OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS SAM MCKEE | EPIKOS CHURCH
It’s completely crazy, and totally wonderful. How do you fall in love with people you’ve never met?
Whenever Epikosians (people who attend Epikos Church in Vancouver, Washington) hear the word Uganda, they spontaneously and enthusiastically break into a smile and become financially generous. Why? There are 57 reasons (actually more, but let’s start with 57).
He was 12 when he arrived at the M25 Orphanage as one of our “adopted” sons. His father had been killed by rebels who had slipped across the border from Congo. His mother passed away after a courageous struggle with AIDS. He was left alone. Until a tribal leader took him to our orphanage.
M25 is the official name of the orphanage. It’s short for Matthew 25 where Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you’ve done it to one of the least of these, you have done it to me.”
When Epikos Church started in 2008, we decided to choose one spot on the earth that desperately needed God’s love. We would adopt the people there. Get to know them. Find out who they are, what they love, what they’re afraid of, what they hope for, what they need.
Instead of mission tripping to Costa Rica this year, Mexico next year, and Haiti the year after that, we decided to pour as much love as we could into one place year after year after year. We chose the zero-income village of Ntandi, Uganda. (Google it and see what you find!)
Over the past seven years, Epikos Church has poured somewhere around $400,000 into Ntandi to create and staff the orphanage, to erect buildings, to buy books, shoes, medications, water filtration, Bibles, and sports equipment. The money flows out of hearts that have fallen in love with the children, the caregivers, the teachers, and everyone who calls Ntandi home. Every February, a team from Epikos visits our sons and daughters in Uganda.
NO LONGER ORPHANS
What are we most proud of? Those 57 precious kids who call M25 their home. At Epikos we sing a song that says God “makes the orphan a son and daughter.” We’re obeying a command and fulfilling promise. We don’t call our children orphans. They are the sons and daughters of Epikos because they have a heavenly Father and a spiritual family that prays for them by name and will help them find their place in this world and beyond.
Which leads to our investment year program: When our sons and daughters finish secondary school, they enter an investment year. During that year, they apprentice at three different places. They can shadow the medical personnel at a clinic, assist a teacher, learn accounting, or help on a farm. They also read 12 books that give them a wider world perspective. At the end of the year, they tell us what they want to become, and Epikos Church helps them make it happen.
Malikewa is 18 now. He has just finished his investment year and is beginning his studies to become a registered nurse. “I am so thankful”, he wrote recently to his sponsor, “for the great help you have given me. You healed me from suffering by lack of food. You have really changed my life to a happy life now. I have nothing to give you except to pray for you that God will bless all of your plans. I will never be tired of thanking God for all of my friends at Epikos Church.”
Fifty-six more children are depending on us, and we will not let them down. They are our sons and daughters. We love them and we pray for them every day. We are committed to helping them become the men and women that God created them to be.
You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried. I’m so glad that God called us to start a church that reaches people who need Jesus while obeying His call to help those who can’t help themselves.
So here’s a question: What about you? Perhaps God is calling you to show some courage and start a church that changes the story for hundreds of people. Or maybe He wants you to make a donation that changes the game for Mission Catalyst.
Are you willing? Thanks for saying Yes!