Portrait Tuesday

By Liz Wann
Portrait Tuesday Uganda

It's been a while since our last Portrait Tuesday. Here is one taken by David Sacks in Uganda in 2003. Titled, "Phoenix," this photograph was featured in the last Portraits of Hope in 2012 and can be found in David's photography book, True Africa.

Our dear friend, David Sacks, has recently passed away from cancer, but these photographs are his living legacy. Covenant Mercies' Executive Director, Doug Hayes, wrote a blog post remembering David and said this:

"Less than an hour before David took his last breath on this earth, I had the unspeakable privilege of telling him that in addition to his own children, his legacy includes the thousands of children whose lives he has touched through his generosity toward Covenant Mercies."

Thank you David.

A Goal that Touches Lives

By Liz Wann

It's that time of year again! Time to put on those running shoes and RunFar.

RunFar (Run for African Relief) is a great way to get involved in the mission of Covenant Mercies. This year round fundraising event has contributed over $86,000 in the last three years.

Here is how it works:

  •     Choose a fitness event in your geographical area (run, walk, bike,marathon, half-marathon, etc.)
  •     Ask your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to make a donation to Covenant Mercies on your behalf.

It's that simple. Make sure you register first and then you can begin training and fundraising.

Scott and Rebecca Rudy are a couple from Chester, Pennsylvania who ran the Harrisburg half-marathon on September 9, 2012. They used Facebook as a tool to raise money, and also post about their training progress, their race, and about Covenant Mercies.

They started training using a 16 week plan from runnersworld.com. Scott and Rebecca were able to encourage each other through the training and the race. Rebecca said, "It was an awesome goal to work towards as a couple."

Start your spring and summer off with a goal like Scott and Rebecca; a goal that touches lives in Uganda, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

You don't have to run a race to order a RunFar shirt. Order one on in our online store.

Remembering David Sacks

By Doug Hayes
Ethiopia Portraits of Hope True Africa Uganda Zambia

David Sacks’ connection with Covenant Mercies began in January 2003, when he providentially visited my home church (and CM’s founding church, Covenant Fellowship) on the Sunday I was introducing our Orphan Sponsorship Program for the very first time.  David and I had been friends since we were schoolboys, but he was living in New York at the time and I was surprised to see him that Sunday morning.  He approached me after the service, signed up to sponsor a child, and told me he wanted to travel to Uganda with me (at his own expense) to give us the quality photos we needed to promote our cause.  David was already a world class photographer by then, and I’m no dummy.  Within three months we were on a plane bound for Uganda together. 

As we’d talk in the evenings on that April 2003 trip, I can vividly recall David’s excitement about the images he was capturing.  Though we couldn’t see them yet (this was still a year prior to his conversion to digital equipment), David believed he was capturing something unique.  Perhaps exhibit-worthy.  Perhaps of value beyond the brochure and web applications we’d originally had in mind.  As we talked and imagined what might lie ahead, the seed was planted for an event that would ultimately become a treasured fundraising tradition in Covenant Mercies, Portraits of Hope

In all, David’s five trips to Africa would lead to six Portraits of Hope exhibits and more than $300,000 raised toward our mission, ultimately culminating in the 2012 publication of True Africa, a photo book comprised exclusively of our Portraits of Hope images.  We were hoping to return to Africa together later this year, but it was not to be.  On Friday evening, April 12th, David went home to be with the Lord after a 1 ½ year battle with cancer.  He was two months shy of his 45th birthday. 

David is survived by his beloved wife Angie and their four young children, and I’d like to ask everyone who loves Covenant Mercies to pray for this dear family.  They are surrounded by an abundance of love and support, but no amount of support can take away the sorrow they feel right now.  Less than an hour before David took his last breath on this earth, I had the unspeakable privilege of telling him that in addition to his own children, his legacy includes the thousands of children whose lives he has touched through his generosity toward Covenant Mercies.  Whatever the Lord does through the lives of those children will accrue toward his reward.  Though he has left us too soon, how sweet it is to know that he’s receiving that reward now.

For several years David and I had a running joke about his desire to be given an African name.  I told him I couldn’t allow it because I’d worked hard for mine, performing numerous feats of African-ness like eating bugs, taking an authentic African bath, etc.  Though David was never averse to performing such feats himself, I insisted that it would take him more than a couple of trips to earn his name.  On our fifth trip in 2009, I finally relented and informed him that he had earned his name.  After polling our friends in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia for their suggestions, I finally settled on the name that fit him best.  We decided to call him Mapalo, which means “blessing.” 

David Sacks was indeed a blessing.  And though he is no longer with us, the blessing of his life lives on and will never be forgotten.

Storybook Sponsorship

By Matthew H. Downing
Orphan Sponsorship Uganda

I had a storybook child sponsorship experience.  It is one for the movies.  I went on a service trip to Uganda a few years back, and as we built the brick walls for a school building, I connected with this little child that was full of energy and doing crazy gymnastic moves down the nearby hill.  He made me laugh.  I found myself joking around with him as he passed through the worksite.  I was drawn by his energy. 

As we connected, my heart filled with compassion for this young boy.  He was dirtier than the other children and he wore ripped clothes day after day.  I asked around and found out that both of this young boy’s parents died of AIDS, and his grandmother could not fully support him.  He was in need of help.  Doug Hayes told me Covenant Mercies was intending to expand the child sponsorship program to this region, and he would be a perfect candidate.

Sign me up. How exciting. I had big dreams of how this storybook sponsorship would continue. We would write letters back and forth. I would return to visit.  And maybe one day he would come stay with me for a bit.

But since the initial sponsorship it has been much less a storybook.  I haven’t seen him.  I have only gotten a few small notes and pictures since I started sponsoring him seven years ago.  I have never written him a letter, and there are no plans for him coming to visit.

I am not upset or embittered by this.  I have learned that child sponsorship is more than romanticized ideals and feel good moments.  I am sponsoring this child because he needs help, I trust Covenant Mercies, and God has called us to help the orphans.  My entryway to child sponsorship was a unique one, but since then it has been the norm. 

We often complicate things – I complicate things.  I can be too concerned about creating the perfect ways to serve, instead of just doing what I am called to do.  God calls us to help the orphans (James 1:27).  Let’s do it.  Either home or abroad or both.  And Covenant Mercies is a vehicle to help us accomplish what God has called us to do.

It would be nice if I wrote more letters and got more in return, but this is a sponsorship not a pen pal program.  I am going to continue to sponsor this child until he doesn’t need sponsoring, and then I will sponsor another child.  If I get more money in my budget, then I will sponsor more children.  And I am learning that it is an honor to do so.