Enter in. My creative journey into the heavenliness, into the heart of Love, where intimacy with my King overflows in ministry, mercy, missions, miracles, music, and mysteries.
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15
Thursday, September 9, 2010
How I Found a Home in Africa.
A few people who have newly entered my life have been asking me how in the world did I end up in Africa running a school and a children's home for the precious children of Uganda. So I've decided to write it out for the world to read. I think it's a pretty good story...of redemption, adoption, hope, and healing. My prayer these days is that God would make my life a SPECTACLE of His LOVE!
I remember standing on his chest as a little girl. My age 3 memories are vague but still have an emotional energy attached to them. I remember feeling so small and my Daddy feeling so big. I remember feeling so loved and safe as his great big arms held me up to stand up tall on his chest...balancing against his arms. Suddenly my world came crashing down and I have a vague memory of my Daddy asking me if I wanted to stand on his chest ...one...last...time. I didn't understand. What was happening? Why did we have to leave? Was it my fault? My mom and I left heading from Texas to Arkansas to go and stay with my grandparents. I wouldn't see my Father again until I was 14 years old. Even then, it was only for a few days. Even today, my earthly Dad is not active in my life.
During those eleven years without my Dad, he would call me every Sunday night to talk on the phone...for about a year then one Sunday night he would stop calling and wouldn't call again for another year or so...then the calls would start again and end again, start again and end again. I was repeatedly hit with bullets of rejection and abandonment during these years often crying myself to sleep at night. I had friends tease me that I didn't have a father. As an only child, with a very busy working single mom, I remember feeling very alone and isolated. God became one of my best friends...but I was wounded...with an orphan heart. It would be years later before I would receive healing, freedom, peace.
One night at college church group I heard this girl singing a spontaneous song to God...she kept singing over and over...Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. I couldn't connect with it. I thought maybe she was just trying to look spiritual. Could she honestly call GOD...Daddy? Though I didn't understand...I desperately wanted that. That night I went back to my campus apartment and lied awake for hours in my bed. Around 3am, I had a powerful encounter with God. Father God visited me and revealed Himself to me as my Father. As a loving God who created me, who knit me together, who knew every part of me, who understood every pain I had, who dreamed me to life, who wanted the best for me, who chose me to be a part of His family, who was beginning to transform me ...from an orphan heart to the heart of a princess. It was the beginning of a journey of healing and discovery. The wounds and lies of rejection and abandonment were gradually replaced with acceptance, safety, and a deep love and confidence in who I was and whose I was...my Daddy's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I learned that I was not a reject or unworthy of love but in fact, I was a royal princess with a royal Father, the King of Kings and NOTHING was impossible for us together! I longed to give this away....to every child who had ever cried themselves to sleep at night...because they were alone or lonely or longing for those who were supposed to be there...to father and mother them.
I've ALWAYS loved other cultures especially the tropical ones! Their bright colors, their wild rhythms, their dancing and singing, their language, their understanding of one another. When I was little I would even have Africa parties with my friends where we would dress up using big pieces of material to create African dresses and go out and take pictures in the forest! I also have always dreamed of using music as a tool to bring change to the world, to bring awareness to the world's suffering, and to inspire a movement of compassion. During high school, I began to read the writings of Mother Teresa and Ghandi and was drawn to the colors and stories of India. I told my family I was moving there after high school to serve with Mother Teresa's ministry. They refused and told me I needed to go to college. While studying and singing and writing music, I encountered God in a whole new way and desperately longed to serve the poor even more. I worked twice a week at a homeless shelter where I made many unusual friends and I worked in the projects with a church ministry on saturdays playing and bringing hope and food to some sweet kids. But I wanted more....I wanted to give my whole life to compassion and mercy and change and hope and to the suffering of this world. I would lay in my college apartment and cry out to God to send me somewhere ...anywhere. though I really began to long for AFRICA once I heard of this little woman named Mama Heidi from Mozambique who was a little like Mother Teresa meets Peter whose shadow healed the sick. I watched Blood Diamond where I saw child soldiers from Sierra Leone, the Invisible children documentary where I learned of modern day child soldiers in Uganda, and Hotel Rwanda where I saw the evil genocide of Rwanda. I had a justice heart and a mercy heart burning inside me. I wanted to take on the world ...with JESUS!
I applied for Heidi's mission school in Mozambique which was a 3 month program and got accepted. During the process God's voice whispered to me that there was going to be another opportunity come up. Sure enough, a professor I had at my high school who was from Kenya, invited me to go with him and his wife to visit his family in Africa and serve the people of Kenya. I had little desire to go to Kenya...but I felt a nudge from the Lord in that direction. I told God..."if I could go anywhere in the world, I'd want to go to nothern Uganda". This was the home of child soldiers and a 22 year long evil civil war. But I listened to the Lord and began walking towards the Kenya trip (after a lot of struggle between me and God). A week before that trip my kenyan friends let me know they were not able to go due to some issues getting their visas! I didn't know what to do! I had raised all the funds, set out letters, and was desperately finally looking forward to going. Some friends of mine were working in Uganda and had planned to meet me during my time in Kenya. I let them know of the change of plans and they immediately invited me to go ahead and come to Africa...to UGANDA!!! I was very excited and of course jumped on the opportunity. I thought the northern area of Uganda was too dangerous for us to go but we ended up traveling there and I was able to serve the very people of the area I had told God I really wanted to go to. Obedience...always leads us to our heart's desire...even when we can't see it at all. God's eyes are much bigger than ours.
During my time in Uganda, I fell madly in love with Africa...with the children and their sweet voices and faces, with the dirt, the adventure, the sunshine, the rhythms, everything. I felt like I was at HOME. I made some significant friendships with Ugandans there too as I spent a few weeks there completely immersed with no Americans or whites around. I learned a little bit of the language and dived in to the culture. I came back to America with a burden...a big burden for the children I met who had NOTHING and NO ONE. Children who were digging in trash dumps while across the street other children were looking smart in their school uniforms and looking forward to a hopeful future. Children who were dressed in rags and had no clothes. Children who were alone, being abused as child workers, unable to see any sign of love or hope in their lives...and I remembered. I remembered all the times of my childhood when I felt alone...and God gave me HOPE. Why not these kids too? I often asked Him after that trip where are you for these people, for these kids? and He would reply to me, "where are you?..you are my hands, my feet, my heart, my bride. where are you?" I spent the next 6 months collecting supplies and filled up a garage full of school supplies, clothes, and toys. I took a few of my friends back and we distributed these things in slums, refugee camps, hospitals, villages, churches, and schools.
Afterwards I traveled from Uganda to Mozambique where I served under Heidi Baker and Iris Ministries for 3 months...learning about what it really means to serve the poor and to become a missionary with Jesus as our model...He came as a humble dependant baby who had to learn a trade, a culture, a language. He gave His whole life for those He came to serve. He was a real missionary...a true missionary. I learned what it means to have compassion and during my time there, I had a a vision and encounter with God where He asked me...to "please bring my lost children home" as tears ran down His cheeks... I was called, commissioned, and was burning with fire to see this happen...that every orphaned (physical or spiritual) child could find a home in His heart...in His love...in Daddy God!
Through a series of wild events, some Ugandan friends and I formed a school in an area of town where I had always stayed when I went to Uganda. We started it with just a few hundred dollars and some wooden timbers. We built a small structure and some desks....painted the building, named the school Royal Hope Academy, and started with 3 teachers and about 35 children. Only a few months later, we had 9 teachers and 100 children. Another year later, we had 200 children, 10 teachers, plus 5 staff members. We also decided to really bring some of these desperate kids HOME...and started our first family style children's home where 10 of our kids were adopted. We hope to have more of these homes in the future for more of these children who are in great need of home and family! All of the kids at our school, with the exception of about 5% who are simply very needy, are orphaned. These children are either full orphans or half orphans but in Africa if you have lost only one parent, you are considered an orphan. We began the school with no blue print, little experience, no fundraising plans, no money, in the middle of a recession in America...and with an awesome great big faithful and rich Father! Every month, I would pray for God to supply the needs to pay the staff and feed the children and He never never failed us.
Since February 2009 when we first started the school, at least 100 children have come out of polygamist islam, witchcraft or Rhasta into the marvelous light and love of Jesus Christ, really knowing what it means to give Him their hearts and lives. They have learned that they are loved by their heavenly Father, the King of Kings, and that they have been adopted as princes and princesses into His Royal family. Many have been delivered of demonic oppression, healed from diseases and conditions, and certainly saved by the marvelous love of our Faithful Father. They have developed a compassion and a generosity for others as well through a weekly offering they give to help someone in the community who is in need.
We have also seen great healing in our children who are within our home. They have also been delivered and received such a beautiful inner healing as Holy Spirit ministers to them through us about forgiveness of those who have abused them, killed their parents, or abandoned them. They are our dearly loved treasures we would give everything for, and certainly the treasures of their Father.
As I have lived and served these children in Africa, I have an overflowing joy and delight to be a part of what my Daddy is doing for His kids. It's a big part of God's redemption in my own life and certainly Jesus is on the move in Uganda spreading His love and glory among the villagers of Busega, Kampala, Uganda. My joy and delight has been in being blessed to be a blessing. Our ministry is humbled that God has allowed us to help needy single mothers and caretakers feed their children,begin businesses to break the cycle of poverty, bring hope to their families through education, receive medical care and treatment for many different kinds of conditions, and to be given a gift of mercy for their struggle and be loved on by Father God. We are humbled as God has moved through us dissolving tumors, setting children free from demonic oppression, and healing the hearts of young precious lives. These are the treasures hidden in darkness, the true diamonds of Africa... I am honored and blessed to serve the true royalty of God's kingdom...and there is SO MUCH MORE to be done!
To all who have prayed given served gone over the past two years, you are the hands and feet and light and love of Jesus to the world. Thank you! :-)
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