I grew up in a small community in East Texas. Despite my parents’ excellent work ethics, my family and I lived paycheck-to-paycheck during the good times. Sometimes there was no paycheck. Sometimes there was no electricity or running water. Often I was grateful for the free breakfast and lunch I received at school. We were poor at times, but then the tide would turn, a new job would come up, and things would get better for a while. The crazy thing is, even though times were difficult, I didn’t feel as though things would never change. I always felt hope.
My parents instilled in me the hope that having an education would lead me toward opportunities and choices for my future. I never feared that I wouldn’t have the chance to receive an education. The bus picked me up at my house and brought me home every day. I had a warm breakfast and lunch that followed the healthy food group guidelines each day. It was free for the taking, and I never took it for granted. Thinking of my educational opportunity filled me with hope. My parents taught me that Jesus loves me, and I grew up knowing that there will always be hope in Him. Despite my financial circumstances at the time, the hope kept the despair at bay.
Hope is what drives my passion for the work The Mandate is doing. During my recent visit to Uganda, it was the theme of every testimony or tear-filled “thank you” that I heard.
“The food gives me hope that we will not go hungry day after day.”
“Thank you and to God for the mattress for my old bones.
I know I will sleep without as much pain from the floor.”
“The Mandate support helps me get my education so I can have a job and take care of myself.”
In Iganda, Uganda, education is not free. There is no public transportation to go to the doctor. There are no free food assistance cards. If your father cannot work, is not in the home, or if you are fully or even partially orphaned, the chances of you getting an opportunity for education are
very slim. If you are a girl, you will be married off at around 13 or 14 years old. If you are a boy, you’ll start farming the best you can or go to work by 10 years old. You’ll walk a mile or more to get dirty water. You are very unlikely to hear the Good News that Jesus loves you and wants to be your Savior. You could die from what we would consider a minor illness. That’s it. That is your life.
I like to think of The Mandate as a “Hope Conduit.” We know that the ultimate hope is in Christ, and our number one goal is to introduce Jesus and the salvation that comes through Him. Still, the Bible tells us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27, and “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17
Hope is providing fresh water for healthy bodies. Hope is facilitating an opportunity for education. Hope is learning about Jesus from Sunday School or the loving actions of others. Hope is having food supplements for the elderly, widows, and young children. Hope is job training. Hope is having someone say, “I care about you.”