Passion Partners is committed to the communities where projects are strategically designed to contribute
to the development of its people.
Get Local: Vestavia Hills Gives Back
Who knew that there were girls in Uganda made to compromise their education simply because their bodies are doing what God created them to do? I certainly didn’t and had never thought about this horrible predicament until I saw a video of Passion Partners’ Project: Purity. To see girls who are trying to make a difference for themselves in a poverty-ridden slum be relegated to a towel for a week a month because they don’t have access to sanitary products simply tore at my heart. These precious girls have set out to gain an education which is a grand feat in their area of the world. They’re striving to empower themselves and are hindered by the absence of something us Western world women take for granted.
The faces of these girls and the mission of Project: Purity spoke to me and to the other women on our Women’s Conference team at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. We decided to take it on as our mission project for our annual women’s conference and set a goal to collect 8,000 pads. What happened next was truly beautiful. Women both in our church and in our community expressed similar passion for this mission, expressing over and over again the sadness it brought them that these girls don’t have the products that we simply run out to buy once a month and think of as an annoyance instead of a gift. Women set up their own collections at work and in their bible studies. Adult Sunday school classes and individuals wrote generous checks. High school girls on the youth floor dug into their own personal stashes at home to collect small bags of pads. Women young and old came together to help our sisters in Christ on the other side of the world. The result was astonishing. We not only met our goal, but exceeded it by over 75% with a grand total of 14, 144 pads!! We presented the number to Candice Ashburn at our conference and delivered them to Passion Partners’ headquarters in Nashville the following weekend. The pads are ready and waiting to be put on a plane for the next trip over the Uganda.
I’m not sure the exact reason that this project holds such a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because it is about women helping women: women who will never meet but understand each other’s primitive needs. Maybe it’s because of my admiration for these girls’ determination to gain an education. Maybe it’s because I believe that these pads may help at least one girl escape a future of destitution and gain a future of prosperity. Whatever the reason, it is a mission that spoke loudly to me and to the women of Vestavia Hills and we will continue to spread the word and pray that the Holy Spirit moves other women to make the same decision to simply go out and buy some pads.
About the author: Kristin Martin took part in Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church’s annual women’s conference, “Designed to Shine,” where she learned about the needs facing the girls served through Project: Purity. If you are interested in coming up with a project like Kristin’s email Jordan Woodruff at Jordan@herpassionministries.com.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
This Thanksgiving, Passion Partners has much to be grateful for. Over the past year, God has continued to grow and bless us with a competent capable staff, both abroad and domestic, that have a heart for reaching the world with the hope of the Gospel. We have also witnessed God multiply resources to meet the needs of the people we serve. Additionally, He has also shown us tremendous favor over the past year as we have seen many come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
While we are grateful for these things and so much more, we recognize that the need is still great and our work is not yet finished. We ask that you join us in praying that God will continue to bring partners and projects into our path that will allow us to live out our calling and mission. Also, pray that God will continue to multiply resources as we seek to be good stewards of all that he has entrusted us. Finally, pray for strength for our partners as they face multiple obstacles every day. Their dedication to reaching their neighbors has inspired us in so many ways, and we are blessed to be partners in ministry with them.
From all the Passion Partners staff, both here and abroad, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Area of Focus: Education
Passion Partners Project: Uganda Purity Project
School: Onwards and Upwards S.S.
What is your favorite subject in School?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
She wants to become an accountant.
Who do you live with?
Latifah lives with her grandmother who is advanced in age. Consequently, she often struggles to keep up with her grandchildren. Her grandmother is a born again Christian who truly trusts God in everything and believes that he will provide for her and her grandchildren.
How many siblings (brothers and sisters) do you have?
Latifah has three brothers and one sister.
What is the biggest challenge facing you and your family?
Due to the fact that Latifah’s grandmother is getting older, they often do not have the funds necessary to provide for basic needs. Additionally, due to her advanced age, Latifah’s grandmother often struggles to provide the guidance that is needed to raise a teenage girl and her siblings.
What would happen if you hadn’t become involved with a Passion Partners’ program?
If Passion Partners was not involved in Latifah’s life, she would be unable to afford feminine hygiene products on a monthly basis. Additionally, she would not receive valuable counseling from a caring staff that she does not receive at home.
What is your dream for the future?
Latifah’s dream for the future is to work hard in order to become an accountant. As an accountant she would be able to contribute financially to her family’s various needs.
What is your favorite bible verse?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
When did you become saved?
Latifah trust Christ as her personal Lord and Savior when she was 10 years old.
What do you want the people in America to know about them?
People in America should pray for them such that God may provide food and school fees.
What would they say to the people who donate to support the program they are involved in?
Thank you for the provision of food and pads. Without your support, I would be unable to pursue my dreams today.
I have always dreamed of going to Africa; I wasn’t sure how or when but I knew in my heart that one day God would take me there.
So it was such a confirmation of His timing and planning that I went with Passion Partners. Seeing how passionately Candice was serving God by ministering to His people was very inspiring. When I got an email asking if there was any interest in going on a mission trip to Uganda, it was a no brainer!
Our first team meeting was right before Christmas. It was a small group of people with a common goal…. to go and serve others in the name of Christ. We continued to grow closer during each monthly meeting. We also got to see God workingboth in us and through us as a group. We prayed together, cried together, and had fun with each other at our meetings. I didn’t realize until later how crucial these meetings were.
July came much more quickly than expected and before I knew it, we were departing. We were blessed with safe travels and finally arrived in Uganda. The next morning the sweet Restoration Home staff welcomed us in a way that I have never experienced. We were met with warm embraces as we were told, “You are so welcome”, “Very glad you are here”, and “We have prayed for this.” This was repeated over and over, along with big, long hugs. We were treated like family that had been separated for a long period of time. It was so incredibly touching!
Over the next few days, we connected to people in that part of the world more closely than I have to the people that live near me. We were welcomed into homes that made me feel honored in a way that I haven’t experienced in the U.S. For someone to invite you into their home and share their heartbreaking and uplifting testimony, to allow you to shed tears, to pray together, and to discuss what God will do in the future, is life changing. We were able to hear and share with the girls and staff of the Restoration Home, the single moms at the Mission House, and to worship with the Sala community church. Each moment was so very uplifting and moving, and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life.
I am so thankful to have experienced the people and culture of Uganda. Seeing things that you hear about can rock your “comfortable” world. I often hear about people being persecuted for their faith in Christ, but to actually meet believers that have been threatened with their lives by their own families knocked the wind out of me. I knew that water was hard to come by in remote areas of the world, but to actually see people walk far to get water twice a day was a reality check. It made me aware of every drop I have ever taken for granted.
Being around these people who are living examples of loving and serving God was very humbling. It is difficult to admit that God had to take me halfway around the world to show me the condition of MY heart. I am so grateful that I got to experience Africa with Passion Partners. I believe and have faith in what this organization is doing and pray that God will continue to bless the people served by it.
I know I will return to Uganda to serve, love, and worship Christ with my new extended family.
Suzanne DuVall is a guest blogger from Nashville, TN. She traveled with Passion Partners on their Summer 2014 Missions Trip. To learn more about joining Passion Partners on an upcoming trip, visit www.passionpartners.org/get-involved/go.
Founded by Isaac Rufunda Nyakoojo and Susan Anganita in 2003, Family Spirit was birthed on a voluntary humanitarian basis to provide care, support, housing and education to the children around Masindi who were struggling as a result of war, violence, and HIV/AIDS. Currently, there are 235 children (ranging in age from 6 months to 25 years) living at Family Spirit with 211 of them enrolled in the Family Spirit School.
In 2011, a group of families from Nashville began engaging in mission work with Family Spirit. In the course of their mission work, the Nashville families recognized that the children of Family Spirit were not consistently receiving meals. Hence their desire to initiate the Masindi feeding program at the Family Spirit orphanage. In an effort to grow the feeding program beyond its current capacity and add oversight of the project the families decided to engage in a strategic partnership with Passion Partners.
As the first Passion Partners’ United States based partnership, this project seeks to fulfill Passion Partners’ mission of providing leadership and funding to existing and emerging ministries around the world with the goal of helping them to live out their calling and passion.
The feeding program at Family Spirit currently funds 3 basic meals a day, 7 days a week. On September 1, 2013, Mustafa Fadiga formally joined the Passion Partners’ international staff as its Masindi Project Manager. He manages the monthly Feeding Program, as well as other potential community development opportunities.
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Phillippians 2:15
A few weeks after I returned from Africa I heard this verse in church. Those few simple words grabbed my attention and made my heart leap out of my chest with an immediate joy that began seeping into my heart & took me back to Africa. Uganda was incredible. I knew that it would fill my life’s bucket with unimaginable experiences, but I had no idea that it would literally overflow it. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Entebbe and smelled the air of that beautiful country, I knew it would not be the last time that my feet would touch that ground. We were immediately welcomed by a group of people who were, at the time, complete strangers, but in time, would become some of our greatest friends. It was a welcome like I have never experienced in my life. Hugs upon hugs, sweet embraces that I wish could have lasted forever and that I now long for. I felt more at peace in that first 24 hours than I had felt in 24 years. Truly, peace was overwhelming my spirit. To share all that those 10 days held would take an eternity, but I will try!
A few days after we had arrived, we were supposed to head to the Restoration Home to spend the day with the 42 girls that live there. It was a Saturday so we were ecstatic to have them home from school and be able to fellowship with each of them. However, God had a detour for our morning… Instead of going straight to the Restoration Home we went to the four girls apartment who are taking part in Passion Partners Transitional Program. They are students at University and had been living at the Restoration Home for many years but now are graduating out and have their very own place to call home.
I felt so special. They were inviting me into their home as a guest and I felt so humbled. I don’t know that I really understood the meaning of the word until that moment. They had chairs set up for each of us in their “sitting room”. I wasn’t exactly sure what we were doing there but of course we all took a seat. They shared with us how grateful they were to have us in their home and how we were most welcome guests.
What happened next brings a feeling to my heart that I hope I never loose. One by one, each of the girls shared their beautiful, remarkable, unimaginable testimonies. Some of the most intense emotions I have ever felt in my life overcame me, but I praise God for those feelings. I cannot imagine some of the their tribulations but their triumphs are just plain marvelous and they shared both with us in raw form. Their hearts had certainly been broken but they only spoke of God’s glory. I saw each of them as truly authentic followers of Christ and I wanted what they had. Each of them were completely immersed in God’s grace. The power of the Lord’s presence in that house was staggering. After each of the girls had shared their story, we got into a circle, holding hands of precious people that God had intently placed together to be in that space, on that day, in that exact moment and prayed. Tears kept streaming down my face and I felt God holding my heart real tight. I felt a closeness to him that I never had before and it was in that moment, hands held tight with those around me, that I told him that I wanted to feel that bear hug around my heart forever.
Now let me circle back around to the beginning part of the post, where I shared Phillippians 2:15. That verse struck me because each of the people that I met on my trip truly shine like stars in the sky. They radiate a beam of light that I have never experienced. I long to shine like each of them in a sky full of stars.
Since I have been home the day to day has assuredly gotten much easier and I can now share some of those intimate moments of my trip with others without weeping but I can certainly tell you that God did something to my heart while I was on the ground in Uganda that I cannot describe but I give him all the Glory for every single step I took on that trip. He placed some of the most precious people in my life. I can’t imagine what life was like without them. God, you are so good.
Gradi Ellis is a guest blogger from Nashville, TN. She traveled with Passion Partners on their Summer 2014 Missions Trip. To learn more about joining Passion Partners on an upcoming trip, visit www.passionpartners.org/get-involved/go.