Off to Uganda December 26!

Dear Christian Sisters,

I am off to Uganda December 26th! It’s Giving Tuesday. Will you prayerfully consider supporting my trip to Uganda December 26-January 6?

It was this mission trip a year ago that compelled me to talk boldly about abortion and pre-marital sex. Please support me so that I can go back to serve the country that changed my life, resulting in this blog, speaking, and more.

I’ll be serving in Katwe, one of the largest slums in Africa, and in northern Uganda at a refugee camp.

You can donate online.

Thank you!

In Christ,

Cheryl

Faces of Abortions OR Call Me a Missionary to McDonald’s

Dear Christian Sisters,

People’s lives are messy.

The circumstances surrounding a woman’s decision to abort are messy.

We need to be the love of Christ to women in their messiness. We are responsible for the Great Commission, and we should think of these women as potential disciples.

Who I am Today

Because most of you don’t know me, let me paint a picture of who I am today. I am married to an evangelical Christian man, Russ, who helps support the airlines so their planes stay in the air and not on the ground—which I know you all appreciate.

I have 2 boys school-age boys—one with Aspergers and one with ADHD. They were in public school until recently, and now I homeschool them both.

I have a bachelors degree in technical communication, and I nearly finished my master’s degree in instructional technology. Before I decided to stay home to raise boys, I was a project manager leading teams to create web-based training for big corporations like Target, Northwest Airlines, and 3M.

A couple years ago, I went back into the workforce at our church until this year when I chose to stay home to homeschool my high schooler.

I am on the prayer team, I am in bible study class Sunday mornings, and I am in a special needs moms’ small group—although I have to admit that my kids’ special needs are so much easier than all my girlfriends’ kids.

But what I love about that group is that they understand that life is hard.

Because, you see, my home while in high school was not easy.

Well, it started easy. I am the spoiled youngest of three. My sister and brother are a bit older than me, so when I was done with 5th grade, they were both off at college, and I was the spoiled only child.

Living in a Home Tormented with Schizophrenia

But in the middle of 10th grade, my sister and her 6-month-old baby boy came home for Christmas and never left. Her husband had left her because she had a mental illness that he couldn’t handle.

Suddenly, I was the neglected middle child.

This situation led to a lot of arguing in my house. As some of you know, having three generations living in the same house is challenging because parents and grandparents don’t always agree on how to raise the child, so you have that natural tension.

Now add a mother who is not doing basic things for her child because she can’t think straight, because she is hearing voices that aren’t there.

It took two years for the doctors to diagnose my sister. She has paranoid schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is different than multiple personalities disorder. With schizophrenia, you hear voices and have hallucinations. For my sister, she had a “friend” that she talked to in gibberish while pacing. Evidently her “friend” was funny because she would talk and talk and talk, listen, and then laugh.

The priority in my parents’ house was my nephew. And rightly so.

But I didn’t get the attention that I needed as a teenage girl.

My parents missed a musical that I was in because of my sister. They made the best out of a difficult situation, but I was hurt, and my defenses went up.

My parents didn’t ask me about my day or what I was doing at school, so I stopped telling them.

My parents didn’t ask me why I was upset about friendships, so I didn’t share anything with them.

And then I met a guy.

Spending time with him was so much more peaceful than listening to my toddler nephew whine at the dinner table, my mom correct him, and my sister get upset about my mom “interfering” with her parenting—you know, the parenting that she wasn’t doing.

I was home for dinner, but only because my parents required it. I hated being at the dinner table.

But as soon as dinner was over, I took my homework to my boyfriend’s place.

Now, are any of you surprised that I got pregnant?

It was the end of my junior year in high school. Having lived with my nephew for a couple years and all the fighting that happened around parenting him, I had NO interest in raising a child.

I was busy with extracurriculars at school:

  • I was first chair alto saxophone player in the band.
  • I was editor of the high school newspaper.
  • I was a straight-A student.

I did not want the burden of a pregnancy and most especially did not want to see the disapproving looks or hear the disapproving comments of my classmates or my teachers. So I decided to have an abortion.

My mom was so stressed out about my sister and my nephew that my decision to have an abortion seemed like a relief to her.

My dad was distraught, but he never said anything to me until after the abortion. Then he realized that he needed counseling more than I did. I was fine.

My dad was the church choir director. He still is today. He just turned 80, and I’m certain that he will be the choir director until the day he dies.

My mom was a former church organist. She’s a preacher’s kid. She volunteered for everything at church, including leading the children’s choir and teaching Sunday school. Today, she plays handbells at her church.

I had been a leader in the church youth group. I could’ve been the president of the youth group the following year, but Mom and I convinced Dad to leave the church.

This was shortly before I got pregnant. We were so stressed out at home, and our pastor made our church work even more stressful. No one was helping us deal with my sister’s schizophrenia—or at least I didn’t think they were.

Church was a burden. So we left.

In the dozen years that followed, I—

  • lived with my boyfriend,
  • bought a house with him, and
  • married him–in that order. The wrong order.

It was a one-sided marriage in that I loved him, but he didn’t love me—but I didn’t believe in divorce.

I didn’t think that he believed in divorce, either, but after 13 years together, 9 of which we were married, he decided he wanted a divorce.

About a year and a half later, I found the love of Christ. My husband, Russ, is the hero in my salvation story.

We don’t have enough time for me to tell you all those details, but in short, when we met—

  • I was politically liberal,
  • pro-choice,
  • very skeptical of evangelicals, and
  • I was sure that my politically conservative, evangelical boyfriend would be scared away by my abortion.

He wasn’t. He loved me anyway. He showed me the love of Christ.

And it was because Russ showed me the love of Christ through his acceptance and love of me that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Faces of Abortion

Now, I want you to stop and think about how you picture the faces of women who have had abortions. Did you picture me?

The angry women that you see in the pro-choice movement are probably faces of abortion. They are faces of pain. They are faces of messy lives.

This last winter, I went on a mission trip through church to Uganda where I had a life-changing conversation with one of the pastors about abortion in Africa and in the United States.

Since returning, the Lord has made it clear that I am to change the conversation about abortion.

Knowing that I was going to go public with my abortion online, I began telling my family and friends so that they would hear about my abortion from me and not by reading it online.

In the process, I have found out that some of my friends have had abortions, too. Turns out that their lives have not been so perfect, either.

You don’t know how many of the faces you see every day belong to women who have had abortions. Have they experienced the love of Christ through you?

Or have they heard judgment as you comment on all the pro-choice mantra that comes from “liberal media” or the Women’s March?

What the Great Commission Means

We seem to forget that the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) was told to us disciples, that we are responsible for the Great Commission. When we hear the Great Commission, we hear “go to all nations”…

…but we forget that “nations” means ethnic groups. We forget that Jesus, a Jew Himself, made the Great Commission while in Israel, talking to Jews. He was telling them to make disciples of all the Gentiles—us.

The U.S. is the melting pot of nations, of ethnic groups. The Great Commission is meant for us—as well as all other nations.

Yes, some people are called to go on mission trips. I am. You might not be. But all of us are called to think of every trip

  • to work,
  • to the grocery store,
  • to the drive thru

as a mission trip.

[For more on the Great Commission, read my blog post, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”]

Missionary to McDonald’s

For example, my Sunday morning routine includes going through the McDonald’s drive thru. Now, before you judge our eating habits, know that this quick breakfast allows me to do my prayer walk, take the dog for a run, and get everyone out the door for church without fighting.

There are two women who are usually working in the drive thru–Susan and Gloria. Susan is from India. Gloria is Hispanic. My goal every Sunday morning is to make them smile because I’m sure that they get many grumpy customers. Besides, they got up at 5 am to make breakfast so that I don’t have to.

One day, I hope to have a relationship that allows me to share the gospel. That’s my prayer.

Call me a missionary to McDonald’s!

Share the Love of Christ

So I urge you to share the love of Christ wherever you go. You have no idea what is going on behind those faces.

Your job is to make Christ appealing to them so that others want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior—even if those others are pro-choice.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

God’s Perfect Plan or Sometimes God Just Likes to Show Off!

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
Isaiah‬ ‭55:8‬

I thought I had the perfect plan.
God had a different plan—a plan that brought Him more glory.

And even though God’s plan was harder, I continued to rejoice through the difficulties.

I was anxious for nothing. God knew my prayer requests. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarded my heart and mind. (read Philippians 4:4-7)

A Mother’s Cry Ministry

After returning from my first mission trip in January (to Uganda), I knew the Lord was asking me to speak boldly about abortion and purity—but I didn’t want to.

Cheryl in Uganda with beautiful orphans. Photo by Mike Kelly, PhotoEmagery
Cheryl in Uganda with beautiful orphans.
Photo by Mike Kelly, PhotoEmagery

I met Julie Mad-Bondo, founder of A Mother’s Cry ministry, which is all about stopping abortion one woman at a time, and at God’s prompting, I agreed to speak whenever she wanted me to.

Yay for Julie and her ministry! but a real challenge for me.

I wrestled with the Lord over this. When I figured out why I didn’t want to do what God was calling me to do and talked it over with several people, I got over my issues. I knew I was going to say “yes” to God, probably by the weekend of our church’s women’s conference the first weekend in March.

In the meantime, I felt Satan’s attacks—because, of course, he wants abortion, premarital sex, and adultery.

Whenever I feel Satan’s attacks, I know I’m on the path that the Lord chose for me. Although his attacks are exhausting, they actually motivate me to do what God asks because there’s nothing more peaceful than being in God’s will.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7b

Jennie Allen

At the McLean Bible Church women’s conference March 3-4 with keynote speaker Jennie Allen, founder of the IF:Gathering, I did fully submit to God’s will. At Jennie’s prompting and while at the conference, I took the first small step to doing God’s will.

Jennie Allen, Founder of IF:Gathering & Keynote Speaker at McLean Bible Church Women's Conference
Jennie Allen, Founder of IF:Gathering & Keynote Speaker at McLean Bible Church Women’s Conference

And then the second.
And then the third.
And then the doors of opportunity just started flying open.

Suddenly, I had a speaking engagement scheduled for the spring and two more tentative dates for the summer.

Uganda

Then Julie asked me to speak to teens and women at the end of June—in Uganda!

Of course I said, “Yes!” I love the people of Uganda and longed to see my new-found friends. What an incredible opportunity to encourage women and teens in Uganda and then return home to do the same in the United States.

Uganda in Africa

New “Employment”

Cry loudly. Do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet! Isaiah 58:1aA couple weeks later, my employer offered buyouts, which would be followed by layoffs if necessary, because they were reorganizing.

Oddly, I had an incredible peace about taking the buyout. I felt like the Lord wanted me to be home with my family while simultaneously speaking boldly about abortion and purity. So, I took the buyout.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Before my last day, we found out that my husband, Russ, needed to have his hip replaced. I thought the timing was perfect because I would be free from work to help him with recovery before going to Uganda.

But it was unclear as to how much of Russ’ pain was from his back and how much was from his hip, so he first tried injections to relieve pain. He seemed to be doing okay until the middle of May.

In May, the pain got progressively worse. He was miserable.

In early June, Russ called to get surgery scheduled and got a doctor appointment to discuss surgery for the day I was to return from Uganda. The doctor’s office was concerned about scheduling surgery so soon after injections. Evidently, there’s increased risk of bone infection when surgery is soon after an injection.

Russ is no wimp. The pain was bad. So, the doctor called him in for a new x-ray. We found out that the reason that he was suddenly in so much more pain is because he had avascular necrosis or AVN, a condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. Yes, the bone was dead.

That’s why he was in so much pain. They scheduled surgery for July 11.

I had been doing more and more nursing for Russ so that he would be more comfortable. I was conflicted. I wanted to be home for all of June to take care of him, but I also knew that God was sending me to Uganda. It wasn’t just that I wanted to go. I was convicted that the Lord was sending me.

But at the very least, I could shorten my trip by a day. I changed my flights so that I could leave Uganda as soon as my speaking obligations were complete. I’d be home Monday, June 26.

Flying Standby

When Julie had asked me to go to Uganda, the challenge was figuring out how to pay for the flight, which would’ve been about $1200 if I had purchased the tickets in March.

Then it occurred to me that I could fly standby.

Russ is retired from an airline. As a retiree, he and his immediate family (that’s me!) fly standby for little or no cost. Because I’d be flying with a different airline, there was a cost, but the cost was less than $500, much better than $1200!

Although the money part of standby sounds wonderful, the unpredictability can be very unnerving. Choosing standby when I have to be in-country at a specific time ready to speak was a risky choice. But I had complete peace about it.

Peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Standby passengers get whatever empty seats have not been sold. Our names are on a standby list. We go to the airport and wait at the gate to find out whether we get on the plane.

Yes, that means we can pay for parking, check our bags, go through security, etc. and not get on the plane.

What if we don’t get on the plane? Then we check other flights to see if we can get on another plane. Sometimes we spend a whole day in the airport. Sometimes we get a hotel room and stay overnight because we’re stuck someplace that is not home. Sometimes you give up and drive the 10+ hours to Chicago instead.

I’ve done all those things for over 15 years with two boys in tow. It can be nerve wracking, but you have to remember that you don’t have control so there’s no point in worrying.

I have learned to create contingency plans, keep myself and the boys calm, and be ready to make last-minute decisions.

It can be fun, but it can also be nerve wracking. Many people don’t like to fly standby because it’s not predictable—including my husband! He remembers how much better it was to fly standby before 9/11, rising fuel prices, and airline consolidation. Planes used to go out with more empty seats than they do today.

But every empty seat is lost revenue. Airlines have changed so that they send out full flights. It saves them money and keeps them in business, which we appreciate because we have retirement benefits tied to their business!

So, I listed as a standby passenger on four flights:

  1. home to Amsterdam
  2. Amsterdam to Uganda
  3. Uganda to Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam home

KLM 777
Standby made Julie nervous—and understandably so. What if one of her speakers didn’t make it to Uganda? Not only would she have to punt, but it would affect her reputation.

But I had absolute peace—no worries at all.
I felt absolutely confident that I would get there on time.

Change in Plans

It was one week before I was to leave for Uganda. Russ was in so much pain that he wanted to change his surgery to an earlier date. Although I hated seeing him in pain, I did not like the risk of bone infection. Bone infection sounded like worse pain and worse consequences than AVN. So, we prayed.

After prayer, we both had peace about asking the doctor if he would reschedule the surgery for an earlier date.

Later that day, Russ texted me with a new surgery date: Tuesday, June 27.

I was scheduled to land on Monday, June 26—twenty-four hours earlier, as a standby passenger.

June & July 2017 calendar, showing events on 21st through 28th

I had a moment of panic. What if I didn’t get on that plane?

Then I realized that God had planned everything.

After just a moment of doubt,
I had peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Getting on the Plane

Getting on the first plane was the hardest thing to do. Not because there were no seats but because I was leaving my husband behind.

But I couldn’t prevent him from falling.
I couldn’t prevent him from getting into a car accident.
He was in God’s hands. I had to trust HIM.

Faith. The Lord was testing my faith.

At the gate, Julie wanted to know what the next option was if I were not to get on this flight. I didn’t know. I hadn’t looked up the next flight option.

I had unbelievable peace and said,
“I’m getting on the plane.”
And I did.

In Amsterdam, I had absolute peace, and I got on the second plane!

In Uganda

Julie had put together a speaking team of three: herself, the founder of A Mother’s Cry; Rhonda Darville, founder of the Bahamas GodParent Center, and me.

Cheryl Krichbaum, Julie Mad-Bondo, Rhonda Darville
Cheryl Krichbaum, Julie Mad-Bondo (A Mother’s Cry), Rhonda Darville (Bahamas GodParent Center)

We had a great time! We spoke to teens on Friday, women on Saturday, and churchgoers on Sunday. We encouraged one another, we learned more about Ugandan culture, and we laughed at ourselves!

I especially enjoyed hearing from people who were encouraged.

  • Encouraged to think 20 years ahead and to think about how pre-marital pregnancy would take them off the straight path that God has planned for them
  • Encouraged because they, too, are special needs parents (John 9) as we are
  • Encouraged with specifics on how to avoid the temptation of premarital sex
  • Encouraged to think that they are critical to the prosperous Uganda that God wants for them

Cheryl speaking to teens and tweens in Uganda

Going Home

Julie was just as concerned about my getting home as she was my getting to Uganda. I was going to the airport alonelate at night in a foreign country, a white woman traveling alone in Africa. What a dear friend!

But, again, I had peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Emmanuel, our driver and protector, very kindly saw me all the way to the door and watched me go through security. (More on my dear friend Emmanuel later, but isn’t it appropriate that his name is Emmanuel?)

When I went to check my bag, I got my seat assignment—I was getting on the plane to Amsterdam!

Once in Amsterdam, I had a 7-hour layover, which provided opportunity to pray and reflect on the weekend.Just my hand and my purple pen as I write in my spiral-bound notebook

When I went to the gate, the gate agent told me that the flight was full and asked if I would take a jump seat. I had never been asked that before. It sounded exciting!

Again, I wasn’t nervous at all. There’s nothing I can do about the situation, remember? This was all in God’s hands.

On Facebook, I requested prayer. Then I went to get cleaned up.

When I returned to the gate, I watched person after person get on the plane. The gate agents were all very efficient.

I amended my request for prayer on Facebook, saying that if they hadn’t heard from me by 7:45 am, then assume I was on the plane.

It seemed like everyone was on the plane. The gate agent made a phone call. She was talking in Dutch, but I understood “Krichbaum”! I tried connecting to the WiFi so that I could quickly post on Facebook that I was getting on the plane, but I couldn’t connect to the Internet.

The flight attendant got off the phone and reached for my passport.

I was getting on the plane!

But Russ and my family and friends had to trust that “no news is good news.”

Boarding pass labeled
After I got settled in a seat meant for flight attendants, I started crying while singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow” in my head. A flight attendant noticed and asked me what was wrong.

“Nothing! I’m just so grateful that you let me on the plane!”

Cheryl buckled into a seat meant for flight attendantsI explained to her that my husband was having surgery 24 hours after I landed, and I was so appreciative that they let me on the plane.

I really wish I had gotten a picture of the gate agent who asked the flight crew for permission for me to be in a jump seat and a picture of the flight crew who were so kind to me. Even though I don’t have pictures of them, I have prayed for them over and over!

Russ picked me up at the airport. When I got in the car, we lost it! I don’t think we’ve ever been so happy to see each other.

Surgery

Russ was the last surgery of the day. It was delayed by a couple hours. Russ asked if I was still okay with the surgery.  “After this past weekend, of course!”

Everything went perfectly.

After surgery, the nurses stopped Russ’ gurney a couple steps away from the bed and had him take the two steps to the bed.

Russ said, “That’s all? I want to walk to the door!”

The nurses looked surprised but led him across the room to the door and back.

It was late at night, so they kept him overnight. The next day, Russ did great with the physical therapy exercises and practice going up and down stairs and in and out of a pretend car, so they let him go home.

They say that hip replacement patients will have a walker for two weeks. Russ stopped using his the first day.

They expect Russ to be on a cane for two weeks after the walker, but he often walks without it.

Russ does use the cane when walking on our block, and it works really well for closing the back door after the dog comes back inside!

To God be the glory!

God’s Plan Brought HIM More Glory

Do you remember all the way back to the beginning of this story? I had a perfect plan. Russ could’ve had surgery in May and be fully recovered before my trip to Uganda.

But sometimes God likes to show off.

Do you remember the story of Joshua and the Israelite army conquering the city of Jericho (recorded in Joshua 6)? It made no sense that marching around the city for 7 days and yelling would make the walls of resistance to God’s plan fall down. But that’s what happened.

And God got the glory!

Do you remember the story of Gideon and the Israelite army (recorded in Judges 7)? God reduced the army to 300 so that Israel would not “become boastful, saying ‘My own power has delivered me'” (Judges 7:2b).

And God got the glory!

Let me not sound boastful. This trip was not about me. It was about obedience and faith.

To God be the glory!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Uganda Prayer Request Update

I decided to return to the states from Uganda a day earlier because of my husband’s hip and back pain, so I’ll be returning on Monday, June 26th. 

What a blessing to make that decision because just yesterday we found out that Russ’ hip replacement surgery could be moved up to Tuesday, the 27th! 

The whole trip will be June 21-26: I’ll be traveling Wednesday and Thursday; speaking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and traveling Sunday and Monday.
We covet your continued prayers. Thank you for praying along with us!

Back to Uganda

Abortion is illegal in Uganda. But the law doesn’t stop women from having abortions. It never has, and it never will. It does stop them from seeking help for the physical and emotional scars.

When I went to Uganda in December, I thought I would only go this one time. But after just 2 days of ministry, I knew that I had to go back to continue teaching the bible and encouraging the Ugandan children and young adults.

If you’ve seen the movie “Queen of Katwe,” then you have a sense of the poverty there. If you haven’t, then read on and look closely at the pictures below.

We ministered in Katwe. We walked the streets, over the ditches of sewage, past the goats and chickens, and into the little one-room homes that housed families of as many as 10.

We prayed with families. We encouraged them.

For example, there was one young woman who was going to college and hoping to get a job with an airline. I told her that my husband has been in the airline industry his whole life and that she may get flying benefits for her parents so that they can fly standby for free. Her mom looked surprised that she would get out of Katwe to see other parts of Africa or the world.

Hope. We did our best to help them feel hope.

Not crying that day was the hardest thing I ever had to do. My smiles in those pictures were forced in order to provide encouragement.

But in my heart, I was crying that those mothers had to send their children off to boarding school in order to provide a better life for them.

I was crying that 7-year-olds were carrying 1-year-olds on their backs and caring for them because the parents were off working.

I was crying that 5-year-old boys were playing with old bike tires and empty plastic bottles because those were the only “toys” that they had.

I was crying because no one was watching the baby who was crawling toward the ditch full of sewage. (See picture above.)

What’s going to change Uganda? This generation of children.

How are they going to change Uganda? By having the heart of Christ.

How will they know how to have the heart of Christ? By people teaching them all that Jesus commanded. Jesus said:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.”
Matt 28:19-20a

I believe that Uganda is going to look very different in 20 years, and I want to see the transformation for myself.

Little did I know that not only would I go back to Uganda, but that I’d go back within 6 months. I’ll be in country June 23-26! This time not with my church but with a new ministry called A Mother’s Cry, which is all about stopping abortion one woman at a time.

Abortion is illegal in Uganda. But the law doesn’t stop women from having abortions. It never has, and it never will. It does stop them from seeking help for the physical and emotional scars.

Julie Mad-Bondo, the founder of A Mother’s Cry, asked me to go with her and her friend Rhonda to speak to teens on Friday and to women on Saturday. Officially, my topic is purity, but I’ll be touching on abortion, too. Rhonda will talk about abortion. Julie will talk about marriage.

The Lord has made it abundantly clear to me that I am to talk boldly about abortion and purity. They go hand-in-hand. We cannot talk about stopping abortion without talking about the benefits of purity. The Great Commission does say to teach them to do all that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:20a).

I am not writing to ask for money. I am using our flight benefits to fly standby, which is a little unnerving because there’s never a guarantee that I’ll get a seat on the airplanes, but it is significantly cheaper than buying a ticket. Russ and I have put money toward the trip and relatives are chipping in, too.

What I would like is for you to join me in prayer. I have the following prayer requests:

  • That Jesus, who is The Word, would be the words that I speak; that I would get out of the way of what God wants to accomplish
  • That our audience’s ears and eyes would be open to what God wants them to hear, learn, and do
  • That our travels would be safe
  • That our travels would not be delayed in any way (especially for my status as a standby passenger)
  • That we would remain healthy throughout the trip
  • That our families would be healthy and safe while we are away

Please also pray for Mama Evah, who organized these events and runs Destiny Village school and orphanage; Pastor Fred, the lead pastor at Saints Gate Church; and others who will continue to shepherd the teens and women long after we have returned home.