About ASOBOLA

Partners in Hope is an organization focused on loving Jesus through loving the "least of these." We exist to help equip those who may have been overlooked in order that they have an abundant life and focus on physical, emotional, spiritual, educational, and mental well being in the name of Jesus Christ.

Summit 9

I am writing this post as part of the Summit9 Blogger Giveaway. Check out all the details at:  www.summit9.org

Well, you may be surprised to see a new post here. Maybe you thought I found my way back to Africa and forgot to land in an internet friendly village. Maybe you thought I was drawn like hemostats to the magnet of an MRI machine (the nurse in me surfaces) back to Luzira Prison to visit dark skinned men on death row in white uniforms labeled “condemned” singing hymns and praising God with passion uncommon to my eyes in a manner that revealed boldly their true label, “redeemed” (what a sweet memory). Maybe you thought I disappeared into a windowless schoolhouse surrounded by smiling faces and sweet giggles despite unimaginable events that had marked them, those orphaned due to parental imprisonment, hidden in a fruitful land marked by a sign reading “Wells of Hope Academy: Love lives here.” In my mind, I’ve been there daily although my feet left East African soil yet again months ago. In body: Nope. I’ve just been busy. Busy with some things that are worthy. Busy with some that aren’t. All the while trying to stay caught up in the One who gives me the fire in my bones that makes life full.

Side note: busy life isn’t full life. Full life is found in Christ when we chase passionately the things that He cares about…or should I say, the ones who He cares about. As I’ve recently let this truth sink in (again) and cut back from my life some fruitless and full-less things, like my “full”-time but not “full”filling or life-to-the-“full” giving (for me and in this season) job. Thank God for scripture that reminds us of truths and brings us gently but with a force like no other back to His dreams for our life.

In chasing the One who makes life full, adventures worthy, and fruit of efforts eternal, I have asked Him for more. More of Him. More of His heart. More of His concerns. More of His mission. More of His mindset. More of His love. In asking for more of Him, I’ve grown in my love for the orphan, the prisoner, the sick, the widow, the “least of these,” the one the world tells us to think less of because thinking more of them requires me to think less of… me.

The process: Asking God for more of Him followed by receiving an increased drive and passion for populations many would warn me, and warn you, against. Hmmm… something tells me that God cares for the one the world may dismiss and ignore as though he or she is a piece of trash not even worthy of recycling.

I am thankful that God cares for the orphan and am honored that He lets me chase Him in this very concern. You know, He loves us so much that He allows us the privilege to serve  Christ Himself. I can’t, truly cannot in any way, imagine a full life apart from Him. I can’t be in Him fully without letting the “least of these” be in my heart fully.

When I find myself looking into the eyes of an orphan, I can’t help but see Christ. He is there. He. Is. There. He’s there, daughters and sons. It’s amazing that God guides us to love who the world would look at as the “least of these” and then we do it, and we get to gaze into His very eyes.

Gazing into the eyes of Christ has taken on many forms for me and for the Partners in Hope USA team as of late. As you may or may not know, we gained 501c3 status in December. We’ve grown the school on ground in Uganda. The windowless schoolhouse I recalled earlier in this entry now has windows…God’s done that. The children at the school find themselves excitedly sitting in desks rather than on rocks stacked atop rocks as they were before. When I was there, at “dark-time” the day was done and they would dream of when the sun would rise and they could carry on in their studies and other childhood activities. Many of them have a drive and desire in them to study unlike any I’ve seen…as if they are studying for the sake of the Kingdom. Now, they will be able to study math, music, english, and the list goes on. One of their favorite things to study, you ask…the Bible! They think with wisdom beyond their years about how the God of all, the King of kings, has seen them and chosen them from a storyline not built for purpose and joy (by the worlds standards) but one transformed by the heart of God through the messy efforts of people like me. God, you are GOOD! So, as I see God move and as I, along with you hopefully, gaze into the eyes of the “least of these,” I become an addict of some sort to the piercing eyes of Christ gazing into me. Refine me, Jesus. Help me serve you better.

That’s why we exist, right? To commune with Christ and serve Him. To reflect Him to the broken. To seek opportunity to offer the hope we could never create without a knowledge of Him. To walk in empathy. Not to ignore.

So, I just heard about Summit9 last week. When I did, I knew I wanted to be there. My husband agreed. Our dear friends and co-labores agreed. We feel that attending will help us as we are new and seeking wisdom in our pursuit of Christ through pursuing the orphan of justice. What is an “orphan of justice?” A boy or girl who has lost both of or their only parent as a result of parental imprisonment (Yes, this means that loving the orphan also allows us to love the prisoner…two opportunities to gaze into the eyes of Jesus). Many of the children we work with have been fatherless since infancy. Many are total orphans, having a parent, or two, die in prison. Many have experienced seeing horrid arrests of their father and then have been left by their mother as she pursues a new life with a new man who refuses to look at the child as a child and requires them be left as orphans. We want wisdom. We want Godly connections. We want truth and sharpening. We want to do what we can to equip ourselves to love the orphan fully.

It is our desire to fully gaze into the eyes of the life-to-the-full giver Himself! We are messy and we know it, which makes us say with even more desperation, “More of You, Father, more of You.”

Recent Journey: Part One

As I try to organize my thoughts, recollections, concerns, and emotions from this recent journey I find a gap between what my heart intends to remember and my minds ability to map out, in some sort of order and detail, the experiences I’ve found myself gratefully existing smack in the middle of, as well as those that are yet but dreams. This particular journey to Uganda began in several places, each influencing me toward this most recent set of experiences in separate and surprising manners. Unbeknownced to me, these experiences would be a sort of colander sifting from me parts I thought would remain and allowing portions of me (characteristics, thoughts, dreams) to journey to places even now I can only imagine… These dreams may be mapped out later but for now let me simply enjoy reminiscing on the simple things God has done during this short and recent journey, apart from, yet surely tied to, both past adventures and churnings in my innermost being for things yet to come.

Glory to God! Oh, that my heart would never cease to grow in understanding that He not only saves but also offers a life filled beyond the brim! None is exempt from this offer, no not one.

In this moment, I sit with my sweet, tender-hearted, caring friend Ashton at my side on a ten hour flight loaded with people each beginning or ending a certain chapter of their own. I’m assured,  though, that we had the most beautiful time of any in view. Why? Our time was marked with laughter, being called “muzungu” over simple giggles from the very lips of young ones who have overcome more in their few years than I may ever, adventure, growth in cultural experience, looking into the eyes of many cut off from society and realizing their connection to us to be strong as One with the ultimate healing power had grafted me to them and them to me with a drop of blood prized beyond compare, new foods and new words, working side by side with ones who have diligently committed themselves to a life of service, and the rubbing off of rough edges as we sharpened each other in love and truth. Surrounded by what some may view as poverty, our experience was rich. Rich in love. Rich in friendship. Rich in community. Rich in worship. Rich in prayer. Rich in God!

Beautiful!

Beautiful Ashton taking in a sweet moment with a child that, apart from this ministry, would wonder if anyone sees.

Thank you Jesus!

Nothing is good apart from God! Thank you, Jesus, that this young one has been snatched from devastation and had her feet placed along the path of hope!

Within an hour of exiting the Entebbe airport in Uganda, we pulled into CORSU, a heavily grant funded hospital seemingly serving primarily children needing musculoskeletal reconstruction and rehabilitation. We were here as Francis, my dear friend and leader of Wells of Hope whom we had come to partner with and encourage, had recently found a young boy in his village who would ultimately need help from CORSU. See,  Francis’ lifesource is God and has a heartbeat for those in prison and has a mighty strong pulse for their children. He found Brian, who I would lay my eyes on as my heart would melt, when he had been asked by a prisoner to please help his family. When Francis arrived at the home to assess the need, the most notable finding was that Brian, a small in stature 5 year old boy, laid outside unable to walk with a partially attached piece of gauze marked with oozing and thick yellow drainage covering his tiny right upper leg. Inquiring further, Francis discovered this boy had been hit by a bota-bota, one of the many motorcycles dangerously yet commonly used for taxi services all over lush Uganda. The boy had been hit and the help he had received included a surgical repair of his femur. The surgery was ill performed and not only did not correct the problem but also are way for infection to attack this babies body. Francis is not one who can easily turn his back on a need, even when provisions seem far from him, so he continued to assess the situation to discover that not only did Brian need to come to WOHA, but he also needed medical attention, and fast. Thus, we met this bright eyed young one here at CORSU with rods in his leg post an external reduction internal fixation corrective procedure and a clean dressing atop cool skin, a beautiful finding to the eyes of this nurse. Even more beautiful was the opportunity that Jesus provided to walk sweet Brian’s mother into the Kingdom of God as she invited Him into her heart at this very moment. I’m assured that Brian has a strong hope and future. Surely, his tiny wooden crutches and his smile bigger than Uganda will be used by God in this sweet boys life. He is to begin at WOHA in January where he will get close care, education, knowledge of King Jesus, and relationship with his imprisoned father and continued involvement from his thanks filled mother. This was a beautiful start to my time on ground in Uganda. Be sure we did not leave that place without offering sweets from America to the little mouths of that hospital prior to our exit.

Brian with his external fixation device.

Brian with his external fixation device.

Brians mother proclaimed Jesus to be her salvation just moments before this photo! She felt His love through the care her son has received because of PIH and WOH.

Brians mother proclaimed Jesus to be her salvation just moments before this photo! She felt His love through the care her son has received because of PIH and WOH.

Sweet Francis was efficient and on task as I had expected, handling the situations before him with great love and focus on the one at hand then moving purposefully onto the next piece of kingdom work. This was evident as we moved from Brian’s bedside to the WOH office where the strong team would meet and pray with us prior to explaining the many processes of WOH to my inquiring mind and Ashtons attentive ears. I was more than delighted to sit and be introduced to the staff of WOH who I hadn’t previously met. To see the organization and unity brought a sense of pride to me for WOH and a longing to continue knowing and loving this very humble but very intentional group of lovers of Christ.

I loved seeing this guest book log...Our names, along with our dear, dear friends when we visited in 2009 and God birthed in us a desire to put effort and attention into this work!

I loved seeing this guest book log…Our names, along with our dear, dear friends on the next page when we visited in 2009 and God birthed in us a desire to put effort and attention into this work!

Francis explaining to us the heart and a strategy of the Kingdom work at hand as we met in the office.

Francis explaining to us the heart and a strategy of the Kingdom work at hand as we met in the office.

Wells of Hope Office

Wells of Hope Office

The gathering of supplies for the week would lead us to the heart of a Ugandan market.  Fresh produce surrounded us, including avocados the size of butternut squash, and people engaged in their daily activities and roles only to be quite surprised to see a couple of muzungus and hear poorly emphasized Luganda greetings fall from our lips. We tried to engage in the market life for a bit. A memory which won’t escape me is seeing several large cases of soap we bought for prisoners stacked to the sky atop a simple bicycle for transport.

Transporting soap on a bike? Well, sure :)!

Transporting soap on a bike? Well, sure :)!

Muzungu in the market gathering goods and food for precious ones!

Muzungu in the market gathering goods and food for precious ones!

My friend struggled for sleep this night as she was in a completely new environment and would spend the night thinking on what stepping foot into a maximum security death row prison in Africa would entail in a few short hours. Understandably, sleep seemed far from her. The concern coming from beneath her mosquito net upon my awakening was thick. Little did she know, though, that she would look back on that time in the highly secured walls of Luzira Condemned Men’s Prison as sweetness beyond compare. Is God good or is God good?

I awoke with a powerful strength that washed over each fiber in my being. It was God. I learned of his beauty and strength this week. The concept of Him becoming greater as I simply said yes invaded my thoughts and continues to. How does it work that God, Yahweh, Jehovah, King of all kings, the Only Source of abundant life not only save me but also allow me to be part of his work? A tool in his kit? A brush on his canvas? A string in His symphony? He…uses…me?

I had been told the night before that I would have the opportunity to teach in Luzira Upper Prison for condemned male inmates followed by afternoon teaching at Luzira Women’s Prison, a place I remembered from a few years back with fondness. Throughout the short time between God inviting me on this journey and actually boarding the plane to come I knew I would have opportunities to teach but felt strong that I was to wait to see what message He would pull forth. That being said, I’d thought thru some favorite scriptures in preparation but just struggled to pin down exactly what was to be said. That experience, like many, was beautiful to me, looking in the eyes of inmates who may very well have had a past quite similar to Paul’s in regard to zealously promoting Godless feats. Those same eyes stared back at me, set by set, as though to say, “He chose him, maybe he would choose me as well.” My love for God and what Christ has done with this “least of these” welled up as words of the passionate pursuit of the shepherd who searches a thousand hills for the one gone astray overtook each of us in that room: me as I spoke, the hearers as they heard. Among these men were surely plenty of situations that were no less than devastating, no less than dark, no less than unjust. For God though, there was full attendandnce of hearts that were no less than hungry for truth and no less than ready for liberation. Entwined in each situation was a set of eyes staring back at me, eyes that Jesus would gladly let scales fall from. And let scales fall He did! Oh God, the God of all that is love let love come down in that moment and all I had to do to experience it was just show up and ask to be filled up.

Francis and I delivering gifts to inmates battling sickness.

Francis and I delivering gifts to inmates battling sickness

Delighted to have stood in the presence of God with brothers in the family of Christ who surely knew what it was to have a debt paid I hear in my spirit the word “asobola,” God is able! The men in this section of the prison wear white symbolizing their status as “condemned” but on this day and forever more the multitude of them who have called upon the One Name worthy of being called on stand in their white uniforms reminding me that they too have been washed and have shifted from shamefully walking under the label of “condemned” to boldly accept their new name of “redeemed.” Forever and ever amen!

As though I could handle experiencing any more of God’s own goodness in one single day, He had arranged to bless my heart and mind with sweet time spent rejoicing with sisters in Christ and calling those who had not yet let King Jesus onto the throne if their heart into the family. Oh the joy that fell as though from heaven as God used even my mouth to declare his compassion for each woman.  Even now, two weeks after being home I am vividly remembering face by face the ones God broke through to that day, the sweetest day of their lives thus far.  The scripture that poured into my mind and out of my mouth was that of Jesus’ sweet yet strong defending nature in the biblical recall of the one who was hurled at his feet for judgement who instead received the complete defense God would give her!

Ash helping deliver goods to women whose babies are in prison with them.

Ash helping deliver goods to women whose babies are in prison with them.

Sleep came and was needed indeed. I recognize the need for sleep as being a consistent reminder that our strength must not come from us but we must rely on the One Who does not tire. He does not grow weary. His strength does not run out. His breath, His life, His energy do not expire! The well of His wisdom does not run dry. He is good. Amen? The needed sleep was sweet, strong, and short for me this night. Why short? Well, the day had come when I would lay my eyes on the land bought in faith, place my hands on the very bricks we had prayed for God to provide, put my nose to the air in the place id wondered many times if it would in fact ever even be, and wrap my arms around those who God has done it all for: the beautiful, partially broken and partially restored, purpose filled, dream having, cut off from society, bound to the priceless family of Christ if they so choose children of prisoners from no where else but all over “the pearl of Africa,” Uganda! Sweet Ashton slept soundly and I’m convinced she remained lathered  in the peace that had washed over her in no other place but a prison labeled “condemned” filled to the brim with souls labeled “redeemed.”

Part 2 Coming Soon 🙂 Thank you for reading and I hope you got to experience a snippet of this prized piece of my heart. Until then, look forward to more of what God is doing and enjoy a few more pictures:

These are a few of the many children from Wells of Hope Academy. They are hard at work, knowing that education is a monumental gift for them.

These are a few of the many children from Wells of Hope Academy. They are hard at work, knowing that education is a monumental gift for them.

Breaking News!

We are happy to announce that, after many many months and much prayer, Partners In Hope USA is officially a 501c3 approved non-profit. 🙂 We are thankful, thankful and happy, happy! God, may You always be glorified and give us wisdom upon wisdom at every turn!

Welcome, Pardner, from Partners in Hope!

Welcome to Asobola, a blog created in hopes of of inspiring and encouraging any interested in the work of Partners in Hope USA. We exist to love the “least of these” through avenues such as education, evangelism, and provision of physical well being. We know that the needs around the world are great. We can even be a bit overwhelmed by the tiny window of opportunity we have been given in the vast sea of need surrounding us, but we have seen the goodness and faithfulness of the One Who is Able and only say to Him, “We want to be partners in your work, Oh God!” So, welcome. “Asobola” means “He is able” in “Luganda,” the language commonly spoken across Uganda, where our work is currently focused.  “Asobola” is a phrase used much in the times when we feel ill equipped as we realize that in our weakness, God is able to shine, provide, change lives, and bring life abundant even to the darkest of situations! Enjoy reading. Coming shortly: a detailed entry on a recent journey to work with Wells of Hope, an organization focusing on loving children of prisoners in Uganda.