Part of His Masterpiece by Laura Marshall
I’m new here at Orphans of Teso. Unlike most of the people writing on this website, I’ve only been to Uganda once, and I don’t even sponsor a child through HopeChest (yet). But I’ve been waiting for Children’s HopeChest to find me for years.
Let me back up a little.
God brought me to Children’s HopeChest through an awesome, only-God series of small conversations and seemingly unrelated events, and I love looking back at the picture He’s been painting. From where I stand now, I can see how he’s been working, and it’s truly awesome.
First, years ago, God put Africa on my heart. It started with a television show, oddly enough. In 2003, the show ER began a series of episodes centered in Congo, and in 2006, in Darfur, Sudan. Those episodes stuck with me. Years later, in a bookstore, an employee recommended I read a book about the experience of one of the Lost Boys from Sudan. I did, and have since read other non-fiction books about Africa.
Next, He gave my husband and I a daughter. We learned a whole lot about God’s amazing grace and His limitless love. We started asking all kinds of questions as she grew, which led to discovering even more about God.
Third, God placed on my heart a desire to sponsor a child when my daughter was about fifteen months old. I walked into Family Christian bookstore one day to buy a book and walked out pledged to a little boy in Rwanda.
Fourth, my husband said, out of the blue one day, that he wanted to adopt instead of having any more children. God used this desire and a very good friend to open my eyes to children all over the world who need families. God’s plan was a bit different, however, and He led us to having a second child, who is truly sent from God. With this second child, I knew that I wanted to sponsor another child, and I waited to feel a call as I had with my sponsored child in Rwanda
Yet another book played a role in narrowing my vision toward a specific country. Kisses From Katie had a huge impact on me, as it has for many. It really opened my eyes to see that, really and truly, anyone could go into all the world. And she’d gone to Uganda.
Finally, the call to adopt was heavy on our hearts, as my husband and I both independently heard about a conference nearby on adoption. We decided that I would go, with my very good friend who’d first introduced me to the face of adoption. It was at this conference that all of the threads came together, when the picture God had been painting became clear.
I learned about so much more than just adoption at that conference. The most incredible thing I learned was that there was a spectrum of care for the world’s vulnerable children, and there was a very important piece available to anyone who would see it. Orphan prevention is a term I hadn’t heard before this conference, but it is one that instantly took root in my heart. The best reality of all?
Child sponsorship is Orphan prevention.
Enter Children’s HopeChest. Two advocates for HopeChest manned (or womaned?) a table at the conference, and I got to talking with one of them who had been working with HopeChest for nearly five years in Uganda. HopeChest offers child sponsorship in the context of relationship with the entire community. And they encourage those who sponsor to go, to travel, to meet their sponsored child in order to develop and strengthen the bonds of relationship.
I knew with that first conversation at that table that this was what God had been waiting to show me. I’d thought many times about sponsoring a second child, but the timing had never been right. God wanted me to do more than just sponsor one child; He wanted me to be part of a much bigger story.
He wanted me to go. He wanted me to see with my own eyes, hear with my own ears, and to take part of Uganda home with me. He wanted me to get lost in a very remote part of Uganda so that I would spend hours thinking about the people who lived there and the challenges they have faced for years. He wanted me to love them even without seeing them so that when I returned home, I would fight for them.
So I’m new here. I’m joining with Orphans of Teso as they bring another village under their care. I’m thrilled to get to advocate for the children and families in Uganda whose voices simply can’t reach our shores without help.
I’m excited to see what God has planned next.
I’m Laura, and I’m on a God-journey.