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A Touching Story from Uganda

20 Jul

Deborah, recent Journey 117 Uganda team member, shares about an orphan that captured her heart and reminded her of when she was 8 years old in a children’s home growing up…..

Safe In His Arms

While on my mission trip to Uganda I was working at a baby home feeding babies and loving on the littlest, sweetest orphans. I wanted to hold them all and just felt like I could have spent the whole 10 days there. A volunteer came into the nursery and asked if one of us could check in on a child that had been brought in that day. She said she was worried about her and felt bad leaving her. I immediately volunteered and headed to the isolation room. They kept them in there away from others until they could be checked out and cleared by a doctor. What I saw when I got there broke my heart. This child was in a dark room crying so hard she was hyperventilating. The sobs where gut-wrenching. I immediately picked her up and tried to console her. She clung to me with a death grip and continued to sob. I tried rocking her in my arms and rubbing her back and softly saying, “It’s ok, it’s ok.” The sobs kept coming and my heart kept breaking for her.

As I was turning around in this small room I saw the sign on the door that read “Isolation.” I was taken back by that because when I was 8 years old I was in a children’s home in an isolation room for three days. It was one of the hardest times of my life, and to this day I tear up when I think about it. I was traumatized more by that than any abuse I had ever endured. After the second night there I was at a breaking point. I thought I was going to go crazy if I didn’t talk to someone. So I cried out to GOD. I said, “If you are real, please come. I need you now and I can’t bear to be alone any more.” In that moment of desperation I felt HIS presence. It was if peace entered that room and I felt that HE wrapped me in HIS arms and instantly my tears stopped and I fell asleep singing “JESUS loves me” to myself. I have never doubted if GOD was real in my life because I knew from that moment on that HE was real. Continue reading

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I Care For Orphans….Because I Was One

2 May

Blog post by Deborah P., Team Uganda 2012

Our journey started with following a blog written by Katie Davis about her heart for Uganda. When her book was released last year, I met her at Catayst in Atlanta and she signed a copy for Mallory [my daughter]. After Mallory read her book she told me she felt led to go to Uganda and wanted me to go with her. I told her we would pray about it and see where GOD led us. I felt that it was not the right time with having adopted a baby last year, it would be hard to leave him, but after meeting a man form Kampala in January at PASSION 2012, I was again spending time in prayer about our Journey to Uganda. I was contacted in February by my mission coach from a trip I took to Ukraine in 2010. She was wondering if I was interested in another mission trip. I told her about Uganda and she emailed me 3 possible trips. The first two were not feasible and after a month she called back.  When I checked out the 3rd email I realized that it was a trip to Kampala, Uganda…the very place we had been praying about going. I felt confirmation from GOD about now being the time and, after talking with my husband and friends, I knew that this would be the year to take this Journey with my daughter, Mallory.

I have had a heart for orphans since I was one myself. Continue reading

Looking to Haiti with Anticipation

1 Feb

Blog post by Dave C., Team Haiti 2012

Before Keren and I met, we both desired for adoption to be part of the way that we built our family. I can’t say there was one “moment” where I felt God calling me to this. It simply has been one of those things that just makes sense to me.

In preparation for this trip, a few things in particular excite me:

  • Watching my wife’s heart be filled by the Spirit with love and compassion for kids, especially those in difficult circumstances
  • Learning what God is teaching the other members of the team. How will we as a team encourage each other in this journey?
  • Praying expectantly for God to surprise me. As I said, we already want to adopt. But how else might the Lord be calling us to serve, especially in the here and now?

Dave C. will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along his wife and others from his church in Evanston, IL.

Faith Without Deeds

1 Feb

Blog post by Krysta S., Team Haiti 2012

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” –James 2:26

Since beginning my walk with the Lord, the book of James has always been a favorite of mine. This particular verse always stood out to me, mainly due to my confusion about why I needed to “complete deeds” if my salvation came from Jesus. As I continued to learn more about my Savior and His character, I continually observed acts of humility. Not only did I witness a humble attitude in examining the nature of Christ, but also in those who followed Him. Through the actions of my youth leaders, disciplers, and other Christians in my life, I saw a willingness to serve, not to gain merit because of pride, but because they truly loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him. It was through realizing this that I began my journey to love my God with all my heart and desired to worship Him through humble service towards others.

Over the years, my family has had the privilege to support a number of long-term missionaries or believers attending short-term mission trips. One family friend in particular, only a few years older than me, traveled to Haiti immediately after his high school graduation and served in an orphanage for approximately 2 years. He was there when Haiti was struck by the earthquake and I remember reading his blog frequently about the work God was doing in the devastated nation. Haiti has been in my prayers for a number of years and I was overjoyed when I heard about the trip with Journey 117 through my church, Evanston Bible Fellowship. After spending a few weeks in prayer, I realized that God was calling me to serve the orphans of Haiti by demonstrating His love and compassion to them.

I am looking at this trip as an opportunity from God to fall in love with Him more. Far too often I take my relationship with Him for granted. I believe that this trip will be very challenging, but also rewarding, and, most importantly, humbling. My service should not come from prideful ambition or a need to “complete deeds,” but from a love for my God and a longing to share His love and compassion with others.

Krysta S. will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along with others from her church in Evanston, IL.

God’s Plan for Orphans Here and There

30 Jan

Blog post by Melissa L., Team Haiti 2012

My vision for orphans started in March 2009.  I must say, I wish it would have started sooner. My husband and I had a very small bible study at our house on Sunday nights.  Jason (my husband) and our friend Janet were talking about the reality and horror of sex trafficking.  The Holy Spirit had big plans that night.  Long story short, Jason and Janet said, “We are done just sending money or praying…lets do something else.”  God called us that night to adoption, and Janet supported us financially. We now have a daughter from Ethiopia, Mary, who is now 21 months old.  Then in December, we took in our first foster child, Dereon; he is 7 months old.  My vision right now is to be open to God’s plan for orphans everywhere.  I want my heart to be sensitive and in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I don’t want to view caring for orphans as something I can “check off my list.”  I have no idea what this will mean!

Melissa L. will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along with others from her church in Evanston, IL.

12-Year-Old Prepares for Journey to Haiti

30 Jan

Blog post by Karis L. (12 yrs old), Team Haiti 2012

This is my journey for a vision.  I have a vision but I have fuzzy one.  Orphans and adoptions are topics very close to my heart considering I have a baby sister from Ethiopia, and that my dad is a pastor and encourages these ideas to the hearts of his children. I want to be a missionary/nurse in Congo when I grow up because I have heard stories and have seen pictures of desperate children and people.  I believe that this journey to Haiti will show me if I  want this to be part of my everyday life and if I will be willing to make the sacrifices. I believe that God will move my heart to do things when I am older and even when I am 12.

Karis L. will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along with others from her church in Evanston, IL. Karis is 12 and already has a heart for the fatherless!

Preparing My Heart For Haiti

28 Jan

Blog post by Wendy K., Team Haiti 2012

For most of my adult life the focus of my attention and service has centered on my family, work and church.  I pretty much neglected/avoided the concerns of the larger world.  It was just too overwhelming.  But for the past year with our three children all grown, married and out of the home, I have felt a tug to start looking beyond my small world to some of the larger concerns of the world.  I have been praying and asking God what I should do and where to begin.  I have been aware of my resistant and hard heart, so Proverbs 3:27 has been my daily prayer and meditation: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”  Whereas opening my heart was the first step, I felt education and becoming aware of the needs and what people were doing to help was the second step.  So when our church announced the opportunity to learn about the poor and orphaned in Haiti, I felt this was an answered prayer for the next step.

Why does God want me to go on this trip?
I consider this trip as God’s gift to me to soften and change my heart to care for those who are poor, orphaned, and oppressed. I believe that He wants to teach me in a visible and tangible way that all I have comes from His hand and that I should never take it for granted or credit it to my doing; that as a steward of His blessings, I have a responsibility to share what I have in time, money, resources and heart and care for those less fortunate than I; that everyone, whether poor or rich are entitled to God’s goodness, respect and care; and that God wants my heart to care as much as His to join Him in a love and work that takes action.

Wendy K. will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along with others from her church in Evanston, IL.