Before they were even married last year, Lauren Collins Bonertz and her husband Adam knew that long-term missions would be a part of their life.

“When we heard about this opportunity to be family mentors with Amazima, we just stepped out in faith and into what we felt the Lord was leading us to,” Lauren said.

Lauren, who grew up in Destin, had kept up with the ministry in Uganda for several years, and now she and her husband knew this was the time to make the commitment to be family mentors.

“We had to go through a long application and interview process and just had so much peace through the whole thing,” Lauren said. “God really began to move in our hearts, and we knew this was where he was leading us.”

The Amazima School is a classical Christ-centered secondary boarding school under a government license. TAS exists to equip Ugandan students with the tools of learning to enable them to live fully for the glory of God. The school emphasizes academic excellence, servant leadership, and nurturing relationships.

“We will be living on The Amazima School’s campus with 18 students. The school is truly one of a kind,” Lauren said. “Instead of a traditional set up where there are 100 students (mixed gender) in a large room with one adult, the students live in a home with 17 of their same gender peers. This allows for intentional relationships and true life change.”

The students will be between 13 and 21, but they will all be in the same grade level. In Uganda, 83 percent of children do not attend secondary school, the equivalent of middle and high school.

“In essence, we are ‘parents’ for these teens while they are at school. We will play the functional role of a parent without replacing their actual parents,” Lauren said. “We will be building meaningful relationships with each of the 18 kids, helping them with homework, disciplining and guiding when necessary, and, most importantly, sharing the love of Christ with them.

“Adam and I will be modeling a Godly marriage for these teens to empower them to change the country’s culture around the family construct,” she said. “Amazima is all about family preservation and strives to strengthen the family construct in Uganda.”

The school is located on 70 acres just off the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda, and has approximately 170 children. On the website, it says that some of the specific tasks of family mentors include leading daily family devotions, supervising and assisting with daily homework if needed, assigning and supervising daily house/campus chores, conducting regular family meetings, and participating and leading family in planned community service.

The Bonertzes have made a commitment to serve with Amazima for two years, with the possibility of extending their stay.

“We will live there as long as the Lord calls us to live there," she said.

The Bonertzes, who now live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will leave for Uganda in early January. According to Lauren, they will take mainly clothes and, of course, their wedding pictures and a few favorite items. As full-time missionaries, they receive no salary and live off of support. The funds they are responsible for raising cover everything from rent, to insurance, groceries, gas and more.

“We have to be fully funded by the time we leave so we are aiming for December,” Lauren said. “We are trying to get monthly partners because we are in need of $3,400 a month. If you can commit to even $15-$25 a month, please do not think that amount won’t make a difference. It will. And please partner with us in prayer. We cannot do this on our own, and we rely solely on the strength of Christ to carry us.”

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