This week’s guest blog comes from 410 Bridge trip participant, Sam Serio, who took a unique journey that led to Kaihura, Uganda with a team from Emmaus Church in Buford, Georgia. Read more about his experience with a little boy named Phillip…
“Our journey to Kaihura began when we first learned of The 410 Bridge child sponsorship program after seeing the Daraja Children’s Choir worship in our local church. We decided that we wanted to sponsor a boy around the same age as our oldest son. The decision was easy. His name was Phillip. Phillip lives in Kaihura and goes to Kaihura Primary School.
Sponsoring is good, praying is even better! – Phillip’s picture is on my refrigerator. We see him every day. He is every bit a member of our family. It was nice to have a picture on my fridge and provide financial support…but there had to be more we could do. PRAY! This prayer thing sure did a number on my family. Every meal, every night before bedtime…we would pray. We would pray for Phillip. Each of my kids would pray. My wife would pray. I would pray. We would pray that Phillip had a full tummy, that he would not go hungry, that he would be healthy, that he would have a good education, that he would have a family that cared for him, that he would come to know Jesus, that he would know that Jesus loves him. With each prayer, Phillip infiltrated our family! God infiltrated (in a good way, as usual!) our family in amazing ways. If I forgot to pray for Phillip, my kids (ages 2 and 4) would infiltrate my prayer with “and we pray for Phillip!”. We found ourselves praying more…and more prayer is always better!
Should I pray or should I go? – When our church announced a mission trip to Kaihura, I thought to myself…”Should I just keep praying for Phillip and the community of Kaihura, or should I go to them?” I wish I could say that I prayed and prayed and prayed about whether or not I should go. I feel like the decision was made months earlier when we decided to host Christine, Sarah and Charlotte – the Daraja children – in our home and subsequently sponsoring Phillip. The decision was easy. In my heart, I knew I wanted to do more, and here it was. Go to Uganda.
That moment – We arrived in the village of Kaihura on Saturday evening. I will never forget the welcome we received from the community. Hundreds of people sat waiting for us to arrive. They sang for us. They danced for us. They gave us African names (mine is A Kii Kii). They prayed for us. They thanked God for us. They made us feel like a million bucks.
The people of Uganda have a way about them that is contagious. Their smiles are contagious. It was hard to understand how or why they would be smiling so much. I mean they don’t have any “stuff…they have no running water…they have no access to good healthcare.
The more time I spent with the people, the more I began to understand why they were so happy all the time.
They had Jesus.
They had community with each other.
They had less “stuff” to distract them from these two important things.
It is so easy to lose sight of these things. As I would walk around the community, it was hard not to notice the fact that people were always out and about, in community with each other. They didn’t have TV or internet or air conditioning. These are the sort of things that keep us cooped up inside our homes, away from community with others, away from time with our Heavenly Father.
You know that God moment? That moment when God shows you that glimpse of Heaven…
That moment for me was when I got to meet Phillip. He was at school, and I was nervous. When I walked into the open air school, I looked for him. There he was, sitting two rows from the front. He slowly and shyly walked out of the aisle and up to the front of the classroom towards me. I didn’t know what to do…so I simply hugged him and didn’t want to let go. The months of praying for him, the months of raising support, the travel, the time away from my family at home, the culmination of so many events that led me to this one moment – and all I could think to do was hug him! Then, after asking him, I lifted him up in the sky – and the classroom erupted in laughter!
I shared with the class that this moment is proof that God answers prayers. God can be trusted. I am so grateful to God for stretching me in that moment, allowing me to tell little listening ears that God loves them and that He answers prayers.
There’s good news – Phillip was so happy to see me, and I was more than happy to see him. But, why was he so happy to see me? Why was he so excited? Why would he allow this total stranger to come give him a giant bear hug? Why would he hold my hand and not let go? Why would he look at me with that adoring look on his face? Why would he wait for me again a couple of days later after that first meeting? Under that tree…in the rain…after school was over…after all the kids had already left for home…with a 2 hour walk home in the dark still remaining?
The purest and simplest explanation our team talked about and decided on was that just like we pray for our needs and God’s blessings, the people of Kaihura, Uganda pray – to the same Father in Heaven. And we all know, the Lord answers our prayers in ways that are always immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.
So maybe, when Phillip saw me walking up to him, after traveling half-way across the world, to come to his village, to hug him, to hold him, to hold his hand, to race him in the school yard, to color with him, to seek to know him more deeply, to bless him, and to pray with him, and love him, and help him… could that be proof to him that God hears his prayers? I hope with all of my heart he knows that he matters to God. And, that he is as much an answer to my prayers as I was to his.
We all long to matter to somebody. We all long to be blessed. We all long for love. We all long for affirmation. We all long for significance. Every one of those things is found in the Gospel. The good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me and Phillip.
Thank you, Sam, for sharing your story! As you read this post, if you sense that prompting from God to step out in faith to pray for a child, sponsor a child, or go and visit – we have ways for you to connect.
To learn more about our child sponsorship program or find a child to sponsor, click here.
To learn more about Kaihura, Uganda and apply for our Summer Open Trip, click here.
If you are interested in sharing your 410 story, we’d love to know! Please write and submit your story with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.