Tag Archives: Organizations

My Duty Assignment

28 May

Blog post by Alicia, Team Uganda 2012

“Children simply want to love and be loved…they have nothing to do with the families they are born into.” That is a mantra of wisdom that I heard consistently from my mother as a child growing up. My mother and father raised my siblings and me with the knowledge that it not by any good works that we should be boast but rather to be constantly “thankful” to God for all of His blessing. I was raised to never “look down” on anyone unless I was looking down to lift them up.

I remember as a young child when I would see commercials for “Feed The Children” or the famine broadcasts I would ask my father if we could take some of our dinner and send it over to the children. I wanted them to have cake, ice cream, hamburgers, chicken, candy, pizza, party punch and the like.  Everything I enjoyed I wanted them to enjoy as well. I now understand why my father would just look at me and smile and say, “Alicia, well honey it is as not as easy and cooking and sending a meal but we can send a donation in to assist with getting food to them.” I have always had a heart and passion to help children. I feel like they are the most vulnerable citizens of any society and when they are in need, the body of Christ has a duty to assist a child whenever help is needed, wherever they are in the world.

Furthermore, as a child of God, I feel personally that I have a mandate from the Lord to help lift the cause of the orphan among, not only my family, church family and friends, but I feel I must lift up my voice before the world to bring light to what the conditions are for the precious children of Uganda.

I have never had a problem expressing myself verbally and speaking with compassion and conviction about any cause I believe in. The cause of the orphan is something I feel and care so very deeply about in my deep in my heart and in my soul. As a military soldier receives his or her “duty assignment” from their superiors, so I have received my assignment from the Lord. I’m anxiously awaiting this Journey to see what God has in store for me and how He will use my life to be and advocate for the orphan. For me I have an assignment…this is my mandate and it is only the beginning.

Alicia resides in California and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Uganda team.

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My Journey to Uganda

25 May

Blog post by Kimberly, Team Uganda 2012

My life has been absolutely crazy. Getting to this place in life after only twenty years of living is mind-boggling to me. Growing up in a wealthier area of Atlanta suburbia has creates a specific mindset for those growing up in it. Honestly, I was a spoiled brat for most of my life. It’s disgusting to think about. I was given everything and anything a girl could possibly want, until my sweet parents made me go on my first mission trip to New Orleans for my spring break instead of getting to go to the beach with all of my friends. This was sophomore year of high school and the year that my eyes would be opened to the needs of others outside of my bubble. The next year I went back to New Orleans where God furthered a heart and passion for missions. It wasn’t until senior year that the Lord had manifested a heart for Africa, specifically Uganda, in addition to orphans.

The beginning of senior year I began babysitting for a family in the church. They had two beautiful daughters and for the year I watched them make preparations for their newest addition, a baby boy named Samuel from Ethiopia. When the baby had gotten there, my heart leaped at the sight of a once-orphan now being loved and taken care of by probably the most amazing people I know. They are in the process of adopting HIV-positive siblings. This was the first point in my life that God stirred my heart for the orphan. I then got involved with Invisible Children at my school which further cultivated my heart for the children of Africa. After graduation I went for my final summer to church camp. As I was praying for some younger student, a woman of the church came to me bawling. I had asked her what was wrong and she told me that the Lord had given her a word for me three weeks prior. I asked what the word was and she choked out Uganda. Well that was the final straw. Since then, it has been a journey in itself of the Lord getting me to this point of my heart being ready to go. He’s told me to go and led me straight to World Orphans and that’s why I’m going on this team. If nothing else, I know that this is the next step the Lord has for my life so it’s the next step I’m taking – totally walking in faith while abiding in Him.

Kimberly resides in Georgia and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Uganda team.

Taking a Stand Against Child Soldiering

9 May

Blog post by Katrina F., Team Iraq 2012

I chose to research the topic of child soldiers.  I honestly did not know a thing about what was going on until I started researching… and I am sick to my stomach as I sit here reading quotes from actual child soldiers and the things they are made to do.  They are made to do some sick things, so sick.  They have to kill their best friends to prove their loyalty, they are beaten to death sometimes for no reason at all, the girl soldiers are raped repeatedly at night by the other youth soldiers and adult men… at ages of 11 years old… and if they cry, they will beat them.  It is seriously one of the worst things I have ever heard.

As I research, most of my quotes from the children came from this website.  You too will be sick after reading a lot of these “voices” of these child soldiers.  Continue reading

HIV/AIDS and Its Effects on Orphans

18 Feb

Blog post by Melissa and Karis, Team Haiti 2012

How many kids with HIV/AIDS do you know that have been adopted? Do you know that a large portion of the world’s population does not have updated information on HIV/AIDS?  If the world was properly educated on HIV/AIDS, they would learn a person with this disease does not have a death sentence.  The truth is, “HIV is considered a chronic, but manageable disease with the proper treatment.”

Thanks to a nonprofit organization, Project Hopeful, we have learned the truth of this disease and God’s heart for these children.  If you’d like to learn more about how these children can live a normal life, with medication and a family to love them, visit http://www.projecthopeful.org.

I saw the effects of HIV/AIDS on orphans while in Jamaica recently.  We spoke with the head of adoption in Jamaica and asked about HIV orphans, like how many have been adopted.  Sadly, she said none.  This woman was asking us what the life span is for a child with HIV.  These orphans are in a remote area of Jamaica, at a special needs orphanage.  They are essentially put in a “back room”.  HIV is so widespread there due to rampant drug use. These children are outcasts; they may not even be educated on their disease. They may have no hope.  This is wrong.  God has plans for these children, other than never seeing anything besides a “back room.”

Melissa and daughter, Karis, will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along with and others from their church in Evanston, IL.

Human Trafficking – What am I doing?

14 Nov

I have a six year old daughter.  She is the most beautiful, smart, fun, wonderful little person I know.  The very idea of someone hurting her provokes in me some painful and angry thoughts that make me tremble as I try to type.  Modern day slavery and the sexual exploitation of children became real to me when I read the stories and thought that could be my little girl.  The thought of girls not much older than my daughter being sold as slaves and being forced to serve as prostitutes moved me to tears…

Then I started to find the staggering statistics about the fact that human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry that ranks behind only illegal drugs and arms as one of the most profitable criminal enterprise in the world. And that 27 million people are enslaved worldwide. And that a child is trafficked every 30 seconds.  600,000 to 800,00 people are trafficked across international borders each year.  Of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked, 70 percent are female and 50 percent are children; the majority of these victims are forced into commercial sex trade   This is massive injustice on a global scale.  And it’s not just over there – it is estimated that 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.

These numbers take my breath away if I slow down enough to think about the fact that every one of those numbers is a person just like me and my wife and my children. What can I do about a problem this big?  What can Christians do about this?  Honestly I have no idea.  Problems this big have so many layers that solving them will require solving many other problems as well – problems like the fact that so many people live in extreme poverty, and that in many places women and children are not valued as people but as property, and that many times the legal system cannot or will not protect the poor from exploitation by the rich.  But I do know this – I know that I cannot stand by and do nothing.  I know that I cannot spend all my time and energy and devote my talent and treasure to making my life as enjoyable as it can be.  I know that I am compelled to do SOMETHING.

So what am I doing? I am spending my time learning about organizations that are dedicated to helping children and families in need.  I would ask you to spend a few minutes at www.love146.com – read those stories, look at those pictures, watch those videos and see if compassion moves you to do something to help. I am giving my money to organizations like International Justice Mission.  Would you visit their site at www.ijm.org and read about the work that they do all over the world bringing freedom and justice to victims of slavery and exploitation and consider how you can help?  Can you read about the work being done by groups like World Vision www.worldvision.com and see if you are compelled to sponsor a child or give a family a gift or participate in their microfinance lending programs?  For me, taking the time to learn about World Orphans www.worldorphans.com has resulted in my opportunity to go to Ethiopia this December to serve Orphans.

The most important thing I am doing is this – I am praying daily that I can know God better, that I can know his heart and what he desires for me to do with all that he has blessed me with.  I am praying that he will show me how I can break out of my selfish mindset and begin to think in terms offering my whole life as a sacrifice to him, instead of giving God what is left over out of a sense of guilt or obligation.  I know that I can do very little in my own strength – I am the proverbial kid throwing the starfish back into the ocean on a beach filled with more starfish than I can count, but I also know that I serve a God who loves every person he has created and has repeatedly shown that he can do great and mighty things through weak and broken servants.

As I close this blog I would like to quote from the opening chapter of Daniel Walker’s book God in a Brothel:

I began to wonder what would happen if men everywhere embraced the God-given destiny to defend and protect the vulnerable woman and children in their communities.  What would happen if in addition to unleashing their strength, skills and passion on the sports field, in their office or behind their computer screens they discovered their true masculinity by answering this call to arms and to action.

I wondered what would happen if the church worldwide took the offensive against oppression and slavery so that such acts of rescue and restoration occurred every day. What would happen within our faith communities if we became proactive in the face of injustice? Indeed how would our own families, our own discipleship be forever changed if we were all actively involved in some way in rescuing the oppressed and defending the orphan and advocating for the widow.

 

What could we do if whole communities of Christians decided to give their whole lives to Christ as an offering instead of giving him what is left after we get what we want and “need”?

Team Uganda Update – Part 1

30 Jun

WOW – where to even begin?!

These past 3 days have been action packed, hence the reason you haven’t heard from me yet. I am going to try to recap everything for you here, although these few words won’t even come close to describing all that we have seen and experienced in this short time.

We arrived really late on Friday night and got settled into our first place and in the bed around 11-12pm. We were up and on the road at 9am and went to the Greenhouse Orphanage. Our team LOVED it there. It was the perfect place to start our time in Uganda because it was so action-packed. Jet lag had NO chance with us that day. : )  We arrived to children singing and welcoming us to their place. They haven’t had visitors in several weeks so they were so excited to see us. Once we were welcomed, we got a tour of the place and learned about the history of Greenhouse. Quite amazing that Kevin, the founder, was actually an orphan himself at an early age and started the orphanage when he was 16 years old. Now he is 24 years old and cares for about 70 children along with his wife and other volunteers. It was evident that those children were loved. They were so joyful and loved spending time with us! We broke up into groups; several of us joined the children and cooked various dishes for lunch and the others set up a volleyball net that we brought as a gift and played outside (along with other sports and arts/crafts). We had an amazing lunch with them and then walked down a dirt road to a nearby community field where we had races and other games. We laughed our heads off as three teams competed in wheelbarrow races, one-leg hops, crab walks and izzy dizzy. : )  However, leaving was a different story. The kids didn’t give us a “typical” orphan departure experience. Instead of closing off toward the end of the day because they knew we were leaving and acting apathetic, they were crying and very sad as we started loading up the bus. It took a while to finally say goodbyes because we didn’t want to leave, but we eventually pulled ourselves away. There wasn’t a single dry eye of those on our team. Super hard experience to go through, so we are trying to figure out how to process that and see what God wants to do in us as a result. Continue reading

Team Haiti Update: Coping with Loss

17 May

I wanted to take a moment to write a quick update to all of you. The past couple of days have been rather emotional offering some extreme highs to extreme lows. Yesterday we were at home for sick and dying children. The scene was terrible: cribs of babies everywhere, most of them crying to get your attention because they just wanted to be held. Several of the babies had visible illnesses or deformities that were just heart-wrenching. We grabbed as many babies as we could handle out of the cribs and just spent hours loving on these kids and helping to feed during meal times. Some of the babies were 18 months or 2 years old but you would never guess it; they appeared to be just weeks old because the diseases had taken its toll on their bodies.

At the end of the day there a baby got really sick and one of the girls who happens to be a recent nursing graduate noticed that the baby was not breathing well and that the mother was next to her crying. Confused as to what was going on, she tried to figure out the situation to see if the workers responded to this scene. After a while she stepped in and took a look at the baby. She was clearly sick and not getting enough oxygen. Another girl and I were called in to help. Stepping into this surreal situation, we tried to do what we could. We had little to no medicine to work with and inefficient supplies. The baby stopped responding to any stimuli, so we started doing CPR after we lost a pulse and the baby stopped breathing. Continue reading