Saturday, January 8, 2011


For many people, sponsoring a child from a foreign country is rewarding, worthwhile, and let's just face it...foreign. They are there. We are here. Sure, letters are exchanged. Prayers are lifted up. Money is sent. Pictures hang from refrigerators. But the ability to truly connect can sometimes be missing.

The first child Luke and I sponsored was a beautiful little girl named Natumanya Patience. We prayed for her. Gave from our coffee job pay so that she could go to school. Exchanged letters a few times a year. We had a place in our hearts for her and knew that we were supposed to sponsor her. A few months went by with no correspondence and we later learned that she and her family were "displaced" by civil war or possibly dead. It was devastating. But she was there. And we were here. Our relationship, although real, seemed so distant. It seemed so foreign.

We chose another child to sponsor until he too left the reach of the school he was being serviced by.

A year went by.

Then by way of all those perfect little details that God orchestrates, I ended up at a meeting for Parental Care Ministries. It was a Sunday night. Luke was at church. MK and I joined the crowd at PCM's Open House. I had heard of PCM. I had heard how God had used one eight year old little girl to stir the hearts of her family. I had heard of a man named Emmy and his wife who were passionate about orphan care. I had heard of the things that God was doing through this ministry, but I had not seen or heard it first hand.

Nothing fancy was said. Stories were told of how the ministry started, what was currently happening and what they felt God had in store for the future. Instantly I knew that PCM would become a part of our lives.

There were foam boards with faces and names of needy children that call PCM home in Uganda. So many sweet faces. Joyful smiles on children with tattered clothing and dirty faces.

Then there was Emmanuel. He wasn't smiling.

The second I saw him, I knew that's who I wanted to sign our family up to sponsor.

That same night I put Luke's name down as "interested in more info" about a trip that would leave at the end of December. It was safe, I told myself. It's not like it meant he was going to go. It just meant he was interested.

I knew he would be. Helping to put on a youth conference in Africa...of course he would be interested.

Luke and I have been friends for ten years. Since the beginnings of our friendship, I remember a teenager who was drawn to Africa. He wanted to go!

Fast forward a little and that "interested in more info" turned in to "sign me up". Honestly, I wasn't sure how it was going to happen. It wasn't because I didn't want him to go. I wasn't worried about him going to Africa. I just couldn't wrap my mind around how we could raise $3,000 in just a few months. There were shots and plane tickets and all those things cost money. I was negative. I wanted to believe it would happen, but still I didn't. I wanted to believe He would provide, but still I didn't. I couldn't wrap my mind around how we could do it, because we couldn't.

The month before Madelyn had just gone through all the testing in Dallas after one of the scariest days of my life. We already had quite the stack of medical bills and knew there would be more arriving soon. From the time Luke committed to going on the trip, it felt as though the odds were working against us.

I am not the type who likes to give credit to the enemy. But the truth is, he is there. "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world." 1 Peter 5: 8-9

One of the heating elements in our oven went out. The garage door broke. We called plumbers to the house not once or twice but three times. A giant screw found a home in one of my tires and the other three were due for replacing as well. Madelyn had a febrile seizure and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Luke's car broke down, had to be towed and repaired. We experienced personal loss. I had pneumonia. Madelyn had ear infection after ear infection after ear infection...leading to many trips to the pediatrician, several trips to the ENT and a minor surgery (if it's even considered surgery) to put tubes in. I am going to stop there, because you know what? Life has been good. I don't list all of that for anyone to pity us. We are unbelievably blessed with an amazing support system. I put all that out there so that it would be evident that God is with us. His provision is perfect. He can do it.

We sold beads made by the students at the school in Uganda to friends, family, and strangers. I (with my soccer mom photog skills) took family portraits for 31 families who trusted a girl with a camera and a love for pictures. I made Christmas shirts, bibs, bows, burp cloths and more to sell at craft fairs and home shows. Little by little the money was there. People were generous. God was with us.

The week before the trip the exact amount needed to pay it off was waiting on our doorstep. God was with us.

Then December 3oth came and Luke was on a plane headed to a continent that stole his heart ten years ago. Madelyn and I made the drive to Oklahoma on our own for the first time and the whole way I kept thinking about how my faith had lacked so much. Until just a few weeks before the trip I stressed over getting the trip paid for. I prayed each day for Emmanuel. I was so excited that Luke was going to get to meet him but in the mean time I was worried. Now it was paid for. Luke was heading there. I was feeling this overwhelming sense of conviction and I then I said his name out loud and it hit me so hard I had to pull over. Emmanuel. God is with us.

That whole time that I had stressed and worried and lacked faith in God's provision He had given us the perfect reminder that He was, is and will always be with us in the face and name of this sweet boy. Emmanuel means God is with us.
So for some, child sponsorship may be a little detached, but for us it is so very real. Luke spent the entire week with Emmanuel. He is the son of a pastor. From what I hear, he is shy but smart. He loves to dance and draw. For $35 we are able to help pay for his schooling, food, lodging, and other basic needs.

Someday I want him to know that he will forever be the one that God used to reveal something to me that I knew in my head but didn't always grasp in my heart. God is with us.

There are many more needy children and orphans available for sponsorship through Parental Care Ministries. Click here to visit their website and learn more. Click here to visit their blog and see what Luke and the team have been up to.


  1. I'm sure it's partly because I'm pregnant, but I totally cried throughout this post. So great!

  2. Awesome post Kathryn! Brian and I went to Costa Rica to serve two years ago and had a similar experience with how we would get there. I love how faithful our God is! Thanks for sharing about Parental Care Ministries too- we have looked at World Vision, but not really at anything else. I will have to check it out!


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