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  • Oct 16 / 2014
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I See Heaven

This post is from Emily Ryan who has been serving with us in Uganda for the past 18 months. While she has been here, Emily has been involved in nearly every aspect of our ministry and currently focuses her efforts on reuniting children with their families through our resettlement program.

“I see heaven invading this place. I see angels praising your holy name, and I sing praises, I sing praises. I give you all of the honor Jesus.

I see glory falling in this place. I see hope restored and healing of all disease and I sing praises, I sing praises. I give all the glory Jesus.

We give you praise and all of the honor. You are our God, the one we live for. We give you praise, all of the glory, God. “– I See Heaven” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

 

Last Tuesday night I received a call from one of our social workers. 108 children were expected to arrive at M1 that night. 108; the population of M1 was going to increase by 30%, in a matter of minutes. 108 children coming from the streets – maybe with clothes on, most likely without shoes, and definitely hungry.

Our staff at M1 were preparing; they needed money for food, clothes, blankets, and mattresses so the children didn’t have to sleep on the cold, hard cement floors. Hours later, 43 children climbed out of a pick-up truck (we are still expecting the others any day). Terrified, lonely, away from their moms, cold, and hungry.

And we were in Kampala, an hour away. The only thing we could do was pray. Pray that these children immediately experience the love of Christ through our staff. Pray that these children see Jesus as our staff mobilizes to treat their medical needs, comfort their sorrows, find out where their families are living, tell them about Jesus. All we could do was pray that the Lord would provide the financial resources for SixtyFeet so that these 43 young children could eat, sleep under a blanket, and receive necessary medical treatment.

When we showed up to M1 yesterday, eager to hold and comfort scared children, we saw the Lord answer each and every one of our cries for His help and provision. The LORD, through generous donations, allowed us to provide for these children’s basic needs. Our medical team was amazing and met every child, tested them all for HIV, dewormed them, and entered them into our system. But, above and beyond, these children experienced Jesus. They cried out to Him in fear and met Him in those dark places. Our staff sang songs of worship with them, prayed with them, and taught them about Christ.

In a government-system where we never know when a child is going to arrive or depart, the greatest gift we can give them is a hope beyond this world. A trust in a God who sees them, knows them, and promises to fight for them.

We will never understand why these children are forced to fend for their lives on the streets, rounded-up and taken to prison, some only 2 years old. But, I know that the LORD ordains the desert and the valley in our lives to show us more of Him. And I have seen Jesus in one of the darkest places; I have experienced Him at M1- in our staff, in the children’s lives, in children who have been resettled and now are leaders in their communities and churches. Jesus is working.

In the past few weeks since I have been back in Uganda, the Lord has revealed His work and His power to me. There have been days that we have woken up with little funds to treat children who need to go to the hospital, no money to follow-up on a resettled child or even buy gas to travel to the prisons. But each time, as we daily bow our knees for His provision, He has met our needs. There truly is no better place to be then completely dependent on the sovereign God who provides.

So each time He shows Himself mighty, strong, and full of love, we praise Him. We praise Him for His faithfulness, His provision, and that He reveals Himself to these little children.

And we continue to pray. We pray for the short time we get to know these children, that they will experience Jesus and His love, that they will come to know the God who sees them when they are scared or alone; the God who protects and sustains them, even when its in a situation, like at M1, that seems so broken.

And we pray for SixtyFeet. We pray for our staff who daily minister to the children, we pray for donations to be made, but most importantly we pray that He would be made known, revealed, and glorified in our lives and in our work.

  • Oct 01 / 2014
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Children’s Rights and Gospel Hope

When you look at Sixty Feet and the work we do on the ground in Uganda, it may seem overwhelming. We work in many different areas of ministry throughout the country, but our focus is simple: immediate needs and long term restoration. One of the ways that we provide hope and restoration is through recreational games and events at the centers where we serve. These typically include games from a great organization called Right to Play. These games and activities are designed teach children about their basic rights according to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Child. Uganda has signed this statement by the UN that expresses the rights that every child should have; from the right to protection in a family to the right to development and education.

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As part of our recreational ministry, we recently hosted a 5K race for the children at M1 along with a team from Sixty Feet USA. This was an event that the children anticipated and talked about during the weeks leading up to it. Even the staff at M1 participated and enjoy these large group events. It gives a chance for children and staff to have fun together and build meaningful relationships. Our top 5 finishers received medals (and bragging rights) and everyone got a ribbon for finishing the race. After the race, the US team, Sixty Feet staff, M1 staff, and the children all got to party together with fruit and drinks. It was a testament to the way events like this can bring people together regardless of the circumstances that bring them to a place like M1.

Listening to some of M1’s staff speak, they are very encouraged by our presence there. We are teaching the children life skills that will be with them forever. More than anything, we are showing them what hope feels like. I am not speaking of a general hope, like hoping that we get ice cream today, but rather a Biblical hope. Bill Johnson of Bethel talks about Biblical hope as a joyful anticipation of good. This is what Sixty Feet provides the children we serve. We present them the Gospel in so many different ways that give the children a joyful anticipation of good. Sometimes that looks like running a 5K, other times it looks like getting healthy after visiting our clinic, and sometimes it comes full circle and it looks like children going home to a family that loves and welcomes them.

Enjoy these pictures of our fun, rainy race day with the kids and some special guests. Please also consider a one-time or monthly donation so that we can continue to serve these great kids.

  • Sep 16 / 2014
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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
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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
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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/

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