Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When God Does the Cultivating...

Several years ago God began a cultivation process in my heart. For what purpose, I had no clue at the time, but this is how it began. A Samaritan’s Purse Christmas box that I had packed was delivered into the hands of a child in Zambia. The child’s father, a pastor, wrote me a thank you letter, and a friendship developed. I learned of the school operated by his church, and naturally, as a teacher, my heart was touched as I learned that many of the students are orphans. I collected and sent many school supplies and funds for various projects at the school. Eventually, the pastor invited me and my husband to come for a visit, however every attempt and inquiry met a dead end. I was a little puzzled, but accepted that a visit to Zambia simply was not God’s will.

Near the end of 2008 I learned of a ministry beginning in Uganda through Heart of God International, through a writing friend of mine, Jan Ross, who is the founder of this organization. When I learned that the ministry would involve working with children in a school setting in Uganda, I realized that God had sown seeds of love in my heart for African children through my contact in Zambia. I felt Him nudging me to go to Uganda.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I spent 10 incredible days in Uganda last summer, working with 450 street orphans at Smile Africa; ministering to several hundred women (mostly widows) at the conference we held; and visiting the slums, as well as other Ugandan schools. (You can find blog posts for each day of my trip in this blog’s July and August archives, including many pictures and videos).

After returning home last summer, I was offered the position of education director for Heart of God International, and I accepted that position. We are now preparing for our second trip to Uganda, and I am thrilled to see real growth in what began as a gentle cultivation process. Ten very special friends from my own church and school are joining me for this summer’s trip. Each individual felt God’s tug on their heart when I shared with them what God is doing in Uganda.

For this summer’s trip we have a nurse practitioner and a nurse who will be establishing medical records for the children, four teachers and a foster care provider who will participate in the teacher conference I am planning, two men who will be organizing and participating in a men’s conference, and two teens who will be participating in a teen rally. Eight more team members from other parts of the country will be joining our group from Iowa as well. Last year four women blazed the trail, and this year, nineteen will return to build on the relationships and ministries that were started. Our fearless director, Denise Matthews, has been busy planning and organizing the trip, and holding training sessions. We are all busy raising support for our individual trips, plus money for the various ministries we will be involved in.

Throughout this past year some remarkable things have occurred. My first privilege and responsibility as education director was to assist Pastor Ruth of Smile Africa in making school and living arrangements for eleven young girls (ages 10-14) who had no homes or families to care for them.

Through some special funds designated for these girls, we were able to set them up in two rented rooms near Smile Africa and enroll them in a regular school. Tears came to my eyes when I saw this picture of the girls in school uniforms, with shoes on their feet. These are no doubt the first items of personal clothing many of them have ever owned!

These precious girls are now cultivating their own red-brown earth and harvesting their own vegetables.

I am certain that God has begun a process in each of their hearts as well, since they are regularly reminded that these gifts are from the hands of a loving Father. I can’t wait to see for myself how these girls are doing when we return this June.

In one of my previous posts I mentioned Paul, an employee of Smile Africa, who wanted so much for us to visit his home and pray for his family. He was very proud of the tiny room he and his wife share with their two children, and I could see why. It was clean and tidy and exuded love. “But,” he had said, “I wish I had a table.”

I later shared Paul's statement with my husband, who said, “So, buy him a table,” and we did.

Pastor Ruth delivered the table to Paul’s home a couple of months later. He immediately raised his hands and began praising God for this gift.

Many other wonderful things have transpired as well. The children are now receiving fruit once a week due to some generous monthly donations.

The students of the school where I teach (Cedar Valley Christian School), along with some students from a school in California, sent Christmas gifts to the children. Pastor Ruth said that these are the first real toys these children have ever had.

The babies are receiving milk, and a nursery is in the process of being completed to care for them. Still, there are many needs, and it will be so good to see how God will use our group to meet some of those needs.

When God does the cultivating, He also gives the increase in fruitfulness. It is thrilling to see Him at work, and even more thrilling to be a part of it. That He purposefully directed the delivery of a Christmas box to Zambia as a way of preparing the soil of my heart for this ministry to the street children of Uganda is simply amazing!

Please, please pray for our trip, scheduled for June 19-July 3, 2010.
I would stop right there, but some of you may be wondering how you can be a part of this exciting ministry. You can find more information online at Or you can mail a check to:

Heart of God International Ministries –Uganda
P.O Box 248
Willard, Ohio 44890

Please mention in your correspondence that you were referred through my blog, and I will send you personalized updates. Heart of God International Ministries is a completely volunteer organization, so 100% of your gifts will directly benefit those who need it most.

Today's topic for Walk With Him Wednesday is "Cultivating the life God Desires."


  1. God Bless you, Sharlyn! You inspire me! Hugs, Rita

  2. I will keep your trip in my prayers, Sharlyn! I feel so blessed to have met all the fine folks I have through HGIM. May God just bless you, your group, and the people of Uganda with an outpouring of His awesome love and miraculous works!

  3. Awesome, awesome awesome! And Amen! There are no words (although you did such a great job of sharing your journey) to convey how God works. His ways ... His thoughts ... are above all.

    Love, hugs and prayers,

  4. I had not been by in a while! My goodness you've been busy, busy, busy.

    Blessings to you and prayers for you and your journey.


  5. Wonderful and inspiring! Thank you so very much for the post and your work in His name.


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