Tag Archives: Uganda

Spotlight on Brent and Leah Phillips – Cherishing Uganda

For years, our very own TimberKids have raised money to buy chickens, a motorcycle, rainwater barrels, and even pigs for Cherish Uganda. During our recent Missions Focus Speed-Date-a Missionary night, we had the chance to meet the current directors, Brent and Leah Phillips.

A lot can happen when a pastor’s wife takes time out of a trip to support a missionary wife overseas. After a 45-minute tour of a children’s home serving kids with HIV, Leah left with the lingering idea that their church back in the United States should perhaps support the ministry. Eventually she realized that the nudge had to do with their personal family, not their church so they returned for another visit. Eleven months later, they sold everything and moved to Uganda.

Cherish Uganda is a self-sustainable children’s village comprised of seven family-style homes where two alternating moms, an auntie, and eight children live onsite. There is also a farm to provide work and food including those chickens and pigs TimberKids helped buy. Hope Academy is an elementary school for both Cherish and community members with plans to expand to a middle and high school curriculum. More recently, the Hope Hospital opened and serves the greater community living with high-risk conditions like HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, malaria, and tuberculosis. In a typical day, Cherish Uganda has 450 people in and out of their complex.

At the core of their ministry are the hearts of orphaned and vulnerable children. Many of these were abandoned by their families and picked up by the police. Some—in the wake of a move to clear the cities of street kids prior to tours by visiting dignitaries—are actually sent to a children’s prison to suffer a worse fate unless they can be brought to Cherish Uganda instead.

Once inside the loving arms of Cherish Uganda, the children are first given holistic care through food, life-saving medication, clothing, education, and counseling. Over time, the desire is to plant hope in the heart of a child by connecting them with Christ in order to rewrite their past scars of worthlessness into a story of hope. Another goal is to eventually reunite them with some sort of extended family

After investing six years on the ground and four years as CEO, Brent and Leah Phillips are now based in the United States to continue raising funds and return to Uganda each quarter for a multi-week visit. In their absence, the 125-person locally-led staff continues to cherish the rejected children of Uganda. You can find out more at cherishuganda.org.

Vacation Bible School Unlocks a Treasure of Rain Water for Cherish Uganda

VBS Pirate Cast

This summer’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) set a goal to help raise money to provide rain water tanks for Cherish Uganda. (You can read more about their goal here.) We asked Pastor Donny Abbott for an update and here is what he had to say:

We had a great VBS! Over 600 children registered and 225 volunteers helped out. It was a great week following a rascally group of pirates as they learned more about the theme of Faith. Regarding Cherish Uganda, the need they presented to us was their need for 27 rainwater catchers to replace their old rusted ones (see picture below). This is what Pastor Brent Phillips at Cherish sent us regarding their need:

Our water comes from National Water, which is Uganda’s municipal water system. The main issue is reliability. Sometimes the water is on & sometimes it is not. It goes out for some time almost every day. We also obviously have to pay for that water. We get lots of rain here (62 inches per year). There are 127 days per year where we receive an inch or more per day. Our driest month is July & our wettest month is May. Seeing how 1 inch of rain on a 1,000 sq. foot roof captures about 520 gallons of water, it just makes sense that we harvest as much of it as possible. This is why the tanks are so important. It requires no power, no moving parts and the tanks and gutters are very accessible here.

VBS Water Tank

We researched wells, but we tested a well right outside of Cherish’s fence and found loads of fecal matter. Living Water was working with a ministry just down the road with us and drilled many holes and kept coming up dry or contaminated. They also suggested that our best source of water is rain water harvesting. Currently when the water goes out and the few working tanks we have go empty, we either pay for trucks to come and fill those tanks (which is quite costly) or we go and get water from the lake, which is also quite contaminated and very labor intensive. We have over 400 people on site every day, so we go through a lot of water. We also have the farm, chickens & pigs.

The cost for this project is $25,000. There is a church in San Jose, CA that is going to pay for $13,500. That left a balance of $11,500. Our mission’s department offered to match dollar for dollar whatever we raised during VBS. The week of VBS we raised $6,207.20; meaning with the matching funds from our Missions team, we raised over $12,400!

An email that Brent sent me before our last day of VBS:

“You are heading into your last day of VBS. I have such fond memories of all of those years that we did that together. We are praying for an amazing day, one where you feel the power of the Spirit move in ways you have never experienced before & where the fruit of you & your team’s labor is so large you have a hard time even understanding it. We love you guys and are thankful for our friendship & partnership!”

All in all it was an amazing week!!!

Missions Week Recap: Cherish Uganda and TimberKids

Cherish uganda two kids

One of the spotlight evenings during Missions Week 2016 focused on our partnership with Cherish Uganda and the amazing things Timberline Church’s children have done to help.  Cherish Uganda (cherishuganda.org) exists to restore life and create hope for a future for children living with HIV. Among the vast numbers of orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda, children with HIV can be considered “the least of the least” as they are often overlooked or unseen. With very little care offered through their homes, school, and now hospital, Cherish Uganda has been able to be part of the redeeming story God wants to author in the lives of these precious children.

TimberKids has been partnering with Cherish since 2013. Since that time Timberkids has funded:

  • 500 Chickens (raised $2500)
  • A brand new chicken house (raised $5000)
  • A new motorcycle (raised $3500)
  • A new playground (raised $5000)
  • A used car (raised $5000)

TimberKids also encourages the children every weekend to bring their offering to support Cherish and routinely receive anywhere from $50 – $100. Of that roughly $4000 a year from the weekend offering, half goes to support Pastor Brent & Leah Phillips and their personal expenses and half goes to the operation budget for Cherish. In addition to giving toward projects and expenses, in 2013 Pastor Donny also led a team of 12 people to visit Cherish for a short term mission’s trip.

This summer during their Vacation Bible School, TimberKids hopes to raise $11,500 for a new rainwater holding system for Cherish. The total cost is $25,000, but they are partnering with a church in San Jose, CA to help fund the project. The cool thing is that the Mission’s Department at Timberline Church will match whatever money the kids raise. Pastor Donny received this email from Pastor Brent at Cherish that illustrates the importance of water to Cherish:

 “I am in Kampala for meetings today and just received a call from a staff member that says the road to Cherish from the highway is blocked in a few different places. The villagers are protesting and not letting anyone through. I then get a call from the office right after that the water has been off for a day (the reserve tanks only last 1 day and are now empty) & the few working rain tanks that we have are empty. So there is no water on site.

When this has happened in the past we hire a water truck to bring us water & fill up a few tanks to get us by until the water comes back on or the rain comes. Well, since the road is blocked we can’t get a truck down to us. We are now going to the lake & filling jerrycans to get us through today (We have just over 400 people on site everyday) & then we will be doing that again tomorrow and the next day, until the water comes back on. I just tell you this to let you know how important this is to us and how grateful we are for your partnership!”

What’s up next? First, Timberline Church can expect to see a lot of activity getting ready for Vacation Bible School and will certainly have need for many volunteers. The children’s ministry staff will also be working hard to get this missions project in front of the kids so they can start getting excited about making such a huge difference across the world.  Lastly, Pastor Donny is considering another trip to Cherish Uganda in the summer of 2017.

To Finish The Work: Go – Stephanie Jhones’ Story

Stephanie Jhones Cherish Kids 7

For 2014’s Mission Celebration, the Love Reaches team recreated the global missions adventure inside the walls of Timberline Church including cultural experiences and a variety of foods. As visitors traveled from country to country they received stamps in their passport and then the completed passports were collected for a drawing. The prize? A fully paid short-term missions trip. The winner? Stephanie Jhones, a first grade teacher in Fort Collins. Here is her story:

Q: What got you interested in going on a missions trip?

I have long been interested in missions work, but the trips for the most part were cost prohibitive. My daughter had gone on a local trip (to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming), but I had never gone on one.

 Q. What was God doing in your life around Missions Celebration last year?

My husband and I have long been supporters of missions and wanted to attend the evening of the Missions Celebration for a more thorough understanding of what Timberline does globally. I was definitely prepared for an adventure as I do not tend to be one to sit back and watch the world pass by – I like to be an active participant. I was eager, had no reservations whatsoever.

Q: How did you feel when your name was drawn?

At first, really not much emotion but happiness as I was not aware what was being given away. Pastor Mark had simply encouraged the attendees that we would want to be sure to participate, but did not say what would be given to the winner. Possibly the website had mentioned the trip prior to that night, but I do not tend to be on the website much and had no idea a trip was being given away. I honestly thought the prize would be something that had been made by a local merchant in one of the countries being served (such as a blanket from El Salvador or a handmade product from the UCOUNT marketplace), but nothing as large as a fully-funded trip to the place of my choosing. Once Pastor Mark announced what I had won, I was shocked and humbled. What an amazing blessing!

Q: Why Uganda of the trips available?

I have had a heart for the people of Africa for as long as I can remember. I did not know if there was a trip to Africa or not, but when I arrived home I went to the Timberline website (yes, that same night!) and looked to see where they had trips planned for that year. When I saw Uganda was one of the choices, I started pursuing that option. I feel God placed me on the Uganda team as my skill set and the timing with my job was a perfect match. I was completely open to God’s will and what he had in store for me and did not have any preconceived ideas of my purpose for this trip to Uganda.

Stephanie Jhones and Rachel Ray

Q: What happened on the trip and what did you learn?

The trip was amazing, (read the team’s trip report here) and as cliché as it sounds, truly life changing. I learned how hard many people in our world must work simply to survive. You hear about it and see it on the news, but to witness the struggle first-hand is very different. I also learned that though they may not have much, they are still happy (many happier than Americans who have more than one could ever hope for). I appreciate that we in America have clean water, access to healthcare, and free time to pursue interests. Those in Africa must work long hours to survive and even then some are still not able to provide the basic needs for themselves or their family (food, clean water, shelter, and clothing).

When I met with the Director of Education at Cherish Uganda, Larissa Rwakasiisi, I felt it was the reason God sent me to Uganda. We met for almost three hours and we were both so invigorated and prayed that, if it is God’s will, I would return to Cherish to assist in implementing some of the suggestions we had discussed. Larissa and I have been in touch since my return to America and I have sent materials to her via email.

Q: What’s next on the horizon?

The trip inspired me to put together a presentation about the struggles in Uganda, which I presented on February 7th and will present again on February 25th. In October, I put together a shoe cutting party for another organization in Uganda called “Sole Hope.” My friends, family, and I provided 50 pairs of shoes, including funding to get them to the people of Uganda, as well as a large amount of medical supplies for helping in the fight against jiggers. I hope to continue to do various activities to make a difference in the lives of those who struggle to survive. My long-term goal is to return to Uganda and possibly assist Larissa in enhancing the phonics program used by Cherish and increase its effectiveness for the students at Hope Academy.

P.S. There will be another drawing for a trip during this year’s Missions Week. Stay tuned for more details because this could be your year to go!

Let’s Buy a Boda

Uganda boda

As part of Orphan Care Weekend on November 8th and 9th, the children of Timberline Church are collecting spare change in plastic cups in order to change lives across the world.

Their goal is to raise at least $3500 to buy a motorcycle for Cherish Uganda, a ministry caring for children with HIV in Uganda. (For more information, see past blogs about this summer’s short term trip and the spotlighted partnership at the 2014 Missions Celebration.)

Why a motorcycle (or boda in the native language)? With excellent gas mileage, the motorcycle taxi provides quick and easy transportation to get kids around the area between the local village and Cherish when needs arise. The real question is how many kids can one boda hold?

Update on Timberline Ambassador Sarah Miles

sarah miles uganda


Timberline Ambassador Sarah Miles is headed back to Uganda for 18 months. Her first stop however is Greece for a two-week training about outreaches into brothels with a program that trains young women to go into their communities and raise awareness about trafficking. Once she arrives at Rahab Uganda, Sarah will be working with girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked. Her role will be helping these young woman to start their own businesses and to also help Rahab Uganda with sustainability. After her own training in Greece, she will be training staff about self care and awareness. She will also continue to work with local authorities in the National action plan and to bring awareness to the community.

While she is gone, please pray for:

  • Travel mercies for September 17th ( flight Denver to Athens) and October 3rd (Athens to Uganda) 
  • Re-entry back into the drop-in center and rebuilding relationships with staff and the ladies
  • For her family as this is a big transition for all of them. She leaves behind her daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters ages 18-months and 5-months.
  • For protection and spiritual covering.
  • For health and for her own self care and boundaries. 
  • Prayer for divine appointemnets and to continue to listen to God’s promptings so she can be a light wherever she is.
  • For patience and grace during cultural changes and finding her routine again.

Cherishing The Children – The Uganda Trip Report

Uganda Hope Academy

After surviving a tough trip to Uganda, including seventeen hours on three flights and lost luggage, the team from Timberline Church quickly settled into the rhythms of daily life at Cherish Uganda while adapting to the vast cultural differences.

Cherish ministers to HIV positive children and their families. Of the 50 children who live at Cherish full time, almost all of them have family members who are unable to provide the care they need. Instead, these children are cared for by amazing and inspiring House Moms. Cherish is in the finishing stages of building two more homes so soon another 16 – 18 kids will feel the love of Jesus in practical ways.

Uganda home construction

During their time in Uganda, team members were split up between the various homes, clinic, and chicken coops to work alongside the staff for a few hours each day. In the process, they discovered a lot about how much they take for granted back in the United States when it comes to simple things like dishes and laundry. As they rotated jobs, each tried their hand at farming, weeding, sawing wood, using machetes, hammering nails for a new chicken house, peeling potatoes, and mopping floors. They were humbled to see how difficult the physical work was to complete in just two hour rotations when these same time-consuming tasks were the simple chores done each day by the staff with such love and joy. The team experienced another reality check and new appreciation for life in the United States when their luggage arrived and they finally had fresh clothes to wear.

Cherish also hosts Hope Academy (ages kindergarten through 7th grade) where about 200 children from the immediate community attend school. Having any sort of education provides huge opportunities for their future, not to mention it is a Christ-centered school with outstanding teachers. Team members were able to attend chapel with the school children as well as sing and play games with them.

Uganda talent show

One of the biggest impacts Cherish makes in their community was made clear during the team’s orientation meeting when they were interrupted by the news that one of the Cherish kids was sick. After rushing him to the hospital, it was discovered that the boy had malaria. He received treatment and with answered prayers was able to return home. Without Cherish, he would have more than likely not made it to the hospital at all and almost certainly have died.

Very soon, Cherish will have its own hospital onsite to care for the needs of the people at Cherish as well as those of the surrounding community. (The average life expectancy of a Ugandan is 52 and many die from simple things that could be easily treated with basic medical care.) The hospital will be up and running by the New Year and will be a powerful tool that will enable both physical and spiritual healing for the children at Cherish and the 5000 people living in the Akaloosa Village.

Uganda health center

As a result of their time in Uganda, the team came away with a greater vision of what God is doing at Cherish as well as an appreciation for their lives back here in the States. As far as what’s next on the horizon, several on the team want to go back next year and intern during the summer. Pastor Donny Abbott also returned with a list of needs and will soon be sharing stories with Timberkids to help decide on the next project to support.