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  • Jul 17 / 2014
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Sampson – A Success Story

The work of resettling children is difficult and labor intensive. So when we have a story as inspiring and uplifting as Sampson’s, we can’t help but share it. Our gospel-soaked counseling program is seeing some tangible results and the response that Sampson has to it makes all the long hours worth while. The following account comes from our 2nd quarter report submitted to the UG government regarding our work in returning children to their families.

Nyesiga Sampson* is a 13 year-old boy who we met at M1. The M1 staff identified Sam as a street child needing to be resettled, so we enrolled Sam in the Resettlement Counseling class, traced for his family, and resettled him.

Sampson Going Home

One month after resettlement, we completed a follow-up visit and we quickly learned that Sam was doing wonderful. His mom was so grateful for how Sam had changed. She reported that Sam no longer goes to the streets, works hard at home, and does what he is asked. His mom committed to finding a school for Sam and trusted that God would provide for his education.

In May 2014, we completed a second follow-up visit. Sam met our criteria for additional aid, so we visited the mother and Sam to follow-up and pay school fees. During the follow-up discussions, we learned that Sam had fulfilled one of our visions for the children: “to transform society by becoming a leader”. When Sam had been living on the streets, he had a best friend named Alex. Together, they sold scrap, stayed out late, and skipped school. Upon resettlement, Sam immediately found his friend and began counseling him. Sam wanted Alex to experience the same reconciliation and hope that he had.

Sam began teaching Alex everything he learned in the resettlement counseling class. Sam taught Alex about anger management, the importance of going to school, how to control his anger, and much more. At first, Alex did not want to change, but Sam did not give up; he continued reaching out. During their conversations, Alex expressed fear at returning home so Sam told Alex, “I will go home with you. I will stand with you.”

Alex agreed to go home. Both of the boys met with Alex’s parents. Alex asked forgiveness and Sam explained how he had changed at M1 and what he learned while living there. Alex’s parents enthusiastically accepted the apology and were so grateful for Sam’s love and care for Alex. Alex is now happily living at home and both Sam and Alex’s parents are thrilled at the changes in their sons’ behaviors.

Through our work, particularly with the Resettlement Counseling class, Sam has completely changed his behavior and is now a productive member of society. He is in Primary 5, working hard in school, and helping his mom care for their home. Sam is also sharing what has learned these past few months to other street children, helping them experience the same restoration he did.

We are so thankful for the opportunity to work at M1, to have the opportunity to provide counseling support, and to see that children are going from M1 into their communities, and transforming society by becoming leaders in their families and communities.

* His name has been changed to protect his identity.

  • Jun 13 / 2014
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As a child.

(Today’s post is from Maggie Utsey, one of our staff serving the children in Uganda.)

Jesus did only what he saw his Father doing.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19)

When I come to the end of knowing, I’m pushed to the very place where I should begin – sitting at my Father’s feet, seeking. Listening.

When I come to the end of myself and give up the struggle to figure it out on my own, He quiets me with His love. He speaks to my spirit that’s now calm enough to hear.

“My child”, He says, “do you remember Solomon?”

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant… you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9)

Solomon asked God for discernment in administering justice, and God gave it. He gave Solomon “a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore”.

These days, I relate to Solomon’s question.

“Lord, thank you for calling me to your work… But wait, I’m only a child, I have no idea what to do. These people you have given me are too numerous to count. This position, it’s an honor, but who is able?”

He is.

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We are not in the wrong place when we realize we don’t know what we’re doing or can’t do it ourselves. Admitting that is the beginning of seeking His guidance and operating from His strength.

We have no need to be overwhelmed.

Solomon acknowledged his insufficiency, but didn’t stop there. He knew the Lord could give discernment and wisdom to carry forth the work He began in appointing Solomon as king. He knew the Lord not only could – He would.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Your Father will lead you. You’re not supposed to know everything; in fact you can resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. All you need to learn is to follow. Do what you see Him doing. We have no power apart from Him, no wisdom or discernment apart from Him.

Be strong and take heart.

You, Lord, never forsake those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10)

For all who identify as a little child and do not know how to carry out the thing He has called you to, remember Solomon. Appointed as king, chosen to lead the people of Israel, he still sought God as a child. Son to Father, he asked for wisdom. He knew he couldn’t proceed apart from the Lord’s power. So he asked and was given.

You have the same positioning to Him, whether prince or pauper, saint or sinner, infant or mature, literate or mute.

Let the little children come to me, He says.

Ask your Father to lead you, I can assure you He will.

  • Jun 04 / 2014
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Tension

(Today’s post is from Emily Ryan, one of our staff serving the children in Uganda.)

Mar’eh is translated appearance and refers to ”what is seen”, the “outward appearance” and it “can be deceptive in nature”. Oxford Dictionary defines it as “an impression given by someone or something, although this may be misleading”; it is what is visible, or noticeable, what is shown.

The way that things APPEAR, the way they look to us, does not always indicate the truth. For, “the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

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There are two things going-on in every situation…there is the visible and the underlying truth. The Lord sees the truth, while we see impressions, on which we make judgments.

I see children being detained illegally in prison. I see 12 year-old girls living as prostitutes because they see no other way to sustain their daily needs. I talk with a child that JUST WANTS TO GO HOME and we cannot find his family. And it is so easy to judge these situations as hopeless, destitute, impoverished, and unjust.

Another day, I hold a precious newborn baby, birthed into hope and life. Her mom was in one of the prisons, pregnant and unsure if she wanted to keep her baby conceived in rape. But, by the Lord’s grace, we were able to get her out of prison, into a crisis pregnancy center and now she has a healthy baby girl…baby Emily :) The 14 year-old mom is receiving an education and parenting skills, while learning about the love of Christ from Kupendwa. Getting to see stories from the beginning to the end is both the Lord’s favor in my life and in this child’s life and I judge these situations as redemptive, hopeful, and good.

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When we live with these extremes, when the contrast between brokenness and redemption stands in sharp relief, it can be difficult to believe fully that the Lord is always working, always giving grace. But that is the paradox that we must live in and rely on, trusting that the Lord works in lives in places when we cannot see all that He is doing.

Days of rest and relaxation, working internet, movies, and friends, are moments of grace given to me. But the Lord’s grace is no less towards those who may never possess the comforts we enjoy and whose lives look so radically different—so much more difficult—than our own. I am thankful for the glimpses of grace that I see, as I am learning to trust in His provision when I cannot see.

This world is full of tensions; reconciling the hard situations that seem so hopeless with the truth that God is always fighting the battle for hearts and souls, both in my life and in EVERY child’s.

The Lord says that His weapons, the instruments He uses to bring righteousness, include both glory and dishonor, good reports and bad reports, beatings and kindness, purity and hunger. I am pressing into Him, praying that I can find rest in the truth that He is the Warrior; he is the One who fights. And by the Lord’s grace, I get to see His work in the slums and in the prisons. In these places of hardship and want, there is hope, joy, laughter, and stories of redemption I couldn’t dream of writing. There is more grace than I can fathom, both in the apparent and in the invisible.

In line with holding things in tension, I find conciliation in 2 Corinthians 6, which says:

These seemingly opposing ideas all bring His grace and salvation, which is increasing my faith that in the seemingly hopeless there is abundant life and joy to be had in Christ, who is writing the story of TRUTH in every life and in every situation.

To find out how you can play a role in contributing to the amazing work of Sixty Feet, click here.

  • May 19 / 2014
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Tale as old as time.

(Today’s post is from Katharine Wright, one of our staff serving the children in Uganda.)

It’s the age old battle that forms the basis for many film and book plots. The battle of good versus evil! Sometimes in life it can look like the battle is being lost by good-but that’s never the end of the story.

I was going to write this blog the other day but I was too angry. It doesn’t happen often, I like to be happy and I like making people laugh, but I really was angry. I witnessed violence, a case of mob justice against a young man who had committed a small crime. A crowd of people were gathered round with sticks, there was beating and there was cheering. Young and old alike were there completely ok with joining in, determined to exact revenge. In that moment it looked like evil was winning.Thankfully in this situation the police were able to do something and intervene. But what made me most angry is that this is illegal and yet not uncommon, beating someone, even beating them to death is seen by some as just another form of ‘justice’. It is not a reaction that is unique to this place, cases of revenge and retribution small and large take place in every country across the world. The other day I came face to face with it and suddenly for me it became all too much of a reality.

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As I have shared before, I am learning and as we grow older we learn so much more about ourselves and about the world we live in. As a care free five year old I played in the park and believed that life was created by Disney and would follow the plot of my favourite film-I am no longer that girl (although just for the record I am still a Disney fan and I still think it has a part to play in life, hence the title of this post!!)

I am also no longer the teenager that feels the whole world and everyone in it is there to frustrate her! I have now learned that not all problems can be solved instantaneously and that perhaps I won’t be able to save the world single-handedly like I believed even a few years ago! Learning these lessons comes through development and growth. It is a natural & necessary thing, but sometimes there are things that are difficult to learn. In the process of learning it is easy to become overwhelmed with sadness or anger, it can lead to a sense of hopelessness, bitterness or cynicism. When this takes over we can struggle to see the good things in life. When you experience or witness sadness and pain and a broken sense of justice, it is easy to forget that the story has not yet finished, there is still goodness, God is there.

Romans 12:21 says “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

How amazing it is to know that there is hope!

Despite all that we may see in a situation, good overcomes evil, and more than that we have been given the power by God to combat the evils that exist in our world. Belief in His goodness coupled with faith that leads to action really will overcome evil. It may not be as instantaneous as I thought a few years ago, however bit by bit, action by action, prayer by prayer, evil WILL be overcome.

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Galatians 6:9 says “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” So at the start of this week I have been challenged. Good DOES overcome evil, and I get to be a part of that by doing good at every opportunity. It is by doing good that I can spread some more of the light of Jesus in every situation I come across, big or small.

What does doing good look like this week? What part am I willing to play in His story where good triumphs over evil? Here ends today’s lesson, or rather here it begins!

  • Apr 08 / 2014
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Protecting vulnerable children by diversion.

A few years ago I worked for a company that helped organizations communicate their strategies using visual metaphors. These visual metaphors were often a top down look at the organization, its processes and systems.

It was by viewing challenges at a different altitude that companies, departments, and even individuals could see things from another perspective and ultimately gave them clarity about how to solve the issues they faced.

We are extremely blessed to work alongside professionals who not only care about the present needs of the imprisoned children we serve, but the “big picture” as well.

Working to stem the tide of vulnerable children finding themselves in a prison facility, our legal director Aaron Murphy has designed a curriculum that we have rolled out in partnership with the Church of Uganda.

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During this pilot program, our team trained juvenile advocates. Advocates who were chosen for this role are leaders in their community and have influence with the juvenile justice process. They will work closely with the Uganda Police Force to mediate and divert petty offenders from the formal justice process towards restorative, rehabilitative measures, such as Church of Uganda counseling programs.

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The program’s objectives ultimately focus on the reduction of the number of petty offenders on remand at the remand facilities, community sensitization to child rights issues, and a number of related issues.

We are only able to do this kind of holistic, big picture work by your support. If you would like to learn more about this and other programs that we are developing, please visit our Current Programs page. You can also do your part by assist us in continuing this preventative work financially. Thank you!

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