Uganda. I met with him and shook his hand. He had a big smile and was filled with hope. He wasn't always like this though, when he was a young boy, he came home one day and found his father lying dead in his home after being murdered with a gun. His mother had watched it happen and suffered a heart attack and was now in the hospital. The boys aunt came over and attempted to comfort him, telling him to pray so his mom did not dies as well, but his anger and hurt caused him to just get out of there and lament. He knew things would be different, but how different?
About a week later and after mom was released from the hospital with failing health, their landlord gathered all seven of them up and told them they had to leave because he knew they would no longer be able to pay their next rent. They now would be sharing a 10x10 room that was extremely hot in the day and extremely cold at night. Each of them laying there hoping they would not attract malaria like their deceased friends from a mosquito bite. Now they would scavenge the trash dump for morsels of food and in desperate times risk stealing it.
Week after week of being able to provide minimal food and clothing for his sister and family, his hope was entirely taken. There seemed there would not be an end to such a circumstance. At the lowest point when he thought, "I don't think I can do this another day" and the violence and bitterness of his father's death still brewing inside. There was just nothing else he could physically or mentally do as a young boy that had already out-lived many of his friends. A 15 year old girl saw his picture on a table, picked it up and filled out a form to be his sponsor. He quickly went home to tell his family and in his words, "There was dancing of joy in the home."
She sent him a message and said things like, "I love you" and "I care for you." At first this was hard to believe but the more she wrote to him and said it over and over, his heart began to change. He would now be provided with schooling, clothing, and food. He told me, "My life was changed from that moment on."
At the project, they taught about Jesus and have an alter call every time. An one day he wanted to experience this relationship that had been talked about. He went forward and asked Christ to be the Lord of his life and he told me, "My life would never be the same." He forgave the person who had murdered his father and poured all he had into his studies. He excelled so much in character and academics that he was chosen to be part of a program that would pay for graduates to go to University.
At university he would do so well in accounting, after graduation, they asked if he would come back and teach other students. He would then become the pastor of his community. Feeling frustrated at his limited Bible knowledge, he would then become the recipient of free Bible training at Moody Bible Institute here in Chicago. An opportunity that very few receive. This is his last year at Moody and he plans to return to his country and bring change to his area. He is even exploring a new goal, possibly one day becoming president. Looking into his eyes, I believe he could make this dream a reality.
From hopelessness to big intentions over a period of a little over a decade and he attributes it all to one act. The act of someone far away selecting him and providing him with enough. Enough to make a difference in his life. A teenager making a choice that beyond her imagination would one day impact the landscape of an entire country. This is just a bit of the story of Mr. Richmond Wandera.
Good luck Richmond, I will be praying for you, your friends, your family, and your country.