Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Plea for HOPE

It started when I read a book called Crazy Love. The gnawing guilt made me hate it. I couldn't believe (or didn't want to) that God calls all of us to the mission field, to care for people we've never met or had any exposure to. Don't I do enough here, in my own little world?

Then, if my conscience hadn't been pricked enough, I picked up Radical and the guilt grew. Does God hold me responsible to meet the needs of the whole world? Really?

It's not that I don't want to care, I just can't relate. How am I to have a heart of compassion for people I don't even know? How can I add world missions to an already crowded schedule and tight budget? My hardness and apathy for the underprivileged and starving in our world bother me. How can I call myself a Christ follower and not feel anything? What is wrong with me?!

So I've been praying about it, that God would give me the right heart, that He would make it more real to me. And then last week, I got an email from a girl I knew in high school, a woman I haven't spoken to in probably thirty years, asking me to give a shout out to the HOPE center in Uganda. She and her husband started the center to meet the needs of orphans from 0-5. The need is great as AIDS has devastated the area.

To be honest, I have never understood the hearts of missionaries. I can't imagine leaving everything here, including family and relationships to meet the physical and spiritual needs of a culture I don't understand. I have great respect for the sacrifices they make and see their work as a high calling I could never aspire to. I just don't feel the tug. But I want to care. I pray to care.

And she emailed me. Out of nowhere. It's no coincidence.

She explains the center this way:

The HOPE Center is a licensed non profit within Uganda, that gives us the right to be here and the right to help the people. They are called NGO's here (Non Government Organization) 501 (c) 3 in the states. We are a licensed 501 (c)3 as well so we are tax deductible. What license we do NOT have yet is an orphanage license. We have focused on getting registered with the government as a NGO and then you have to get registered within the district you are operating in. Those things we have done just 3 weeks ago. Now we start the orphanage license process. Nothing in Africa is fast. Things that are done in a day in the states takes 3 weeks here.

Her heart breaks over the needs, those they can and cannot meet.

The poverty, I pray daily for God to keep my heart as His, and for me not to get numb to what we see. Again today, had yet another mother crying, desperate, hopeless, wanting us to take her children so that they would live, she has no job, no way to get a job, and even if she got a job, it wouldn't be enough . . . I had to turn this mother away. It is not legal for me to take in children without a license, and when they have known parents, unless that parent is extremely ill.

They are completing the paperwork and waiting to become licensed, literally trusting God for each day.

I have never been happier in my life, there is something to be said about living every day, every minute, every second, in complete faith. I have always loved the Lord, and have grown closer to Him with each stage of life, but relying on His promises daily brings a whole new closeness to Him that is unexplainable. 

What I find most fascinating is the way she looks at their life and work:

When people would ask us before we left how could we give up our lives and move to a 3rd world country, our response was very easy. We honestly feel very blessed that God has chosen us. We do not feel like we are sacrificing anything but the convenience of America, and it really has shown me just how lazy I am.

Now keep in mind these are people who took their every last penny to a foreign country, money which she said is "long gone," to meet the needs of complete strangers. Wow.

As you can imagine, this ministry is in need of funding. My friend's husband has been back in the States for four months, working to raise more money. Their most urgent need is for a van to transport children. Would you consider giving to their cause? Take a look at their work and pray about your involvement.

Their Mission Statement
The HOPE Center Uganda Happenings (a blog)

When I told her she was living my worst fear, being sent to Africa for Jesus, she replied with this:

I know that someday you are going to come visit me, because voicing your worst fears the way you have, God has a knack of making us face those fears! LOL But that's okay, I will take you on a safari, and a coffee safari, and show you the source of the Nile. There is something almost spiritual that happens when you see the Nile for the first time and think of its history!

It sounds appealing, doesn't it? You think God's working on my apathetic heart? Mmm hmm.

Do me a favor, would you? Take few moments to consider their mission, their hearts, their center. Would you be willing to support their efforts to reach the orphaned and abandoned children of Uganda?

Truly God works in mysterious ways. Who would have thought He'd answer my prayers with an email from a woman in my past. Having a personal connection softens my heart, piques my interest, makes me want to know more. Maybe there's hope for me.

Thank You, Lord.

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