|   Posted: April 13, 2023

Through years of devoted prayer, support and encouragement, Henry’s sponsor helped enact immeasurable change in a community.

Fostering Nations: How Love Multiplies Exponentially

Through years of devoted prayer, support and encouragement, Henry’s sponsor helped enact immeasurable change in a community.

Story and photos by Caroline A Mwinemwesigwa
Henry holding a copy of his book, "5 Things Every Young Person Should Know."

Henry’s Story

Growing up in Gaba, Uganda, Henry’s days were long and difficult. Beginning at 6 a.m., he helped his mother in the garden before running off to school. As a result, he was often late and in trouble with his teachers. In the evenings, he headed straight to the market to find work to support his mother and siblings.

Many times, Henry had to split his small earnings with the bigger boys so they would help him carry heavier items, forcing him to lose desperately needed wages. His days often ended past 8 p.m. He’d bring food or a little money home to buy basic household items.

And the next day, the same exhausting journey to survive would begin again. In fact, that was all Henry was able to see when he looked into his future — and he felt hopeless.

Words of Hope

When Henry was sponsored, Saturdays were some of his best days because he spent them at the local Compassion center. At the center, he had the luxury of playing with his friends and eating good food. But most importantly, the Compassion program introduced him to loving sponsors, Ben and Holly. The couple wrote very often.

“My sponsor always said she loved me. She said they were praying for me that I would know God and that God would use me in my family, community and nation. She would say these words in every letter she wrote,” says Henry.

These beautiful notes made Henry feel loved and special.

“The words always made me feel like I was not just some poor hopeless boy in Gaba but someone whom God wanted to use in this world for his glory,” says Henry.

Impacting His Family

As Ben and Holly breathed encouragement and love into Henry’s life, he was able to graduate from the Compassion program and go on to college.

“After university, I thought I could start a family, build a house and establish myself. But all my siblings were not educated,” says Henry. “I wondered if I could go to bed knowing my siblings and mom had nothing, yet no one else would help. I thought of how God used a stranger to walk with me to where I am — how about these people, my blood? I prayed and sought God’s counsel.”

If Henry chose to start his family, most of his income would go to supporting them. So he decided to postpone his marriage aspirations. Compassion had supported him to the university level, and he was determined to do the same for his siblings.

At that time, he worked at his church and earned $100 a month. With support from his local church, one by one, Henry paid for all seven siblings to attend college. Frank, his youngest brother, graduated with a business degree in 2021. Currently, Frank works in Dubai and is passionate about helping the youth.

Henry smiles at the camera

Impacting His Community

After breaking the chains of poverty in his own family, Henry felt called to continue sharing the help he was given with others.

“At a point, I felt the world was more than my family. I wanted to bless lives beyond my family, something like my sponsors had done. Ben and Holly had their kids, but they helped keep me in school,” says Henry. He prayed a lot, asking God to use him to help others.

One day while Henry was walking in his community, he met 12 year-old Dora.

“The Holy Spirit said, ‘Stop! Look at her again. I want you to foster her. She should be your daughter,’” says Henry. Henry was shocked, but the voice within was strong.

However, Henry didn’t feel prepared to be a father figure. “I tried to look for beautiful memories of a father-son relationship, but I had none,” he says. “Dad and I had not been close. I don’t remember him taking care of me. I prayed to God saying, ‘I don’t know how to foster Dora.’”

But God’s call stayed firm: “He said he wanted me to be a father the way he had been to me,” Henry recalls. Henry prayed about it for a while and finally got the courage to approach Dora’s mother, finding that Dora’s father had passed away when Dora was little.

Henry came alongside Dora’s mother, contributing to Dora’s school fees, paying rent, offering fatherly guidance and showing Dora the consistent love of a father. God used Henry to help Dora complete her university degree in mass communication. Today, she is married with one beautiful daughter and a husband who calls Henry a mentor and father.

Impacting His Nation and Beyond

While Dora was in boarding school, Henry wrote to her often, inspiring her and showing her love as his sponsors did for him. Dora shared these letters of encouragement with her friends, and they were moved by them as well. So when Henry visited Dora at school, all her friends were able to meet him and seek godly counsel from him.

Before long, Dora asked him to write to her friends too, and Henry began mentoring them. His ministry grew in another area as well: He became a youth leader at his church. Today, he has closely mentored many youths who have become professionals and are now impacting others in many different spheres of life.

Over the years, Henry has mentored over four thousand youths in different roles, including through writing books. Currently, he serves as the director of leadership development at Africa Renewal Ministries. He also lectures university students and holds youth seminars, where he applies principles acquired during his time in Compassion’s program. He enjoys ministering to youths and spends most of his time equipping them.

When Henry looks back, his life today is like a dream. As a child, he never would have imagined it was possible. He has seen his sponsors’ words play out in his life, and he is forever grateful for their love and the difference that sponsorship makes. His life is a testimony to the ripple effects of kindness and compassion.

Today, Henry is proud to see the success of those he has mentored who live around the world in Rwanda, South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Nigeria, USA, U.K., Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Malawi, Ethiopia and Canada. Ben and Holly shared hope with one hopeless boy in Uganda, and now that hope has been shared across the world.

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