Calvary Christian High School in Uganda

The following blog post is written by Man Up Champion and trip leader Laney, who recently led a team of high school students to Uganda. 

Man Up and Go recently hosted a trip with Calvary Christian High School students to our ministry partners in Uganda. We had a service-filled schedule for the 7 days we spent in country. The team spent time with Pastor Andrew in Jinja serving his ministry at Bethel Junior School and Home Again Ministries. The latter part of the trip was spent a few hours up the road in Pallisa with Pastor Sam and his ministry at Kerith Children’s Home.

Experiencing an international mission trip with high school students is unique and spiritually refreshing. For many students, it was the first time they left had visited another country, especially with a mission focus. I was privileged to see God pulling these students out of their comfort zones, revealing to them a place and people who are so different, but in many ways, so the same. There is something special about witnessing a person, particularly a student, have an “aha moment”—when they realize the world is not exactly as they have thought it to be; when they begin to understand that the gospel is absolutely global and for all peoples; when they start to sacrifice their own comforts and what their own culture tells them to pursue, for the sake of seeing souls won for the Kingdom.

Service activities on our trip included painting Bethel Junior School, teaching life skills classes to primary and secondary students, serving at Home Again ministries Super Saturday feeding program (which fed a record number of over 2,200 children in just a few short hours), providing school supplies to Kerith Children’s Home, and feeding needy families in the Pallisa community.

We certainly did a lot, as that list is not entirely inclusive. Yet, in an American culture where Martha is glorified, Jesus calls us to be Mary. In Luke 10, we are reminded that our faith is not all about doing. Jesus desires so much more than that. “…but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better…” (v 42). We were made for relationship. We are called into relationship—with our Savior and one another.

Establishing relationships is the key to long term impact for short term mission trips. Greater than an activity or project we did, playing a game of soccer with the kids was so much greater. Letting the girls braid our hair was so much greater. Looking into the eyes of those sweet babies and hugging them tight was so much greater. Relationship will always be greater, because relationship is where the message of the gospel becomes real.

Short term mission trips can hurt as much as they try to help. It is important that short term trips are not solely focused on bringing items and doing activities from the perspective of saving the communities that are being served. This can often result in reinforcing the poverty stigma and perpetuating shame in that culture. Man Up and Go works closely with our local partners to spend our time and resources in efforts that empower communities and encourage our ministry partners. These efforts largely focus on providing education and teaching vocational skills through the Biblical lens of the gospel.

So what can you do now to continue spreading the love of Christ and empowering the Ugandan communities Man Up has partnered with?

I am sure we could brainstorm wonderful ideas, but I think this is best left to the local ministry partners who live and work in those communities every day of the year. Here is what they had to say about how you can help starting today:

  • Take a trip with Man Up and Go. The pastors and their ministries would love to meet you, introduce you to the people they love, and serve alongside you.
  • Sponsor a child. A monthly sponsorship provides a child with education, a school uniform, school supplies, and a meal every day. Education is the key to providing an empowered future to child.
  • Pray for their ministries. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).

I am so proud of the CCHS students and the work they are continuing to do now that they are home. I am so proud of the organization that is Man Up and Go in their efforts to empower men, women, and children in the name of Christ. And I am constantly so humbled that the Lord chooses me to serve His kingdom in such a way and to know Him.

Man Up Recruits African American Foster Parents

Recently Man Up Tampa Bay co-sponsored an event with Eckerd Connects, the local agency contracted with the State of Florida to manage child welfare there. The event was a recruiting event specifically designed to target African Americans in South St Pete, an area with many historically black neighborhoods.

Over 70 folks attended the event, and Man Up and Go CEO Jeff Ford made a call to action for the men in the room, and especially the pastors, to join with Man Up in the fight for the fatherless. Ford was joined by the following dignitaries and leaders:

  • Brian Bostick, area Eckerd Connects Executive Director
  • Gershom Faulkner, Deputy Director & Military Liaison for the Office of Congressman Charlie Crist
  • Wengay Newton, Florida US House of Representatives
  • Wanda Jones, longtime child welfare advocate with Child Protective Investigations (CPI)

In Circuit 6 (Pinellas and Pasco Counties), roughly 41% of the children in foster care are African American, but of the foster parents licensed to receive those children, only about 10-12% are African American. Children removed are often taken not only out of their homes, but out of the school districts where any semblance of familiarity exists.

As the Church, we believe God has called us to care for the orphan in our midst (Psalm 68:5, James 1:27), irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation. Man Up wants to see men follow after Jesus, which means loving and care for the fatherless in our midst.

We’re praying many of the church leaders will respond in partnership with Man Up Tampa Bay to recruit more men in the fight for the fatherless.