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  • Sep 16 / 2014
  • 5

Sixty Feet Appoints New Operations Director

Sixty Feet has been continually blessed with high quality men and women who love God and desire to serve him in extraordinary ways. When we began searching for a new Operations Director to take the place of our good friends, the Ferrells, we knew God would bring the right person at the right time. So we are pleased to let you know that once again God has provided for our needs by sending us John and Debbie Houchens.

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John brings more than 20 years of non-profit leadership to the position of Operations Director. Most recently, as Senior Vice President for International Operations for Walk Thru the Bible, John led a team of 12 international partners responsible for recruitment and training of live event instructors and distribution of Walk Thru the Bible resources in more than 100 countries worldwide. Experience in program and marketing, in both domestic and international contexts, made him a great choice for Sixty Feet.

“This role is a great fit for me. Working in a developing world context requires you to be a great listener, nimble, flexible, and most of all clear about your calling. My 25 years in non-profit environments have prepared me for this specific opportunity. Debbie and I are thrilled to be a part of the Sixty Feet team!”

Sixty Feet has grown by 400% over the past four years. John will be tasked with putting processes and systems in place to allow the organization to continue to expand and meet the physical and spiritual needs of thousands of more children in Africa.

John will spend several months in Atlanta working closely with our board, getting familiar with our state-side processes, and meeting as many of you, our faithful supporters, as possible. He and Debbie will move to Kampala early 2015 and overlap several months with the Owens Family in order to transition in-country duties as smoothly as possible.

Please pray for John and Debbie during this period of transition and as they begin preparing for this new direction from God.

  • Sep 03 / 2014
  • 1

Soap and Restoration in Jesus Name

A few days ago, the children and staff at M1 piled into the dining hall to learn a new skill: liquid soap-making.

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The atmosphere is changing in this place where children used to wander idly and needs were profound. Now that basic needs are being met – including food security, medical care, and counseling – we are able to pursue the vision of long-term restoration. We are able to ask the question “How do we help these children thrive once they leave M1?” We are able to link arms with gifted, passionate individuals who desire to share their gifts with these children.

One of those individuals is named Agnes. She teaches soap-making and candle-making to groups of different sizes and demographics, and we invited her to lead a training class at M1.

We were unsure what the response from the children would be, but it did not take long to gauge their interest. As Agnes began teaching, there was an overwhelming request for some way to take notes, and the older boys fetched the chalkboard to dictate the lesson step-by-step. We passed out sheets of notepaper and crayons, and the children took turns assisting Agnes with each step of the process.

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Who knew that liquid soap would become our favorite five-ingredient recipe?

One of the boys commented,

“We are so glad we have learned to make soap today because it is very expensive to buy in the village. Now we can make soap for ourselves and even sell some to make profit for our families.”

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For comparably low cost, we bought five simple ingredients which produced seventy liters of liquid soap – fourteen jerry cans, which will supply three facilities with soap for the rest of the year. As a result, we will no longer need to provide soap as part of facility support and can instead use those funds to buy the raw materials. Children will develop a new skill, engage in productive activity during their time at M1, and actively participate in the improvement of their environment.

It is our hope that we can continue to equip the children at M1 with valuable life skills that will give them confidence and competence when they return home. We know that their true confidence – their true hope – must be in God, not themselves. Yet how exciting that we get to partner with Him in sowing hope in their lives in little, tangible ways.

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  • Aug 25 / 2014
  • 9

The Owens in Uganda

We started out normal enough. Just a daddy, a mommy, a little girl, and a baby boy. Dan was a corporate software executive. I stayed at home with our little ones. Life was good and busy and our plates were full.

If someone had told us back in 2006, at the time this picture was taken, what our lives and our family would look like in 2014, we’d never have believed them. In our defense, this is a rather drastic difference:

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Nearly five years ago, Dan founded SixtyFeet with a group of Atlanta businessmen. They heard about the needs of imprisoned children in Africa. They went to see it for themselves. And they were forever changed.

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In 2012, Dan left the corporate world to run SixtyFeet full-time. For the last two years he’s served as the ministry president, based in the US but making frequent visits to Africa. But this is about to change… Today our family boards a plane and heads to Kampala, Uganda on the other side of the world. Dan will assume the position of Interim Director for SixtyFeet Uganda, while the ministry waits for just the right person to permanently fill this position.

We are honored and privileged to meet this need. We’re thrilled to introduce our children to a country we love and to people who have become like family to us. We’re so grateful to the many generous souls who have sacrificially donated in order to send us. So please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say…

But this move to Uganda is not an “adventure” for us. It’s our life.

Over the last few weeks, countless people have remarked to us on what a “great adventure” this move will be for our family. But the reality is that this entire thing ceased to be an adventure to us long ago. For us, SixtyFeet is our everyday life — whether we’re doing it here or in Uganda, it’s just an ordinary part of what we do. We’re not going to Uganda to ride elephants, or visit the Nile. We might do those things while we’re there — but the reason we’re going is to serve imprisoned children.

It’s easy to romanticize life on the mission field. It sounds like exciting, exotic work filled with mountaintop experiences and close Jesus encounters. And sometimes it is all those things. And sometimes it’s not. It’s just like everyday life, no matter where you live.

For those of you not moving to Uganda, or reeling from a recent mountaintop experience — for those of you simply living the quiet, ordinary, everyday Christian life…

Be encouraged.

L.B. Cowman, author of Streams in the Desert, says this: “God’s promises and his providence do not lift us from the world of common sense and everyday trials, for it is through these very things that our faith is perfected.”

For those of us (our family included), who are not living the adventurous Christian life, let’s together be encouraged in knowing that the work of holiness and sanctification is found in the ordinary. Regardless of our geographic location, God works with us, shapes us and grows us in the everyday stuff. Embrace it. Spend time with your kids, drive your carpools, meet friends for coffee, work faithfully at your job, prepare meals for your family — and feel great about those “ordinary” things. That’s where most of His important work happens.

We’re moving to Uganda. You’re probably not. But we’re both part of His plan. Your call and our call are no less worthy. Within God’s economy there’s room for people who go, there’s room for people who send, and there’s room in between.

Follow us this year – you can subscribe to get updates here: https://www.sixtyfeet.org/blog/subscribe/

  • Jul 17 / 2014
  • 1

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.

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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
  • 2

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.

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