When we discovered that Layla had a brother and a sister, our hearts broke. Not only had we separated the three siblings, but two of them were barely surviving. Thankfully, we were able to place them in boarding school where their basic needs are met. Still, Farida and Isma didn’t have anyone to tuck them in at night, and when school holidays came around, they didn’t have a home to go to or bed to sleep in.
Last Christmas break, all of the students left school to spend the month with their families. Without a place to go, Farida and Isma stayed at the school alone, taken care of by a teacher. Their father loves them very much but has neither the resources nor the room for children. As mentioned in the first blog, Farida and Isma’s late mother’s family also does not have a proper home. The family—all 15 of them—live in a single house made of mud. How could we ask them to take in two more children? The grandparents love Farida and Isma and hated that they couldn’t care for them, but there is nothing they can do. We were at a loss. Their boarding school fees were all we could afford. While not the ideal situation, it was what we could do in our own strength. Over the years, however, I’ve learned that when I am at a loss, God tends to remind me just how powerful He is.
As their Christmas break neared, my heart broke for Farida and Isma. All of their friends were about to go home, but Farida and Isma were going to spend the holiday alone. I knew what we needed—the funds to build the maternal family a home. With a new house, Farida and Isma would have a safe, loving place to go during the holidays, but we didn’t have the resources to build a home big enough for 17 people! I prayed and prayed that God would do something, anything. Do you ever pray—not for anything specific—but just for more of Him? That He would do what only He can do?
“I used to believe that prayer changes things,
but now I know that prayer changes us,
and we change things.”
Sometimes I pray, and it’s as if I’m waiting for something magical to happen. Like God is going to snap his fingers, and a brand-new house will appear. But, that’s not how God works. God works in the hearts of people—that’s when the “magic” does happen. After constant prayer for help, I got a call out of the blue. A couple had heard the story of Layla’s family, and God began working on their hearts. When they called, they told me they wanted to build her family a new house! A new house, big enough for all 17 people. And not just something to get them by, but a house that will stand for generations and generations—that will change the course of this family forever. I was reminded not only of the power and wonder of our God, but of the power of saying “yes” to God. One couple saying “yes” had just performed a miracle for a family they had never met.
We immediately got to work. We wanted a video of the family being told about the house to show the couple who donated the money. Coincidentally, a dear missionary friend of ours, John, was in Uganda at the time. John and his wife, Naomi, lived next door to us during the year we lived in Uganda. They were our family for that year. They were there the day we met Layla and the day we had to leave Layla in Uganda while we started the adoption process in America (still the hardest day of my life). They saw Layla at her worst and helped us care for her when she was most vulnerable. So, we asked John if he could be the one to tell Layla’s family for us. As he gave them the news, they cheered and cried out of joy! But God wasn’t done yet. While there, John also prayed with them and led the entire family to Christ! John, one of the only people in the world to know the extent of Layla’s story, is the man God chose to forever change her family’s lives. God orchestrated this beautiful story years and years ago. God somehow placed Eric and I, from Lubbock, Texas, and John Faull, from Australia, in the same village in Uganda and at the same time in 2012. Five years later, God used that connection to bring 15 people to Christ. If you, like me, ever question God’s plan, know that it is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
There was still one more need to be met, but we knew that it was going to have to wait. We wanted to do something for Layla’s biological father. He had nothing. His job paid very little, and his house was just a single, small room. He didn’t have any form of transportation and had to walk 24 miles one way just to visit Farida and Isma—which he did. We needed to get him a motorcycle and some money to start his own business. Again, how were we to ask someone for that kind of money? Dr. Jackson—the man who oversees all our projects in Uganda—told me: “Do not ask people. Ask God.” So that’s what I did. Not long after, I received another out-of-the-blue phone call from a couple. All this time, God had been working on their hearts too, and they asked how they could help Layla’s family. Just like that, another miracle was performed! Not only did they want to help him with a motorcycle and starting a business, but they also wanted to help pay for Farida and Isma’s school fees!
Over and over, God has exceeded my expectations. It reminds me of the story of Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah left this earth, God gave Elisha a “double portion” of the spirit that God had given Elijah. That is the type of God I serve. He doesn’t give me half or just enough of what I need; He goes far beyond what I could ever imagine. Not even a year ago we were trying to figure out how we could afford to put Farida and Isma in school. Now, they have school paid for, their grandparents have a new house, their father has a job and transportation, and they have a place to call home. Most importantly, though, they now know Christ and know that they are sons and daughters of the King.
Ask for the big things. Ask God for a double portion. Ask him to go beyond what you can imagine.