Meet Fionah

8 Oct

During my senior year in high school I discovered one of the most heinous injustices the mind could possibly fathom – the invisible children in Northern Uganda. I stumbled upon the non-profit organization, Invisible Children, while browsing the web and my heart broke as I watched videos and read stories of thousands of children being abducted from their homes and forced to fight a senseless war. These children are ripped from their homes, beaten, drugged and threatened. They witness horrific acts of violence, often watching their own family members slaughtered by the army they must now fight for. My spirit groaned as I saw these vulnerable children abused, and my heart cried for justice. I had to do something…

So I started an Invisible Children club on my high school campus. We met once a week to discuss ways that we could spread awareness about this issue and raise money for the cause. We partnered with Invisible Children’s school reconstruction initiative called Schools 4 Schools, where schools in America compete in the race to raise money to rebuild schools in Northern Uganda, offering these children an opportunity at bettering their lives through education. Our club designed and sold t-shirts and bracelets and held fundraising events. At the end of my senior year we had raised well over  $30,000 to donate to the reconstruction of Sacred Heart Secondary School in Gulu, Uganda. As a token of appreciation for my efforts, Invisible Children sent me a photograph of the students standing in front of their beloved classroom. I have treasured this picture and kept the girls of Sacred Heart in my prayers for the last three years. But that’s not why I’m writing…

Last night, the college-aged church community I am a part of (Crave) held a special service – a service in honor of the “forgotten” in this world. The evening was filled with worship, art, live dramas, and an inspiring message by our Pastor Brad Baker, calling us to be the Lord’s ambassadors of justice. The final event on the schedule for the evening was a screening of the latest Invisible Children documentary. As a made my way towards the theater, I was stopped dead in my tracks as I spotted familiar words at the Invisible Children merchandise table. The words “Sacred Heart Secondary School” were screenprinted across a cute gray t-shirt. I had to ask… So I walked up to the volunteer working the table and asked her what the significance of this school was that it would be printed on their shirts. She informed me that the guest speaker after the screening was an actual graduate of this high school. My heart leapt. “Could I meet her?” I asked. “Of course.” she replied.

The volunteer introduced us and I explained to her my connection with the project. She stared at me, open-mouthed, with tears welling in her eyes, pausing for a moment before wrapping her loving arms around my shoulders. “Thank you,” she said. “for giving me a future.” Speechless, I smiled at her and hugged her back. We chatted for awhile and I asked her about her life. She told me that she lost both of her parents, leaving her orphaned at a young age. She moved in with her aunt, who forced her to work tirelessly, never once showing love or affection to her. Fionah’s dreams of an education were being crushed. Until she heard about a scholarship program through Invisible Children. She applied, got accepted, and began attending Sacred Heart Secondary School in the fall of 2007. Invisible Children has not only paid for her education, but also provided her with a Ugandan mentor  who loves her deeply and cheers her on through life’s struggles. She is now 22 years old, attending college at Gulu University and majoring in Public Administration with dreams of becoming a human resources manager. She has an intimate relationship with her Savior, Jesus Christ, and a strong desire to help other orphans like herself.

Fionah’s story is incredible. She is an overcomer. She is strong. She is joyful, radiant, and beautiful. She also likes boys, and hip hop music and has dreams of her wedding day. She is so much more than just a charity case in a distant land. She is my friend – a friend that I was so blessed to meet, thanks only to the faithful love of our Father.

Words can’t adequately express my joy in meeting Fionah. There’s something so exciting about seeing the fruits of your partnerships with the Lord. It encourages you to move forward. But the truth of the matter is that often our fruit goes unseen. Often times we write a check or pray for someone or share the Gospel, and we never get to see with our own eyes the redemptive powers of God unfold. Let me encourage you! Every time you partner with God, He will redeem. Every time you follow His call on your life, you are playing a role in bringing His Kingdom to this earth. When you move with God, you can change the world.


5 Responses to “Meet Fionah”

  1. Renee (your favorite cousin) October 8, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Erika! My heart swells with joy when I read your thoughts and experiences. I love you so much, and I am so proud of you. I miss you! You and your family are in our prayers…

  2. La Vonne Earl October 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    This is so awesome!!! I am so excited for you that God is continually unfolding his blessings upon you! You are an inspiration!

  3. linda December 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    this is so touching. makes my eyes well up with tears. its so good to see her alive, well and thriving.

  4. Mackenzie Mills & Lily Pierce May 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    My name is Mackenzie Mills and I am in the 10th Grade at Beaver Country Day School in Massachusetts. In our English class we are doing a project on modern day slavery and my project partner and I were wondering if we could use the photograph that you have on your blog in our presentation.
    Thank you,
    Mackenzie Mills and Lily Pierce


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