Sunday, February 24, 2013

Core Values...Etc.

Some of you may be interested in learning more about what AIM believes, how they function, and what they expect of their missionaries. If so, I've listed their core values below. It's an honor to be a part of a mission with such high standards based on Biblical truth and Kingdom advancement.

If you're not interested in these details, maybe you'd like to learn more about how to pray for Africa's unreached peoples

Still not for you? Then you'll probably enjoy watching this short video of some lovely women in Mbarara singing a praise song together. 

Core Values

We Are God-Centered:

  • We acknowledge the absolute and final authority of God and his Word in all things
  • We believe that our highest calling is to bring God the glory and worship He so richly deserves
  • We are committed to being disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • We embrace the essential role of individual and corporate prayer
  • We depend upon God as the ultimate provider for our spiritual and material needs
  • We recognize the centrality of the local church in the plan of God
We Are Ministry Focused:
  • We are committed to making disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • We are committed to establishing maturing churches among unreached peoples
  • We are committed to developing Christ-like leaders
  • We believe that ministries are enhanced through a lifestyle consistent with the ministry context
  • We are committed to learning local languages as an essential tool for effective ministry
  • We express the life of Christ through teaching and practical demonstrations of His compassion
  • We enter into partnerships with churches as an autonomous, nondenominational, mission organization
  • We hold that integrity is essential in all that we do both as a mission and as individuals
  • We look to the Lord in faith to supply all our needs while sharing information appropriately
  • We cooperate with like-minded organizations to enhance accomplishing our purpose
We Are Member Oriented:
  • We are an organization governed by and accountable to its members whose opinions regarding ministry direction are valued by those in leadership
  • We acknowledge that decisions are generally best made by those closest to the ministry
  • We respect God’s personal guidance in the life of individuals
  • We respect the role of mission leadership and seek to identify, equip and empower servant leaders
  • We value our families and commit ourselves to maintaining and enhancing the well being of our marriages and our children
  • We are committed to help each member grow as they are transformed into the image of Christ

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Beating the Odds

When I tell people that I'm intending to go back to Mbarara to build relationships with unwed, young mothers, often they ask whether or not abortion is very common. It's hard to pinpoint numbers like this in a culture where detailed, documented records aren't as common and so many cases go unreported. Yet I've tried to do some research on this topic and thought I'd share the information with you, too. 

Let me first start by saying that abortion is illegal in Uganda, except where the mother's life is in danger, such as in the case of cardiac disease, renal disease, or eclampsia. 
But that doesn't mean it isn't happening at an alarming rate.

That being said, there are over two million conceptions in Uganda every year.
775,000 of these pregnancies (39%) are unwanted, and 50% of these unwanted pregnancies belong to girls in their teens and early 20's.
350,000 of these unwanted pregnancies (45%) end in induced abortion (1).
Of the babies that beat these odds, there are still approximately 125,000 unwanted births each year in Uganda. Some of these women weren't able to afford an abortion or the abortion failed, and the baby survived.

I read that "of the 20 women in Uganda who die due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications every day, four to five of these are due to induced abortion" (1). The following are items that are commonly used by women attempting to induce their own abortions.

So what happens to these unplanned and unwanted babies? Ones like Emmanuel, James, Innocent, and Esther?

Unfortunately, many of them are abused and/or abandoned. There are many reasons and circumstances through which children are abandoned in Uganda, and failed abortions is among them.

You see, to be pregnant and unmarried in Uganda is one of the most shameful things a girl could experience (don't even get me started about the lack of responsibility boys and men have). There seems to even been a cultural shift where the younger generations, who are engaging in unprotected sex, have more fear of being pregnant than contracting HIV. 

"With HIV, you swallow ARVs and nobody will know," says Claire, 16, "but with pregnancy, the whole world will judge you. My parents would kill me! I would drop out of school!" (2)

This one quote from a young girl sums it all up perfectly. These are the very issues I desire to address with young women who have life growing within them. 

Fear of judgment: Where sin runs deep, God's grace is deeper. Man looks at the outside, but God sees the heart.
Broken relationships: We have a Great Redeemer who restores and recreates. He takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. 
Incomplete education: There is a family of believers ready and willing to come alongside our sisters and assist them in finishing what they started.  

Though I am painfully unqualified and entirely inadequate for the depth and breadth of this ministry, I know that these women who have found themselves in such a desperate situation could use some Good News.

The message that God loved us at our darkest.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
Romans 5:8

1. news article from New Vision
2. another article from New Vision

Friday, February 1, 2013

This Is Why I'm Going Back

Meet Esther. She is 15 days old today.

This is the new baby I was sharing about who Laura recently brought home. Esther was born to a teenage mother. When this girl's mother found out about the baby, she got upset and refused to let her come home with the baby. Esther was abandoned so that her mother didn't have to be abandoned. 

The effects of generational sin are devastating and far-reaching... 

Jill Skinner went to meet Laura a few weeks ago. Here they are with James on Jill's lap and Emmanuel on Laura's. (The child in the middle is Laura's house helper's child). James has been in Laura's care since he was a few months old. He has completely stolen her heart! 
Emmanuel came to live with Laura early in September. He is now 5 months old and starting to sit up! He was also abandoned by his teenage mother.

What I love and admire about Laura's passion in caring for vulnerable children is her long-term goal. She will tell you that her ministry is all about "rescuing, restoring, and resettling." She knows that children belong in families and ultimately wants to see them resettled with a biological family member if at all possible. She has hope that this can be done for both Esther and Emmanuel. Wouldn't that be amazing?!

Please pray that Laura is able to work quickly and effectively with the local government "social workers" to trace these babies' families and work toward resettlement. This can be a long and discouraging process with many dead ends. But we know that nothing is impossible with Christ! He is in the business of restoration.

I also got an update about baby Michael. He was abandoned because of his terminal illness and was temporarily in the care of another missionary family in Mbarara. Michael passed away last night. While his time on this earth was painfully short, we rejoice knowing that Michael is now safe in the arms of Jesus. He has a new body that is pain- and disease-free and knows the glorious fullness of the being in the presence of his Creator and loving Father.

I found out this morning that my assignment as Community Development/Family Discipler has been confirmed by the field! I am looking forward to not just hearing about these precious babies from afar, but actually getting my hands on them and working with people like Laura to keep families together and work toward restoring relationships.