Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Traditions

Uganda is a Christian country.  While there is a large Muslim population, the majority of people identify as being Christian.  There are a lot of different denominations, but most would say they are born-again Christians.  Most people find themselves in church on Sundays, but unfortunately the gospel that is preached in most local churches is incredibly false and misleading. There are pastors that perform fake miracles and swindle people out of millions of shillings promising them that God will give them double what they give the church.  Meanwhile, people that already have nothing are giving everything  and remaining with barely enough to eat and the pastors are driving convoys of Range Rovers and vacationing all over the world.

We live right next door to a church.  We are awoken, quite frequently, by their loud prayers and singing, and kept awake at night by their pleas and shouts to God.  But one of the biggest problems I see, and not just in Uganda but the church in general, is church stops at noon on Sundays and doesn't resume until 8am on Sunday mornings.  On more than one occasion, those very people in the church have insulted the boys as soon as they walked out of the door.  The one time I visited the church, at the urging of the neighbor boy, I left before service was over because I couldn’t manage another minute of it.  As I was walking out they asked for my tithe and told me I shouldn’t leave before giving them my money.  And that isn’t the first time that has happened.

Anyway, I could write volumes on what is wrong with the majority of churches here, but the point was to give a bit of background.  Giving back and service to others is not a part of most churches’ gospel here.  But I am trying to teach the boys that service to others is important.  It is a critical part of faith.  Showing Jesus first is the only way that some are ever able to believe that He is real.  Everyone has something to give, and it doesn’t have to be things, even time is important.  So we have a Christmas morning tradition of getting bread and juice and taking it to the slums to serve the boys on the streets.  This was our third year doing it.  The boys at home get so excited.  I love their hearts.

But this year, I think we started a new Christmas tradition.  It was a bit of a miracle.  Some boys from the street asked if they could spend Christmas with us.  I said of course.  I thought it would be about 10.   Then about 30.  I think around 50 ended up showing up.  I was sure that we would run out of food.  But I said a quick prayer and thought if Jesus could multiply the fish, He’s got this under control.  Sure enough, there was more than enough food.  Everyone ate until they were ready to explode and there was even some left over.  The boys that didn’t go to the slums in the morning stayed behind and cooked and cleaned the house.  They served their friends first and ate last.  We had a wonderful time.  We talked about Jesus and how amazing it was that He came to save us.  We ended the day at the beach, and everyone had a great time.  My heart was so full and happy that day.  Not only did the boys hear about Jesus that day, but they saw Him too.  Just as it should be.

The most heartbreaking part of the day was dropping the boys back off in the slum knowing that they would be sleeping outside.  Many of them shared their hearts with me that day.  Some want to be resettled with their families, one wants help with his music, some want school.  Can you keep them all in your prayers and that in the new year, their hearts’ desires will become a reality?  And if by chance you want to help us make their dreams come true, email Amanda at

Wishing you all a happy and blessed new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Thank you for teaching people that I love so much that they don’t matter, that their lives in fact are less valuable than that of an attempted murderer and woman-beater.  

Thank you for showing them that justice is never on their side, because of the sins of their fathers.  

Thank you for robbing them of their last bit of hope, the last sliver of good that they could see in the world.

Thank you for showing how easily everything can be bought and sold.  

Thank you for reminding them that they aren’t wanted, and therefore anything can be done to them because who cares about unwanted things?  Do people get upset when trash is burned?  Of course not.  

Thank you for fitting into and personifying every stereotype of your culture.  Maybe they really aren’t stereotypes, but visible cultural characteristics?

I wonder what your children think of you.  I wonder how you look into their eyes, and encourage them to dream and believe that the world is good, when you make the opposite to be true.  I wonder how you can be a father, and look the other way.

Thank you for teaching me that all children are “ours” unless they are on the street, then they are no ones.  

Thank you for teaching me that the worst thing to be in this world is a child on the street.  It is worse than being a murderer, a liar, corrupt, etc.  They steal to eat.  What about you?  They drink and smoke to forget the horrible things done to them.  What about you?

But for all of the lessons that you tried to teach me in those few minutes, seconds actually, I know something completely different to be true.  Maybe you will never learn the lessons that I want, but that doesn’t mean that I will give up teaching.

Because they do matter.  More than you can imagine.  They are my world.  And they are Someone Else’s universe.

Justice will be theirs.  The last will be the first one day.

We have a hope that can never be taken away and I am teaching them about the One that is hope.  Even though you are shouting, He whispers gently and they hear.

I know this is only temporary.  What is good and right cannot be bought and sold.  And even if it was for this moment, I know Good will always win in the end.  

They are wanted.  And even though others are trying to show them differently, I think my love speaks louder than your hate.  Love heals everything.  Love wins.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Even if they are characteristics, there is a generation coming that is tired of the old and wants new.  They believe in love and goodness and treating everyone fairly.  They believe in justice.  And my heart breaks for the children that aren't being raised in such an environment.  Those that are have their work cut out for them.  

But again, Love always wins.