This post is from Emily Ryan who has been serving with us in Uganda for the past 2 years. 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.
“You have increased the nation, O LORD. You have increased the nation. You are glorified; You have exalted all the borders of the land.” Isaiah 26:15
Three months ago, we began boldly praying that the Lord would transform the prisons where we work. We specifically prayed for M1: a place where children are left to grow-up in prison. We pleaded with God that M1 would instead be a place where children encounter God.
We started small. There was a team of 3 Ugandans discipling children. There were few children wanting to listen, someone was always talking to a friend, another was sleeping, and others were playing cards. It was a tough audience.
And then last month during discipleship, the kids did not want to go to lunch. They were hungry for God. They wanted Him more than the little food they get everyday. Eleven children asked repeatedly to be baptized. They confessed Christ and believed in His grace and power to raise us from the dead.
At the same time, we hired two new social workers to care for, advocate for, parent, and teach, the 35 young children at M1, some as young as two years old. And the social workers had a dream: they wanted the sleeping area to be a place of peace, protection, and love. These children had been sleeping on the floor for almost one year and we all longed to get them into beds.
We reached out to donors and the response made us weep.
One person posted on facebook: “This is ridiculous! My kids are dumping out their piggy banks and I am going to auction off one of my paintings. Bidding starts now; we have to get these kids off the floor!” We raised everything we needed in less than 48 hours.
Then last week, we had the honor and privilege of baptizing 11 children. They boldly claimed Christ as their Savior and we celebrated. We passed out 17 Bibles and witnessed children searching, longing, seeking, to know their Savior.
Then, we gathered the 35 young children and taught them about the Father’s love. We taught from Isaiah 62: “You will be a CROWN OF BEAUTY in the hand of the Lord, and a ROYAL DIADEM in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken’…but you will be called, ‘My delight is in her,’…for the LORD DELIGHTS IN YOU…your God will REJOICE OVER YOU.”
And then we brought beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets, and mosquito nets for each one of them. They could not contain their joy! Laughter, shrills or joy, and screaming abounded ALL day (and all night according to our staff:). They jumped on beds, cleaned the floors, and repeated in broken English: “thank you very much! thank you very much!”
Yesterday we saw the Lord work; He brought children to Himself, He provided resources to show how great His love is. Eleven children were baptized and 6 more confessed a desire to be baptized. 35 children slept on beds last night, knowing their Heavenly Father delights in them. We gave out over 200 bars of soap, handed out Bibles, provided medical care to sick children, counseled countless others, and discipled many more.
God is at work. He is answering our prayers. He has “worked wonders, plans formed long ago with PERFECT FAITHFULNESS …Behold, the Lord for whom we have waited. Let us REJOICE and BE GLAD in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25)