Jun 17, 2011

Orphan Care Ain't Just For Mamas!

You might think that a post before Father's Day would be about my father or the father of my children. This one isn't. This one is about Big Tom.

Most of you reading this are women. That's not a sexist statement; it's a fact. I read a lot of emails from many of you who wonder about getting your man involved in care of the fatherless or simply adoption. For many of you, I don't have a lot of answers. The Hero was ready to have kids and I knew that God had placed a desire to love whatever munchkins entered our home; no matter how they got there, but then God reminded me of Big Tom.

In December of 2009, our church signed on to partner with Children's HopeChest to sponsor what we thought would be one care point in Uganda. Through several meetings and planning sessions, we were advised that there were three care points totalling over 500 kids that needed sponsorship in the area we were looking at sponsoring.

Our home church is not a large church. Signing on for 500 individual sponsorships and fundraising for three separate care points would be no easy feat. That's usually how God likes it, I think. It's when He gets to display His glory in full force. He did. Eighteen months later, God has funded through Westmoore Community Church a feeding program for our 500 sponsored kiddos and fully funded three separate community buildings where the kids can eat inside and our feeding program coordinators can cook in a more sanitary environment.

Children's HopeChest encourages each partnering organization to travel at least once a year to visit their care point and assess the progress for accountability and for maintaining a relationships in Uganda. Our first team left in May of 2010 for Ngariam, Uganda and we'll send our sixth team in August of this year. Big Tom has been on at least four of those missions.

Big Tom was a greeter at WCC when The Hero and I first started attending there about four years ago. I'm not sure if this was a title he gave himself or if he was actually on the Welcoming Committee, but each Sunday we saw him, he smiled, shook our hands and thanked us for coming. When our sponsorship of Ngariam, Uganda began, Tom sponsored two kids that first Sunday and signed up for our first missions trip. The Hero and I were travelling in March to pick up The Dinosaur and The Angel and wouldn't make the Ugandan mission trip. I told him I expected a full report.

He came back and almost immediately started talking about moving there. As the months progressed, while The Angel and The Dinosaur would scream and run and beg Big Tom to throw them in the air, I was learning from team members that the children of Ngariam were doing the same thing and that Big Tom was becoming quite the legend in Uganda amongst the kids.

Whether it was running after a soccer ball, checking on a invalid child or serving a meal, everyone in Ngariam was falling in love with Big Tom and he was smitten right back. As he and I talked, I asked him how a single man could have fallen so hard for kids on the other side of the globe, he just grinned and then showed me some pictures and told me about the kids and their stories; JUST like any bio dad would. He told me again he was going to move there and run his U.S. based business from Uganda.

Last month, Big Tom left to live in the village of Ngariam to oversee the construction of WCC's three care points, help oversee some of the schools in our area, help establish a feeding program for additional kids in the area who are unsponsored and learn about Ugandan farming. His plan is to stay three months and return to give us a status report, check on his business and eventually create a dual continent existence.

At night when we say our prayers, The Angel will mention Big Tom and ask God to watch over him. Her favorite prayer for him is "God, keep Tom safe in Africa, because God, Tom LOVES Africa."

Happy Father's Day Big Tom! We miss you and love seeing that caring for the least of these ain't just for mamas!

If you want to follow along with Big Tom's journey in Uganda, he blogs here.

1 comment:

Mrs. J said...

loved this post! you must live close to me! we are very close to your church. I had no idea about WCC's commitment in Uganda. AMAZING. love it. gave me goose bumps.
Enjoying your blog, neighbor! : )