Mission: Empower the next generation through mentorship, discipleship, and education, to reach their maximum potential and lift themselves out of poverty.
Solution: 1. Encourage Spiritual growth by instilling Christian values and morals through spiritual retreats and outreach activities within the community. 2. Impart life skills and multicultural sensitivity, through bilingual education.
Next steps: 1. Build a team of prayer and financial partners 2. Return to the Honduran team for 2017-2018 year.
Mary McDonald is a SAMS Associate Missionary and a veterinarian. Recently, SAMS caught up with Mary after her recent mission to Uganda.
SAMS: Tell us about Gospel Goats and the need you saw in Uganda.
Mary: In Uganda, there are families who have been affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Men grew up as boy soldiers and women were abducted to be wives of officers. The majority have received little education about health and nutrition and many are living with HIV. I had a call to equip and empower this marginalized group in Uganda. Gospel Goats is a revolving goat loan program that does that. We teach health, nutrition, and care for the goats which helps these marginalized families on the path to financial and food security. They are able to breed the goats and sell the offspring. With each training, we teach the Gospel and love of Christ. The first goat that is born to those who went through the training is donated back to the program. They learn that they are blessed to be a blessing.
How has Gospel Goats and an education program impacted the region?
When we surveyed the area to start Gospel Goats, there was a school across from an Islamic institute. This school hardly had pencils to work with. I went to the Bishop of N. Uganda and asked about starting a Compassion International sponsorship program at this school. So we prayed that children would be sponsored, and in the first year, we had 200 students sponsored by our church in Virginia. When I returned this year, there were 115 more students sponsored. I discovered that people were taking their children out of the Islamic institute and bringing them to the school. The pastor and volunteers said that Compassion International paired with Gospel Goats has helped stop the spread of radical Islam in the area.
How have you seen God at work through the people in Uganda?
With each Gospel Goat training, we do a clear sharing of the Gospel story. At the end, we ask if anyone would like to receive Christ. At the last training, 15 people prayed to accept Christ. 150 people between the two projects have received Christ, including 5 Muslims. One individual told me that they have felt like the poorest in the community, but because of the gift of a goat they feel like God cares about them and that God is a living and tangible God who cares for both their physical and spiritual needs.
How can people who want to help get involved?
There are already many refugees in Uganda streaming in from the civil war in South Sudan. Now this region is facing an extreme drought and famine. In Uganda, families are losing their crops and livestock. This week, I received a letter from Bishop Johnson writing:
A humanitarian crisis is at our doors. We are trying to share the little we can but both the refugees and the host communities are facing starvation due to prolonged drought and the leading to a shortage of food. As a diocese, we are appealing to whoever can help us to support the refugees to do so now. Thank you for making the appeal on our behalf.
Please pray for the people in Uganda and all of Africa. Please give so others may live. Go to donate go to the SAMS-USA World Relief Fund and designate the country of Uganda in the comment box
or by check to P.O. Box 399 Ambridge, PA 15003.
SAMS provides educational grants for children who are a part of the SAMS community. A number of individuals have been impacted by the Undergraduate Educational Grant Fund, including Alyssa Fountain, a missionary kid who served with her parents in Uganda. In the following letter Alyssa expresses her thanks to those who have donated to this fund:
Dear SAMS Education Grant donors,
I’m writing to say a massive thank you. It feels like only fitting that I should update all of you on where I am given that you all had to read my applications for 3 years talking about my life plans and goals and everything!
You have watched me run through different career ideas with every new application. Last year, I finally decided on pursuing Social Work. It seemed to fit so well for me given my interests in counseling, working with kids, and making the world a better place. The pieces all fell into place in my decision to go this route during several nights of lying awake and staring at the ceiling until three in the morning. I applied, was admitted to, and accepted a place at the University of Denver to pursue a Masters in Social Work.
This past year (2016) I took a short leave of absence from school to do some personal healing and soul searching, but now I am about to resume classes on top of a full time job with clearer career goals in mind. I plan to work as a consultant to international schools and potentially mission boards on protection of expatriate kids, based on my own experiences. Things are falling into place quite nicely.
Thank you for the prayer, the support, and of course the finances! The grant that you all gave me helped me to pay for so many things, from living expenses, books for school, to fixing my car! I worked many hours and depended on this grant to help make life just a little easier.
So, to wrap this letter up with my favorite Ugandan blessing (from one of the Epistles, though I can’t remember which): “May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever.”
Robert is from Quito, Ecuador and Cameron is from Durham, NC. Their sending church is St. Matthew’s Spartanburg, SC. They are serving in Quito, Ecuador.
Cameron serves as the Director of the Short Term Ministry Department at Youth World. On average there are 300 people a year that come through this interdenominational para church organization to serve and to learn. She also teaches youth ministry and short-term mission classes with a youth ministry training and resourcing branch of Youth World.
Roberto serves as the Worship leader at an English speaking church, as well as a music ministry/ band called Gedeon. He also runs a Christian recording studio. Roberto has is degree in Pastrol theology from seminary school at SEMISUD in Ecuador.
They serve, intentionally forming relationships and discipling almost every socio-economic level in Ecuador from the poverty class (where the majority of the short-term teams and individuals minister) to middle class (training and resourcing youth ministries as well as local church bands that want to record worship music) to upper English speaking class (at the English speaking church).
They feel their ministry is to promote empowerment, discipleship, training, leadership development, opportunities to record music and song to further the gospel. They help support fellow NGO’s with video and music production so that they may further their ministries as well.
A special ministry program they have is a scholarship program called Education = Hope, which exists to provide for the education on children in desperate and difficult places.
God started calling me (Cameron) to the mission field in the fall of 1998. I was working as a full-time youth minister in SC and had a very skewed perception of what a missionary was (I thought they were doctors, teachers or Bible beating freaks) and the last thing I would ever want to be was a missionary! I was at a national youth worker’s convention when God, being much bigger and wiser than I am, began to change my perception of missionaries and the reality that someone with my gifts and passion could and perhaps even should go into mission. God opened the door to work with Youth World in Ecuador which exists to address the reality that 95% of the world’s trained youth leaders live in N. America working with roughly 5% of the world’s youth population. Our mission statement reads Youth World exists to identify, train and equip leaders to impact young people and their families to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
So my call was to continue in youth ministry, but in a different context. I was elated when I felt like God was calling me to Ecuador, for about three seconds, and then I was terrified. I did not speak Spanish, or even know where Ecuador was on a map! I spoke with my rector and he help set up a discernment committee, and then began conversations with SAMS about how to work with a multidenominational organization (like Youth World) but still stay linked to my Episcopal church and background.