Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It All Started With a Child

Some people have been wondering how it was that we started in short-term missions, why we chose Uganda, and why we have focused all of our attention there instead of going other places as well.

This time six years ago we had never even heard of the ministry of AMG International. But one Sunday morning in fall we sat in church listening to a man named George Miller sing (well with George, it's more like belt out) songs to the Lord. He also shared about a ministry he was involved with that dealt with child sponsorships.

I'll never forget sitting there on that wooden pew as George sang his last song, You Raise Me Up. While he sang, he sent around a poster filled with pictures of children - children who didn't have even their basic needs met on a daily basis, children whose eyes looked through the picture and straight into my heart, children who were in such desparate need of knowing what love feels like.

I don't think there was a dry eye in church that day.

After the service I looked at my parents and whispered, "We have to do this. We have to sponsor a child." They both agreed and my dad gave us the task of finding a child, our child.

So as we looked through the bios, seeing one face after another we thought, "How do you choose?" Finally we found a sweet, little, 8 year old girl named Eva. We decided to choose her because her birthday was April 18 (the same day as my Aunt), and also because her father was a prison guard (just like mine). What we didn't realize at the time was that it was God who chose her to be our child, my sweet sister.
I began to fall in love with this little girl. And as we drove home from church that morning, I made a silent promise that one day I would find her and tell her face to face how much I loved her.

It's amazing to me to look back and think how much that day changed our lives. A few years later (in 2006) George Miller, who had become a good friend of our family, called my dad and invited him to come along on a 2 week trip to Uganda. I had really wanted to go with him, but as a family we decided to let my dad check things out first.

He was able to meet Eva, along with hundreds of other sponsored and unsponsored children. The night he returned home, we all sat down in the living room and hooked his camera up to the tv and started looking through the photos. He was exhausted after traveling for days to get home, but there was something in his eyes that changed when he talked about Uganda. After hearing the stories and seeing the pictures, Mom and I decided we were definitely going on the next trip. And so began our yearly trips to Uganda.

We give a lot of credit to people who take short-term mission trips all over the world. We have one friend who has been to India, Haiti, and Guatamala. We have another friend who has been to Uganda, Peru, Guatamala, and is now headed to India. We think that is so wonderful when people have a heart to reach others no matter where that is. At this time, we feel God is leading us to continue working in Uganda, and there are many advantages to that. We are able to build lasting relationships with the AMG national workers, as well as the children we see year after year. We are able to regularly check up on children we know and also children whose sponsors we know.

And most of all, something changed when we all first went to Uganda. It's not always easy to explain, but we know our lives will never be the same. And it all started with a child.

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