Monday, November 29, 2010

" the days of your youth"

Disappointments and joys. You are sure to face one or the other, or both, when working with people. It is inevitable.

 Over the past couple of weeks, I have experienced both emotions in regards to the youth I know and work with here.

  It was such a joy to start and then continue co-leading with Amanda the Morning Star Ladies' Study with the girls at the island secondary school. We started in late February and continued nearly every Saturday this year, minus two 1-2 month breaks for school holidays. We met for the last time this year a couple of Saturdays ago.

The Morning Star Ladies Study

 Amanda and I cannot help but beam with pride over "our" girls. They have shown such growth this year - in hungering for God's Word, memorizing scripture, doing the assignments, learning and then performing songs as a group in church and being more open personally in our studies. We began with a large group in February, but we now have a fairly solid group of 8-9 who have been faithful and seem to be truly desirous of learning and growing in God's ways. I am excited about what God has in store for the Morning Stars next year!

My sponsored daughter Shimily

 It was great news when I learned last week that my sponsored daughter, 18-year-old Shimily, received a coveted spot in a local nursing school. I have watched this girl grow, mostly from afar, from a young student to a mature and focused young woman. She went through a time of rebellion and I was concerned. But, by God's grace and the intervention of those who care for her, she submitted to her authorities and reaped the benefits of doing so. Tomorrow she begins a 2-1/2 year program in comprehensive nursing. I am so excited for her and how God will use this to continue to grow and shape her for the future He has planned.
  In mid-October we said goodbye to the school's Senior 4 class, the top class, as they went to another school to take their final exams. Thirteen of the 30 (see photo below) were sponsored through Child Development and so I had met with them as a group and one-on-one throughout the year. I became close to many of them and was sad to see them go since I knew they would not be returning to the school.

Child Development's Senior 4 Students

 I was sad and upset when I recently heard that some of those students, specifically a couple of girls, had engaged in immoral behavior when they had gone to take their final exams. Today I wrote to two of the girls' sponsors, saying because of the misbehavior, the girls would be dropped from the sponsorship program and would be receiving no further financial help from Shepherd's Heart. What disturbs me most is that these young women professed to be Christians and led in worship at church, and even at times attended our Bible study.

 Over the last few days, I have been asking myself, "What happened?" "Was there something I could have done personally to keep these girls from choosing such a wrong and destructive path?" Perhaps there was more I could have done. But, I also believe that once they were away from the island school, and its structure and discipline, their freedom revealed their true hearts and desires.

 I believe these girls were different, in a good way, when they first came to the island school several years ago, but choices in friends, use of time, focus, etc., chiseled away at any commitment they may have had to God.

 My heart is heavy for these ones and others who are blindly trekking down destructive paths. Since I have been in Uganda my burden for students and youth has only increased and I strongly believe any future ministry will most definitely involve youth. I am not sure how it will look, but I feel God has given me a glimpse of the HUGE heart He has for young people.

 Your prayers for the youth of Uganda would be so greatly appreciated!

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them,' before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain." - Ecclesiates 12:1-2

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