ghost Drop-outs

Think back to when you were a kid and it is just days before the new school year. Depending on what grade you’re moving into hinges the level of excitement but it’s safe to say each year had its giddy anticipation, and its fears.

New clothes, new shoes, the fresh smell of erasers, the mint condition of notebooks and folders, the pit in your stomach of nerves (the good kind) for new teachers, new friends, new everything. Some years there was even fear. Fear of making new friends, fear of the difficult curriculum, fear of the teachers and the rumors of how tough they can be.

When I look at my students this week that is exactly what I see going through their beating hearts and racing minds.

We took 7 students to their school interviews earlier this week. One student walked in with over-confidence (if you meet her you will giggle and know what I mean) and the rest were struck with nerves, chewing on their my pens. Ahem.

School interviews, can you feel the pressure?

School interviews, can you feel the pressure?

I sat in on some of the interviews. They are tested with simple math and English to examine if they are ready to proceed into the next year, need to remain, or be demoted. I struggled as I watched the 10 year-olds not able to match the numerical numbers to their English word (EX: 8 to eight). I scratched my head as they couldn’t write “Ot” (house) or “Pii” (water) in their own language, words with 2-3 letters. All 7 students were demoted at least 1, if not 3, levels. And on the way back home their were giggles and elbow nudges in the car as the confident one was even demoted (We all giggled, you just gotta’ meet her, she is one strong character).

With the jokes aside, there seems to be a ghost, almost literally, haunting the educational system. In 2012 New Vision* reported the Ugandan primary school drop-out rate to be 71% with this eery feeling that the 71% are “ghost pupils”. Who are they? Where did the go? Students disappear, especially girls.

Pii (water). Learning about God, Jesus, and the Spirit at club. 1 God, 3 forms. 1 element, 3 forms.

Pii (water). Learning about God, Jesus, and the Spirit at club. 1 God, 3 forms. 1 element, 3 forms.

The journal also reported that 25% of girls in primary school drop-out because of pregnancy. That means 1 out of every 4 little girls doesn’t finish school because they are now mom.

Out of the 7 students we took to their interviews 1 is a boy and 6 are girls. All were demoted but to my eyes it was the girls who struggled most through their exams because, more than the boy, their schooling has been on and off.

Girls here really struggle with the cultural pressures of love, marriage, and maternity.

First, all the girls seem to think that finding a boy is where they will find their love, happiness, and peek purpose of life. One of our 14 year old girls has run away three times to a 26 year old “husband”, and this guy wasn’t even her first mature relationship. One of our 18 year old girls is pregnant and still repeating through her primary education.

One family told me to sponsor their younger daughter because, quote, “The older daughter is just going to go off, get pregnant, and drop-out. OR drop-out and get pregnant. Either way she is a waste of your money.”

Another family told me to enroll their 6 year old over their 14 year old because, “The older one has already tried. She keeps failing so there is no chance for her. She just needs to get married.”

The team on our way to talk to one of the girls about staying in school

The team on our way to talk to one of the girls about staying in school

All families had a preference to sponsor the boys, no matter what age, over their daughters.

There is this expectation that girls are going to drop out, get pregnant, and be married off before completing primary school. Therefore, what happens? Well, if you are a 10 year old girl growing up under those expectations then of course she is going to drop-out and search for love in all the wrongs places. You never gave her hope, you never fed her encouragement, and if you never believed in her how will she grow up believing in herself?

The boys struggle too. There is this “cool” vibe with the boys. Dress this way, talk this way, get a girlfriend with no strings attached, gamble, drink, smoke, be cool. So the boys find themselves in the wrong places too and their aspirations are so low and mild. Even when someone encourages them to strive they shrug it off because not caring is kind of cool, tough, and masculine.

These observations don’t account for every Ugandan child by any means but from the ones I’ve seen in our program in the rural area with village culture these attitudes dominate even among pre-teens.

The saying, “It takes a community to raise a child” is such a strong truth in this community. Because of this the Childero program has transformed into a ministry, and the ministry into family.

After months of bible club and our family pouring out into our children the students are walking with new spirits, transformed beliefs, and renewed attitudes.

The girl who was addicted to love affairs and tied to affection is now staying with her pastor, far away from the ex-husband, and is enrolling in school THIS Monday.

The girl with the baby has released the pressures from her village to give-up her chance at education. She’s gearing up for her studies and we see her giggly baby almost every week as, even the baby is part of our ministry family.

The 3 boys who had testimonies of being the bullies now claim to be full of love and are my favorite class clowns.

The demoted children take the set-back with positivity knowing they are going to master the skills.

Community

Community

Identity is fully brimmed, love is replaced in the right place, and belief in themselves rings throughout our days because they know the Father.

Join us in prayer as our students enroll in school this Monday, many who have not regularly attended school for years now. Pray for the girls under wrongful expectations of failure and shortcomings. Pray for the boys to find their cool their own way and to follow in the steps of their Father. Pray for our staff to keep loving, encouraging, and pursuing these brilliant kids. Pray for both our struggles and achievements to honor the One we are setting out to please.

Statistics: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/637176-upe-staggering-71-drop-out-rate-so-far.html

Season of Thanks

Here is Gulu, Uganda we are moving into the dry season when the skies are clear, the giant bugs are out, and the temperature creeps into the high 80’s (F). Despite the scorching heat, we have much to be thankful for.

There was a lot of movement at club this month. We now have local volunteers stationed in each bible club. We have 48 students enrolled in the program and 2 more plan to come aboard in December. The pastors taught club last week and got to use Play-doh as their demonstration, which was a fun first for them!

Alfred and Robinson

Each leader is getting to personally know a small-group of children. Sandra and I usually end up with the P6 and P7 students (There are 7 grades in primary school). Our conversations have been able to grow as the kids slowly let loose from their shy ways, but sometimes we bribe them with cookies. Whatever works, right?

Our sermon series is still on identity. Part one was Who is God and part two is Who We Are. For the past few weeks we’ve looked at God’s characteristics and learned that we inherit his attributes. Sure, maybe God has two hands and feet too. Maybe he is white, maybe he is brown, maybe he is purple. But what if being made in his image isn’t necessarily talking about the physical image, but the spiritual?

To demonstrate the theory I pulled out a mirror. Each kid saw their reflection, most of them don’t own mirrors so it was a fun activity. As they looked in the mirror we talked about inheriting physical attributes from our parents and maybe we’ve inherited those from God, it’s totally possible.

But then we talked about inheriting characteristics or habits from our parents. Maybe someone is stubborn like their Dad, maybe someone likes sweeter tea like their mom, maybe someone sings in the shower like both parents! Whatever the characteristics are, sometimes we get them from our parents.

From God we inherit his spiritual qualities: Love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So then I pulled out my flashlight and shined it on the mirror.

“The flashlight doesn’t reflect a physical appearance like the way our faces do. The mirror reflects the light … It’s the same way we reflect the light of God. Sure, maybe God has two hands and feet. Maybe we look like him physically. But maybe being made in his image is more about the spirit. Maybe looking like God is more about reflecting his light, reflecting his love. Remember the fruits of the spirit? We reflect love, joy, peace, etc … Those are the spiritual characteristics that we inherit from God.”

Sometimes I have no idea what the children have been taught. I trust these pastors, I’ve spent three (almost four) months with them in ministry. I’ve listened to them preach, we’ve counseled together, we’ve worked and shared life together. I know they’ve done their best to teach the children the truth but sometimes I gather that the kids go home and their villages are totally off the beaten path of truth.

Sometimes the lessons we teach appear to be foreign concepts to these kids. Sometimes we have to go over one idea as many as 5 times before the kids catch up. I worry a bit about what home has taught them, and what home will continue to teach them.

For example, we were talking about forgiveness. This is how most conversations went in mine and Sandra’s small group with the most advanced students, keep in mind;

Sandra and I: “Does Jesus love sinners?”

The P6 and P7 students: “Yes.”

Us: “Does he forgive them?”

Students: “Yes.”

Us: (We always put their Sunday school answers to the test) “Does Jesus love liars?”

Students: “Yes.”

Us: “Does Jesus love thieves?”

Students: “Yes.”

Us: “Does he love alcoholics?”

Students: (They begin to appear a bit pressed in their conscience, hesitant) “Yes…”

Us: “Does he love witchdoctors?”

Students: “No.”

Us: “Wait, does Jesus love sinners?”

Students: “Yes.”

Us: “So, if Jesus loves sinners … Does he love witchdoctors?”

Students: (A bit puzzled, double thinking the equation) “Yes.”

Us: “Okay. Does he love prostitutes?”

Students: “No.”

Us: “Wait, does Jesus love sinners?”

Students: “Yes.”

Us: “So, if Jesus loves sinners, does he love prostitutes?”

Students: “No.”

Us: “Ok. Well. Does Jesus love you?”

Students: “Yes.”

Us: “Are you sinners?”

Students: “No.”

Us: “Me and Sandra are sinners. We make mistakes. Sometimes we get angry, sometimes we say something mean. We are sinners. Does Jesus love us?”

Students: (Although they didn’t see their teachers as sinners they responded) “Yes.”

Craft time

As you can see, we’re having some fundamental problems. We don’t believe the confusion is stemming from the church but instead from the villages. Villages polluted by gossip, judgment, and their own standards for who is a sinner and who can be forgiven.

It was astonishing. We would go through these scenarios over and over again and find that some of these students have been taught that some sinners cannot be loved or forgiven by Jesus or mankind. The majority of students didn’t see themselves as sinners and hardly believed me and Sandra when we claimed we are.

The following week we went back with the same scenarios and not much had improved for some of the groups, where as others were finally catching on. If God loves, we love. If God forgives, we forgive. We inherit and reflect those spiritual attributes of God. The mirror may reflect the flashlight’s rays but we reflect God’s.

This month we’ve been able to bring spiritual warfare across cultural issues like the mentalities displayed above. We’ve especially been able to shine light into issues that attack our female students.

We have an 18 year old student with a new born baby. Her village had been gossiping about the family so much that the girl’s mother tried to remove her from the program first directly then again secretively in hope that we would chose her son instead. The home was attacked with shame from the young, unmarried pregnancy.

We had a 14-year-old girl run away from home. She had gotten in trouble and punished, and decided to run. (When you get spanked as a kid, who DOESN’T plot their imaginary pack-up and run before you realize dinner is 3 hours away and you’d grow hungry and bored?) Anyway, the girl had gotten married to a man twice her age with a first wife and child in a village 45 minutes away from town by car.

This month with the help of Sandra, the pastors, and cooperation from the students and guardians involved we were able to come in peace to each home. We were able to share about God’s inherited qualities of love and forgiveness. We were able to counsel both homes, pray over their spiritual needs, and encourage them to walk in a new light.

For the 18-year-old with a baby, she is now coming to club. She is supported by her mother and her mother is no longer scared of what her neighbors have to say about their family.

For the run-away bride, yesterday she went home with mom.

In each visit the families ended up in hugs and tears which is a distant concept for village Africans. Affection is hardly shown, and almost never in touch.

So this month we thank God. We thank God for providing awesome pastors and volunteers to carry Childero throughout Gulu. We thank God for teaching the students about inheriting his image and how we can reflect his qualities. We thank God for redeeming the families and for protecting our students. In general, we thank God because he is awesome.

Defining Love

This month the Childero bible club focused on identity. In order to understand our identity we must first know the identity of our creator.

We looked at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…”

The scripture, a favorite for many believers, provides outstanding examples of love. Examples of what love is or is not. What love does or does not do. The verses help us to understand love but I fell into a deeper search for a specific definition, not just examples.

Example: Love is sharing your sugar cane

(Example: Love is sharing your sugar cane.)

1 John 4:16 is where I fell. Love defined: “God is love.” That is it, the definition I’ve been searching for. Love is God and God is love. They were never two separate entities. One is not defined without the other because they are one whole, they are one in the same. God is love, he is the very being and source of love. Love is God, love comes straight from the maker.

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(Part of the God is love demonstration)

Here is an exercise, where you see God replace his name with the word love:

So when I tell the students, “God loves you” I really means, “Love loves you”.

Or, “Let’s give thanks to God for our new mosquito nets” I could say, “Let’s thank Love for our new nets”.

Once a month the students are sent home with food, “Let’s thank God for giving us food” but really, “Let’s thank Love for giving us food.”

“Jesus died for you” … “Love died for you”.

“Jesus loves you” … “Love loves you”.

“Jesus forgives you” … “Love forgives you”.

Are you with me? God is the source of love, he IS love. Love loves you, Love gives to you, Love is your father, Love is your creator, and Love makes good things.

Before we teach the children about their identity we only saw it fitting to dive into God’s identity. We’ve defined love and truth is we are able to personally know Love because Love created us and we are products (children) of Love.

Example 1: Love is giving a hug, errr uh .. heimlich maneuver? Example 2: Love is your sank ... snake?

(Click to enlarge: Example 1: Love is giving a hug, errr uh .. heimlich maneuver?
Example 2: Love is your sank … snake?)

So far in October Childero has enrolled 40 students into the program, sent them home with mosquito nets, 10 kilos of flour, and witnessed to a total of 250 children on a weekly basis. We’ve partnered with seven pastors and churches, we’ve fought for equality of our students, we’ve fought for opportunity, we’ve fought for dreams, empowerment, and love to build them back up.

So far in the month of October Love has provided. Love has given. Love has loved. Love has created good. And Love has not failed us, Love is here with us fighting on the frontline for Childero and our little shining lights.

Love is not a subject or concept.

Love is not a mindset or sonnet.

Don’t you see? Love is a source,

He is the primitive force.

Truly I tell you

Love is real, Love is alive,

You simply need to abide.

Cara Starns,

Coordinator.

The following lesson was God is good, he creates good things like the good sun, the good earth, and the good us.

Prayer Requests:

  • We hope to accept a few more children into the program in November.
  • Two visitors are coming in December to serve Childero and build us a wonderful storage cabinet for the office! Pray for safe journey, good health, and fruitful shared time together.
  • Pray our Gulu advisory board continues to flourish in learning and growing into their role.
  • Pray God has his way with our partnership in the communities.

(The following lesson was God is good.

He creates good things like the good sun, the good earth, and the good us.)

Breaking Ground

I arrived to Uganda on the 1st of September to launch Childero. In the year I’ve worked with Childero the theme “harvest” has occupied my entire mindset. In the states the staff worked tirelessly throughout the years to create strong, valuable partnerships both at home and in Uganda. They asked each other what their dreams were and worked together to unite a vision for the Kingdom, a biblical vision to take care of orphans and even the widows.

Moving forward God provided the staff a foundation to stand upon. They prayed and dreamt over and over again for how to proceed. They created detailed policies and plans not to bore their passion but to carry out the love flowing from it. They studied similar organizations and sought out their advise on how to do this well. Furthermore, they found open and vulnerable people to share their mistakes and failures, and to them we are deeply grateful.

Remembering our inspiring founder, Jamie Bloyd and the trip that started this dream.

Remembering our inspiring founder, Jamie Bloyd and the trip that started this dream.

With fertile ground set in place God sky rocketed their efforts. He rolled in the necessary funds, He brought together partners, He inspired churches, He set everything in place and most importantly His name was a shining light. I don’t see “Childero” shining on our office door or through our sites. Instead, I see God’s name in flickering lights claiming all the honor.

Beyond all obstacles like cancer or intense funding God raised up Childero. Anyone can plant a seed or water it but only God can grow it.

I find myself and the ministry starting all over again. You see, as much work as was done in the US now still requires yet another season of sowing, watering, growing, and harvesting the seeds here in Uganda. And I knew that was coming, I was totally prepared to plant the seeds and begin all over again but the most important and straining step slipped my mind. Tilling the infertile ground.

Pastor Peter and Sandra with the children in Koch Goma.

Pastor Peter and Sandra with the children in Koch Goma.

Everyday I wake up wanting to plant seeds (easy part) but find myself working on infertile ground. I find myself setting up the foundation for Childero, paving the way, and breaking apart the hard, cold, and dry soil to plant a new beginning. The good news is I am not alone. God has reared up an entire team of workers and servants to break the ground with me.

Forget the illustrations, realistically I am not pouring into children every single day like I want to. My team isn’t creating disciples and leaders within the primary school students. We are simply, with humble importance, still tilling the ground and paving a way for a strong and fertile terrain so when seeds are planted the Lord will be pleased with the soil and the harvest will provide not only crop but also shade for these exhausted people.

Everyday I am working alongside of six pastors and my translator Sandra. My favorite question to ask them is, “What is YOUR dream for the church?” In breaking the ground together I get to learn their vision for their village, culture, and church and ask how we can unite.

Our fantastic supervisor, David Ntogohnya.

Our fantastic supervisor, David Ntogohnya.

Everyday I learn from them about their people’s struggles and when we depart from our day’s journey I explain that I wouldn’t be able to do this without them. I’m not sure they actually believe me yet.

I look back at the grand harvest in the US and find myself confident that the Lord is ready to more than triple it here, in Uganda, but only after He is pleased with the fertile soil. Only after we have carved a road out of footpaths. Only after we’ve sweated and exhausted through the sunny days. Only after waking up each day weary and pitifully following Him into the cruel field knowing He promises a harvest.

I have so many praises to boast about. Through this month God has given my team unity, success, and good health to continue our work. God has accomplished so much by just allowing Childero a place in this culture. God has opened doors with the local leaders and primary schools. And my favorite, I’ve met all of the children. We may only see a small patch of the fertile ground we’ve tilled for now but in heart I see an entire plantation full of climbing crops and shady trees for God to provide rest to the weary.

Please keep us in your prayers. Here are a few ways you can pray:

  • Lift up our praises and share thanks for what God has done for us.
  • Some of the children are sick with Malaria and HIV, one with Sickle Cell, and a couple with epilepsy.
  • We have our first official Advisory Board meeting scheduled for this Friday, October 4th to accept the first round of children into Childero and share vision with the board.
  • Pray we become a blessing on the children and families and that God uses Childero to empower them to lead and grow their own people.
  • Pray for our weary but passionate workers as we break the ground hoping we are pleasing the Lord even in our most tired and frustrated moments.

– Cara Hope Starns

Coordinator

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Welcome!

Welcome to the team. Our desire is that these posts don’t allow you to feel like an outsider gazing in but that our stories pull you into this journey right along side of us. Yes, we invite you to be a part of our team! Childero is excited to arrive to Gulu, Uganda this autumn and  finally serve our kids! First we have a few steps ahead of us, so please be in prayer as we continue our time of preparation. In the mean time there are a few ways you can walk deeper with Childero!

Romans 5:8 says, “I loved you at your darkest.” We believe that Christ sees these orphans as a light in the darkness. Due to the horrors these children have faced they don’t always see themselves as a light but often as a child with no future, someone who has been robbed of love and hope. No matter how dark WE may feel God loves us sincerely, and he sees us as his light. Let us dethrone the enemy and seize that claim! This is our mission, to remind the kids of their true identity in their father.

Join us.

You can partner with Childero in a few ways.

First, explore! Visit Childero.org to find out more about our team. We love to share, so share us with friends and family(:

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Pray that we are lined up with God’s vision and timing and that Childero points back to him in all things.

If you share in our vision and passion for these children prayerfully consider donating financially. If you have a warm-fuzzy feeling from our stories ask if God is moving you to give.

–Come back soon!

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