Hers is a story that you won't soon forget and it will touch your heart forever...
We likely don't know each other. Yet.
Let me introduce myself: My name is Jen Gash. I'm a regular girl who grew up in the Midwest and moved to Nashville 14 years ago to finish college. No, I didn't want to be a singer; I wanted to write for a magazine--specifically for a travel magazine. Let me tell you something else about myself: I'm terrified to fly. So, I suppose the perfect travel story involved a destination with a nice drive.
Seven years ago God decided that nice drive should take me to the airport and then to a small country in Eastern Europe called Moldova. There, He changed my life forever by exposing my eyes and breaking my heart for the way the orphans have to sleep each night. In Moldova, the children's beds were narrow metal frames with gaping holes in the metal mesh springs. The children used rope or shoelaces to tie the holes together to keep their inch-thin cotton mattresses from falling through. Their mattresses....oh, their mattresses. They were filthy from nearly 50 years of bed-wetting, dirt and bugs.
As I learned the names of the children and got to know them, I continued to be deeply burdened by the knowledge that they would go to bed that night and put their sweet little faces against something so dirty. I couldn't help but think of how vulnerable these children were at night. My thoughts would drift to what the children would think about each night as they tried to sleep and I knew these children needed a healthy, warm and loving place to lay their heads each night. I deeply believed these beds could serve as reminders that they were never alone: that God had created them, loved them, and had a plan and a purpose for them.
And so, Sweet Sleep was born that week as a nonprofit ministry which provides beds, bedding and Bibles to orphaned and abandoned children around the world (http://www.sweetsleep.org/).
It's probably a good thing that God doesn't let us know in advance all of the plans He has for each of our lives. At the time I really just thought I'd be working to provide beds to the country's largest orphanage and nothing more. Remember, I'm terrified to fly. As it would turn out, God intended for Sweet Sleep to provide beds to orphans all over the world. Lots of planes. Good thing God kept that part of His plan hidden from me and just watched me take baby steps to this country or that.
After beginning Sweet Sleep in 2003, God grew the ministry into Haiti in 2008 and then to Africa in 2009.
Africa. I never wanted to go to Africa. Do you know how long you have to sit on an airplane to get to Africa?
Silly girl. Amazing God.
Sweet Sleep works through ministry partnerships that include local churches and other nonprofits like Samaritan's Purse, World Vision and the American Refugee Committee (ARC). We hire nationals in each country in which we work. These individuals are responsible for making the beds and securing the materials for the beds that we provide, and oversee each project from start to finish.
Sweet Sleep is able to provide for these children because of the way God works through the hearts of all who hear about our work. Right now we need you to know about us and pass our work along to those you know. You can be involved in our ministry in very real ways, right from where you are, by visiting our website at www.sweetsleep.org. There you can read more about our work and special projects, sign up to receive our monthly newsletters or prayer newsletters, download resources about how to get your church or the children and youth in your church involved in caring for the world's orphans, learn about opportunities for you to serve on one of our future mission journeys or give financially to provide a bed, Bible or mosquito net.
Our biggest need right now is for 938 orphans in northern Uganda to receive beds before the end of the year----578 of these children are being moved out of IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camps and into new homes in their family's tribal village. As you go about your Christmas shopping, I'd urge you to think of "Giving the Gift of Sweet Sleep" to those on your list. You can find our Christmas gift catalog on our website. When you make a gift donation of $8 in honor of your sister, Sweet Sleep will send her a card letting her know that her Christmas present this year saves the life of a child in Uganda by providing them with a mosquito net. When you make a gift of $10 in memory of a lost loved one, we'll send notification to a recipient of your choice, letting them know this individual has been remembered with the gift of a Bible to an orphan. A complete bed is only $50 and includes the mat, mattress, bedding, mosquito net and Bible.
One more thing..I'd like to share a letter we received from a child Sweet Sleep resettled in June 2010.
Dear Sweet Sleep, My name is David. I am 14 years old and am in primary four. I would like to thank you, Sweet Sleep for giving me the mattresses and mostly the Bible. Now days I know more about God than I did before because I read my Bible and after I go for a sleep on my soft mattress. Am very happy this days because I start sleep right when I got on to my bed till morning without feeling any pain. So I again thank God for that special gift which I was not even expecting in my life and not forgetting to pray for you and also the organization called Sweet Sleep.
Thank you so much from David. God Bless You.
Bless you, indeed. Thanks for inviting me into your lives today. It's been a joy to be here. And maybe I'll see you again...perhaps even on an airplane.
Sweet Sleep ~ http://www.sweetsleep.org/
The link to our newest video is here: http://www.sweetsleep.org/video.html
The link to Give the Gift is here: http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/givethegift.html
Didn't I tell you that Jen's story would touch your heart?!!
Feel free to leave comments for Jen and be sure to visit the links to see and read more about Sweet Sleep.
Also, if you'd like, click on the buttons just below this post to share by email, on your blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Perhaps we can help Sweet Sleep reach their goal of providing beds for the children of northern Uganda.
Take Care and God Bless,