This is Beatrice and her two sons, Jonathan and Samuel. Two years ago, Beatrice was at a point of desperation. Her skin had been breaking out with odd bumps, so she went to see a doctor. Not only did the doctor verify that Beatrice has a skin disease, but she also has HIV. When her husband heard the news, he left Beatrice and their sons, who were only 3 years old and 1 month old at the time. Beatrice was ostracized with no job, no food, no health care, and no way to take care of her boys. She shared with her friend, Faith, that she felt she had no choice but to abandon Jonathan in the streets and throw Samuel into a pit latrine (a deep pit that is dug in the ground to be used as a toilet).
That month Bucky and Julie Rogers, our founders, moved to Uganda. They started a neighborhood fellowship that met together in their home every Sunday night. Faith came to the fellowship every week and convinced Beatrice to come with her to see if Benjamin House could help her. Immediately, we fed Beatrice and her boys and gave them food to get them through the next few days. Bucky and Julie asked her to come back in two days to hear our plan to help preserve her family. That night, we shared Beatrice’s story with our supporters and both of her boys were sponsored in less than an hour! Today, Beatrice’s skin is healing and she receives treatment for her HIV, Jonathan is in primary school, and Samuel is a happy and thriving 2 year old!
This sweet boy is a living miracle; a picture of God's perfect timing and a reminder, on the hard days, of why we’re here. The Lord is good and greatly to be praised!
Almost one year after they got married, Brian & Mary Beth Lambert were expecting their first child! At their 24 weeks ultrasound screening, they received devastating news that their child would not survive outside of the womb. The doctor callously described the nature of the child’s condition and encouraged them to terminate the pregnancy. Brian & Mary Beth refused, choosing to treasure any time they would have with their child.
When they found out they were having a boy, Brian recalled the Scripture of the patriarch, whose name was associated with both sorrow and strength (Genesis 35:18). So Brian and Mary Beth chose to name their son Benjamin. Throughout the pregnancy, Brian & Mary Beth read the Bible to Benjamin each night, knowing that when he opened his eyes in Heaven, he would recognize his King, never having known the sorrows of this broken world.
The Lord took Benjamin away on March 5, 2010, 10 weeks from his due date. He entered the world three days later, and was buried next to Mary Beth’s father — the grandfather he will only know in Heaven.
Benjamin’s story has touched many hearts and Brian & Mary Beth’s choice to value life has been an inspiration to all who hear it, including our founders. Benjamin House Ministries seeks to show the God-given value of every child, just as the parents of its namesake did.
by Kimberly Henderson
Sometimes it takes being broken ourselves to get us to the point that we will willingly minister to those who are broken around us.
Take yesterday for example. As I stepped out of our van to head into church, my shoes fell to pieces. Literally. Pieces. Right there in the parking lot.
First, I lost both heels in huge chunks. Then smaller, crumbly pieces followed suit. It was the craziest thing. I had to walk carefully and a little tip-toey so I didn’t leave a huge mess with every step. But even with me walking with the greatest of care, I had to pick up pieces of my sole as we made our way in and as I made my way to and from the stage for choir.
We “just happened” to have visitors at church yesterday. People from Benjamin House Ministries, a ministry doing incredible work in Uganda. And what did they have with them in order to raise money for and awareness about their ministry?
Not just t-shirts.
Not just beautiful handmade necklaces and bracelets.
They had shoes.
The ones you see pictured above.
Shoes I was able to purchase and slip on my feet between services. Shoes and a shirt purchased with money that will now be sown back into the lives of people in Uganda.
And I can’t quite get over it. How God met me in my place of need and, in doing so, allowed me to help provide in a small way for people in their place of need.
Would I have stopped at their booth and given anyways? Maybe so. I hope so. But it was the brokenness I was walking in that made it a certainty.
How thankful I am that He let those shoes break exactly when they did. I want to remember He is a God who meets us in our brokenness. A God who tenderly helps us pick up the pieces of our soul. A God who takes those broken places, leads us to a place of healing and then allows us to minister out to others.
May we trust Him with our broken places-expecting Him to lovingly and powerfully meet us in them, knowing He can bring beautiful purpose out of pain. And may we become faithful and humble partners in His ministry of hope and wholeness. Because we have a world that is deeply hurting and is in desperate need of hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Staff Writer for the Spartanburg Herald Journal. This article was published online by the Spartanburg Herald Journal on 24 September 2017. Read the original article at http://www.goupstate.com/news/20170924/rescuing-ugandas-orphans-spartanburg-ministry-still-growing.
Bucky and Julie Rogers say God has called them to Uganda for life.
The Spartanburg couple had known for a few years they were being called to provide orphan care overseas in some capacity. After multiple mission trips to Uganda through their church, Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Moore, that calling turned into a vision three years ago to rebuild Ugandan families by helping the country’s growing number of orphaned and vulnerable children.
“It became apparent that (Uganda) was the place God was calling us to plant our lives,” said Bucky Rogers, who had been pastor of students and worship arts at Anderson Mill. “The situation for orphaned and vulnerable children is very dire there, and generations of exploitation have made it exponentially worse.”
The Rogers sought to invest their lives in seeing things change and in spring 2016, the couple and their four adopted children moved to Kampala, Uganda, to establish an orphan care and family restoration ministry called Benjamin House Ministries.
Right now, the organization is assisting 140 children and families in Uganda through its programs.
“We have been on the ground in Uganda for about 18 months now…and have no plans to return back to the states to live,” Rogers said. “We believe God has called us here for life.”
Providing basic necessities
Among the priorities of Benjamin House Ministries is to help provide basic necessities for Ugandan children like food, clean water, safe shelter and education.
The average Ugandan lives on less than $1 per day and eats one meal per day, Rogers said.
Streams, wells and run-off pipes are where most Ugandans get the water they use for drinking, cooking and bathing. Every year, more than 10,000 Ugandans die from illnesses related to drinking dirty water, Rogers said.
“Many of (the children) became separated from their parents and have been living and sleeping on the streets, begging for food and using drugs to numb the hunger and make themselves sleep,” he said. “Some reach a point of desperation and want to go home, but don’t know how.”
The Rogers and their staff of eight in Uganda also work with the country’s local leaders to get homeless children into transitional homes and prepare them to be part of a family again.
“We want to see the millions of children who are growing up in abject poverty without mothers and fathers be reunited with their birth family or tribe of origin,” Rogers said.
D.J. Horton, senior pastor at Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church, said like any new ministry in a challenging place, the organization’s first two years haven’t been without some difficulties. The organization has evolved and adjusted, but what hasn’t changed is the Rogers’ desire and call to help the people of Uganda, he said.
“Bucky and Julie had everything here with us at The Mill — great job, thriving ministry, beautiful home and tons of loving friends,” Horton said. “Yet, because of their heart for Uganda, they gave all of that up to go live in a third-world country and simultaneously start a new ministry.”
Helping children thrive
Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world. The median age is around 16 years old.
The AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa and the war in South Sudan and northern Uganda wiped out much of the adult generation, Rogers said.
“It’s literally a nation of children,” he said. “Well-meaning people came to Uganda and established orphanages to care for the children who were left behind. Inadvertently, they created an even bigger problem.”
Bucky Rogers said as a result, Uganda has a generation of adults who grew up in orphanages and boarding schools and who don’t know what it means to be a family. The majority of children are either raised by grandparents or placed in boarding schools and visit home only a few months a year, he said.
“This breakdown in the family has caused ripple effects that are hard to overestimate,” he said. The role of Benjamin House Ministries is to provide donors, churches and other groups an avenue to inspire hope across Uganda. The organization does this by assisting orphaned children and preparing them for their futures, subsequently building up the country’s next generation of leaders.
An important piece of this preparation is education, which can lead to job skills training and empowerment.
According to the organization, some Ugandan children begin working as young as 5 years old to help their parents earn a living. If they sell enough items like rice or bananas on the street, they might be able to pay for school.
“All education in Uganda costs money,” Rogers said. “If a family cannot afford the school fees, including a school uniform and school supplies, then their children may never learn to read or write.”
The organization’s sponsorship program helps take care of schooling expenses, along with medical care and other minor needs, allowing parents to keep children in their families. The organization also has a program that equips teenagers with leadership skills.
“Kids who were struggling when we first placed them in school are now thriving, and we even have several who have advanced to the top of their classes,” Rogers said.
Restoring healthy families
Another way Benjamin House Ministries helps to restore families and get abandoned children off the streets is by building transitional homes in Uganda.
The organization broke ground in June on the first of multiple transitional homes. Children will stay in the homes between three and six months as they receive counseling and rehab for any drug addictions.
“The kids we are rescuing from the streets are alone. On the streets there is no hope for them,” Rogers said. “Our transitional homes are a safe place to land and prepare to be a part of a family.”
Each home will have a set of house parents and between six and eight children. The organization’s staff will work to find the children’s families or tribes and make sure these are safe options for the kids.
Where that isn’t possible, suitable foster parents will be trained and assume the role of parents in a child’s life, Rogers said.
Parents or guardians also will receive counseling through the program in order to adequately care for any children and provide them with a forever home. This can be a complicated process and often involves helping parents or guardians gain skills so they can find a job and provide for their children.
“We want to see families lift themselves out of poverty and brokenness, not simply receiving a handout,” Rogers said.
Building future success
Back in the United States, one part-time representative and a board of directors help spread the Benjamin House story and raise financial support to help the organization continue its work in Uganda.
“Our ministry is completely dependent upon our supporters in the states,” Rogers said. “So the timing of our vision depends wholly on the giving.”
The organization’s major fundraising avenue is through its annual unveiling events. This year, such an event will be held on Sept. 28 in Chattanooga, Tenn., and another on Oct. 5 at the Upward Star Center in Spartanburg.
The ticketed dinner events are open to the public and will involve an intimate discussion with Bucky Rogers about the basic needs of Ugandans and how Benjamin House Ministries can help meet them.
“The work that Benjamin House does is transforming the lives of Ugandans by inspiring hope while meeting their basic needs,” said Kevin Drake, publisher of the Herald-Journal and a Benjamin House Ministries board member. “By caring for others we enhance our own life experience. This banquet gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children.”
Michael Lord, who also is on the organization’s board, said the future of Benjamin House Ministries is bright because the need is still so large. The board’s role is to give the Rogers the tools they need to do what needs to be accomplished in Uganda, he said.
“When you look at Benjamin House and its aims and its goals for the future, the potential to reach every child is just overwhelming,” Lord said. “We want to impact the lives of as many children as possible, but it all starts with one child. And I think the Rogers know how to build those relationships with that one child, and then another child and another.”
Through ongoing financial and community support, Bucky Rogers sees the organization expanding in the coming years with an entire self-sustaining village in Uganda.
He also wants to see the organization reach more children and families, plant hundreds of new churches, and shift the general mindset of Ugandan families.
“Basically, we have a huge dream, and we believe God can do it,” he said.
Staff Writer for the Spartanburg Herald Journal. This article was published online by the Spartanburg Herald Journal on 25 August 2017. Read the original article at http://www.goupstate.com/news/20170825/hendrix-elementary-donating-eclipse-glasses-to-children-in-uganda.
A group of Hendrix Elementary School students want Ugandan children to enjoy an upcoming solar eclipse as much, and as safely, as they did this week.
Amy Flynn’s fourth-grade class has started collecting used eclipse glasses to send to Ugandan children later this year. School officials are working with Benjamin House Ministries, and the glasses will come with notes from Hendrix students about what the eclipse was like.
The African country lies in the path of a 2020 solar eclipse.
“One of the students said, ‘Well, we could keep them until the next eclipse’ and we said, ‘That’s not really possible,’” Flynn said. “That’s when we started looking, who could we even give these to?”
The idea built steam after Flynn reached out to Benjamin House staff. The organization works with orphans and families in Uganda.
Spartanburg School District 2 spokesman Adrian Acosta said other schools have been asked about either sending glasses to Hendrix Elementary or starting similar donation drives.
Friday, Flynn encouraged her class to bring in the glasses the district gave them for the eclipse.
She taught another lesson about the eclipse and its significance before having students write messages to the Ugandan children who will receive their glasses.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Grayson Smithson. “I hope they’re thinking that, ‘Hey, some kid was nice enough to donate these to me.’”
Hendrix Elementary is an International Baccalaureate school, encouraging students to use lessons to take action, Flynn said. The eclipse provided a perfect opportunity for learning, because it it led to classroom lessons and a lesson in giving back, she said.
“I think that’s what they’re going to remember about fourth grade,” she said. “They’re going to remember all the learning about this specifically. I hope when they hear about the eclipse in 2020 in Uganda, they remember someone will be holding their glasses.”
Addison Posey said her “mind was blown” by seeing the eclipse with her parents and family friends. She hopes children in Uganda have the same feeling in a few years.
“I hope they get the message that the solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they’re really experiencing history and now they have the glasses to actually experience that history,” she said.
Any residents who want to donate their glasses can drop them off at the front desk of Hendrix Elementary or mail them to 1084 Springfield Road in Boiling Springs.
Summer 2017 Short-Term Missionary
We began our ministry that day by washing feet. Layers and layers of dirt... As I scrubbed the bottoms of their feet, they were not even ticklish. Their feet, just like their hearts and eyes, were hardened and void of feeling.
I won't lie... I caught myself thinking what's the point? What will washing these dirty feet accomplish? They will be dirty again in minutes.
Covered in scars and open wounds, I began to see their feet as a beautiful, sorrowful depiction of the lives they live. Hard, dirty, unfeeling, scarred, and wounded.
God revealed to me that the washing was not only for them, but for me. I needed to see their filth, their pain, their scars, their wounds. I needed "the eyes of my heart enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18), because I was just as dirty, scarred, and wounded before I found Christ. Those feet represent all our lives before Christ, and thankfully Christ does not look at us and say, "What's the point? They will sin again." No, lovingly and patiently, He washes us clean over and over again.
Thank you Jesus for your never-ending and never-failing salvation that washes us white as snow.
Somewhere around the mid 80’s, John Farnham released a song called “You’re the Voice.” I’m sure the meaning of the song is nothing like how my brain has been applying it over the past 5 months, but nonetheless, those words keep ringing through my mind. We’re all someone’s daughter…we’re all someone’s son.
Yesterday, Julie and I were driving back home and there were two very little girls digging through our trash, trying to find something of value, and probably trying to find food. I met another boy at the gate who said, “Pastor, I don’t want to ask you for things. I know everybody does that. But we have no food. My grandmother is sick and needs to eat. Do you have anything left?” A man came up to me after service last Sunday asking to speak to me sometime this week. I made an appointment with him to talk this past Thursday. He told me he was thrown in the latrine as a baby and someone passing by got him out and cleaned him up and nursed him back to health. That caregiver died when he was a young boy and he’s lived the rest of his life trying to survive on his own. He turned from Islam and accepted Christ that day. I spoke to his wife yesterday and she too gave her heart to Christ as well. I told them I loved them and I would see them next Sunday, and as we were walking away, he told me that was the first time he had ever heard those words directed to him.
The other day I was doing some painting at the church and a student from the school that I’m campus pastor for came by to see me. He helped paint a little and then I walked with him back down to the school. On the way he said, “Do you remember a few weeks ago when you talked to me after the chapel service?” I did remember. He was clearly upset and wanted me to pray with him, so of course, I did. He continued, “That day I was going to commit suicide. I had already planned when I was going to jump from the 4th floor balcony. I played it out in my mind over and over. I decided not to after we prayed. Pastor, I have nothing left. I have no one left. There’s no one who would even know if I had died that day.” I kept it together until after I dropped him off at school and then I just got into my car and wept. Of all the things in this world I understand, that just isn’t one of them. I’ll never understand it.
When I think back over my childhood, all I can remember is love. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. When I got a little older there were some pretty rough times…going from a fairly comfortable to having absolutely nothing within 6 months. I can remember a few times during those years not telling my mom that my class in elementary school was taking a field trip because I knew we didn’t have the money and I knew it would hurt her to tell me that we just couldn’t swing it. So, while the school was on field trip, I would hang out at the school, help the teachers grade papers and stuff, and then come home without a word. I can remember saving up my birthday money and Christmas money that relatives had given me, and sneaking a $20 bill in mom’s purse every now and then. My older brother was in trouble a lot, and I would wake up at night to shouting matches between him and my mom. And yet, with all that…the thing that is most in the forefront of my memory is love. There has never been a day of my life, ever, that I didn’t feel loved by my mom and dad. I’m their son. I know what that means. And I’m a lot like them.
Over the past 5 months I’ve been struck by the reality that there are generations of people in Uganda who are just like their parents. They too are someone’s daughter…someone’s son. They’ve known neglect and so they neglect. They know abandonment and a lack of love, so they abandon, and fail to love. They’ve been cheated and exploited for gain, so they cheat and exploit. They become their parents…and on and on. Uganda is drowning for lack of heroic, godly, caring, strong, Biblical fathers. I would never do anything to diminish the value of a mother. But there’s something powerful about the hands, heart, and words of a father. And they’re almost entirely absent here. I can feel it everywhere I go, and with every boy and girl I talk to or spend any time with. They hang on every word. They’re content to just sit beside you…to hold your hand. They have a scared look until you smile at them and then they smile the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. A simple “I love you” spoken by an adult, and their life is utterly changed.
Ministry is ministry, and our whole world needs it. And maybe I’m biased because these are my people. But there is a level of need here that isn’t matched by any experience I’ve had in the 15 or so nations I’ve been to. There’s a desperation that human words just can’t really fully explain. That’s why we need you. We need you to pray for wisdom and discernment. We need you to pray for strength as we hold our hearts out every day and bring them back in every night bruised and torn. We need you to give, and give sacrificially. I need people to value life and the Gospel and choose to sacrifice something to see something miraculous happen. We need you to come. These kids, mothers, fathers, this society needs you. It needs your smiles, your hugs, your words, your example, and the greatest need of every human heart…the Gospel. We need you to keep telling the story, to remember us, and to help others see what they otherwise would not see. We need you.
Our unveiling banquets in Chattanooga(Sept 13) and Spartanburg(Sept 15) are going to be a huge celebration of all the open doors God has made available to us in these past 5 months. But it’s also going to be a very difficult night for me. Because as much as I want to celebrate, and see everyone, and update everyone on our progress, I still have faces in my mind of all the kids and birth mothers we’ve had to tell that we can’t help them yet. I have memories of kids waiting just outside the door…kids waiting on their name to be called.
So, in the words of John Farnham:
We have the chance to turn the pages over. We can write what we want to write We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older
This time, we know we all can stand together With the power to be powerful Believing we can make it better
You’re the voice, try and understand it Make a noise and make it clear We’re not gonna sit in silence We’re not gonna live with fear
51. Taco does NOT mean taco. (So don’t say taco…trust me on this one)
52. Cheddar cheese does not exist, so when you find out that it does exist at one store, and there’s one brand and one package of that brand, you may or may not be justified in running to grab said package even if it means you might have knocked a little girl over. (theoretically speaking, of course)
53. You literally have no idea what is really going on in people’s lives. The smiles on their faces hide a lifetime of pain.
54. We are anxiously awaiting full funding so we can build permanent housing so that we don’ t have to have 14 of us into 6 rental bedrooms.
55. There’s not much better than ending every night with a family devotion being led by Ugandans, just sayin.
56. Roosters are gifts. This particular gift lasted about 24 hours on our property before we had him for dinner because he woke me up at 4am.
57. Ugandans sing…loud…always.
58. Our new home just might be the most beautiful nation in the world.
59. When you use one boda boda(motorcycle taxi) driver too often, he becomes the envy of the neighborhood, and all the rest of the boda drivers give you mean looks when you drive by.
60. When there’s a man selling popcorn on your street, you stop and buy popcorn from him even if you have popcorn at home. He’s working. And that may be the only thing he sells that day.
61. Internet costs more than a car. literally. I could probably hire a Ugandan to swim the Atlantic to deliver a message to someone in the states for cheaper than I pay for a month of internet.
62. Death is a part of daily life. One of Xan’s friends lost his mom this week. The standard of living is such that when Ugandans give testimony, the first thing they generally say is that they thank God for keeping them alive.
63. I just thought I was cheap before. Now I save every pickle jar, spaghetti jar, margarine tub…everything.
64. I always felt relatively proud of how I smelled in the states because of my limited sweat glands. I now stink 24/7…I can even smell myself.
65. I should never be surprised when God moves and works and prepares the way. I should be used to it by now.
66. An apartment size stove/oven doesn’t work well to try to feed 12-20 people every meal.
67. Turkeys poop. a lot.
68. Mike, our night guard, knows a little bit about everything. And can fix anything. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
69. Deliver the water tank to the house as soon as possible this morning actually means deliver the water tank to the house sometime between this morning and next week.
70. Ugandans know how to worship…we have a lot to learn.
71. I can’t dance. I’m pretty sure I knew that before, but now I have a daily reminder.
72. People are hungry to be loved, valued, just talked to.
73. Luganda(the heart language of most Ugandans) is hard to learn….dang it.
74. Some of the most skilled craftsmen in the world live here, and they make their craft with almost no real tools.
75. I hate corruption.
76. It’s very difficult to understand a Ugandan on the phone when you can’t see their lips.
77. When its very difficult to understand an Ugandan on the phone, you might accidently order 100 packs of something you need instead of one.
78. On a rainy day, the porch becomes a slip-n-slide.
79. Grass becomes non-existent when the neighborhood plays soccer in your yard every day.
80. An ounce of hope can literally change a life.
81. If your signature isn’t 100% identical to the signature card you signed at the bank, they make you sign a piece of paper 128 times until you sign one that is identical…. not joking.
82. Legos on the floor in the middle of the night hurt just as bad in Uganda as they did in South Carolina.
83. It is in fact COLD here in the early mornings during rainy season. for realz.
84. I wish I knew someone who owned a container, and a ship.
85. There’s not much better in all the world than hearing your children worship in the middle of the day, alone in their room.
86. There is no 86, I’m just throwing this in here to see if anyone is still reading.
87. Never underestimate the value of clean water.
88. There are literally thousands of people giving to make this ministry happen. Without them we’d be sunk. And every time I see that report I tear up because I know there are people who are sacrificing greatly to give what they give.
89. Food coloring here is made with salt…which makes for a very interesting birthday cake if you don’t realize that before you color the cake and the frosting.
90. On any given road there are at least 20 merchants selling the exact same inventory of items.
91. It’s pretty important to remember whether you’re using a 110v appliance or a 220v appliance…or else you lose your eyebrows.
92. It’s pretty important to remember that oil is very hot when you’re cooking with it and do whatever it takes to not have it pour on your face and neck or else you end up with gnarly scars that hurt for days.
93. Nightly devotions always end best when a Ugandan prays to close. #Ugandansknowhowtopray
94. During rainy season, drive slowly as you pass people walking on the road, or you cover them in mud from head to toe (not that I would know from experience…)
95. Neighbors are the best.
96. Neighbors with cows that produce milk are even better.
97. The USD to UGX exchange rate is simply ridiculous. When you buy an egg for 200 shillings it’s just confusing.
98. Boda boda(motorcycle taxi) drivers really really really like to drive Mzungus(whiteys).
99. I love my new home country and its people. More than I could have imagined.
100. Prayer and fasting works. Please keep praying for us!
We’ve now been on the ground in Uganda for exactly one month. I’ve learned a lot…I’m learning a lot. Here’s the first 50 of my top 100 things I’m learning.
1-Everything takes longer in Uganda. Everything. What I used to be able to accomplish in an hour takes a day. It’s probably good for me to slow down some, but with someone like me, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
2-A closed gate does not mean neighbors won’t just come in anyway. Honestly I kinda like that.
3-There probably won’t be a day of my life from now on that I don’t have tears well up in my eyes.
4-When a Mzungu (Luganda term for white person) moves into the hood, everyone…EVERYONE knows it. haha
5-Boda Boda(motorcycle taxis) drivers do not realize that there are other cars, people, animals, potholes, speed bumps, etc. on the road.
6-I used to hear stories of kids living with HIV and I would feel bad for a bit and then go on with life. Now those kids are my life.
7-Teenagers are the same everywhere. Even if they don’t have a phone, they’ll hold up a calculator and pretend they’re taking a selfie. (saw it twice)
8-Getting a haircut from a Ugandan barber costs about 70 cents. Score.
9-Getting a haircut from a Ugandan barber who has never cut Mzungu hair before causes said barber to shake and sweat a lot.
10-Getting a haircut from a Ugandan barber causes the entire village to come watch.
11-Not having hot water for a shower is quite nice once you get used to it.
12-At least 95% of the people you see on a daily basis struggle to survive, and can’t imagine ever being able to change their circumstances.
13-Ugandans think its cold when it gets down to 70 degrees. coats, toboggans, scarves, blankets and the like are common.
14-When you hire a painter, its likely that much more than what you hired him to paint will end up with paint on it.
15-A bag of popcorn from a roadside merchant is 16 cents. And it makes his day every single time you buy some from him. Score.
16-When you find a business that doesn’t charge you double because you’re a Mzungu, you keep them…forever.
17-Ugandans, like everyone, can’t be lumped into categories with nice clean labels.
18-People here work hard and long. Things that take 10 minutes to do with a machine in America take 2 days to do with a strong back, a homemade pic-ax, and a wooden wheel barrow.
19-Just when you think to yourself “There’s no way he can carry that on his head” he’s throws it up there and carries it a mile or two.
20-When you take Ambien the first few nights in a new country as you adjust to the time difference, go to be IMMEDIATELY. If not, you end up doing very embarrassing things that your family and team talk about nearly every day thereafter.
21-Kids all over the world always want something. Most of the kids here really just want an adult to love and lead them.
22-Soccer doesn’t require a soccer ball…or goal…or level ground.
23-Skin color stinks. I wish I could take a pill that would make me black…or a pill that could make everyone blind to skin color.
24-Electricity works…sometimes…in some outlets…with some things…if you stand on one foot and recite the alphabet.
25-When the carpenter says he can make you a table and chairs for less than you can buy them in a store and he says he will be done in 2 weeks, he really means that after 3 months he might have secured the wood to make them…maybe.
26-There are scars on every Ugandan; internal and external.
27-When you are car shopping from an individual seller and you arrange to meet up to see the vehicle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle or the person actually exists.
28-Evidently there are still cannibals in some parts of Uganda. Or maybe its a story they tell children to keep them from wandering away alone…but no one seems to want to tell me which is true.
29-You have to dust everything in your house…every…day.
30-Sometimes, when you’re in a meeting with a lawyer, negotiating a contract, he asks you what your favorite song is and then gets up and proceeds to play it on a keyboard and tells you to sing it for him.
31-Sometimes, when you’re planning your Saturday, you get a call to come to the Egyptian ambassador’s house party and end up in the newspaper.
32-It’s not a good idea to read through a book of letters from people you love back in the states. ever. for any reason. unless you just really need to flush something out of your eyes.
33-It costs about 50 cents to have a garment altered by a skilled tailor. Score.
34-I miss DJ Horton’s preaching. That’s all I’ll say about that.
35-Just when you think everyone in the states has moved on with life, you get a message…and cry yet again.
36-I’m pretty sure I’ll never be fully hydrated ever again.
37-Getting anywhere that requires getting in a vehicle takes at least an hour longer than you thought it would.
38-There’s no such thing as right-of-way.
39-While most teenagers in the US hate school and try their best to find ways to skip, Ugandans love school and work very hard (sometimes selling things on the streets up to after midnight) in order to pay for it.
40-The side of the main road works as a fine substitute for a restroom.
41-Mayonnaise costs a fortune (please bring me mayo!!!)
42-You say a prayer here before you get on a road for any reason, not just before long trips asking for “traveling mercy” whatever that is.
43-Desperation causes people to make choices they otherwise would not make.
44-I still believe God can reshape an entire nation, and I’m praying for it every day.
45-God’s people, when they see a compelling need, can show up in force to support and provide for it. I’ve never been more encouraged by the generosity of believers all over the states.
46-Literally everywhere you are, there are people who desperately need Jesus…and clean water.
47-Just because someone says they know Jesus, and has”Jesus Saves” painted on the back of their taxi, doesn’t mean they’re a Christian.
48-Trying to text while on the back of a boda boda isn’t wise most of the time.
49-People here are so hungry for truth, and the freedom on their faces as they are being released from years of heretical and dangerous teaching is quite overwhelming.
50-God is good, He is at work, and we’re not stopping.
Please keep praying. If you feel like you can give, head over to benjaminhouse.net and click donate. A dollar accomplishes so much here. God has given us a big dream and we know that He will provide in His time. Thanks for holding us up!
Bucky, Julie, and the Benjamin House Team.
As we are in our last week in the United States there is a lot going through my heart and mind. There are a thousand tiny details to still get ironed out. There’s the actual travel (24 hours of travel time with 3 small children, 2 of which have special needs, and 15 bags that contain all our earthly belongings) through crowded airports, TSA checkpoints, times of food, times of no food, and times of plane food. There will be dozens of things I want to jump on as soon as we land and plans that have been in my dreams for the past year that we can finally set into motion. And yet, all I can think about is what happened last night.
Last night I sat down with about 25 men. The Lord led me to which 25 were there, but there could have been 100 others (although my heart may not have been able to withstand that). I wrote each of them a letter, reminiscing on the past, reminding them of where they’ve been, and challenging them to never go back there. In the mix were guys whose dads left their post and in doing so left a shattered heart after the dust settled, guys whose dads passed away early in their lives, guys who have been in the deepest sin struggles you can imagine, and guys who have earthly fathers that are second to none…and everything in between. The one thing they all shared in common was that they each have a piece of my heart.
The Lord has been gracious to me to bring me young men over the years to invest my life in. I don’t know exactly how He does it, or why He chooses the ones He does, but I’m so grateful. I don’t have all the answers, and I have messed up more than I’ve gotten right as I’ve sought to lead these men to Christ. I’ve said wrong things, given wrong advice, been impatient and pushy, and sometimes even pushed so hard that some of the men God brought to me are now far from Him. But for whatever reason, He keeps bringing them to me.
I went around the circle last night and read those hand-written letters aloud to each of them. I wanted them to be encouraged that they’re not alone…that every man goes through times of battle and can rise on the other side of it with victory. I laughed and cried during almost every letter. This was supposed to be my chance to encourage them and challenge them for the future. But, just as I wrapped up and was about to pray, one of them spoke up and began to share how the Lord had changed his life during the time I’ve known and loved him. One by one they shared, and the real flood gate of tears started. But these weren’t empty tears from brokenness or shame or self pity. If there can be joy in tears, I think that’s what was happening. I’ve never been more happy and more sad than in that moment. Then some of us went out to Taco Bell for one last ride. I’ll remember it forever.
People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I don’t really know how to answer. As far as moving goes, and selling all our stuff and being in a new culture, living simply, embracing poverty, and all the unknowns I’m doing fine. I’m ready. I’ve never been so ready for anything in my whole life. But when I think about the people I will leave, the relationships that will never be the same after 5 days from now, and the legacy these men will go on to build, I am completely undone…broken…scattered. That is, until I think of the 25, the 250, the 25,000 young men in Uganda who need to have this same testimony. What if a nation of fathers begins to commit to their families that they will not leave their post? What if each believer in that nation decides they’re going to add one more to their family whether through mentoring, foster care, or adoption? What if I could help make sure that one more child has the mom and dad they need and that they will never go to bed afraid ever again?
You see, Benjamin House isn’t just a project for Julie and I, it’s our lives…made into an organization. It’s the priorities of our family (the Gospel), multiplied. And as we go, we look back over our shoulders at the thousands who are holding our hands, holding us up, holding us accountable, and holding the rope for us in prayer and giving, and we are overwhelmed. Please continue to pray. We will be at GSP at noon this coming Tuesday, tickets and duffel bags in hand, ready to step out of the boat and trust Jesus to keep us from sinking. Pray, tell our story, give in whatever capacity the Lord allows, and let’s change the world. I’m just crazy enough to think we can.
To make a tax-deductible gift to Benjamin House, simply visit us online atwww.BenjaminHouse.net or mail your check to Benjamin House Ministries, PO BOX 21, Moore SC 29369.