2023 Sponsor Spotlight: Dani Schneider
This year’s sponsor spotlight is a special one, Mrs. Dani Schneider (Morio).
Dani became a sponsor to a sweet little boy named Jovan, on November 27, 2019. Little did she know what would transpire on that exact date, 4 years later. But, God knew.
Dani was drawn to Jovan back in 2019 by his smile that produced and embodied so much joy, even through a computer screen. She began her sponsorship before she was married and in a season she longed for a family, but rather than wait till that day she felt God stirring in her that she could help a child. Through the passing of letters over the years Jovan would always sign his letters "Your Son" and God knew Dani needed him as much as Jovan needed her. Dani talked about Jovan with her family and friends, she had his photo along with his story on her refrigerator so everyone that came into her house "met" him.
Years later, Jovan took part in our Through Our Eyes project in 2022. He was given a camera and asked to take pictures, through his eyes. Dani received the print outs and proudly replaced those original photos with these ones and displayed them on her refrigerator. Every time she passed those pictures, she whispered a prayer for a little boy who lived 7,500 miles away from her who had stolen her heart.
We received the first news of Jovan’s sickness in October. At this point, he had been sick for two months. His social worker and family members had taken him to the doctor numerous times but the cause of his sickness couldn’t be found. That was when our sponsorship director, Naome, sent out a call to action. You see, children get sick every day in Uganda but this case was different. They couldn’t treat it when the cause could not be found. We immediately contacted Dani, to implore her to send out prayer requests. She had everyone praying for the little boy, whom she loved, but had never met. Our BHM staff, supporters and board members spread the word that we needed a miracle for Jovan. We had people from two different countries praying for restoration. At the time, we couldn’t imagine how God would use those prayers to restore the hearts of many.
As Jovan worsened, his classmates rushed to be by his side. His community rallied around him, bringing him food and sitting by his side. His friend, John, amongst those who gathered to pray for him.
The news came on November 27, 2023 that Jovan had been called home to Heaven. We were all devastated, especially Dani. It was hard to wrap our minds around a child losing his life at such a young age. Dani, with her big heart, leapt into action. She wrote letters to his family, she grieved with everyone who knew him. She asked if any of Jovan’s friends needed a sponsor, as she wanted Jovan’s legacy to live on and she knew helping one of his friends would be a step towards continuing that legacy. We immediately contacted Naome and found out that Jovan’s best friend, John, was on our waiting list for a sponsor.
Nangabo, the village where he lives, is a close knit community. John had been a classmate and friend of Jovan for many years. Unfortunately, John was no stranger to the pain and heartache of losing a loved one. He had recently lost his Father. This loss was intensified as his family struggled to pay for his school fees as well as his basic needs. He prayed for God to help him, as he was now the man of his house.
We contacted Dani to share John’s story that same day. She was blown away that her story so closely mirrored John's. You see, she had also lost her father. She knew the pain he was going through and had an instant connection to him. God had this written in their story from the very beginning. He knew that Jovan would be called home to Him on the exact day that Dani committed to sponsoring him. He knew that John and Dani’s fathers would also both be called home to Him. He knew that these two hearts from different continents, 7,500 miles away from each other, would find comfort, solace and friendship with each other. Dani is giving John a chance at an education, so that he can attain his dreams, while caring for his family. John is giving Dani the chance to continue Jovan’s legacy by reaching for his own dreams just as Jovan was doing.
From ashes always comes beauty. Jovan will always be remembered for the bright light he was to all who knew him. Dani is full of faith for God, she is full of grace, beauty and empathy. God knew the exact person that we would need to walk beside us down this path that we had never walked before, losing a sponsored child.
Dani, we are so thankful for you. For your support, your commitment, your big heart, your love for Jovan and his family, and now John and his family. God is shining His largest spotlight on you, our sweet friend. May you continue to shine your light on everyone you meet for now and forever more.
“He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3
2023 Staff Spotlight: Frank Rutta
At Benjamin House Ministries we are blessed with a wonderful staff who are the lifeblood of our ministry. We want to spotlight Frank, and give you an insight into his story, and what his day to day life is like as a member of the Benjamin House staff.
Q & A:
What is your role with Benjamin House Ministries Uganda, and what does it look like day to day?
“Well, I am a social worker, but my work is very dynamic. I love sharing Christ and the hope He gives us. So in whatever I do, I am looking for an opportunity to reach out to the people in Katanga, especially the youth, to share the gospel of Christ. I believe this broken community needs Jesus. I strongly believe that when we are right with God half our problems and the community’s problems will be solved. I invest time and resources at my disposal to disciple the children in Katanga through games, soccer with the boys, one on one discipleship meetings, and group spiritual development meetings. I put the gospel at the center of everything I do. I know programming through games is not a permanent solution, but it allows me to share the gospel and disciple, which I believe hold the permanent solution to the problems we have in Katanga. Another aspect of our job as social workers is to do family visits at the homes of our sponsored children and touch base with our beneficiaries. Family visits help us to know more about the families we are serving and also grant us the opportunity to encourage these families through God’s word and to work through the hardships at hand with the parents. We also spend time in our office. The Benjamin House office in Katanga is a central meeting location for all the people we work with. We use it for counseling, evangelism, spiritual development meetings, documentation, and letter writing among other things. I honestly don’t know how to put my work into just a few words, but that is what it looks like on a weekly basis. I desire to establish healthy relationships with the people in the slum in Katanga. I can only serve these people well if I have a healthy and working relationship with them.”
How did you come to work at Benjamin House?
“I started as a volunteer from September of 2018 through July of 2019. I previously worked at the Forex Bureau after spending eight months at the Word of Life Africa Bible Institute. I had always desired to evangelize and disciple youth, but I could not do that to the extent I felt called to because of my job at the Forex Bureau. At that time I had met Bucky Rogers (Founder of Benjamin House Ministries) and we remained in touch. One day he told me about an opportunity with the pastoral internship program at BHM. I was interested in it, so I enrolled. As time passed there was a need for someone to support the social worker who was serving in Katanga at that time. Bucky approached me about this volunteer position. I was not doing well at this time financially, and I knew it was only a volunteer position, but I felt called to serve and reach more people, especially youth, for Christ in the slum. Nevertheless, I was very excited to take the position. So, I resigned from my full-time job in order to follow the calling I felt in my life from God. When I joined the Katanga social work team I realized there was so much work to be done. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to serve the less fortunate people in Katanga. In July of 2019, I was brought on board as a full-time employee with BHM. From that time until now I have enjoyed serving God’s people here.”
What was your childhood like?
“I grew up in a broken family. I was raised by my mother and grandparents. My first encounter with my dad was when I was 12 years old. At this time I had also spent almost 4 years away from my mom who had left to take care of her sick sister. We were not well off financially so I started hustling (working) when I was 7 years old. I started as a vendor on the streets that selected sugar canes, maize, and avocados, then later I started collecting trash from peoples homes, washing cars, clothes, mopping peoples houses and shops. The money I received from this work was used to contribute to meeting needs at home. I remember one Saturday night in 2005 I was hawking sugar canes with my two cousins. A gentleman named Mr. Zephaniah pulled over in a car and asked us questions about our life and family. He helped us to join Compassion International, a worldwide child sponsorship program. I was sponsored by Compassion until I was 22. But my story changed when I surrendered my life to Christ in 2008. Since then I have desired to grow and serve God’s people. Trusting Christ game me the hope and peace I was longing for.”
Why do you choose to work for BHM?
“I believe in the vision and mission of Benjamin House Ministries. Family restoration and restoring hope are needed here. There are so many broken families and people who have no hope because they have not heard the gospel. Being part of a restored family’s story is something I desire. I come from a background of hopelessness, absent parents, a stolen childhood robbed by early child labor, a broken family inside and out, and poverty. I want to be a part of a team fighting to end these vices and establish hope, the love of Christ, and financial growth in the impoverished people of Uganda. That is what we do as a team at BHM! I am grateful to be on staff here and work with people who are real heroes in the lives of so many. Lastly, serving with BHM is very fulfilling. I feel like I am walking in God’s will for my life. I have learned over the years that the most fulfilling thing I can ever do is help or support another human in need, and share my story and the hope of the gospel of Christ with them.”
What do you like most about working for BHM?
“Working for Benjamin House has allowed me to fulfill my calling of evangelism and discipleship. I enjoy the fact that through the support of this ministry I am able to do those things. Secondly, I have the freedom to dream and implement that which I have a desire to do in line with the vision and mission of BHM. This has allowed me to grow in my own walk and in every aspect of my life. Thirdly, Benjamin House is a family. Being my mother’s only child, I now have brothers and sisters I never had. There is so much love here. As far as what I enjoy most… I just love doing life with people, building relationships, listening to people who think they are forgotten, being a voice for the voiceless, being a guide to young people, having an opportunity to share my faith with so many people within my reach, and more than anything watching families and children go from being helpless to becoming self-sustaining and then watching them help others.”
What are the biggest struggles that come with your job?
“Watching so many people who are in need and being unable to support or help all of them. We can only support a handful of people, yet there are others who are hurting or in need. This pain rubs on me every day. Whenever I meet hurting people and am unable to help them, I feel like a failure. Another struggle is seeing people who are ungrateful. Sometimes we can spend hours pouring into, counseling, and praying for the youth, but at the end of the day they do the very things we have been warning them about.
What are some things you enjoy outside of work?
“I love watching people who are happy. I guess that is why I like leading games and doing icebreakers so much. I also enjoy playing football (soccer), riding motorbikes, and eating rice.
Benjamin House staff, short-term missionaries, and our founders