On Saturday morning I head back in time to a still-ancient world to gain glimpses of the future; these Hearts of Courage are the Why. I will lead a small band of international brothers and sisters on month-long journey who want to meet the Why and find their role in the What to do for them.
I admit, sometimes when I lead a team I worry about them long before they set foot on the ground. I remember my first few times into the war zone…how unprepared I was to see naked, malnourished orphans and to be overwhelmed by the disease-ridden smell of death that rose from them. How powerless I felt to make any lasting impact no matter what I did in that moment with that one child; there were always hundreds more—always more hopeful, more expectant—waiting in tow behind the one I was able to help.
During those early days, so many of you gathered around me—from thousands of miles away—in spirit and prayer, through emails and letters, along with financial support and constant encouragement to just keep taking the right next step, just keep going. I look back and see that while I was the one who kept going to the war zone, I know in my heart of hearts it was God in YOU who kept me going even through personal and ministry losses, through hard times, hard and fast closed doors, and new beginnings.
Because you NEVER EVER give up, today we have 2,000 fulltime Sudanese and South Sudanese—a veritable troupe de force of love—carrying their own weight to transform their nations of Sudan and South Sudan from within. Peace and rumors of Peace abound. We have orphans who we plucked from the bush 13 years ago, who today have graduated from our high school and are on their way to college. We have certified high school teachers in a land where just a few short years ago barely literate men and women were doing the best they could to teach children under a tree, shouting lesson plans to them all from one sole and ancient textbook. Today, we have young people stepping into clergy, NGO, medical, and virtually all aspects of leadership that are plunging headlong towards that internal, indigenous, sustainable peace from within!
I am not painting a rose-colored picture. Battles still rage, from within and without. Massacres still happen. War carries on. Rape camps still exist, but word from courageous young women like Dorcas are changing even that. Yet, above the roar, a silent breeze is blowing…and it is gaining a gale force—one rescued, educated, healed, and loved child at a time. We still have a long way to go and there are many, many ways you can help.
- Pray for our safety as we travel to both war zones in Nuba and Eastern Equatoria of South Sudan to deliver life-saving supplies, love up on our kids, encourage the indigenous staff, and document the actual events—to bring home to YOU—our best publicists ever—through whom the story keeps being spread across the world, now into some 40 plus countries supporting the work of Make Way Partners.
- One of the best ways I can ask you to support beyond prayers and finances is the powerful tool of telling the story! I have been so humbled to see how God uses each of us to keep knitting a warmer, larger blanket of care for our orphans simply by talking about them, sharing both their horror and the Hope they find through Make Way Partners. Sharing Passport through Darkness and my weekly blogs helps to keep people informed. Leaving our hard copy newsletter in libraries, doctor’s offices, or other public places—for people to discover Make Way Partners has a proven and effective method of stamping out evil and resurrecting Goodness even in the midst of war zones—is an effective way to share also. If I haven’t spoken in your area in a while now, I am only an invitation away! The way that works is a church, university, or individual initiates the invite and Audrey my assistant facilitates from there. Thus far, those sharing of personal stories of hope and transformation have proven to be our best tool for deepening and expanding the network of compassion that God is growing through Make Way Partners.
Here are the Make Way Partners’ top Four Far-Fetched Dreams for this year:
- Phase II of our NLM high school: Our original High School building included class rooms for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. Then, we added a computer laboratory (the first in South Sudan history) powered with special solar panels and high-end computers equipped to handle enormous energy fluctuations. However, having started with first grade, 12 years ago, and adding one class at a time, we are now facing an upcoming high school double and even triple the number of high schoolers we are currently equipped to educate. We have invested these 12 years into raising an internal, transformational peace—sustainable peace from within—though education and mental/emotional reformation to change the nations Sudan and South Sudan, one orphan at a time. Phase II of this high school may even be able to help us with our overflow from the un-safer regions where HFSS and OFC are, and where we do not yet have high schools. We can potentially bring some of our HFSS and OFC eighth-grade graduates to NLM until life settles in their regions. This resettling will largely happen as they grow through education and transformation themselves and in turn have stable leadership to offer their people for the first time in hundreds of years. It is also an excellent tool in cross-tribal relations and healing, which we have been practicing with great success for more than a decade between Dinkas and Darfurees at NLM. We will replicate and build upon our unique and successful model of exceptional education in the midst of a war a zone (for example, our students study their mother tongue, Kiswahili, Arabic, and English, equipping them to truly be national and international leaders) in a region where we’ve maintained security and success for more than a decade. Through Phase II of our high school, we can ensure that our infrastructure is not thwarted, and educated leadership will continue to come from a sustainable source WITHIN, rather than from outside influence—driven by monetary incentives and motivation. Make Way Partners’ long history of repeated completion of all projects on time and within budget assures both us and our donors that we can—by the Grace of God—accomplish Phase II of our high school for $275,000, keeping the healing, and growing going! (can you imagine what it costs to build a new high school in the US? So this is a very cost-effective investment for those of you looking to make true TRANSFORMATIONAL gifts.)
- Faith, Hope, and Love Medical Mission Infrastructure: We have recently received a generous grant to purchase a Sterile Surgical Unit for our FHL medical mission. Along with this unit to save lives through the ability of performing emergency C-sections, traumatic births, fistula surgeries from rape trauma, or simple life-saving surgeries such as appendectomies, we will need more infrastructure of clean water, latrines, security fencing, pharmaceutical supplies and a secure building for them, along with exam rooms and staff quarters. This Phase of FHL is $175,000
- Each of our orphanages and medical facility runs it’s entire ministry to thousands of orphans and neighboring communities through the use of one vehicle each, a Land Cruiser. These life-saving vehicles are used for everything from emergency evacuations, to delivering food, to collecting children from the bush to ambulances and even hearses. Land Cruisers are powerful vehicles and our mechanics have been able to keep them running through literal hell and back, even after rescuing them from being swept down rushing, white-watered swollen rivers. However, after more than a dozen years of ministry, we need to replace them. Ordinarily, each one would cost more than $100,000, however, we have a special arrangement with another mission group so we can purchase each for approximately $45,000 including delivery. The total cost for these four life-saving vehicles: $180,000. NLM, OFC, HFSS, and FHL would all be reequipped for years to come.
- Housing: housing for both widows and orphans in war zones is always overwhelming and underfunded. We can build a small dormitory to house approximately 25 orphans for $50,000 and this also supplies housing for two widows who receive both training and jobs through MWP as their care-givers.
Sometimes, small groups—Sunday School classes, offices, or book clubs—take on a project to see it through. Some individuals or family foundations have the ability to fund an entire project on their own. Other times, a person just opens the door by asking the pastor to give me the pulpit one Sunday and then we see what God does in the hearts of all those who hear!