I did not go looking for a refugee family in Africa to adopt. They found me. It started as just an ordinary writing assignment for an ever curious storyteller and blossomed into a life altering relationship orchestrated by the ONE who answers our prayers. The thing is, I had never prayed to adopt a refugee family from Africa. God, what are you up to?
I did however pray to be used in a mighty way by the Lord. When missionary friends from Greenwood, Indiana returned from Uganda to give a report to our church, Justin ended the report by telling us how God surprised him most of all with the refugees. He said they were sick and dying and desperate but most of all they just wanted someone to sit with them and listen to their story. Tears started rolling down my face and I told the Lord that I could do that and so God orchestrated an encounter and He writes the script day by day.
The Right Partner
Reviewing photos from a year in the life of this refugee family, their story must be told. I am a single, childless, semi-retired woman of meager means who has struggled for years to make a living after a head injury in 2006. I seemed to have a lot of what nobody wanted and I prayed earnestly for God to use it. Don’t think you can’t make a life-altering, significant impact in this world even when you have challenges in taking care of yourself. You just need the right person to partner with and back your desire.
Slow to Catch On
Jerry and I were conversing as we do daily on WhatsApp. He said he needed a break as he needed to shower in order to cool down and the baby seemed to be suffering in the extreme heat. They do live along the equator. Eight of them live in a tiny three room flat. There is no air conditioning, there are few windows to open, they are piled on top of each other, they cook a one-pot meal of beans on a charcoal fire every day. There is no refrigerator, no stove and they are lucky to have indoor plumbing and the cockroaches keep them awake at night.
Hot and Hungry
“Jerry, do you have a fan?” I typed. “No mother we do not, ” Jerry typed in reply. “Well let’s fix that right now,” I typed. Having conversed daily for over a year, I was slow to catch on to some of their basic needs. They never ask for anything nor complain about their lack. I had agreed to pay for the education of their two oldest children and we continually brainstorm ways to make a living in a place where even a well educated refugee is never hired for the few jobs that are available. I missed the obvious that they were hot and hungry.
At Christmas I asked Jerry what I could do for them that would be special. Jerry replied, “in the eleven years we have been in exile, I have never been able to take my family out for a meal. I would like to take them to the International shopping mall to look at the sights and then share a meal together.” And so we planned and prepared for the day. December 23rd was Anna’s first birthday and the perfect day to combine the celebration of Christ’s birth with the birthday of the little one. They dressed in their finest clothes and boarded a taxi as a family of eight. Jerry and his wife Zawadi have 4 children and they care for Jerry’s half-sister Emiliane and they also took in Tumaini, a young neighbor child when she lost her parents. And what did they eat – but pizza, soda and birthday cake!
“Jerry, people in the US often ask me why you got married and had children when life is so impossibly hard for a refugee,” I typed. Jerry typed in reply, “my wife and I had a great desire to have a family of our own. We are both refugees who had to flee from our homes due to the violence in our home country of DR Congo. We had lost most all of our families to brutal torture and murder. Once settled as a refugee in Uganda, I had the good fortune to be given the funding for a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from a very generous person I had worked with short term. I was certain that with a good education, I could work to support my family.”
Typing Through Tears
Jerry continued typing through tears, “In the eleven years we have been in exile in Uganda, I have never been able to get a full-time job. I have short-term employment but it never leads to anything steady. Refugees are second class citizens, except we are not citizens at all. We have no country, no papers, no citizenship, no freedom, no options. Again I was fortunate to have created an organization which helped refugee youth with entrepreneurial ventures and we were funded for several years by the UHHCR (the UN organization that manages refugees worldwide.) This allowed me to rent a flat, put my children in school and keep us fed. The funding stopped in 2017 and things became quite desperate. Knowing what I know now, I would have never married and had children if I knew I would live in these conditions and not be able to care for my family. I have not lost hope yet, but it makes me very sad that I am not in a position to financially provide for my children. The Lord answered our desperate prayers with you, Mother.”
I See Hope
Through my eyes, I see hope for Jerry and his family. They desperately desire a mother figure and there is enormous respect for the wisdom of elders. At times I wonder how I can continue this support and I am reminded that God orchestrated this and it is not my stress and pressure to do this in my own power. To be used by God means that HE is in the driver’s seat. It is quite humbling to be chosen to be used in this way. The joy I receive knowing the impact of something so simple as a fan to cool the body in stifling conditions to providing education to children who cherish every moment they they are in school is a God-given privilege.
Want To Join In?
You too can start a Christ-centered relationship with a family who desperately needs you. You can be the answer to their desperate prayers. I simply love the miraculous-ness of it all. Learn first hand how a simple electric fan can make all the difference. Education is valued and if we are going to bring a different way of life to the next generation, it begins with education and living out Christian principles. There is one special family out of the millions who are praying for you to be their answered prayer. We can introduce you to those in need.
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a freelance journalist connecting people through the stories they tell. I am also a woman chosen by God to answer the desperate prayers of a family of a different culture in a foreign land thousands of miles away.
Read the entire African Refugee series at TheStoryTeller.net