Thursday, July 17, 2008

Celebrating 20 Years of Family!

Godfrey stepped off the taxi and began walking up the familiar drive that leads into New Hope Uganda’s Kasana Children’s Center. A smile lit up his face as he beheld the giant “Welcome Home” banner that stretched over the road just before the gate leading into New Hope. Uncle Tony, Godfrey’s former principal and a Senior Leader at New Hope, rose quickly from the welcome station and hurried to meet Godfrey, embracing him with a warm hug. Godfrey was home.

Godfrey is a son of New Hope. He has been in and out of the family over the past few years for many different reasons, the latest being continual drug use. He has been living in Kampala at a Christian run drug rehabilitation center and has been doing wonderfully, most clearly seen in his renewed heart for God that previously had only been seen in short flashes. Godfrey, along with a few hundred of his brothers and sisters who also grew up at New Hope, returned home to celebrate 20 years of New Hope family. The weekend celebration rejoined and rekindled relationships of all sorts including many who had not seen each other in more than 10 years! And how exciting to find many of those who have been sons and daughters of New Hope coming with their sons and daughters, grandkids of the ministry!

It was exciting to hear the testimonies of those who have been living “outside” for so many years, to hear of God’s faithfulness to all as well as His relentless pursuit of those who left New Hope in a “bad” way, to hear of the fruit that is being born through those who at one time were considered “hopeless” by their families and community, to see the reach of these men and women throughout Uganda and even into Rwanda, and to hear the sons and daughters exhorting their young “brothers and sisters” who are currently at New Hope to follow their true Father and to accept the family that they have here. Powerful.

Isaiah 60:4 came alive for all of us- in fact, Laura Beth could not read it without crying throughout the weekend! It says, "Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar and your daughters shall be carried on the arm."

The weekend was also a fun time together, as Saturday was filled with foot races, sack races, races with bottles on the head, bike races, and football (soccer) matches (of course, the current kids defeated the “old boys” as well as the staff!). One of the highlights was Saturday night at the bonfire when those who had returned gave testimonies about their lives and their time at New Hope, honoring their fathers (Uncle Jay Dangers and Uncle Jonnes Bakimi) and giving Glory to God. Sunday was our day of Thanksgiving, complete with the family march around the circle with banners flying and branches waving, and then a five hour church service filled with singing, thanksgiving, and testimonies! Yes…5 hours! (and I wasn’t even tired afterwards! Yes, I’m becoming Ugandan : ). We then had a gigantic community meal for the over 1,500 people present! You should have seen the lines for the food!
Mukama Awebwe Ekitibwa (To God be the Glory)

Please continue to pray for the ministry of New Hope Uganda and for the sons and daughters that are currently here as well as those who are now grown and living out on their own. Pray that the love of the Father, the true Father of the fatherless, would melt and bind up the brokenhearted in our midst, that the Gospel would penetrate hearts, that fatherhood and motherhood would be received, that family would be established, and that God would make His Name known in Uganda through those He has entrusted to us here at New Hope. Please also pray for our next site of ministry in Kumi that will focus on children who have been recovered from the fighting in the North, those who have been abducted by Koni and the LRA and recovered from the fighting. Also pray for our coming Manhood and Womanhood camp on Lake Victoria that will be a place for discipleship and retreats for our children as well as others from around Uganda, as we are still trying to secure the land so that we can begin building there and developing the site.

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