By Cheri Cagle
“I wish you were here to meet a little boy named Joseph. I saw him sitting in a crowd of children. God placed him on my heart.” Through a phone conversation 11 years ago, these words came from my husband, Greg, who was on his first mission trip to Uganda. Our children and I were home in Kentucky. God ignited a love in Greg’s heart for the people of Uganda, the ministry of Moyo Missions, and little 5-year-old Joseph. The opportunity for him to go to the Village of Eden and be a part of the gospel-centered work being done there forever impacted him and, therefore, impacted our family.
We have had the privilege to sponsor Joseph since 2012. He is family. His picture is on our refrigerator, and I have a special envelope that holds all the letters, drawings, and photos we have received from him through the years. Greg had the opportunity to visit Uganda and serve at the Village of Eden 2 other times. Each trip, he connected with Joseph, spent time with him, and brought him gifts. In 2016, our son was able to accompany Greg and meet Joseph for the first time.
We were planning a family trip to Uganda in 2020, but the pandemic prevented us from making that a reality. In December 2021 Greg was diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer called Glioblastoma. He battled it for ten months before passing on October 9, 2022. It was a hard ten months but also a sweet ten months. Our church family could not have loved and cared for us better than they did, and our Moyo and Ugandan families loved us well during that time. Greg would receive calls from the Moyo staff, as well as Pastors in Uganda. He would be brought to tears from a thankful heart for his brothers in Uganda. Even through great physical affliction, Uganda rested on Greg’s heart, and Joseph stayed on his mind.
In December 2022, my family discussed going to Uganda the following year. Greg so desired our whole family to experience firsthand what he’d had the privilege to encounter. Our church organized a trip in partnership with Moyo Missions, and it was on the calendar. Our 14-member team headed to Uganda in August 2023. Our first full day there was Child Sponsorship Visitation Day, where we had the opportunity to meet Joseph. My heart was full. There in front of me sat the boy I’d been praying for, corresponding with, and loving from afar. He was no longer a little boy but a young man, 16 years old. He sat in a circle with our family. Everything about it was right and good. We gave him gifts, talked with him, and prayed over him.
Because I wanted to make sure he made the connection of who we were, I brought a picture of him and Greg from a previous visit. I’ll never forget the expression on his face as I raised the image in front of him and asked him if he remembered that day. His solemn face lit up with a smile as he nodded and said, “Yes.” My son explained to him why Greg was not with us. I asked him if he’d like to keep the picture, and he wanted it. During that visit, one of the most striking moments for me was something my son asked him before he prayed over him. Paxton asked Joseph, “Do you have everything you need?” Without hesitation, Joseph replied, “Yes.” This child lives in Uganda, and his answer to the question of needs was, “I have everything I need.” My throat cut like a knife at his response. Praise God! His response to that question is a tribute to Moyo Missions. Their child sponsorship program changes lives.
The picture of Greg and Joseph had a ripple effect that day. As my family spoke with Joseph, one of the translators standing with the rest of our team began to cry. She said, “I know the man in that picture. He told me about Jesus, and I got saved.” Though our worlds are miles apart, the same Sovereign God rules and reigns in both. Affliction in this life is real, no matter where you live, but the grace of God supersedes it all. I am grateful that Joseph’s physical and educational needs are being met. However, my heart could explode to know that his greatest need, Jesus Christ, has been made known to him, and he receives discipleship as he learns what it means to walk with the Lord. One day, our whole family will be reunited. We will glory in the One who makes all things new, affliction will be no more, and Jesus will be at the center of it all. This is the heart of Moyo Missions—glory to God.