By Carl Stagner
Poverty couldn’t stop her. Polio couldn’t hold her back. Preconceived notions of what women can and cannot do in society failed to suppress her spirit. Promise—on the other hand—promise of God’s love and hope for a bright future kept her going. Like all who fall under the watchful care and commitment of the Church of God child sponsorship ministry, Agnes Manahe found herself staring opportunity in the face. Fourteen years after becoming one of eight hundred children of promise in Uganda, this walking testimony is changing the world, one medical checkup at a time.
When Agnes started with Children of Promise in 2000, she was living in extreme poverty as one of seven children. Her father had died and her young mother was doing her best to sustain the home on twelve dollars each month. Through the work of Church of God missionaries, Children of Promise, and a vibrant Church of God infrastructure in Uganda, Agnes grew and developed into the young woman of God she is today.
“The motto for the Children of Promise ministry is Rescue, Restore, and Release,” Colleen Stevenson, Church of God missionary to Uganda and Children of Promise director in Uganda, explains. “Agnes has been rescued from a life of poverty and hardship, and restored through the church and the sponsorship program. Through love given from Christ, the Church, the sponsor, and the program, Agnes has seen her goals through to fruition and is now released into the community to serve and give back.”
Today her work takes her to medical clinics to serve the community in the name of Christ—medical clinics started by the Church of God in Uganda. These clinics are often the product of the progression of ministry expansion, beginning with the local church.” Kirk Bookout, development director at Children of Promise, explains that “they often plant a church, then they start a school, then they start a medical clinic. There are six medical clinics and nearly two hundred Church of God schools in Uganda today. A big thanks is owed to Church of God missions for being such a huge part of this story.”
The spread of the gospel is the motivating factor behind every project, every outstretched hand of assistance, and every warm embrace. As churches in Uganda have grown, the need for a school became more and more evident. As some churches have become community hubs, they’ve found the door of opportunity wide open to the development of clinics. Through her time with Children of Promise, Agnes Manahe benefited from all of these established ministries, and today she’s giving back.
“The Lord has been faithful to me all the way back to my childhood,” Agnes writes in a letter to her sponsor. “My prayer to the Almighty is that I will be of importance to my community for the glory of his name.” Though polio marred her early years, it did not mar her attitude. She has kept the Lord central in everything she does, and she remains connected with her sponsor, home church, and the Stevensons. Colleen remarks, “We are proud of her. She has gone through a lot, but has made it!”
The Church of God child sponsorship ministry continues to touch boys and girls like Agnes Manahe. Through education (fees, uniforms, and hot meals at school are also included), medical care, spiritual guidance, church involvement, Christmas gifts, and much more, the Church of God and Children of Promise are making a tangible difference in the lives of children around the world.