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A Road Map for Lisa
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By Mary Haskett

In 2008, Lisa Mathieson, a Canadian, who had worked on the mission field in Scotland for 12 years returned to London, Ontario and wondered what next.

A dedicated Christian, she prayed for guidance. At the end of a job search she received an offer to work with a Christian organization, but somehow that did not "feel" right. After much prayer, she knew overseas mission was her mandate, but where and how? 18 years previous she had served with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Guyana, South America.

A children's play therapist for the disabled by profession, she applied and received acceptance from an orphanage in Uganda, so booked a flight for October 28, 2009, but again she felt a check in her spirit. This was not where God wanted her to go, and she withdrew.

Lisa approached people in her church group and asked them to pray with her and for her. "Pray that God will make His will clear to me," she said. In her group, she had African friends, who partnered with her, not only in prayer, but fellowship and home cooked African food. Those same friends told Lisa of other orphanages in Uganda, and with certainty she knew she should go to one run by the Methodist Church. With her ticket bought for October 28 still valid, away she flew to Uganda.

Late in the night Lisa stepped off the plane at Entebbe Airport. A wall of heat engulfed her. She saw a large picture of herself held aloft and spied the director of the orphanage and a driver. They greeted her with big smiles and warm hugs. They drove for miles in an old minivan, the only light—tadobas—small paraffin lamps recycled out of old tin cans and placed on each side of the road. The journey ended in the bustling town of Jinja located on the shores of Lake Victoria. Here, Lisa, with much relief spent the night in a comfortable hotel with every amenity.

The orphanage where Lisa started to work had a myriad of problems and closed down after a few weeks. The result--28 children returned to parents or family members. In Uganda, an orphan may not necessarily mean a child without parents, but can include unwanted children. One little girl named Daphine, proved to be unwanted, even though she had two parents. Lisa felt love and compassion for the child and decided to care for her whatever the cost. The two stayed in the mission house until the end of May, but times were hard. Two friends had agreed to sponsor Lisa for two years. But before the first year ended they could no longer keep that commitment.

She ran out of food more than once. One night, she, and Daphine went to bed with no supper, and the next morning the little girl went to school without breakfast. Lisa says, "Distraught--I sat on my bed and wept. We have no food," I cried. God gently prompted her to go and make herself some coffee. She walked into the kitchen and heard a knock on the back door. Someone had placed eight bags of food on her porch.

Lisa had a lot to learn about the country. With infrastructure and organization almost non-existent and horrible situations that shocked her, some too graphic to relate, she remained stalwart in her convictions that God wanted her there.

When a mudslide killed many and wiped out homes, the Red Cross stepped in and built a refugee camp for the survivors. Later that same year horror stories surfaced of orphaned children in the region living in the forests. Some slept in churches to escape human traffickers. And worse still many girls had already disappeared. Lisa teamed up with a, missionary social worker, a Ugandan woman, and a pastor to help the children, but soon found out the woman, and the supposed pastor were part of the trafficking ring selling the children for prostitution and their own monetary gain. Once found out, these two threatened the lives of Lisa and her cohort, and they had to seek protection at the Embassy in Kampala.

The situation settled. Thoughts of abandoned, orphaned, and vulnerable children surfaced repeatedly in her mind. During this time she met Daniel, a dedicated Christian, and other Ugandans with the same passion for ministry. An idea began to take shape. With pen in hand, she sat with her Ugandan friends and together they worked out a plan — to rescue, teach, and redirect these broken lives, and so the ministry Family Force Foundation Recovery came out of this brainstorming session. Tragic situations abounded and the more she learned the more she realized this ministry could be a catalyst for change.

Four years on, the ministry has 11 staff on board and several off shoots of the work under its umbrella. It targets, street children at risk, families at risk, and young girls and women forced into prostitution by devious means. As well, the ministry has a program for men, sifting out the causes of their irresponsible behaviour and steering them towards a Bible based lifestyle. The team interacts in the community of Bugiri with these people groups, educating them and showing them there is a better way. Family Force Recovery Foundation touches every aspect of life there, with a school for children, sewing classes for women, victim support, Bible study groups and the like.

In September, a couple with their three girls will join the ministry for a year.

Although the team deals with many facets of life, Lisa says, "My primary work is rescuing girls and women from prostitution." She refers to them as diamonds. The program is aptly named WAR-Women at Risk. With a growing team of volunteers Family Force Recovery Foundation presses on in the name of Jesus.

To see and learn more about this ministry, visit their website www.familyforcerecovery.org






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