Easter Dresses

IMG_0772We had a tradition in my home growing up-Easter Dresses. It was a big deal and fun for us because we didn’t go shopping a lot but we knew that when Easter came we got to pick out our favorite dress to wear to church.

I saw Jesus at a very early age, about the age of my girls in the home in the form of an Easter Dress. My dad had lost his job and money was very tight. Actually, tight is not the word…money was not there. I remember my mom telling us that we would not be able to get Easter dresses that year and although it seems so silly now, my sister and I were so disappointed. I remember my parents telling us to pray. The weekend of Easter, a box was delivered to our house with mine and my sister’s name on it. My parents were as equally curious as to what the box held inside.

As a 7 year old little girl I saw inside of that box- Jesus. In a way that He could teach a young little girl that He provides through sending her an Easter dress. I learned faith. I have reflected back to that story so times, years later.

Today as I was handing out dresses and bows to my girls and giving the boys new shirts…I want them to see His heart. The heart of their Provider. I want their young hearts to capture His heart now so that they can look back and know that it was so much more than a cute dress and a nice shirt to wear to church. It was His heart for them.

One day they will tell their children of what Jesus did for them when they were 7 through women who sewed them dresses and a little girl that asked Santa for shoes for all of them. I want them to hear “I love you” through these who have given. I want them to in return give so that another can hear “I love you”.

Just as I heard it as a 7 year old girl.

 

 

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Agnes.

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      Agnes.

You never know what you are going to get with Agnes and that is why I love her so much. She has attitude, she can give it right back, yet she will jump up in your lap and snuggle. Her laugh is contagious. She has a way of saying “auntie dacia” in a very gruff voice that make me laugh every time I hear it.

Agnes was diagnosed with epilepsy several years back. She has been on very good medicine and has received great treatment from our doctor here in Jinja. The seizures have not been as frequent. Yesterday though we had quite the scare. Agnes was in school when her seizure came on and she fell and hit her head on the desk. The teacher took her immediately to the nurse and usually Agnes will come through it shortly after the seizure but yesterday her little body was not responding as usual. They brought her to the hospital late yesterday afternoon. She was not responding and I believe she had more than one seizure. She was not responsive and all of hearts were so worried.

The doctor assured us he would watch her carefully over night. I though, was so restless all night. I hate it when one of ours is so sick. I hate knowing that we cannot run a MRI to see what exactly is going on in her little brain and to know what the effects of the seizure would be. Instead we have an IV of glucose and penicillin to get through the night. This is where faith comes in. The type of faith that I don’t have to tap into very often at home. The faith that all I have really is Him. The faith that ultimately she doesn’t need a prestigious doctor or MRI’s but ultimately she just needs His hands. Hands to hold her in the night. Hands to welcome her to sit in His lap and know that His heart beats for those such as her, an orphan. When we can’t, He can.

I woke very early to make my way to the hospital and I was fearful of what I was going to find. I walked in and there she was sitting up. She didn’t respond to me but her eyes were open and she was sitting up. Grace. I went to get her food and after she ate she began to be more responsive. I was so relieved to see her use both of her arms, although the right is not moving as fast as it once was. I asked her for a “bongo” which is a fist bump and she gave me one. I breathed deeply of His presence that we begged to fill the room. He was there. He did heal.

I went back later to find her awake again. This time the doctor was there and he was explaining to me what the side effects are of her case. One is depression and sadness. As I looked into her eyes, her very young eyes and thought she is too young to have to deal with this. To deal with all of it. Not only epilepsy but to not have her momma there. I looked at the sweet Auntie that has stayed by her side faithfully and has held her hand even while she sleeps and I quietly say, “thank you”.

I reach for Aggi and bring her into my lap. She fights me. The doctor warns me that she might fight me due to the symptoms he just explained to me. Fighting or not- I am going to hold this child in my lap. That is what my momma would do. That is what my daddy would do. They have done so many times…when I don’t want to be held, they held me. Tightly. So i fought her and we sat there for awhile until she finally laid her head back up against my chest and I do not add this for dramatic effect, she smiled.

For the Lord, He is good to the weary. For the Lord, He is good. The Creator is living in her. She will do more than conquer…she will go and tell. Tell of His endless, furious, and boundless love for her.

Please continue to keep Agnes in your prayers.

Orphan Care Sunday

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Not statistics. Not just names. Not just another child with a touching story. To me these are children that have changed my life. Who sing with joy and dance like other children. Who teach me how to pray. Who love fiercely. Who love to snuggle. Who need someone to kiss their boo boos. They have runny noses and dirty hands. They are more than names and faces. They are our children.
It was not a suggestion that Jesus made, it was a command. “Defend the poor and the fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Ps 82
It’s time.

 

“We will not hide these truths from our children, but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did. He commanded our ancestors to teach to their children, so the next generation might now them-even the children not yet born-that they in turn might teach their children. So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying His commands.”

Psalm 78:4-7

My prayer is that these children from 7 months old to 24 that God has entrusted to us to love, teach, and guard would tell future generations to come of His miracles. I pray that He gives us all wisdom to lead these into His plans for each of them. That we will be sensitive to His spirit as we make mistakes and fail but He would allow us the grace to always be genuine to those who are watching.

Elijah.

Here he is!! He was released yesterday and I anxiously went to pick him up from my friend Renee’s house where she has a malnourished clinic, called Serving His Children (www.servinghischildren.org). I have been watching his progress but to see him ready to go home, it was so exciting.

We have crowded around his bedside a handful of times asking God to heal him and carry him through. Today he is cooing at me and smiling. He even might have a double chin 🙂

I know the Lord has great plans for Elijah. Elijah- Jehovah is God. His life is living proof to what his name means.

As you go through your Thursday I ask you to please remember as you are commuting to work, zipping through a drive-thru, running to the grocery store, tucking your children in tonight…please say a prayer for more Elijah’s that are out there today. We so easily take for granted our world of blessings. I know I am a quote on quote “missionary” and I am supposed to say those things as I sit on this side of my computer in Africa but I know I will struggle with continuing to pray as fervently when I arrive home as I do here. It’s so easy to just stay in our little world, and let’s be honest, our world has a lot going on itself. Although, it is our prayers that give life and He hears our cries and holds the children in the nights. 

I am honored to be one of the voices for AAI Secondary School. For a school that opened in Feb. God has increased my faith bc we started with very little but a great faith! He has carried us through and given us the most amazing 135 students that I truly see within them the future of Uganda, a new day dawning. They are bold, they are intelligent, they are talented and they are falling more in love with Jesus. We just baptized 35 students last month!!

I first came to the Secondary School campus in 2010 and there was absolutely nothing there. Pastor Godfrey expressed to us the vision that God had given him to build a Secondary School. A school that our babies could come to after they left our babies home and our primary school. What an incredible ministry the Lord has given us just in our babies. We get to provide them a “home” all through their years and then one day we will say, “You are ready…go into the world and know you have everything you need to be equipped to change the world around you. You have your foundation, The Solid Rock. Jesus, He goes before you and has destined your days. You possess the knowledge, the talent and the integrity to begin a career. To be a leader and to set the example.” What a privilege and a weighty responsibility to do it well.

We also have that same heart and responsibility for the 135 students that He sent us in February. We all thought Pastor Godfrey was crazy to start the school when we had almost nothing but the structures to hold the classes. All you need is the faith of a mustard seed. I have seen it move mountains. We received in His perfect timing, desk, beds, solar panels, paper, cleared fields, uniforms and every daily need. The teachers never complained about their housing conditions. The students did not complain for having to sit on the floor while they received their lessons. They were thankful. What always amazes me is that when I visit I always expect the children to be a little upset about not having certain things that we would not consider a luxury item but necessary and they always just greet us with a smile and say thank you.

For us Americans, we would walk into our school and see the tattered shoes or lack thereof, we would see beds that need mosquito nets, we would see “mattresses” that are as thin as a blanket and see their meals and want to give them more and we immediately want to meet those needs. It has taken me a long time to get this and I never will fully, because I have not walked where they have walked but we want to meet those needs when those things are not necessities to these students. This is their life. They have come from much worse. They are thankful to have a ceiling that doesn’t leak when it rains, to sleep on a clean floor instead of mud. They are thankful that the distance from their room to the classroom is just a few feet instead of having to wake and walk miles upon miles, barefoot. They are thankful to have three meals a day, even if it is the same meal over and over. They are thankful to be in a place where if they get malaria, they have the opportunity and the means to get treatment. They are thankful to be there to get what they could never get on their own. Education. Teachers who are well-educated and are committed to loving these students, who are willing to live in difficult circumstances as well, willing to take a pay cut, and to pour into the lives of these students. They are thankful for a ministry that loves them like Christ tell us to love- the hands and feet.

This past term I was blown away at the talent of our students. Every time they would invite me for a program, I will be honest and say I went with low expectations but I was amazed and beyond impressed that these students were capable of putting on such a show. Some of our students could be on Broadway. They can sing, they can dance, they can debate, they can play sports, they can see their future is more than they ever thought it could be. When I leave, I leave wishing I had all the money in the world to give to them. I want to make their dreams come true, along with everyone here at Arise Africa. Reality is, this is beyond me. This is beyond Pastor Godfrey and the staff at AAI. This is God’s dream. These are His children. These are His future men and women who will make His name famous. So when I look at what needs to be done in the next few shorts months, I get overwhelmed, I get stressed. We need two additional dorms because we have filled ours and we have no where for the students that are to come next term to sleep. We need staff housing so that the teachers who have sacrificed can bring their families to stay with them. We need to plant acres of maize so that we can be self-sufficient and teach the children responsibility. We need computers. We need a library. We need…We need.

We need Jesus.

Let us fix our eyes on the Perfecter of our Faith. He will show us all that all we need is Him. We can put on rags now so that when we have worked hard, gotten our hands dirty, believed when we had nothing, sang praises in the dark, trusted when it seemed impossible…we can put on nice shoes, sleep on thick mattresses, and feast on the finest of foods. For we will have been thankful for where He has brought us. We have all come from far. May we never forget.

I ask of you to be a part of what He is doing. If you are not involved in something bigger than yourself, I humbly ask you, “Why not?” It is something He has commanded of us. I cry and my heart hurts when I see what little money can do here and we are so quick to spend it all on more “things”. For what? Our gain. America, we (including myself) have way too much. We do not know how to suffer, truly we don’t. We are not ready. Here, these students know suffering. They have lost their parents, they have gone hungary, they are 14 years old caring for the 4 younger siblings, they have suffered dark nights sick with no one to care for them. Can we truly give what we have in abundance to see His name go out throughout the nation of Africa? I can promise you that before they are getting an education, they are getting Jesus. They are being taught to go back to their place of hurt and tell others of Who brings healing. If you can’t come here, you can be a part of the Gospel going forth. I am believing that every person who reads this will feel a prompting in their spirit to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It is fulfilling. Wherever He ask you to plant and bless, that you will do it joyfully.

I am believing that God will provide the money for the dorms. I am believing that every student will be sponsored. I am believing that every need we have on our budget will be met.

We all have a part to play. No part is too small.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

*For more information on how you can sponsor a child, give financially, or just even pray..please contact me at dacia.newton@gmail.com

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Elijah: The Lord is God

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Elijah, he was a great prophet who allowed the Lord to speak through him. He “zealously served the Lord and he was the only one standing and the people of Israel were trying to kill him as well”. The Lord used him mightily to turn His people back to him. Elijah’s name means: “Jehovah is God”. Elijah was courageous and committed completely to God. He knew that he served the all-powerful God. Elijah’s extraordinary faith and powerful prayer life distinguished him as a prophet among prophets, a man’s man, and a champion who loved God more than his own life. Elijah knew the provision and the power of God, the life-giving mercy and the fiery wrath of God. He lived up to his name: The Lord is God.

Today I have an Elijah that I believe will live the same life.  He will be used and will serve Jesus zealously. But first he must survive. He is 3 months old and was given to us 3 weeks ago by his grandmother.His mother died after her c-section and it is believed that his father is also dead. His grandmother had been giving him dry tea. He is severely malnourished and is suffering from a very difficult strand of pneumonia. He needs prayers to pull through. He is currently with my sweet friend Renee Bach and her ministry “Serving His Children”. She is taking care of him medically.

He continues to fight. I believe truly that our God speaks to children and holds them in a way we will never know until we see Him face to face. I believe that God has whispered to this little boy, “I am the Lord your God”. He continues to fight for each breath. We pray that God’s breath fills up his lungs. I believe that through Elijah pulling through I will be able to say, “I have seen the provision, the power and the life-giving mercy of my God.”

Please pray that Elijah will pull through this critical time. At this point it truly depends on the Lord because his body is so weak and still fighting the pneumonia that has become resistant to most medications we have here. This strand of pneumonia is also seen a lot in those who have HIV, which we cannot tell if he has or not because of his young age but we have reasons to suspect that he does indeed have HIV. But the Lord is above all things.  Pray for Renee, Danielle, and the doctors that are caring for him around the clock. I am so thankful to be surrounded by Arise Africa International who is the hands and feet of Jesus to so many at all times and for other people who are committed to lifting high the name of Jesus.

We live by His mercy and grace.

Sports Complex for our Secondary School

We are in our second term at our Arise Africa Christian Secondary School and we have 135 students that are all so excited to have the opportunity to be attending school. Last term the school organized a Sports Day for all the students and I had the privilege of being the “special guest” and my heart was so full after watching these students get competitive and so excited about sports.

All of our students are divided into “houses” and within those houses they have responsibilities, Bible Studies, and on days like Sports day they become a team that compete against the other houses. It was so fun to watch them play soccer, jump around in a sack, taking each other out in relays, and  playing basketball. But it was hard to watch as well because our playing field has a lot of rocks and it is not a flat field so every time they fell it made it more evident to us that we really needed to invest in a playing field. The students loved the day and asked when we were getting basketball courts and a playing field for them to play soccer and football.

I desperately want to see our school have a Sports Complex not only for them to enjoy but also for the community around to come and play. Sports are such an important part of development and it allows our students to develop the talents that have been given to them.

We have a team of college athletes coming in just a few weeks to spend two weeks with our students holding a sports camp with them daily. We just need a playing field, basketball court, and some new grass! Would you be willing to help meet this need for our Secondary School?

We need $2000 to pour a concrete slab for a basketball court. 🙂 Would  you consider helping the cause? We have the team ready to do the labor and the students ready to play…

If you would like to donate to our Secondary School Sports Complex you can send a check made payable to Arise Africa Int’l and send it to Journey Church

c/0 Mark Harvey

3500 Spring Forest Rd

Raleigh, NC 27616

All donations are tax-deductible. Please make note in the comments section “AAI Secondary School Sports”

Praying the Lord meets this need for our school 🙂

Thanks Ya’ll!