Four years ago I had the immense privilege of coming to Saving Grace and meeting Francis. A little boy that captivated my heart as we fed the street kids every Saturday. I wrote about meeting Francis here and kept a photo of him up on the wall in every classroom I taught in back in the States along with the one on the wall of my house. Typing it out like that makes it seem weird but it’s the only way to really capture the love I have for this kid.
I met Francis four years ago when he was a young boy living on the streets. I sat with the Uncle Fred and some of the team from the US and as we ate lunch asked the burning questions:
How do you choose which kids to take Fred?
How do you make that decision?
The decision that changes the course of lives?
How do you keep up with it?
What about Francis?
That last question was probably the most burning of them all. I’d met Francis weeks earlier while playing puzzles on a Saturday morning as food was prepared for all these boys living on the streets. After having played many many puzzles over the course of my trip I realized that puzzle skills along with critical thinking and problem solving skills weren’t typical of kids in Uganda. And yet Francis was seriously good at solving these puzzles. So much so that we dumped multiple puzzles out all together, mixed them up and then had him solve them all simultaneously and he did it, he completed every one of them. I was officially impressed.
Fast forward back to lunch with Fred and I couldn’t help but ask, what about Francis? I had no understanding of how Saving Grace worked and with the simplicity of a captivated heart wanted to know why this young one was still on the streets instead of in our children’s village. Fred honestly said he had never met Francis. I ran to get my camera and shared with Fred a snapshot I’d taken while we played with puzzles.
The photo that started it all- Francis June 2013
Puzzles with Francis June 2013
Puzzles with Francis June 2013
Fred didn’t know him. Unfortunately the fact is that dozens of boys are living on the streets of Lira. Dozens. So we set out that day with Fred to walk the streets of Lira so he could meet this little one I’d asked so much about and was so taken with. We walked for two hours around town showing his picture to townsfolk and street kids alike to spread the work that Uncle Fred was looking for him. I knew this was big. I knew that this is something I wanted desperately. I wanted to find him and introduce him to Fred. If I could just make that happen I knew even if he went right back out to the street tonight he’d at least have someone looking out for him. Someone who knew his name and could help him if he needed it. I’d never prayed so hard in my life.
The truth is I walked out of town that day and back to the house disappointed, we didn’t find Francis.
But Francis found us.
Here’s the thing about Lira, [like semi-small towns all over the world] word travels fast. Francis got the message Fred was looking for him. As we walked around town looking for two hours, he’d been sitting at the house for an hour and a half waiting for us.
So often we limit what God can do. We try to make him fit into this cute little box in our minds. All I wanted was to find Francis. I had no idea what would come next but I was willing to settle for an introduction between the two.
But God shows up.
That day not only was there an introduction but Fred and Francis sat down to talk and from that Francis came to live at the SGU children’s village and had a sponsor from the US willing to donate his school fees for an entire year. He moved into the children's village, gained a bed, food, and a family, that very same day.
We limit God. I do it all the time without ever meaning to and without wanting to. But when I force my small human minded expectations onto him it sets limits that don't exist for him. Thank God he shows up regardless, because every single time he does it wows me. I never could have dreamed the outcome of that day four years ago. I was willing to settle with introducing Fred + Francis, yet God showed up, and when he shows up it is always, always better.
This week Francis is our SGU #sponsorshipsunday kid. I got to sit in and watch him learn about negative numbers in P.5. I got to sit with him and watch him studiously apply everything he’s learning, laugh with his friends and take a photo with him towering over me now. This kid who was living on the streets. This kid that snuck over to the school on his second day at SGU to copy the posters off the walls into a notebook he’d found on the ground because he wanted to learn. I watched him sit in his own seat, in a full classroom with an entirely different future than the one mapped out before him four years ago.
Because God shows up.