Each day in Uganda was greeted with unexpected visitors who I had the privilege of interviewing. I was continually surprised by the inspiring stories I heard from so many people involved in Young Life, but there was one specific story I would never forget.
Sharon, a DGL (Developing Global Leaders) student, sat before me nervous as we started the introductions. Because of Sharon’s timidity, I was curious to see how this interview would go, but I realized I shouldn’t be fooled by Sharon’s coyness; she is brave, passionate and changing lives as we speak.
In between studying for class, voluntarily taking a course in sign language to speak to her friend who is deaf, and helping her family, Sharon spends her extra time volunteering with Capernaum ministry. Sharon describes her passion for working with kids with special needs as a calling from God. When I asked how she knew this was from God, she said, “in our communities these people are outcasts. Most of the population wants nothing to do with them. They are sometimes tied up on trees and rejected by everyone. Some people are even afraid of them and think they are demon possessed. I knew it was a calling from God because I couldn’t stop the burning desire to go and help these people when everyone else was saying no.” Life for these children looks like rejection, isolation and usually self-loathing.
Sharon frequently visits a village far out of the city where she knows many kids by name who experience various disabilities. She saves money to pay for rides to visit this particular village. One day, Sharon visited the village and walked around until she found a child who had a cleft lip. She went into the home to speak to the mother of this child. The mother told Sharon that the father believed the mother was possessed because she produced a child with a cleft lip. So in response, he left her for another woman and abandoned the family. The mother and child were not only rejected by the father, but the entire community avoided them out of fear of “getting” whatever was wrong with this child. Sharon was the first to go into their home voluntarily. Sharon told the mother that cleft lip is a common defect that is reversible. She promised the mother that she could help the child if she allowed. Through her connection to an organization that helps children with special needs, Sharon ended up getting the child the surgery needed.
When she brought the child back to the mother after surgery, the mother could not believe it; nor could anyone else in the community. It was a miracle. After word got out that the child was healed, the father reunited with the family. Now, they are all are back under one roof.
Through the Holy Spirit’s work and Sharon’s obedience, this community has now learned that all is not lost for those with disabilities. Sharon not only educated this community, but she showed God’s love through her compassion and pursuit of this rejected population.
Sharon is helping kids, families and educating communities one kid at a time. When I asked Sharon what the most challenging part of what she does is, she explained how difficult it is to walk away from families in need of things that could be such quick fixes. She said “I am only one person… with so little resources. It is difficult not to help everyone.” Some kids need wheelchairs, crutches, or a simple surgery, but their families do not have the resources to provide simple services. As a result, their children experience rejection and abandonment. Despite the overwhelming need, Sharon is committed to helping whom the Lord calls her to. And for that, I’m grateful!