If we were sitting together on the muzungu front porch in Uganda with coffee mugs in hand, this is what I’d tell you about Gladys— she loves big and she works hard. Gladys embodies the spirit of joy in a bold way and loves to spend time with her friends. If she came to join our conversation, you might never know the spiritual and emotional obstacles she’s had to face in her lifetime.
“I joined Sozo [Children] in 2012 when I was 8 years old,” Gladys told us. When she arrived, she spoke a different dialect and could hardly understand Luganda, but she remembers the first person who greeted her at our gates.
“Aggie comforted me when I first arrived. She said ‘make yourself at home, you are welcome here, you are one of us now—you are part of this family,’ and I was so happy to have someone there for me.” Gladys recalled.
Gladys is one of our amazingly strong and beautiful Sozo Children whose life started on a less than easy note. Her aunt didn’t always treasure her in that way she deserved. In many African countries, due to extreme poverty or harsh circumstances, parents and guardians who don’t have a relationship with God occasionally take desperate measures to seek wealth or healing. Gladys’ aunt turned to a local witch doctor when times got tough with intentions to target Gladys.
“I really struggled because I used to live with my auntie who wanted to sacrifice me for riches,” Gladys explained. She had trouble focusing in school due to spiritual attacks and harbored resentment towards her aunt who wished harm upon her.
Gladys recalls her transition to Sozo Children, “Aggie really helped me. I remember she would pray with me.”
We were never meant to walk this journey alone. When life gives us difficult hurdles, often we look to those who’ve overcome them before us. Role models, mentors, parents, and teachers are invaluable resources of wisdom. At Sozo Children we feel it's so important for our kids to see examples of Christ-centered Ugandan men and women like them who've walked a similar path and can empathize with their situations.
“Auntie Aggie is loving, caring, nice, and I love that she can recall all the kid’s names and knows them deeply.” Gladys told us. “I like her personality—she loves God, and loves kids.” Gladys said she wants to be just like Auntie Aggie because she has inspired her with what godly womanhood looks like.
"Discipleship to me means walking a journey of restoration and growth with an individual child, loving, guiding and leading them using the the truth in God's word,” noted Aggie.
So much of discipleship is walking through life together, in the valleys and on the mountain tops. In the Bible, we see a beautiful example of this—two women leaning on one another in the book of Ruth. What begins as a tragic loss, turns into a beautiful story of redemption. Throughout the four chapters, we watch as Ruth leans on the wisdom and guidance of Naomi, trusting that God is at work weaving a bigger story together for His purposes. Through their faithful obedience, God is able to bring restoration to their family—that ultimately leads to redemption for the whole world through the Messiah. This book reminds us that God is always in the details, even in the valleys when we can’t see the good.
After growing in her relationship with the Lord and with encouragement from her Sozo parents, in 2015, Gladys decided she was ready to finally forgive her aunt.
Now age 17, Gladys has aunties and moms through Sozo Children who walk alongside her, discipling her and encouraging her—they see her value and worth as a child of the most high. She is thriving in school and wants to become a social worker someday! We have total confidence that the Sozo parents will continue to help her reach this goal. Sometimes all it takes is one person who believes in you and is willing to cheer you on. There is power in having someone stand with you in the waiting, constantly pointing you to truth. He is in the details and we know He is continuing to write an amazing story for Gladys.