Often times children end up in the facilities where Sixty Feet serves due to unjust and tragic circumstances. Similar to Maria, Bernard’s story is one that started full of injustice and heart-break, but God’s plan of rescue and redemption leads us to see and trust His sovereignty, goodness, and holiness in all things.
Bernard was raised by a single mom. Growing up, he would work with his mom on farms to support themselves and pay for school. However, during his freshman year of high-school, Bernard was forced to drop out of school because his mom got very sick. Bernard had to care for his mom and provide for their family. Two months later, his mom passed away, and Bernard was an orphan. He went to live with his grandmother, but, as you can imagine, Bernard became very depressed, as the only person he really knew had died and now he was living in a new village, away from anyone he knew.
Two years later, a man came to Bernard’s village and recruited children by promising to enroll them in boarding school, support them in college, and give them a better future. Because Bernard was so desperate, he left the village with this man and a few other kids. However, it quickly became apparent that this man was not who he said he was. Bernard was being trafficked. In God’s providence and goodness to Bernard, the police realized what was happening and arrested the traffickers before anything happened to Bernard or the other children.
The rescued children were taken to Naguru Reception Centre, which is where Sixty Feet met Bernard. Bernard immediately reached out to our staff and got to know them. He participated in bi-weekly counseling, our on-site social workers provided psychosocial support, and he engaged in our Bible studies and worship time.
Bernard was resettled by the government with his grandmother, and as part of the Sixty Feet resettlement program, our staff followed-up on him. Sixty Feet staff visit children at least six times following their resettlement. These visits allow us to provide the children and families with on-going counseling, discipleship, and problem-solving for any issues that may arise. When our social workers visited Bernard, they found that he was not doing well. His grandmother was very old and could not provide for his needs.
Therefore, Sixty Feet enrolled Bernard into our sponsorship program. This provided him with boarding school, the opportunity to finish high-school, and protection and provision during school holidays. Bernard worked hard during school and loved to tell others about what read about in the Bible.
When he graduated, Sixty Feet continued to support him in a teacher training institute. Bernard received a teaching certificate in 2018 and is currently working as a primary school teacher. He lives in his family’s village, where he provides for his grandmother and is engaged to a beautiful girl who teachers at his same school.
Bernard’s story reminds us that God’s plans are unexpected. His ways are not our ways. He uses seemingly hopeless situations to bring Sixty Feet in contact with the most vulnerable children and then allows us to love and care for those children in ways that can change their lives…now and for eternity.