About five weeks ago I was sitting in the Sweet Sleep office in amazement at all God had done through our ministry this year.
Last year at this time I was in Gulu working to distribute beds to 454 orphans in Gulu, Uganda. It was an amazing---first of its kind---ministry opportunity for Sweet Sleep. I had no idea what God has in store for us after that.
God provided amazing partnership opportunities for our ministry and we've had a bigger impact in this war-torn area than any of us could have ever imagined. Our partners hoped to use Sweet Sleep's beds to resettle 700 orphans in 2010. This meant they'd relocate children in child-headed households from the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps they'd been born into to new huts our partners would build for them in their family's home village. These victimized children would no longer be alone and vulnerable, but would be reunited with their tribal families who would care for them and raise them.
God had much bigger plans in mind than what we prayed for. What happened was that the children, who had previously been so reluctant to leave the displacement camps because of (simply said) the fear of the unknown, were lining up to go "home".
By June, Sweet Sleep had completed the entire 700 bed commitment. But, there was a new sense of urgency. The Ugandan government was about to sign papers to officially close the IDP camps; people choosing to remain would be completely on their own and aid organizations working through the government (as our main partner was) have to end their programs to comply with the government.
With that urgency in mind, in November, Sweet Sleep responded to our partner's requests to provide beds to 700 additional children who were asking to leave.
So, back to where I began this blog post. I was sitting in the office 5 weeks ago, marveling at all God had done. We were going to close 2010 by providing more than 9,000 beds to orphans. A-mazing!
Then, that changed. God asked us to do even more.
Really. I was absolutely good with the 9,000. Ready to do all the work I had in front of me to wrap up all of THAT work by year end.
"We're not finished yet" was what God was clearly saying.
To my shock and amazement, our partners in northern Uganda were asking Sweet Sleep to provide 938 beds before the end of the year. I should put an exclamation mark there. Here, !!!.
How do you tell orphans in crisis OR God no? You don't. So, we've been scrambling. Despite our attempts, funds for this need haven't been coming in like we need. And, we had a commitment from a group that actually had to change that commitment, so what do we do? Pray more. We've always ministered with great faith, and I joke that God likes to keep me humble and wait to provide at the last minute.
But, saving orphan's lives is no joke. So, we pray and wait. And, work.
On our first day of distribution of the beds for this need, Sweet Sleep found that all of the chidlren (and whatever caregivers they might have) had already gathered to wait for our beds, nets and Bibles to arrive. As Sweet Sleep's fabulous Ugandan National Director, Josephine, said, "Children had moved long distances to the sub county to be blessed with beddings and Bibles for the first time in their lives."
The meaning behind that is hard to explain, but let your mind just think about it for a minute or two...
We shared the hope of Christ in their lives and the meaning of God's love in the provision of their beds. Told them about how to use and care for their nets and gave them their first ever Bible and the prayers of how that will change their lives.
I look forward to sharing with you the letters appreciation the children wrote to Sweet Sleep for caring and providing beds to them. Letters that they said are going to change their sleeping conditions completely.
As always, I'm humbled and grateful to you, our partners in caring for the world's orphans. I look forward to sharing about the 2nd day's distribution tomorrow.
Finally, if you can give or, will pray about what you might be led to give, please do. You can make contributions for this need by going to our website, www.sweetsleep.org and marking "Gulu" in the special comments box or, by mailng a check to Sweet Sleep, PO BOx 40486, Nashville, TN 37204 and writing "Gulu" in the memo line. A complete bed (mat, mattress, linens, mosquito net and Bible) is just $50 and we are still in need of funding for more than 500 children.
Thanks, friends. Stay tuned...