Home – Stuart McAlister

On one particular day, we were in the process of bringing the children through the line to receive their mats, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets and Bibles when our wonderful program director in northern Uganda, Jennifer Odong, called me over to her and asked me to take the hand of a young girl named Dorcas. I would guess that Dorcas was around seven years old, but it’s often hard to tell with children who live such hard lives. Improper nutrition often leaves children looking younger than they truly are. Jennifer explained to me that Dorcas was blind and needed extra help getting through the line to receive her bed. I took her small hand and led her to the front of the line where I picked up her things for her. We walked over to where a representative from one of our Ugandan partner organizations was asking each child their name and checking them off of a list. They asked Dorcas her name and she responded in voice almost too quiet to hear at all, almost as if she was afraid to speak at all. After checking her off the list, I helped her walk back to her place in the crowd where her guardian waited. She sat on the ground and I kneeled down to place my hand on her and to tell her that God loves her. stuart-hands In my time away from Sweet Sleep, I sort of forgot about just how much interactions like this one affect me. After leaving Dorcas, I had to duck behind a hut to regain my composure. As I stood there, out of sight from my team and the community members, I was overwhelmed by the thought of just how difficult life must be for Dorcas, living with a disability in such a remote place. Life is hard enough up there, but to go through it blind is hard to imagine. As I struggled with my emotions, I began to think of Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount where he said that the meek will inherit the earth. If there was ever someone who qualifies as “meek”, it is Dorcas. Now I don’t know if Dorcas has a relationship with Jesus, but if she does, or if Sweet Sleep giving her a bed and a Bible leads to one, then one day she will be relieved of her suffering and see the face of Jesus. It is moments and realizations like these that remind me why I love this ministry so much, and keep me from becoming so consumed with the details and logistics of what we’re doing that I miss the real purpose. God has given Sweet Sleep a mission to minister to the meek, the vulnerable and the fatherless. When I got involved with Sweet Sleep in 2006, I felt the Lord had given me this mission as well. And even though I had stepped away in 2011, I never stopped feeling that way. I am so grateful to Madelene for asking me to return. This week has reminded me so powerfully that this ministry is where my heart is…and that I am home.]]>