–by Jared Morrison
“Good Morning, Uncle Jared!”
These four words have become music to my ears! I hear them at least 15 times every day from the girls in our program while walking around our compound.
Kipindi Mpito, Forgotten Children’s new flagship program, has finally begun. After several years of vision casting, planning, and research, and almost 18 months of program development, 15 young ladies are currently being discipled, mentored, and taught the life skills they need to transition from girls to empowered women. I won’t lie, it’s been hard work. There have been days I’ve wanted to quit and go back to Tennessee. Honestly, there have been days I haven’t felt like doing much of anything because of things like the stress of learning a new culture, the indescribably chaotic traffic, or dealing with the government bureaucracy. But “Good morning, Uncle Jared!” makes all that fatigue and stress instantly disappear.
Someone asked me recently, “Do you feel like what you’re doing is making an impact for the Kingdom?” Seriously??? I’m a missionary. Of course I do! False. There are days when all this missionary work feels like just that, work. How does sitting in traffic for 5 hours to go 30 miles roundtrip for a 30-minute meeting impact the Kingdom? How does spending hours every week writing reports, reconciling accounts, or answering emails impact the Kingdom?
I’ll tell you how. Almost 18 months of those things and 537 other mundane and time-consuming tasks have brought us to “Good morning, Uncle Jared!“
There are tough days. A lot of them. But then there are days like this one…
I walked in the office a few days ago, a little earlier than normal, and heard singing on the other side of the Kipindi house. Obviously, I had to check it out. When I got to the common area, I saw our 15 girls gathered around Mama Cissy, our House Matron, and they were having their morning Bible study. One of the girls was leading the others, some not yet believers, in a worship song.
Hmmm. Kingdom impact?
After going back and settling in at my desk with a fresh cup of coffee, I couldn’t resist the urge to go back and check out some more of this awesomeness that was happening two walls over. So I found a reason to sneak back through to the kitchen. This time a different girl was sharing a Bible passage she had been studying with the group and explaining what it meant to her.
By this time you’d think I would’ve just stayed and enjoyed what the Spirit of God was doing in that living room, but I try to keep a healthy distance so the girls feel comfortable sharing and praying openly. So I headed back to my office with a glass of water. But I couldn’t contain my excitement and REALLY needed a spoon to stir my morning pink drink, so after a few more minutes of pretending I wasn’t spying, I headed right back through the common area to the kitchen.
This time Mama Cissy was leading the girls in a time of prayer and all 16 ladies in that little living room were praying so loudly and intensely that I know God must’ve had His ear pressed firmly to the floor of Heaven with the biggest smile on His face.
Later on that day, our director, Cathy, was updating me and our stateside leadership team on how the program was going so far. She shared how amazed and proud she was at the girls’ new and renewed interest in the Bible and prayer. She told us that some of the girls were saying they never really knew how to pray before and after only two weeks of Kipindi, they now know how to pray, and do it often. Some of the other girls, who aren’t believers (yet), have been bombarding her and the other staff with questions about Jesus and the Bible. They’re excited about reading scripture for the first time ever.
Now you’re probably thinking, what does this have to do with them telling you good morning? Well, it means they are finally here. Praying. Studying the Bible. Learning life skills. Growing in community. And they’re safe. If these girls weren’t at Kipindi, some of them could be forced into early marriage. Some of them could’ve been conned into moving to the Middle East where they would become domestic or sex slaves. Some could be pregnant at the age of 16. And some could’ve dropped out of school with no hope for a future.
But they are here. And every smiling face I see with a “Good morning, Uncle Jared!” makes everything worth it. That’s Kingdom impact folks.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” –Colossians 1:9-12 NIV
(In case you didn’t know, calling a man “uncle” in Uganda is totally normal and is intended to show respect for an older man who isn’t their father, pastor, etc.)