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On the Road Again...

After two years of very limited travel, our staff is finally on the road again, visiting our program locations around the world. Billy, VP of International Ministries just got back from a month in Kenya and Uganda, and wanted to share some of the highlights of his trip:    After navigating all the Covid testing requirements and many hours of travel, I finally arrived, ready to tackle three big goals. First, launching the pilot program of our enhanced Life Center experience. Second, exploring opportunities to expand into new areas through new church partnerships. And third, after so long without face-to-face contact, encouraging our coworkers in the excellent work they do every day.  I’m happy to share that we were able to accomplish all three goals and then some!  We work with evangelical churches to help them share the love of God and the gospel of Jesus with their communities. It is our privilege to partner with them in sharing the Good News while helping kids in their communities with physical and educational needs. It was so special to hear from every pastor how pleased and excited they were with the new and improved Life Center program!  

 The new Life Center meetings were so fun! Church leaders and even representatives from denominational offices all came out to join the celebration, and we kicked everything off in style. We started with a joyful program featuring singing and dancing (the new karaoke machines had all the kids jumping and laughing), and praise and worship to our good God. We continued on with some fun games – I couldn’t stop smiling as I watched the kids’ happiness bubbling up while they played with their new volleyball nets, table games, jump ropes and soccer balls.   I also got to share a meal with the kids, appreciating the healthy, delicious food even more as I saw how happily the kids ate. For many of them it was the only meal they’d have that day, which really puts things in perspective. Best of all, we got to see dynamic, engaging Life Center teachers present the new gospel lessons. I’ve personally been working hard over the past few years to help prepare these lessons, and it was gratifying to see them in action!  In Kenya, I also got to plant trees at a number of our Life Center locations. This is a fun Kenyan tradition where a guest plants a tree that the host will care for in their absence. That way, when you return you will find a healthy, flourishing tree. I look forward to returning to each of these churches soon to see the growth - both of these trees, and of the children’s spiritual health!  I can’t wait to see our new Life Center program expanded across ALL our locations, and the way God will use this ministry to draw children closer to him. I hope you’ll consider partnering with us to make it possible!

 While Life Centers were the main focus of my trip, we also spent time visiting areas we are considering expanding to, and the churches serving those locations. I admire pastors that come into a community, live among their people, and begin the process of loving people into the kingdom of God. Seeing the poverty that is evident everywhere, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. What difference can I possibly make when the needs are so great?  Thankfully, we serve a great God! God does not ask us to solve everyone’s problems, but to present the gospel to those willing to listen and allow God to call those He wants to save. The physical needs will always be there, but we have the joy to see individual children come to know Christ as their personal Savior and to help them with some of their needs. It is exciting to see the new areas where God is leading this ministry!  Throughout my trip, I was continually amazed at the dedication of our country staff. Each of them works with hundreds of children, knows them by name, and ensures their academic and holistic needs. I spent time with them in devotionals, Bible studies, prayer times, lunches, visits to our children, training meetings, and more. It was pure joy to see the incredible job they do.  I was supposed to be encouraging them, but truthfully they were the ones encouraging me!  

 Accomplishing goals is always nice, but perhaps the greatest highlight of the trip was visiting the children. Regardless of the poverty they are surrounded with, there is joy and hope in their eyes and their smiles. They understand the privilege they have in being sponsored, and display amazing resilience, faith and courage.   Young men like Danson, who is pursuing an architecture degree, are building the future we dream of. When Danson’s parents passed away, his aunt took him in, but today he is the one taking care of her! When I visited, Danson was taking time out of his rigorous school schedule to be present with his aunt as she grieved her daughter’s death. I heard the love and concern in his voice as he described how auntie had always been there for him and the responsibility he now feels for her. He is exactly the sort of loving, caring man we hope to see graduating from our program!  

 There are also precious young ones like 12 year old Hannah. Despite all the hardship she’s endured in her young life, Hanna is still smiling. Her parents abandoned her, and even though she was nearly destitute herself her grandma took her in. When we went to visit her, we brought along a huge bag of staple foods that would last them several weeks. Simple gestures like this keep Hannah smiling and remind her that even though her earthly parents rejected her, God’s love will never fail.  

 I am honored and privileged to serve among a dedicated staff in the US and in country, because in serving these children, we are serving God. Many are coming to know the love of God, and are giving their lives to Christ for the salvation of their souls and the dedication of the rest of their lives to honor him. What a joy to see in person the difference we are making together!  ````````````  Childcare Worldwide is grateful to partner with generous people all over the world to help transform children’s lives. If you’re interested in helping children’s faith grow, consider donating to our Life Center program today.

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