Thankful to have been raised in Uganda

In this blog post Ethan Hurley reflects on his life growing up in Uganda before he heads off to college.

It is so weird to think I am going to college. I have always known this day would come, yet I can’t believe it is finally here. I have had a fun, crazy, and sometimes challenging childhood journey growing up in Uganda. People have always asked me what it is like to live in Uganda, but I never knew how to answer that question. Having moved to Uganda when I was only three years old, I don’t remember anything else and I really don’t have anything else to compare it with.

It is common for missionary kids to resent their parents for making them live in a difficult environment away from friends and family. However, I have never experienced disliking living outside of America, except for a time when I was younger and wished I could play American organized sports. My discontentment of not being able to play sports in America gradually began to dissipate as I started playing soccer for our village team. Through playing soccer with those in our village the Lord helped me to see that fulfillment comes from loving Him and loving others more than myself.

My life is and has been wonderful. Growing up in Uganda has given me a wide range of experiences and a perspective on the world and the Church that many do not have the chance to have. I often think to myself that I am not really American, but I am not really Ugandan either, which makes me unique. I am happy about this because it has given me an eagle’s view of both cultures as well as of many diverse backgrounds.

Living among two different cultures also gives me a clear view of human nature. It has helped me see things about human nature that can be hard for others to see. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but when you have been in both pastures, you have experienced both firsthand. I have seen the corrupt side of some seemingly innocent Africans, and I have seen the selfish ambition of some seemingly generous Americans.

Living in a different culture also helps when evangelizing a person from a different culture. Humans have a sin nature no matter where they live, and when you live alongside them, you see specific ways it manifests itself. Living and relating with people of two different cultures has given me knowledge about people worldwide that I might not have had if I were raised in America.

As I come to the end of my childhood, I am very thankful for all the disguised blessings that God has bestowed on me. First and most importantly, He has undeservedly given me an amazing family. I can’t fully express how incredible my family is, as many of you already know.

Let me start with my dad. He is a fantastic leader, CEO father, friend, pastor, husband, and soccer player. He is crazy busy and at times overwhelmed, but you would never know it by the way he loves and serves those around him. I believe my dad is good at what he does for many reasons, but one of the greatest is because of his strong helper, my mom, who is a supermom. I believe she is often like Aaron holding Moses’ arms up.

There aren’t enough superlatives for my mom. She is a highly educated teacher of both homeschool and women Bible studies. She is a one-person cafeteria staff. She mothers a whole community. And she can single-handedly lead our home when my dad is away on pastoral visitations. It is not that she or my dad never get tired, or love people perfectly, but rather that they constantly rely on Jesus Christ to give them the needed strength to press on toward the day when they will stand face to face with the God whom they have served faithfully for so many years. 

I truly believe that neither of my parents could do it on their own. They need each other, and the longevity and fruitfulness of their relationship has translated into their family and ministry. I believe an organization is only as good as its leadership, and my parents have given their lives to lead this organization well.

As well, God has blessed my parents with a crazy, big, fun, loud, and loving family. My family is a gift and blessing from God. I have such close relationships with all my siblings. The relationship that I have with my brothers and sisters has been so helpful for my spiritual growth. They are a safe zone for me to learn, ask questions, and grow. My siblings are my best friends, and I can’t say enough about how much I value them.

God, through my parents, has given me the best childhood there is. I have seen poverty and riches; I have seen people totally in love with Christ and others who have rejected him. And I have seen that the secret to joy in this life is found in a deep relationship with the creator of heaven and earth.

As I go to college, I still want to feel a part of this ministry. And I would like to personally thank the SOS family for all the love and support that they have given me and my family throughout all the years. I know your support enabled me to have this childhood. And thanks for all the times you showed us hospitality when we came to visit. I will never forget those crazy and fun furlough trips.

Please pray for me as I go to a world with more temptations and distractions. Pray that I would love God more than anything else and that I would keep Him number one in my life. (And also pray I don’t get fat from all your delicious food). Thank you again for everything.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Ethan Hurley

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