Precious Gifts

God always gives us precious gifts. Some are obvious and others are hidden by what we choose to see. The most important and precious gift is Jesus. Not everyone sees Him as a gift or as He really is, the one and only Son of God. The only one who loved us so much that He would die in our place for our forgiveness and redemption. But, that is the blindness that affects those who are spiritually lost and empty.

There are other precious gifts such as genuine friends. The ones who never give up. The ones who may be physically separated from us for years, but, when we see each other, its like it was yesterday. The kind of friend who doesn't blame or accuse or judge. The friend who listens and loves and may give advise, but, it never seems like advise... This kind of friend loves without limits and cares without complaint. My heart is very wealthy because of my amazing friends. Many I have known for over 30-40 years. I met them during high school, college, career and some are family :)!

But some precious gifts are seemingly temporary but end up being for life. We have cared for over 200 children since January 2008. Some left because they just wanted to get married, gave up on school or just wanted to be back on the street to do whatever they wanted without rules. Almost all of them have come by at some point saying how tough it was and how they had so many regrets. But all, when I see them still call me Daddy. That's often heart breaking as I see their pain and struggle. However, I still try to encourage them to find a fresh vision and live inspired by God's love in Christ. Children are precious gifts.

Now, almost 12 years since we started a new generation is with us at the children's home. This new generation of elementary age children have never lived on the street. Even the 16 new children, that the government brought to us in January, came because one of their parents went to the social work probation officer begging for help. So the challenges have changed. The 'first generation' was abandoned, physically hungry and desperate. This generation is different. Most importantly all 42 children from ages 7 to 15 do not have a personal faith in Christ. The majority of the 'first generation' came to faith in Christ in 2008, then about 50 were saved between 2012 – 2015 as they got older. Now God has reminded us to keep the most important issue number one – the gospel! So we pray and we share and we illustrate and we teach and we pray again and again. No emotional invitations. No pressure just truth. Because, the most important calling in life is to pass on our faith to the generations to come so that not one is lost...

I pray that you are passing on your faith in Jesus to those precious gifts God has given you, friends, family and children. Thank you for praying for our children and our staff. 11 are now in college, 3 in nursing school and over 50 in high school plus those 42 precious souls who need Jesus.

God Bless you,


Hello from Hope Children's Home in Uganda.

I am so happy to be back with the children at Hope Children’s Home. I come once a year to visit with the children and bring them pictures and letters from their sponsors. They were so happy today when they received those letters. I gave each of them a big hug! Last week I enjoyed accompanying them on their annual field trip to the agricultural fair in the town of Jinja. They enjoyed face painting, riding on the swings up in the air, seeing the animals and having a picnic. It was a wonderful day!!

In December of last year the government brought us 16 new children that needed a safe and healthy environment in which to live. Some of those children needing sponsors are pictured on the sponsorship page. Look at their beautiful faces and let the Lord lead you to the child He wants to connect you with.

I will be here in Uganda until the end of August and plan to post again. Blessings to you and yours. Sandy Marek.

Christmas at HOPE

Merry Christmas our dear friends :)!

We are so thankful for the precious gift of Jesus :)!!!  Thankful for God’s redemption plan that included you and me and billions more!  Thank you all so much for your prayers and continued support for the gospel in Uganda :)!  Our children are so grateful for you and your prayers.

School is out and everyone is off to visit family and friends here.  It’s still crazy busy as I try to get things repaired and our van ‘legal’.  We are required to have a special license that is renewed annually.  That also includes an inspection and at this moment our van would not pass its exam :)!  Today I got the windshield replaced and the seats welded down again.  Tomorrow a few small things to repair and I pray we can get to Kampala on Wednesday, God willing :).  Been working out of pocket on all this but God is Faithful :)! 

This is the Promise and the Anchor we are holding - Him.  He is faithful and true - Hallelujah!  When we seek him in prayer and spend time in His Word, He makes our thoughts on Him and His promises.  He causes all the anxiety, fear and depression to fade away.  (Philippians 4:6-8)  That’s why, in spite of our extremely desperate situation, we believe and rejoice!  Crazy huh?

I love the spirit of rejoicing in our children and our worship services here.  It’s a paradox to most people who visit us.  They cannot get over how our children can be so happy and joyful when they have nothing, truly nothing - but - they are loved!  And it so ‘bursts the bubble’ for most people that when we take them to the airport, they cannot stop crying.  

Our Christmas celebration, for example, would blow your mind.  Worship service at church on Christmas morning, a really big Christmas dinner and supper and one set of ‘Christmas’ clothes (one outfit) is our cultural definition of a fantastic Christmas.  Not toys, or long trips or a binge watch of tv shows.  No Santa or tree or loads of gifts, just worship, food and one outfit.  And the joy is over the top!  

So, please pray with us that all that will come together.  Loads of other requests fill our prayer lists, like our debt, work permit and rent, but, this is the most important.  We trust that God will inspire you all the way through the Christmas season to celebrate Him with us.  

(This photo is a picture of Christmas from the recent past.  Most of the kids are still in their Christmas clothes and had just finished lunch.  Supper was waiting :)!)

My Philosophy on Fundraising and Giving

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Since the beginning, we have depended on God to supply our needs.  He has been and always will be Faithful and True, that is His name (Rev 19:11).  It continues to be an amazing journey as we continually learn to trust and wait on Him.  I firmly believe and have witnessed the Holy Spirit speak to people He has called to give.  As Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 9, God inspires us where He wants us to give.  Our service to God is always out of obedience and joy (John 15).

Our trust is therefore not in man, but, in God for everything.  Jesus is very clear in Matthew 6.  We are not to worry about food or clothing.  As we seek Him and His Kingdom first, God will take care of everything else.  One of the biggest obstacles to our faith today is mass communications.  I have observed people literally fundraising for whatever they want, regardless of God’s activity.  If there is a problem, a large need, the question should not be how, but, why.  Our response should be prayer, intense prayer, not mass communications.  We sometimes think that God needs our help.  We need Him.  If He breathed all that we see into existence, then why do we think that anything is too difficult for Him or that we must devise plans to assist God.  I am reminded of the stories of Moses, Gideon, Abraham, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul and many others.  

There is a story of a man, George Muller, as copied from Wikipedia.  “George Müller (born Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller, 27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898), a Christian evangelist and the director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. He cared for 10,024[1] orphans during his lifetime[2] and provided educational opportunities for the orphans to the point that he was even accused by some of raising the poor above their natural station in British life. He established 117 schools which offered Christian education to more than 120,000 children, many of whom were orphans.

Through all this, Müller never made requests for financial support, nor did he go into debt, even though the five homes cost more than £100,000 to build. Many times, he received unsolicited food donations only hours before they were needed to feed the children, further strengthening his faith in God. Müller was in constant prayer that God touch the hearts of donors to make provisions for the orphans. For example, on one well-documented occasion, thanks was given for breakfast when all the children were sitting at the table even though there was nothing to eat in the house. As they finished praying, the baker knocked on the door with sufficient fresh bread to feed everyone, and the milkman gave them plenty of fresh milk because his cart broke down in front of the orphanage.[12]

Not receiving government support and only accepting unsolicited gifts, this organization received and disbursed £1,381,171[1] – around £90 million in today's terms[7] – by the time of Müller's death, primarily using the money for supporting the orphanages and distributing about 285,407 Bibles,[1] 1,459,506 New Testaments,[1] and 244,351 other religious texts,[1] which were translated into twenty other languages.[8] The money was also used to support other "faith missionaries" around the world, such as Hudson Taylor.[9] The work continues to this day."

Yes, the ministry started by God, through George Muller, over 182 years ago, is still reaching out in Jesus’ Name - today.  So, why not us.  If God can do what He has done through others, HE can do it here.  Submitted to His heart and His calling we pray and wait for Him to answer.

This is why you will not hear from me about our needs.  God knows our needs.  He will communicate them to you as He inspires you - speaks to you.  When people give out of compulsion it creates remorse.  We never want to pressure anyone to give.  We only pray that God direct your hearts where He desires.  If you have questions about some need, don't hesitate to ask.  But, we leave the initiation of that conversation to you and Jesus.

So, we solicit and thank you for your prayers, not your pocket.

God Bless You,
Philip Jones
Volunteer and Servant
ISA117 Ministries


Hello Everyone :)!

HOPE, is something we cannot live without, we are told.  For us at ISA117, HOPE, means more than dreams or goals for the future.  It is embodied by the acrostic God inspired in January 2008.  H- His, O- Offer, P- Peace for, E- Eternity.  Its really cool that this is reflected through the lives of our children in Iganga.  Every evening, about 7 pm, the kids, unscripted and unprompted, organize worship.  They sing and pray and one older child, or myself, will share a message from the Bible.  It is the most amazing thing to see my kids do this not from instructions or compulsion – just love for Jesus and worship to God.

I don’t use the phrase ‘my kids’ lightly.  They not only call me ‘Dad’ (Baba, in our local language), but, come to me with everything from a scrape on their leg to a broken heart from struggles in school.  I love them and they love me unconditionally.

That's why I am so anxious to get back home.  I miss my children and they miss me.  That is what I hear from them all the time and I cannot wait to celebrate with them my homecoming!  The joy is unmistakable in our culture there when we see family that has been away.  Its too cool :)!!!  

Please pray for and with us as we look forward to building a new school, library and a new clinic for our children and our neighbors :)!  God is so faithful and gracious and we worship and adore Him for He is our HOPE :)!!!

Blessings to you all :)!
Philip Jones
Volunteer and Dad

My name is Sandy and I work as secretary to ISA117 Ministries.  Jesus is the center of my life.  I love Jesus because He first loved me.   He said to love God and love one another.  The more I love Him, the more He pours his love into my heart for others.  I’m so blessed that He has allowed me to know and love the children at Hope Children’s Home.   I look forward to visiting with them every year when I travel to Uganda.  Jesus has given all of us opportunities to help others in His name.  Jesus tells us:

Matthew 25:34-40 New International Version (NIV)

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

When I’m at home in the USA, I want to continue to help these children in the name of Jesus.  I enjoy sharing this opportunity with others.  You may be thinking that you can’t go to Uganda so what can you do?  Prayer is the number one need.  We need faithful people to intercede on behalf of these children.  You can help feed, clothe, educate and provide medical care for them by sponsoring a specific child or donating to special projects and/or giving to the general fund.  Everyone can do something in the name of Jesus.

One day we will all stand before the Lord.  I want to hear from Him, (Matthew 25:21) ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’