Uganda (MNN) — If you truly want to make a difference this Christmas, look no further than Uganda. Over 1 million orphans there won’t be celebrating the holidays with family.
Uganda is home to an estimated 1.7 million orphans; 10,000 of whom live on the streets, according to World Bank.
Jerry Haag of Orphan’s Heart says some of the kids they help through a partnership with Hines Ugandan Ministries have lost both parents. “And others are much like what orphans would be here…they’re social orphans. Either their mom or dad cannot, or will not, care for them.
“Some are in the terrible situation they’re in because of extreme poverty.”
And then, there’s the AIDS crisis, rampant in so many African nations.
“Across the continent of Africa, every 14 seconds a child is orphaned because of a parent dying of AIDS,” says Haag.
After Christmas, Ron Gunter of Orphan’s Heart is leading a team armed with Christ’s love and Gospel Truth straight into the dire reality faced by villagers in Kamonkoli, Uganda. They’ll help finish a new school being built on the Hines complex, and “we’ll be feeding…900-1000 children, also delivering clothing and other needs that the kids have there,” Haag says.
They need your help to collect a few more items.
“The girls there love dresses, and so one of the huge needs we have right now are dresses for the girls…and we need shoes for the boys,” he states.
If you’re wondering what clothing sizes are needed, err on the small side, Haag advises.
“These are toddlers up through children in high school, but think smaller sizes than what we would buy here for that group,” he says. Poverty leads to widespread malnutrition in Kamonkoli, which results in smaller growth averages.
“Send [the items] to us, and our team will take it over there and personally deliver it,” says Haag. “And, [we’ll] not only share that gift with them, but also share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Some of the participants on this trip are close to Haag’s heart.
“My mom and dad heard about the need of the school and said, ‘We want to give a gift to make that school possible,'” he explains.
“Not only are they giving to make it possible, but just after Christmas they’ll be standing in that orphanage with a third generation.”
That was the only condition Haag’s father placed on their gift for the school: a picture of the couple with their grandchildren is taken on the new school’s front porch. Haag says his parents want to give their grandchildren “a passion for missions and help them see what difference a gift can make.”
Pray that this passion for missions is passed on from one Haag generation to the next. If you’re looking to make a sustainable difference in an orphan’s life, click here to learn more about sponsoring a child through Orphan’s Heart.
“When you see people with these pressing physical needs, let’s not be guilty of [not acting],” states Haag.
“We need to be the ones to reach out, to meet those needs. We’ve been given that mandate by Jesus Christ, by God the Father.”
Pray that all the supplies and donations needed for this trip come through in time.
“Be praying for the vibrancy of Christ through this Christmas time,” Haag asks. “Pray for the reality of that, but don’t just stop there.
“Pray that Jesus will be real and evident to the people there through resources that people are able to send to meet physical needs.”
Pray that villagers will see and hear the Gospel through the Orphan’s Heart team. “For the men and the women and the children there, [pray] that they can be adopted into God’s family,” Haag adds.
The trip to Uganda after Christmas is full, but there is another opportunity to go in March 2014. Learn about it here.
“Be involved on a very personal level,” Haag requests. “Go with us, with Orphan’s Heart, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in that tangible way…to people that have desperate physical needs.”