The story of Sozo Children is a story of clearly divine steps of faith and countless miracles by the hand of God. This utterly amazing account of what has unfolded in such a short span of time gives us great confidence in God for all that He has in store for the ministry of Sozo Children. This brief narrative will explain the great and mighty work of our faithful Father fighting for the fatherless.
Over the last decade, Suzanne Owens has built relationships with missionaries across the world while working as a Missions Coordinator through a local church. Places such as Costa Rica, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and more have been areas of focus. Leading up to the birth of Sozo Children, two recent college graduates, left their respective careers to follow a call from God to become full-time missionaries in Kampala, Uganda. No plans were in place to start any ministry. They were merely going to serve and listen. However, once on the ground, their ministry focus became feeding starving orphans in a corrupt orphanage that was taking advantage of the children and the funds they were given. Soon after, the government became aware of the situation. Suzanne and the two missionaries proposed to take as many of the youngest children as possible and provide them a loving, Christ-centered home and family. On the afternoon of May 13, 2010, seventeen malnourished and sick children were taken into a home and placed in the care of newly hired Ugandan mothers and fathers. Sozo Children was born.
“Sozo” is a Greek word found numerous times in the New Testament meaning “to save; to nurture; to rescue; both physically and spiritually.” The vision and sole reason of Sozo Children’s existence is to glorify God. The mission, which will accomplish the vision, is to save children in need, build communities, and connect individuals. The goal of Sozo Children is for every child, community, and individual to experience the love of God the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Sozo Children’s mission statement is “to glorify God by interceding on Christ’s behalf to save children in need, build communities, and connect individuals to all experience the love of Jesus Christ.” This will be explained in more detail throughout the narrative timeline.
Sozo Children worked throughout the year to meet all the formal requirements and gain all the legal approval it needed to be an internationally recognized and credible non-profit organization. An Annual General Meeting was held in Uganda in November of 2010, which officially involved the community, police officers, social workers, and government officials in the vision of Sozo Children. Corporation in the State of Alabama and United States Government was established in same month. Sozo was granted a tax identification number while commencing the 501(c)3 pursuit. Soon after, In May of 2011, Sozo Children was approved by the Ugandan government as an official Non-Government Organization. Sozo set up a child sponsorship program to connect American families with the Ugandan children and to provide the funding that was needed to meet all the children’s needs. On August 1st, 2011, Sozo Children was able to rescue nineteen more children out of a desperate situation and place them in a newly established home. Then on January 13th, 2012, an additional home was opened to house teenage boys with little hope. Hope is being restored. With all those elements in mind, here will be presented the vision of Sozo.
The following is the vision for Sozo Children's future: Currently, Sozo Children has begun the search for land in order to bring forth the full ministry envisioned. Sozo is striving to purchase between 50 and 150 acres of land. The acquisition of the land will enable the following construction projects to be set into motion: twenty-eight children’s homes, a team dorm, a church, a school, and a medical clinic. The homes will house twelve children each with a Ugandan mother and father figure. Each home will be in a complete community of seven homes, with one figure over each community to provide accountability. The school will be a quality education facility accessible to the surround communities. The church on the property would operate as the main means of ministry, serving the children while spiritually nourishing the congregation. Both the church and school would be open to the community. The children, in turn, would serve the community through the church. A cross-cultural mix of medical specialist will staff Sozo’s medical clinic. Partnerships with American Universities will ensure that the clinic will be properly and efficiently run to provide the best care to both the children and the community. The groundbreaking goal is summer 2014 and will mark an important milestone in Sozo’s vision.
At its core, Sozo Children strives to make, not just disciples, but disciple-makers. This will be accomplished by planting children homes that will foster the development of a child in a holistic manner. These homes are family units, not dormitories. These are families, not orphanages. The biblical model of family invests in a child relationally, educationally, emotionally, and spiritually which in turn gives them full identity in themselves, their family, and, ultimately, their God. Sozo Children raises these children today in their culture, by their own culture, to be tomorrow’s leaders of their culture. All homes are run by local Ugandan Christian men and women who have a true and undeniable passion to see children grow in Christ.
On the property, Sozo Children will implement a sustainability program that not only feeds and regenerates the homes, but also teaches the children life skills. For a basic example, producing crops feeds the children, workers, and farm animals, and also allows them to learn about farming and raising livestock. Older children learn the art of brick making and woodwork to provide supplies to build structures and furniture. Hence, in addition to meeting their immediate needs, Sozo will also meet their long-term needs by teaching the children valuable trades they can use in the future to provide for themselves, while also helping to sustain the homes in the process.
Sozo’s approach to the community is one that empowers culture, avoiding major influence of American culture. When building projects take place, jobs will be created by the need of skilled work, and local community members will fill them. These will economically boost the area. Sozo will send mission teams to work alongside the community, building relationships and sharing the gospel of Christ with others. Each team will make a contribution to the project through financing and manpower. Whether it is relationships or construction, short-term impact applied to purposeful projects can produce eternal differences for each and every one of us.
The cost is great, but we are convinced that the heavenly rewards of eternal impact are far greater, and so we step forward in faith, eager to see the Lord move and work as He leads. Our hope is to expand the ministry of Sozo beyond the borders of Uganda to the areas mentioned above where we already have existing contacts. As the Lord expands Sozo’s ministry, we trust that He will lead us in fulfilling the vision, mission, and goal to which He has called us, all the while providing the means to do so. We eagerly look forward to the future ministry partnerships of Sozo Children, the harvesting of Kingdom fruit, and the glorification of our God in and through His church. Essentially, the Father is using His children to “sozo” His children and expand His heavenly family, and we want to continue to take part in this holy work.