After our day of rest along the Nile River, we continued our journey onward to Jinja. For the remainder of our trip we stayed at Canaan Children’s Home, a large orphanage in Jinja, and then traveled out from there to the other ministries we visited. (More on Canaan’s tomorrow)
But for the next two days we had the privilege of serving alongside Pillars of Hope. Godfrey, Uncle David, and Peter are three men with huge hearts for orphans and the least of these and are the staff of Pillars of Hope.
Pillars of Hope Uganda (www.pillarsofhopeuganda.com) is a Christian non-profit that reaches out to destitute children and families in Jinja. Their ministry aims to provide food for the families, school fees for the children through sponsorship, and has dreams of providing vocational training for the children as they go through school. Their goal is to be able to purchase sewing machines for the ministry to teach the children valuable life skills. They currently have a hand loom that they train the children on and everything that is made is then sold and put back into the ministry to provide the funds for basic needs.
During the first day with Pillars of Hope, we had the opportunity to see their main “headquarters” where the hand loom is kept and we got to see it in action.
Yes, I know….the irony was not lost on me either! I start a blog before my trip to Uganda centered around the idea of our lives being woven together by God and before I know it I’m standing before a hand loom. You know I had about a million questions to ask! More on that another time…
That first day we also got to go on a few home visits with Godfrey and Peter where we met vulnerable families and children who are being supported by Pillars of Hope and had the privilege of praying over these precious families. I will never forget the utter poverty these families where in. Poverty so deep that even though these children have families and “homes”, they often go to the streets to beg for food, or money, or they resort to pickpocketing or any number of other vile practices to bring home a little food or money to their starving families. The kind of poverty that breaks people and forces upon them unimaginable things.
The kind of poverty that we will never know.
But thankfully, even though this stark poverty was etched into my mind that day, something else was too and it was a bit stronger and much more lasting.
I will never, ever, forget the love that Peter and Godfrey had for these children and their families. I will never, ever forget how they ran from their homes to hug on these men whose love towards them clearly meant the world and so much more. Because when you live in a country where emotion is rarely shown and you see grown women with smile-splitting joy, you know that something is up. And that something is the love of our Savior being poured out on them through people like Peter. And people like Godfrey.
The second day we spent with Pillars of Hope, I knew a little smile-splitting joy myself. It was my Birthday and there isn’t anything much better than a choir of ‘Happy Birthdays’ from precious Ugandan children to get the joy bubbling up.
We spent the morning with Pillars of Hope and learned more about their current needs. See we were meeting up with Uncle David and Godfrey and the kids at their typical Saturday morning outreach area except it really wasn’t a typical Saturday. The place they meet at is in front of the space they had rented for their outreach program because they didn’t have the funds to continue renting it so it was locked up. This is a huge need. How can you share the love of Christ to a community if you don’t have a space to work from and support the community? A space that would hold sewing machines to train the children. A space alongside the highway to sell their handmade goods. A space that the community children could come to on Saturdays.
Aside from these hurdles, we had a joyous afternoon with the children playing games, blowing bubbles, jumping rope, and just loving them.
And in typical African fashion they had some songs to bless us with too.
And of all the singing-to we experienced in Uganda, those few children for those few moments and those few songs filled my heart to the brim. Because when you go to Uganda you expect to give and give until theres nothing left to give. But what you never expect is to be blessed beyond words by the hearts of selfless children who know the greatest gift of all to give; their love and the blessing of our Lord. (I’ll post the video somewhere else for a listen)
So the day ended with joy-filled hearts, Birthday cards and wishes galore, and a chocolate milkshake which in Uganda, is a life-changing experience. Yes, the food was delicious– because I really do love chicken and rice. But after the same food for every lunch and dinner, a chocolate milkshake really is a pretty big deal.
Would you pray with me for Pillars of Hope? For more child sponsorships to fund their school fees. For more support to purchase sewing machines and to be able to buy a property from which to minister out of (the space the hand loom is currently in is not suffiencient). And for more people with a heart like our Lords to love and serve these children alongside Godfrey, Peter, and Uncle David. They and the children would, I know, be eternally grateful.