By Janelle Gore, a junior from Orlando.
WILMORE, KY – A few years ago, God placed the country of Uganda onto Emily Shetler’s heart. Through an Asbury Initiative Grant, she is finally able to answer that call. This summer Shetler is working with Empower-A-Child, a ministry making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children through the teaching of modern skills, education, and sharing the love and Word of God. According to Shetler, this organization was started by a Ugandan man who was sponsored by Compassion International as a child. Looking for a way to give to other Ugandan children, he started Empower-A-Child, which is run by young volunteers year-round. Each summer, volunteers like Shetler come from the United States and Europe to serve the Ugandan children.
Each day is a little bit different for Shetler. For instance, one day a week her group might go to a Baby Home in the morning to spend time caring for the infants. In the afternoon they might go to a Juvenile Delinquent Center to spend time talking and sharing the gospel with at-risk teenagers who are in need of strong mentors and role models.
Shetler loves getting to know so many children and learning about their lives, even in difficult situations. Many of the children have been forced to grow up very early so that they can take care of younger siblings or pay school fees. The Empower-A-Child volunteers strive to give them opportunities to just be children and play.
In addition to building relationships, Shetler has also learned many important lessons which she knows will affect her upon her return. Because of the poverty she has seen, she will no longer take things such as running water or electricity for granted. “I have seen first hand the poverty in this beautiful country and I want to be able to make a difference here, even if it is just for a few children,” she said.
This summer, the Asbury Initiative Grant program sent 19 students to 12 different countries for 6-8 week, all-expenses paid, international internships. The students range from juniors to graduated seniors, and they are serving as volunteers in areas of international community, social and economic development, public wellness and treatment, literacy and education, as we as others. Please be in prayer for these students as they spread the love and joy of Christ during their travels overseas.