It was the darkest hour of Praise’s young life. Her beloved grandmother, the one who had mostly raised her, had died. All 20+ children/teens, most of them orphaned by AIDS, were chased away from the small 1-bedroom-home they had shared with their grandmother.
What now? Where to now? Praise's world - as she knew it - had collapsed. She felt like fainting of despair. Her grief was unbearable. And hopelessness engulfed her. What was going to become of her? Her past 14 years on this earth – in one of Kampala’s slums - hadn’t exactly been a bed of roses (unless you’re just looking at the thorns). But at least she'd had a shelter at night. Yeah, bodies squeezed like sardines (and worse), covering every square inch of the humble abode. But nonetheless safety. She had just recently encountered the life-changing love of Jesus and joined a church. So, first call of port? The church – 'course. She started sleeping there, together with several other young people without homes. And if there was food, she would eat there, too. But many times, there wasn’t. Hunger was an old companion - all too familiar. 😞 A lover of music, Praise had joined the worship team at church. The leader of the worship team and her husband, one of the pastors, had an open home. They would meet there often, worship and pray, sometimes all night, and (at times) eat, if they had food. Usually runny porridge.
Other times just hot water, in an attempt to ease the relentless hunger pangs. Life wasn’t easy for this couple, but they shared the little they had. One evening, Praise asked if she could stay at their home, since she was freezing at church. (yeah, believe it or not, it can get cold, especially at night - even in Africa!) And that was the beginning of her stay with this young couple.
"We had 6 youth from church. The church would just forward them to me. We were like a referral home. They would just tell them, 'Go to Pastor Brutus'. My worry was so much about the young girls. Because this is a slum area with drug addicts around. I cared so much because I didn't want the young girls to get raped. So I said, let them come here. At least they are well protected, even if we don't have anything to eat." - Edith -
They were like family, had wonderful times together, and didn’t even mind all that much if they had to go to sleep hungry – all of them – on the days when there was no food. But they had God, love, and one another. It was from their home that Praise was soon going to launch her ministry with street kids. Bringing them in, asking for them to sleep there instead of her, while she offered to sleep back at the church.
Secretly feeding them through their back window.
But that's a story for another day. If you can't wait, you can read up more on Maisha Africa's website or on our facebook page. One comment I will add now, is that Praise stood out from all the other youth the couple was helping, I was told. Curious how? She was so passionately in love with Jesus. And she kept herself pure and undefiled of the world and its pleasures. Unlike most of her peers. (well done, Praise! Proud of you!👏😍) Fast forward to March/April 2020. Enter Covid-19. Oops, no, let me back up first. During the days when Praise struggled so much just to survive, watching her siblings/cousins engage in different shameful activities for their survival, she held on to God for dear life. One time, she heard him whisper to her:
“What you are going through is temporary. There will be a better tomorrow and you will be of a great help to others.”
Listen to this song Praise wrote a few years ago about her story, if you'd like to understand better.
Okay now, since Covid-19 has brought with it an extremely strict lock-down in Uganda, many people have been struggling BIG TIME to survive. Pastor Brutus and his wife still live in the same simple rental home in the same slum (yes, dreaming of their own home one day). I recently visited them and long behold, they haven’t stopped reaching out - beyond their means - to care for the vulnerable.
19 years later, not much has changed. Meet a little one they recently saved from abandonment and starvation and took on as their own. Edith's small business has suffered since she took him on, as he's needed so much care and attention, but she humbly and joyfully carries on, trusting God for all of their needs.
With the lock-down shutting down all non-essential businesses, many families in their community were immediately plunged into utter despair. Imagine living day-to-day, no reserves, no fridges and no income. And you are told to stay at home. Pastor Brutus’ heart was deeply burdened for his community. He cried out to God for help. He had no clue how God was going to answer. Well, totally unexpectedly to him through the generosity of some of you friends (see my last post), Praise has been able to pass on funds for him to provide much-needed food to the most vulnerable in his community, including his own family (not easy for a pastor to survive when church is shut down – at least in Uganda). God is using him MAJORLY to relieve the suffering of MANY and he is OVERJOYED! What about that, my friends?! God does hear the cry of the desperate. (in this case, Praise, years ago) He restores what has been stolen by life’s unfairness. But not only that. When He intervenes, he’s not just restoring what was lost – but there is restitution – with 'interest'! 😀 In the past month, Praise – in partnership with us – has been able to reach 8 suffering communities!
The one she grew up in, yes. Plus 7 others. An estimated 2,500 people (500 families) have received food. And more are being fed each day. Many repeatedly - depending on the need.
Through that girl that once was in desperate need of help. Tables have been turned for Praise - for Pastor Brutus - and MANY are benefiting! THAT is what GOD can do! Hold on, dear friend, if you happen to find yourself in a tricky situation at the moment. Tables can turn at any time. Hold on. Keep the faith! And as far as the needy ones we may be reaching out to today, investing into their education/food/survival? Never underestimate what your sacrificial love can achieve! You might think you are helping a needy person. And you are. But one day, that needy person may just be the one helping you. In some unexpected way. And possibly not just you - but MANY more! JUST.MAYBE. I firmly believe - and I've witnessed glimpses of it already - that many of the ones being helped now will become world-changers! Honestly – my eyes are now ‘leaking’…. In AWE of God’s goodness and care. He NEVER ceases to amaze me!
Post originally written on May 1rst, 2020, on my blog