- Elizabeth Whitworth
JUNE 2015 NEWS
WHAT DOES MATTHEW 25 LOOK LIKE? ELIZABETH WHITWORTH | ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
My first experience with Marriam was hearing her giggle at Kung Fu Panda. It was about three weeks ago. She was sitting on the sofa in my mom’s house in Vancouver, Washington. She had arrived the night before from the village of Ntandi, Uganda.
Marriam is 16. She was orphaned when she was three. She recalls that following her parents’ deaths, relatives intentionally crippled her so that she could beg for money in the streets. A few years ago, she became part of the family at the M25 orphanage in Ntandi, a zero-income village in western Uganda near the Congo border.
M25 is short for Matthew 25, a chapter in which Jesus tells us that how we treat people — especially those who are overlooked or ignored — is what matters in the end.
When Epikos Church launched in 2008, we knew that we had to prioritize those who were most vulnerable and who couldn’t help themselves. We were convinced that Matthew 25 is just as important as the ten commandments; but what was the best way to apply it? We decided to choose one spot on the earth that desperately needs God’s love and focus our energies and resources there.
We chose Ntandi. Since that decision, we at Epikos have sent more than $350,000 to make sure that the village has an orphanage where the kids are housed, clothed, and fed, and that the Christian school has sufficient facilities, supplies, and food. There is more work to do, but we are committed to serving the people of this village in every way that we can.
That brings us back to Marriam. When Ron Gladden visited Ntandi in 2012, he saw her crawling from place to place, not able to walk on her own. Right then and there, he vowed that Epikos would do whatever we could to help her.
On June 13, Marriam’s story was featured on the front page of the Vancouver newspaper, The Columbian. Click here to see the article.
We made sure that she got crutches as soon as possible. Then we got her a hand-powered cart to get around. She was taken to Kampala for medical evaluations. In 2013, we started the process of bringing her to the U.S. for treatment.
After spending two years fighting the red tape of two governments, we were thrilled that, on June 2, Marriam got off a plane in Seattle and ended up at my mom’s home in Vancouver, where she will stay for the next few months as she undergoes medical evaluations and treatment in the hopes that she will be able to walk. A local hospital is covering the costs of her care.
On June 6, Marriam attended Epikos Church for the first time. She was welcomed by the mayor of Vancouver and a host of joy-filled Epikosians. Some had met her in Ntandi, many had helped financially, and all had prayed for her and looked forward to this moment. Pastor Sam gave her a beautiful leather Bible. Marriam sang an original song that she wrote for the occasion, and the congregation prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
Will you join us in praying for Marriam? We know that God is able and willing to heal her completely. But we don’t know the manner and timing of her healing — whether it will be by medicine or miracle, whether it will be within months or when Jesus comes. But we will praise God regardless because it is truly just a matter of time until Marriam is whole.
Epikos is a faith-filled church, tackling huge obstacles because we know that God is even bigger. And Epikos strives to love the way God loves, aligning resources with priorities. We at Mission Catalyst are grateful to those who help us help Epikos and other churches reach their communities and well beyond with the love and hope of Jesus.
P.S. We could not do what we do without people like you. We appreciate your financial support. Thank you for helping Mission Catalyst create healthy, unselfish, growing churches! Click here to give.
P.P.S. Learn more about Epikos’ mission in Uganda.