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Missions Month!

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CHANGE THE WORLD, ONE CHILD AT A TIME

Stephen was nine years old when his mother died. His father had died 2 years before that of AIDS. Alone and frightened, Stephen was now responsible for a younger brother and sister. Living an hour from Kampala, Uganda, there was no social assistance, no orphanage, nobody to care for these 3 orphans, like countless other children throughout the continent. Stephen struggled to find enough food and clothing for them and a safe place to sleep at night. Out of necessity he became an entrepreneur. Like many other children, he earned pennies a day using a pic and hammer to chip pieces of gravel off large rocks. It would take him hours to make a pile that would fill a bucket. He sat by the edge of the road, day in and day out, chipping and selling one bucketful at a time to passers-by.
Unlike Canadians, people in Uganda didn’t get a mortgage to build their home, instead, they buy one bag of cement; 1 or 2 cement blocks; and gravel whenever they had a little money to spare and work at building their homes little by little.

One day, a man stopped and as he was paying for some gravel he asked, “Little boy, why aren’t you in school?” Stephen answered that he was an orphan and didn’t have enough money to go to school. A week or two went by and the same man stopped again to purchase gravel and asked the same question, to which Stephen gave the same answer. The man asked more questions and Stephen revealed that he was working hard to take care of his two younger siblings.

Stephen’s story touched the heart of the mystery man whose name is Justice, the director of a Christian development and humanitarian organization. Soon after, Justice returned to Stephen’s place on the side of the road and moved Stephen and his siblings to a home where they would be raised in a family. Through child sponsorship, they received food, clothing and medical care as well as an opportunity to go to school.

After high school, Stephen worked hard to continue his education and achieved a Master’s in Education degree from Uganda Christian University. He is currently the Principal of the very school which had adopted him so long ago and has recently published his first book, A Friend Indeed. As a devoted servant of the Lord, his vision is to be an advocate for suffering children. His wife is employed as a social worker by the same Christian NGO, she goes out into the villages and finds children the same way Justice had found Stephen and establishes them in a stable home where they can flourish.

I am incredibly humbled to have had the opportunity to spend time with this young couple who are committed to seeking lost, lonely and broken people

and leading them to the Lord. As I held one of their newborn twins, they told me that in their grandparents’ generation, multiple birth babies were seen as a curse and an omen that calamity from the angry gods would befall the family, so to appease the gods, the babies were taken to the jungle and left.

Stephen and his wife are eternally thankful for the missionaries who brought the good news that changed the age-old traditions so strongly ingrained in the people. Belief in the one and only true God and the saving grace of Jesus Christ has erased that tradition from their family, and the community in which they serve.

In Him,

Colleen

Missions Chair

Colleen’s commentary on school children in Uganda.