On a snowy Christmas Eve in 2007, Pastor Steve Warman drove to a concert at his church, the Apostolic Church of Auburn Hills in Michigan, unaware that God was about to write an extraordinary story of partnership, transformation, and hope.
That night, Bishop John Wayabire, who was visiting from Uganda, stepped into the church after hearing about the concert at a local restaurant and feeling God leading him to attend.
As soon as Pastor Steve and Bishop John crossed paths, they could sense God at work.
John told Steve about three orphanages he’d built in Uganda. He explained that many kids in his country who live in severe poverty need vital care and the hope of Jesus.
Feeling the need to help these kids in poverty, Steve decided to send several people from his church to Uganda to visit the orphanages. “We discovered John was taking care of hundreds of kids,” says Steve. “So, our church decided to support John’s ministry.”
Steve didn’t know it then, but their church would soon be linking arms with royalty. In 2013, because of his exceptional leadership, John was crowned king of Obwa Ikumbania Bwa Bagwere, where he ruled over 2.5 million people.
“Even when John became king, he was humble,” says Steve. “He was elected because he was a great Christian leader. Although his tribal leaders weren’t Christians, they saw the way he cared for children. They would say, ‘that’s true religion.’”
Each time Steve connected with King John, he grew more inspired. “John’s heart was for kids,” says Steve. “He always said, ‘Our children will not be forgotten.’ He and his wife had kids of their own, but they took in more kids. They had 13 children in their home. He had to start building orphanages because he ran out of room.”
But even though King John was bringing vital care to children in his community, he prayed for a way to transform more lives in Uganda. The need was so great.
Steve had been praying, too. Around that time a friend of Steve’s started working for OneChild and helped connect him with the ministry.
As soon as OneChild’s leaders heard Steve’s passion for bringing hope to kids in Uganda, they were eager to partner with him. After much prayer, they invited Steve and King John to help launch OneChild’s first Hope Centers in Uganda.
Steve and King John enthusiastically agreed. OneChild’s leaders in Colorado and Kenya quickly started planning a trip to Uganda to discuss the logistics with King John.
But sadly, on Feb. 7, 2021, three months before the trip, King John passed away after battling COVID-19.
Steve, along with the OneChild team, were heartbroken. King John had been an inspirational leader — and a faithful friend. Because King John cared deeply about children, Steve and the OneChild team decided to meet with his widow, Queen Sarah Wayabire, to see how they could bring his vision to life.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, Queen Sarah was devastated. She had just lost her loving husband and the devoted father of her children. Plus, hundreds of kids were counting on her.
“I was losing faith,” she recounts. “How would I care for these children? How would I feed them? When I heard OneChild was coming, I said, ‘Thank you Jesus — hope is coming!’ You are a God who does not leave His people. I see that scripture coming to life!”
Even in her grief, Queen Sarah never stopped advocating for the children of her country. She eagerly agreed to continue the partnership and carry on her husband’s legacy of compassion, determination, and love.
Today, Pastor Steve’s church members sponsor 500 kids at three Hope Centers across Uganda. At the Hope Centers, dedicated Child Champions ensure that kids receive nourishing food, medical checkups, mentoring, and educational opportunities.
“A lot of Ugandan kids don’t attend school because they can’t afford the fees,” explains Steve. “School is far down on the children’s priority list — their top priority is survival. But since we’re giving them an education, they can pursue their dreams.”
Queen Sarah is also excited that the children are learning about God’s faithfulness. She believes they will transform Uganda and shine the light of Jesus throughout the country. “They will become lawyers, pastors, and doctors who will share their testimonies,” she says, “so more people can come to Christ.”
Through this partnership, Queen Sarah trusts that her husband’s legacy will continue. In the future, she is confident that more kids in Uganda will discover hope. They will thrive. They will experience God’s love. And they will fulfill His unique plans for their lives. Those children will become great leaders — like King John — who will go on to change the world.
School is far down on the children’s priority list — their top priority is survival. But since we’re giving them an education, they can pursue their dreams.”