Red Letters

Red Letters

An Orphan’s Faith

We have a great team in Uganda right now, led by Greg McElheny and Vince Giordano.  I just received an email from one of our team members, Ben Savage, from Cincinnati Ohio. I had to share it with you.  Please join me in prayer for this team as they visit carepoints throughout the Teso Region over the next few days. I hope to update you with more stories as they come to me.

"Today I walked into a world unlike any other that I have experienced.
I arrived two days ago with a team from Children’s HopeChest to visit
orphan communities in the hopes of creating connections between our
world of plenty and their world of want.   As we drove through the
towns, I witnessed a bizarre mixture of beauty, despair and hope.  The
landscape was truly astounding.  There were many imaginative and
hardworking people who had used what little resources that could
muster to create businesses that were showing signs of success.  The
next sight I would see would be a child naked, in a ramshackle mud hut
with no one to care for them.

In this strange stew of images we pulled into Rapha Community School,
a community that is sponsored by a church in Florida through
Children’s HopeChest.  We were greeted by 150 children in white shirts
and orange smocks.  The children were not exactly what I expected.
True, their situation was more dire than any I’ve seen, but the
children shone like the sun.  Their smiles were bright and filled with
pride and dignity.  The children greeted us individually and thanked
us for coming.  I only wish my children acted this respectfully.
After we toured the community, we were escorted to their schoolroom.
The room consisted of a small map of the world, a few old posters and
rough hewn benches.


The children sang a welcome to us.  They danced and recited Gods words
to us.  I was challenged and changed by all of this.   And then there
was Sarah, who read Matthew 6 aloud.  Sarah, who, from all earthly
perspectives should be disabled with despair for her future spoke of
faith.  She is an orphan who has depended on God to deliver food,
shelter and all other earthly needs.  She had suffered loss and pain
that people in my community would have spent countless dollars on
therapy to recover from, but today Sarah spoke to me of faith.  She


HopeChest Uganda Vision Trip Day 2 (2 of 7)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will

eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more
important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at
the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more
valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to
his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field
grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon
in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God
clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is
thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What
shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all
these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of
its own.”  Matthew 6:25-34


To hear a lovely child of God with a gleaming face recite those words
to me was the high point and most devastating moment for me.  The
thought that Sarah, who has good reason to worry about tomorrow would
unassumingly speak those challenging words to us fairly contented and
well fed Americans destroyed me.  That we worry more about the news
from Hollywood than the desperation found around the world was nothing
short of life changing.  While our culture is so consumed with anxiety
and fear, here was little Sarah exemplifying faith and courage.  She
read the words but I could see that she felt them too and that she
felt them deeply.


I have always loved that passage and thought about it as a cute
phrasing of my simple faith. But today I heard it as a life mantra
that was spoken from the core of this small framed girl.  It was the
throwing down of the gauntlet.  And the question that confronts me now
as I sit in my Ugandan hotel and Sarah sleeps in her mud hut is “What
will I do to respond?”  I have been blessed – not so much that I am
rich in my own community necessarily, but I am insanely rich in a
global context.  I have also been exposed to enough of the
difficulties that these communities face that I can no longer hide
behind ignorance.    Do I truly believe that these children are more
valuable than my cable television?   I am the “I want my MTV”
generation.  As Africa burns I live in comfort and ease while I CAN
make a difference in the lives of others but will I choose to? What
sacrifice have I been willing to make to help fulfill God’s promise of
care to others?  I will live differently from this day forward.
Have mercy on me God, though I truly don’t deserve it.  I have for too
long ignored your call to love those who are broken and abused.  Help
me capture and hold onto the conviction, sorrow, and joy reflected in
Sarah’s eyes today.  And thank you for showing me a picture of your
heart through these broken but not forgotten children in Rapha.  I am
devastated and changed.  Thank you, sweet Lord."

Comments read comments(4)
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posted September 11, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Very moving – thank you for sharing.

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posted September 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Very convicting message. Thank you.

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Amy @ Living a Blessed Life

posted September 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this, Tom. I cannot wait to be able to spend time in Africa. Sigh.
BTW – Right after finishing your latest book (SO powerful), we received a letter from our sponsored child in Swaziland telling us that she is now an orphan as she has lost her father. Our hearts of full of sorrow for her loss. Please add beautiful 10 year old Tengetile to your list of precious children to pray for.
Continuing to pray for you, your family & your ministry. :-)

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posted September 11, 2009 at 9:22 pm


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