A chance encounter leads to a life-long mission.
by Gary Warner, Co-Founder
When I was ordained as a minister in 2001, I knew I was “called to serve, not preach.” I became involved in the Bikers for Christ International Prison Ministry, and also led a program for aged souls at a local elder care facility.
By 2006, my wife Kathye and I were at a crossroads, without a productive avenue to funnel our abilities, energy and faith-based willingness to serve. That’s when we ran across a pastor in Chattanooga, who was with a group going to Uganda to establish a new orphanage and children’s ministry.
Kathye and I unexpectedly received an invitation to go along on the trip. Having been an orphan myself, the mission seemed to resonate with me. Suspecting that God had a hand in making this connection, we decided to go.
The conditions in Uganda were worse than we imagined (read the backstory on Uganda here). We quickly realized that the orphans there couldn’t hear the sermons if their stomachs were growling. We also decided that supporting and improving the existing orphanages would have a wider, longer-range benefit than building a single new one.
As an expert in logistics in my day job, I knew what it would take to collect, ship, distribute and track food provisions. And what I didn’t know, I could learn. I told the Ugandans that we’d be back to help.
Back in the states, Kathye and I established Legacy World Missions as the vehicle for our personal service to God and his children. We worked out procedures for making an ongoing food supply system reliable, efficient, inexpensive and secure. Then we developed partnerships with organizations that could reliably supply the food and provide other services.
When Kathye and I returned to Africa, the people there were surprised that we had kept our word. But we made clear that the ongoing supply of free food was ‘a hand up,’ not ‘a hand out.’ With the money the ‘children’s homes’ would save on food, the owners were expected to actively improve the children’s living conditions and the educational programs.
As long as orphanage staff were willing to take on the challenge of ‘pulling themselves up,’ our efforts would lead to a cycle of life improvement, rather than a cycle of dependency. It was a different way of doing things. But thanks to a sincere and Christian sense of purpose, it worked.
Read more about the innovative approach of Legacy World Missions, and the impact it has had on the orphaned and at-risk children of Uganda.