My dear friend Linda is an inspiration to me. Linda has always been an example of faithfulness and dedication to the Lord, but the recent events of her life have been the true inspiration. Around the time of her 60th birthday, she felt called by God to be an ambassador for starving, sick and abandoned children at an orphanage in Uganda. Linda hasn’t looked back, carrying the weight of such a monumental task with grace and a seemingly never-ending well of love for the poor, hungry and fatherless. Our family decided to sponsor one of the orphans and our daughter Ava chose little Namuda. She was the youngest of the available orphans for sponsorship at only 3, and something about her pulled at Ava’s heartstrings.
We sent our monthly donation, prayed for her, saw her photo and hand-print made from Ugandan dirt on our refrigerator every day. And then, just like that, after returning from a trip to Uganda, Linda told me with teary eyes and a broken heart that Namuda had died. I learned from Linda that it is not uncommon. The orphanage loses approximately one orphan a week to hunger, AIDS, various other illnesses and even to kidnapping for child sex-trafficking from time to time. The news broke my heart and set me on a path of self-reflection and running into the arms of my Savior for answers to life’s hardest questions. Here is what I gather…
1. The Someone Must Be Me. We are all guilty. We think quietly or even say out loud, “Someone should do something about that!” I couldn’t get past the feeling that these orphans are dying on my watch. If I have the ability to support Linda, promote the cause, find sponsors myself, give more myself and, more importantly, if I feel GOD has brought this cause across my path for a purpose, I am the someone who must do something.
2. Her Life Matters. I don’t know if anyone other than our family and Linda cried for Namuda. I don’t know if she had a funeral where people celebrated her too-short life. I do believe, however, that God had a plan for her life. I believe she could have been the nurse who daily cared for the needs of the children at that orphanage. I believe she could have been an encourager of the broken-hearted. I believe she could have told the hopeless the message of a loving Savior and Father of all. I will not forget her because she matters.
3. There is Hope. In the midst of my grief, one night I was praying with Ava before bed. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and asked if we could pray for Namuda. An overwhelming peace of God came over me as I looked in her 9-year-old eyes, with tears streaming down my face and said with confidence, “Ava, Namuda no longer needs our prayers. When Namuda was on this earth, she suffered. She had no parents. Her belly hurt because she didn’t have enough to eat. She could have been terribly sick and in a lot of pain. But now, Ava, Namuda is in the arms of her heavenly Father. Now, Ava, Namuda never has to feel sorrow or pain or hunger. She is with the One who loves her so much He died for her. She doesn’t need our prayers anymore…”
Now, meet Eseza.
Our family joyfully sponsors Eseza now. I see strength and beauty in her eyes. We pray for her with more fervor. Ava has a box marked “Eseza” and just in the past few weeks has saved close to $15 to add to our regular monthly contributions. I am working more vigorously and passionately to support Linda and spread the word about the Helping Hands Project. I know Eseza matters to God. I have high hopes for her and hope to meet her in person one day. Until then, I will take the lessons God has softly spoken to me about her death and run.
If you are interested in learning more about Hope Refuge Schools and the sponsorship program, please check out our official non-profit, Live the Way, or contact me.