This guest post was written by April, a friend of Sixty Feet who recently visited Uganda with a group from her Alabama-based church.
A little over a month ago, I had the privilege of going with a team from Cornerstone Church in Auburn, Alabama, on a short term trip to Uganda. Cornerstone has been firmly rooted in the community of Buloba, 30 minutes outside of Kampala, since 2007. We partner with Buloba Community Church in many ways, and also families within our church sponsor over 300 children there. Our initial plan for this trip had been to spend the entirety in Buloba, but God had other plans. It would take much too long to describe how God brought our team to spend two days with the Sixty Feet team. But what God purposes, He accomplishes!
If you look back through other Sixty Feet blog posts, you can read about the experiences people have had at M1, and what they describe is true. We did spend a day there, and then another day split between M2 and M3. I wanted to share with you about my experience at M2, and give you a window into how God is working to love the children in all of these facilities through the efforts of Sixty Feet. If not for the relationship that Sixty Feet has built with these places, we would have never been allowed to see them.
Our time at M2 began with a worship service with the children, and the Sixty Feet team, including Mama Catherine. Now Mama Catherine is kind of a legend in my mind, and right or wrong, when I saw her sitting outside M2, I’ll admit, I was starstruck! I had read about Mama Catherine and her husband, Pastor Ernest. I knew they had led an extraordinary life of sacrifice, taking in orphans, loving them, caring for them. Mama Catherine shared with all of us the story of her life with such power. She described a childhood of deep loss, pain and poverty. We were riveted to our seats as she wove this picture of desperation. And then with just as much power, she told of how God pulled her out of the rubbish, how He made her a new creation! I looked into the faces of those kids and I saw them saying to themselves, “That’s me! She was like me!”
When Mama Catherine was finished, the Sixty Feet team was available to talk and counsel anyone that desired that. And that’s how I met Mercy. Kelsey, one of the Sixty Feet interns, asked me to come over and meet her. Mercy had been at M2 for a few weeks, and was in a very bad place, very sad and very hopeless. She shared with me how she came to be there – that her mother died when she was very small. Her father had remarried, and her new stepmother hated her. Her father had since died, leaving her in the care of her stepmother, and despite her efforts, nothing she could do ever made her happy. She told me how she beat her, and even bit her. She showed me the healing bite wound on her arm. Her stepmother decided to take her to M2 for “care, protection and discipline.”
I will never forget the words she said to me, “Why has God forgotten me? He hates me. Every night I pray that He takes my life. I don’t belong here.” Her words and the pain in her face just burned into my heart. My friend Jamie, and I continued talking with her praying with her. We shared that it was no accident that we were there with her that day. That God was making a way for her. That He had not forgotten her. We made her promise that she would not take her life. One of the last things she said to me was that she had a dream to be like Mama Catherine.
What Mercy did not know, was that God had not forgotten her. He had been making a way for her all along. Before we left, my teammate Amy and I had money that we were praying God would show us what to do with while we were on the trip. I remember walking up to Amy outside of M2, and saying, “Mercy is the one.” And it was so much more than we even realized at the time! That money would sponsor Mercy for 2 years!! And if that wasn’t amazing enough –we were told that Mama Catherine had already said that she wanted Mercy to come and live with her. She wanted Mercy to be her daughter!
In the weeks that passed after our trip, Mercy was able to leave M2 and is now with Mama Catherine. God is going to do mighty things through this young woman, as He is with Sixty Feet! What an amazing group of people! Surely God is using Sixty Feet to exchange sadness for joy, as they have become a loving, faithful, dependable presence in these places.
I pray for Mercy, our Sixty Feet friends, and the other special children we met in our brief time with them that “they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3).