A three-hour trek up rugged, remote terrain proved no match for one man intent on meeting his World Vision-sponsored child and sharing Christ's love with the whole community.
Richard Felipe, a Union Rescue Mission development officer, stands with his sponsored child, 12-year-old Richard Bwambale, in Bundibugyo, Uganda. Felipe took a journey of faith by hiking for three hours through a steep and remote mountainous area to reach the isolated village. © 2007 World Vision staff
As a development officer with Union Rescue Mission who has an office on Los Angeles' Skid Row, Richard Felipe encounters some of the worst forms of poverty nearly every day.
But when the chance came for him to travel to Uganda to meet his sponsored child, he could hardly wait.
'The harvest is vast'
Felipe says the fact that there is dire poverty right here in the United States should never deter us from extending a hand to those overseas — especially when there is an opportunity to share the gospel.
"We need to do everything we can to share the Good News. The harvest is vast, but the workers are few," he says, making reference to children and families all across the world whose dire situations can be used to reflect God's love and compassion to those in need.
What Felipe had not counted on was the remoteness of the village in Bundibugyo, western Uganda, where his sponsored child, 12-year-old Richard Bwambale, lives.
A journey taken in faith
Felipe was faced with a steep, three-hour climb up a dirt mountain track. He was nursing a double hernia at the time and says his doctor certainly would not have approved of the attempt.
"Usually, I am a very rational person, weighing out the cost, examining the worst-case scenario — but this time, it was all faith," he says.
The welcome he got on arrival made it all worthwhile. For many children, it was the first time they had seen a white person.
"They could not have been more excited if I was Brad Pitt," he says.
A witness to Christ's love
Richard Felipe gathers with the children of Bundibugyo, who wave for the camera. During his visit, Felipe had the opportunity to tour the village and see how World Vision Child Sponsorship had benefited these youngsters and the community in general.
© 2007 World Vision staff
His sponsored child was shy at first but became intrigued when Felipe was astonished to discover he still had mobile phone coverage. The boy took the chance to make his first-ever phone call to his sponsor's son, Duke, also 12, with whom he has exchanged letters.
Later, Felipe was able to share with villagers how God had put their needs on his heart and how this was evidence of God's love and faithfulness. He also got to tour the village and learn of the benefits brought by World Vision Child Sponsorship
. These included construction of schools, AIDS prevention education, and instruction of improved farming methods.
He was especially impressed with a new schoolroom in Bundibugyo funded by World Vision but constructed by locals. It took several years to complete the construction, as building materials had to be carried on villagers' heads up the mountainside.
Felipe says appreciation for education in the village was huge, and children were acutely aware of the need to do well at school.
"The most common prayer request I had from children was that they get good grades," he says.
>> Read an eNews article
about an 11-year-old Ethiopian girl whose World Vision sponsorship helped her avoid early marriage and continue her education.
>> Learn about a girl in the Philippines
who graduated as valedictorian of her elementary school, thanks to World Vision Child Sponsorship, which covered the costs of her education.
Two ways you can help
>> Praise God for Richard Felipe's steadfast faith, which enabled him to reach his sponsored child's village and testify to Christ's unconditional love and compassion for those in need. Pray that World Vision Child Sponsorship would continue to bring hope to children around the world who need it most.
>> Sponsor a child today. Your support will directly change his or her life and bring hope to an entire community.