By Missy Ward-Angalla
She was only seventeen; an orphan, arriving by way of a refugee camp to perch guardedly on our locally-made furniture. Her severe abuse still seemed to embalm her in its haze: near silence, no eye contact and closed body language.
And she was essentially homeless. We immediately helped her with the medical care, food and supplies that she needed. Through God’s provision, we were able to place her within a secure, loving foster family for two months. The difference was evident in so many small clues! After the second visit with us,she began to smile and she eased into conversation. Her hug seemed almost to latch on—a good sign: She was out of that “fight or flight” stage, and ready to receive love.
Every new season of classes here at the shelter adapts a new flavor of its own, colored with the unique stories, personalities, and even ages of those God brings to our gate. This latest intake—including this young woman—was no exception. The shelter’s goals remain steadfast: healing and empowerment of these injured women. Imparting perennial coping skills. Instruction in social, spiritual, and very physical, tangible skills that empower in their own right. Nightly discipleship and Sunday services. But our latest group of seven women, aged only 15-18 and from three countries in East Africa, took on its own distinct priorities tailored to their own needs—such as life skills for the teenagers, and as always, individual counseling for each woman.
Perhaps one of our greatest markers of success is the bond that continues past the group counseling sessions, the English classes, the life skills. These women become their own support group that remains long after their completion in the program—despite barriers of culture, age, and eventually, geography. Many of these orphaned, isolated, rejected, and abused women have found apart of a unique family that supports, loves, prays for and cheers through them throughout.
In this small, trustworthy group of young women, our friend is blooming into the woman who God created her to be. She is learning day by day that the trauma she has been through does not define her, she is defined as a Child of God, created to be loved. Every day when I see her, I see one of of the incredible miracles of a faithful God who is able to do infinitely more.
Missy Ward-Angalla serves as a CBF field personnel serving in Kampala, Uganda at Amani Sasa, a ministry including a shelter and recovery program for young women affected by severe trauma and exploitation, a vocational training program for women at risk and a social work program for refugee women, girls and families in crisis.
Contribute to support Missy’s ministry in Uganda online here, or send donations via mail to:
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
P.O. Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368
(Please write “Missy Ward” in the memo line of the check.)