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2 Year Olds in Prison follow up

I have wanted to report back to you about my friend’s trip to Uganda and his ministry to those there. Especially the children in “remand centers” – which are really prisons. My friend and his team came back safely but weary.

Though lengthy, this is worth reading. I pray your heart will break as you see the photos and read the stories. But also that you will rejoice at the light of God that shined through this ministry into a very dark place. The needs are overwhelming but we know God’s grace is even more so.


They did have a short-fall financially of $2800. If after reading this report you’d like to contribute I would suggest you do so. The address is contained in the report.

Thank you.

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2 Year Olds in Prison

These past few weeks my prayer group and I have been studying how disciples are to respond to the needs around us. What does God call us in the name of mercy and justice to do? We have had good discussions. Personally, I wondered what it was I could do.

Then I got a phone call this morning.

I could hardly believe my ears when my friend, Chad Hawk told me 2 year olds are in prison in Uganda. Often sold by their own parents! He has a heart for ministry in Africa. He travels there regularly. He asked for my help. needs our help – actually the children need our help. I never ask you all for anything like this because I know each of you have places you give to but I want you to be aware of this particular need. Chad is one of the good guys. A servant’s heart. He is not building a kingdom but The Kingdom. Let’s help him. When you have done it for the least of these…

I will let him speak for himself:

I will be leaving for Uganda in one month. The opportunities for this year’s trip have opened in ways I did not expect for several years. What has happened is that the part of the Ugandan government that is responsible for the children’s prisons has decided to give me clearance to all six of the prisons. This is unprecedented! The Ugandan government has historically only given very limited access to foreigners. The prisons are a black eye for the country and they hate admitting that they exist. The prisons are normally treated with secrecy and miles of red tape to gain access.

However, thanks to the efforts of several NGOs and a wave of new political climate in Uganda, I have been granted the first access to all of the prisons for any outside health related organization. Even the UN has been denied this level of access at once! This is a monumental step for Epik Missions and has received this permission from the Vice President of Uganda.

While I am humbled and in awe of this opportunity, it has one major hurdle that I need help with.

I need to raise nearly $10,000 by April 20.

Each prison requires just over $1,500 in “fees” to be granted access. These fees are various bribes that must be paid to many branches of governmental officials. Everyone from the regional Minister of Health to the local warden has a fee. If you have ever done work in Africa, you understand that this is how everything gets done.

Each prison houses about six hundred children between the ages of two to twelve. Each prison has at least four halfway houses that have a total of 250 children. This means that 850 children will be cared for at each location. Over 5,000 children will be served on this trip plus most of the support staff.

These children live in the most horrific conditions you can imagine. I have been there. I have seen first-hand their struggles. I have held the young girls that are dying from AIDS. The deadly HIV was given to them from guards that rape them. I have cared for young boys who have collapsed skulls where metal clubs have beaten them into submission because they did not move fast enough for a guard. Broken arms, open wounds, keloid scars on their backs from beatings are everywhere.

So how can you help?

The simplest way is to go to the Epik Missions web site, www.epikmissions.com and donate online.

Time is short and I really need your help.

God has opened this door and I am confident of His provision. I know I must take quick and immediate action. Will you help me serve the children?

These children feel abandoned and forgotten. The only touch they know is a hurting touch. Abuse. Beatings. Harshness. What has life done to them? Does God care for them? You know He does.These are the ones Jesus referred to as “the least of these”. If we do it for them He sees it as being done for Him. Picture Jesus as a two-year old sitting in a filthy prison in desperate need of a tender touch.

I plan to help…will you? Ask God about what He would want you to do. This is an opportunity to make an eternal difference for “the least of these”.

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Traveling in the Back

Today I took what, I hope, will be my last airplane trip for the year! Hooray! I will not miss the smell of AV fuel, the blare of CNN’s talking heads, the chatter of folks on cell phones, the rushing to or from a gate, taking off my shoes, lifting my suitcase…all the unpleasantries of travel.

Last week on my trip back to Virginia from Sacramento I sat in the very last row next to the lavatories in the aisle seat. Has to be the worst seat on the plane! My assistant, Anne, actually gave up that seat to sit in the middle – she can sleep standing up – or, as in this case, sitting up. I cannot. The accompanying odor just from the chemicals was noxious. And every time anyone came down the aisle they bumped me.

Okay, I can deal with all of that. But for 6 hours! After just a few hours, I had a headache from the fumes. Then I got annoyed at all the folks bumping me. After the food service it seemed as if everyone had to go to the toilet! I began to suspect they were just circling around in an endless parade. The fight attendants, who were not very friendly in the “friendly skies”, maybe they’d had a hard day too, let them stand in the aisle 10-12 deep. I didn’t think they were supposed to. (Those of us “in the back” are not allowed to use the first class toilet. Don’t get me started…) And, of course, the flight attendants still had to do their thing so they would squeeze by those in line. Those in line had to move somewhere so they moved into me! Brother! (Remember, I told you I believe each airline has a committee that thinks of ways to make travel more unpleasant? Well, they should get a bonus for that trip!)

About 4 hours into the flight, I got the giggles. I was struck by how absurd it all was. There was not a thing I could do about it! And I was reading an excellent historical novel about, of all things, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians. A good treatment of a very grim event that so few know much about.

As we landed I called my wonderful travel agent in Boston and asked why I had been assigned those seats. She apologized and said she had been trying to get us moved away from the toilets and closer to the front but United was just hard to work with – I don’t have status with them as I do with Delta or USAirways. So I reminded her I would be doing the same trip this week and be sure I got a better seat. She said she had already been working on it.

We were the last to get off the plane and dear Anne’s suitcase wheels had a mind of their own. Like the grocery cart with one weird wheel I always manage to find. Well, we really got the giggles over that! People probably thought we were drunk – laughing, stumbling over this obstinate suitcase, unable to get ourselves together…What a sight!

What a flight! (in the back)

I had a few days home to do my laundry, see my grandkids and repack to go back out to San Diego to speak for the crisis pregnancy center in Escondido. Wonderful event. From there I rented a car and drove up to Riverside to stay with my friends, Tony and Angela Ferraro. He is on my Ruth Graham Ministries board as well as being a good friend and trusted advisor. He and Angela are a dynamic couple with big hearts for ministry. His first book, Killing Cows, is due out before Christmas. I’ll let everyone know. Until then I’ll let you guess what it is about!

Then I attended and participated in the Raw Church Unconference at Sandals Church, Riverside. David Vigil, Blaine Bartel, Ed Gungor, Michael Cheshire, Ted and Gayle Haggard, C.J. Chaung and others were there to discuss the restoration process in the Church for leaders who fail. We discussed race and how to gracefully address that as well as same-sex attraction, among other topics. The conference was a safe place to discuss these sensitive, difficult issues. There was good stuff. What I took away was that it all boils down to “relationship” – with God, each other regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, religion…and that sin is an opportunity to show God’s grace. We are not called to be judges but to love each other.

I am not talking “woo woo” stuff but hard-core love when it hurts. I’ll write more about this later…but I want to tell you about my flight home…

This morning I was up early to catch my return flight from San Diego. (I drove down from Riverside last night, turned the car in, and got a hotel room and some snacks for supper so I would be close to the airport this AM.) Boy! I am thankful I don’t have to drive in California regularly!

I checked in for my flight but it was going to charge me for my checked luggage. So I had to iron that out – because I have the United credit card I don’t have to pay the fee. But I noticed on the seat chart that I was in the very last row back by the toilets. Again! But this time I was by the window. Land-locked! Brother. I asked the agent if there was a better seat. He said only middle seats were left and the plane was full. I was not happy. But I determined to try to make the best of it. I had a good book in hand. My nut mix and a bottle of water. This trip would only be 4 hours.

I keep telling God I want an airplane but He is not impressed!! And I don’t really want one – just the use of one!!!

A nice man was standing in the back and I asked him if he’d help me put my bag up top. He was more than willing and volunteered that he would help me get it down. I settled into my seat. Soon I realized that he was to be sitting in the aisle seat of my row. We commented that these really were the worst seats on a plane but at least we weren’t walking! Or riding a donkey or in a cart – like so many dear missionaries have to do. We both said we hoped no one was going to sit in the middle seat but it was too good to hope for. He happened to place the book he was reading down on the middle seat – it was written by my nephew – Tullian Tchividjian!

I had to comment! Now, if it had been one by my father, I would not have said anything but “Tchividjian” is a far cry from “Graham” and figured he’d never put the pieces together. I told him Tullian was my oldest sister’s son. He actually hadn’t read Tullian’s biography so didn’t even think of the Graham connection. We chatted as the passengers continued to get settled. Soon we realized no one was going to sit in the middle seat! God is good.

This man, Dave, was on his way back from a surfing trip to Hawaii. He is connected with Campus Crusade and is interested in reaching professors on college campuses. He played soccer for Yale, lives in Northern Virginia, was saved in his mid twenties, has a very tender heart for the things of God, 3 kids and happily married to a lovely wife. It was such a thrill to have sweet fellowship all the way across the country. He had great stories – that I can use for my next book as well as some contacts and resources for my ministry. (It didn’t take him long to put my pieces together and seemed blessed by it. He was really cool about it. Didn’t get all excited but seemed to have a deep appreciation and respect for my father.)

When he texted his wife, she said she had heard Anne, read Gigi’s book Weather of the Heart and had ordered In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart! Small world.

As the flight attendants served the snacks you pay for these days she said she would give them to us since we were in the “crappy” seats. She made up for the flight attendants of last week!!

So that’s what happened as I traveled in the back of the plane!