Whether you’re a boy scout or a college student, a missionary or a lawyer, most of us can agree that giving back has positively impacted our lives. We would not be the individuals we are today without the experiences we’ve shared or people we’ve encountered along the way. When we recognize we’ve been given encouragement through our walk, then it’s not hard to extend a helping hand to others. Love is passed from person to person—creating a ripple effect—making the world a better place.
A disciple is someone who follows Christ, who trusts in Him alone, obeys His teachings, and imitates His life. A disciple also leads others to do the same. Through our Child Sponsorship and Community Partnership programs at Sozo Children, we put an emphasis on discipleship. Each day the children are surrounded with Sozo moms and dads who nurture them and point them to Jesus. Our children continue to grow in their faith through daily times of prayer and teaching of the Word by the Sozo parents.
While there are many occasions we’ve seen our children serve as Kingdom builders—choir tour, within their families, among school peers—one of the most common places you can see our children make a difference is through Kid’s Club, one of our Community Outreach programs in the village where we are located in Uganda.
Kid’s Club is an outreach of our Community Development program that exists to reach the community’s youngest members with the Gospel. Over 300 village children gather twice a week and Sozo Children have the opportunity to join our Ugandan staff as they pass out snacks, share Bible stories, and extend love through mentoring the children who are our closest neighbors.
Mary is one of our university students who makes it a priority to attend Kid’s Club as often as she can. Mary has a deep love for Christ, a servant’s heart, and the brightest smile. She became more actively involved in the community by working with team members from the U.S. who join one of our short-term mission opportunities and our Encounter Fellows after she returned from Sozo’s US choir tour in 2018. While in the US, Mary not only missed home, but the people in village that felt like home.
“When I started volunteering to help at Kid’s Club I fell in love with the children. They really reminded me of the situation I came from,” recalls Mary.
She can relate to so many of these children in a very tangible way. Mary, along with her four siblings, was raised by a hard-working single mother who wanted the best for her children, but needed a helping hand. Mary’s upbringing parallels many of the children living in this village who grew up with limited resources. She didn’t know Christ before arriving at Sozo Children, but now uses her story to witness to others, passing along compassion and understanding, as well as, love and Truth.
“I know Jesus is on their side. They will become great leaders. I love showing them a reflection of Christ and I love that Sozo Children is teaching these kids about Christ,” Mary told us.
God’s story of transformation in these children’s lives does not end with them; but is just the beginning of His work through their lives. Their testimonies are tools of encouragement for other people as examples of God’s power at work. Because of this, our children are encouraged to share their stories with those they meet, especially those going through rough times.
Our Ugandan Child Development Director, Aggie, shared with us, “Our staff commits daily to walking a journey of growth without judgment. Rather, we intentionally help the children heal from their past wounds, discover their gifts and callings so they can be able to serve God’s purpose for their lives.”
Sozo Children hires Christ followers to raise the children placed in our care to serve as role models and mentors, demonstrating the nature of Christ through their love and nurture of each child. Mary loves the worship and fun at Kid’s Club, but for her the most exciting aspect is seeing discipleship manifest. From watching our staff members and house moms over the years interact with our children, she has seen the impact of their wisdom, faith, and unconditional love. She now gets to watch them share the same spirit with the attendees of Kid’s Club.
“I love it when the house moms talk to the children in the village—giving them Truth and advice. It is the same advice and counsel they’ve raised us on.”
It’s a ripple effect.
Mary is just one example of a child raised through the care of Sozo Children who wholeheartedly embraces the heart of discipleship. She extends a hand to many in the community through Kid’s Club and we know will continue serving as a vessel for God’s work, touching the lives around her!