Phiona and I have both been nostalgic lately thinking back on all that God has done from the beginning with our ministry, Kirabo Seeds. We have grown strong through a long difficult journey in a short time. Both of us are simply amazed at what God has given us to do as we care for fifteen orphaned children in our home in Uganda.
As I think about the birth of our ministry I am thankful I can recall a time when I sat alone in the wee hours of the morning with my bible, my journal and my heart wide open for the Lord to touch it. I was on the white sofa in the living room in our house in Katy, Texas. We were weeks away from receiving our court date to go to Uganda and adopt our little baby girl. I recall distinctly having the sensation of peace while realizing that God was calling us to have a children’s home and open a school in Uganda. It was a most absurd idea in that moment. Yet, this was answered prayer because we had prayed for months that God would show us what long term work we could do for him in Uganda. We wanted to hook our lives to the culture of our daughter and keep her Ugandan connection alive and real for her, for all of us. I laughed out loud at the thought of having an orphanage and school the same moment that Craig walked through the room to refill his coffee. I teased him, “God is letting me know we are going to open our own orphanage and school in Uganda.” I think he slumped his shoulders and dropped his head and muttered something like, “easy killer”.
That was his way of reminding me I have many zany ideas and wonderful impulses to spread my energy far and wide and what I should really do is focus on the task at hand. That task was our adoption. I shrugged and said, “it wasn’t my idea. I just thought I should tell you so that when it happens I can remind you that God said it was so long before the seed of a thought entered my mind.” He said, “it’s a good thing I love you.” I know I am a hand full for him. He handles me with expertise so I keep blooming. Sometimes his handling is a careful pruning and I am always willing to take the cut knowing how it produces more blossoms. Other times he sets me free.
We had decided to name our baby Kirabo, which means gift in the Lugandan language. She was a gift in more ways than we’ll ever know. She is a reminder of the love of Jesus that changed our lives with the gift of salvation. And here again we were receiving a gift, a daughter meant for us born to another woman on another continent. Our connection felt like a miracle, and at least the sweet gift.
After we returned from our adoption and baby Kira was asleep in her crib at the far end of the house I sat again on the white sofa with my bible and prayer journal. During our six week adoption visit we committed to helping a group of orphans we met and we were beginning to wonder if we should start a nonprofit. These were private wonderings and as I mused about what that would mean in our lives the phrase Kirabo Seeds settled over me with the comfort of a blanket. I was reading John 15 about the spiritual vine bearing spiritual fruit. The greatest gift is our salvation and the seeds that come from our sweet gift from God of our little girl would be spread in a garden God would design. There could be fruit produced through us in the work of orphan care. We could help plant these seeds and watch the Master Gardener make them grow, using us as for his will to prune, weed, water, and hoe. Nothing grows without light and Jesus is the light of the world. My entire Christian life grew from the one seed of faith I put in Jesus. If we have an organization where many can plant seeds to help orphans, I could only imagine what would grow.
The name Kirabo Seeds settled over me weeks before the lawyer gave Craig a list of requirements to fill in the blanks as we established a nonprofit to help orphaned children in Uganda. “He said we need a name for the nonprofit.” I smiled and replied, “I’ve already got one. Kirabo Seeds.” I didn’t need to explain it to Craig, he’s known my fascination with gardening for many years and it made perfect sense. We had been called to plant a new garden from the gift.
A year into operating our nonprofit, a year filled with unbelievable twists, drops, highs and stalls Craig and I were on our Friday date waiting for our meal. We were working on defining our mission statement for our ministry. He asked me, “what is the goal of caring for orphaned children?”
I had been reading Hebrews twelve that morning, and this is what popped out of my mouth before I ever took a moment to think about his question, “a harvest of righteousness.” That got my husband’s attention. He sat a little straighter and said, “that’s better than what I could come up with.” I said, that’s because God said it in my bible study this morning. Well there you go, we will aim to raise a harvest of righteousness.
This morning at 4:am I couldn’t sleep so with my bible and journal in my lap I was struck by a verse I have overlooked many times in my reading. My good friend mentioned she helped her daughter through a hard time and it was Isaiah 61 that she held onto tightly, so I wanted to see what was in that chapter that had so much influence and power for her. When I read verse three the whole earth stopped moving for just a moment. “They will be called oaks of righteousness a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Why are we raising a harvest of righteousness by doing the work of orphan care on the other side of the planet? To display the SPLENDOR of the Lord. Chapter 61 ends with verse 11, “For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”
That was rich like a soft chocolate truffle in my mouth. I got excited and hungry for more. I decided to do a search with the phrase “harvest of righteousness” and see what there is in the bible. I found three key verses. So I flipped through my old tattered bible with my notes and I looked them up and studied the whole context of the verses.
In James 3 verses 13-18 he talks about two kinds of wisdom. It ends by saying in verse 18, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” With all the trouble we have been through to learn how to do orphan care wisely in Uganda the reminder for making peace was significant and humbling. We have to be making peace to keep our sights on raising a harvest of righteousness. I humbled myself again and said, “yes Lord, I will keep my anger in check and step aside for you to take care of the lawbreakers. I will focus my vision on the children and team, and give all our trouble to you.”
I returned to the verse where I originally felt the full weight of raising a harvest of righteousness. I read it again with fresh eyes, Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Stunned I marveled how the Lord was putting together for us the directions on the path he is taking us. I am not following blindly, he is giving me clear directions and showing me the way. This was so exciting.
Finally, I turned to 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 on the subject of sowing generously. This touched me in the tender parts of where I know I have given my whole life to this ministry and I feel a little war torn. I’ve laid it down and said “please use all my gifts and talents for this garden you are planting.” When I read verses 9 and 10, “ As it is written: ’He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
What does all this mean to me? I am so secure in my position in this ministry. There are no doubts, no regrets. I am under the wing of almighty God. He has had the plan from the beginning and he is showing us the way to go. I don’t have to come up with the plan! I don’t have to know the way I only have to follow Him. If we do what is RIGHT in the eyes of the Lord according to his word, the children will learn it and it will multiply for generations beyond them. I will simply begin my day with the same request that Solomon made in 2 Chronicles 1:10, “give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead this people.” … and I will personalize it by finishing with…as I follow you God. These are the reminders and encouragements I take away from this energizing bible study today…
This work is to display the splendor of the Lord…. We must sow in peace… discipline produces the harvest… continue to be generous with all that is in me to serve with this cause because God will refill the store of seeds… all because I placed a mustard seed of faith in the hands of the Master gardener, Jesus Christ, He can grow this garden.
When I am confused or overwhelmed what do I recall? Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Today I feasted on the Word of God.