A few days ago, a group of five of us returned from a missions trip to Uganda. For many of us, the timing was quite crazy. We are in the thick of a new church plant in York, PA, the construction of a new Grace Words Bible Church meeting place, and a personal move to a new home of which we did not even live in before getting on an airplane. To many of us, it really seemed crazy that this would be God's timing, but as we arrived, we soon realized just how responsible and privileged we were to take trips like these. The magnitude of the impact that we made was humbling. Shameful, actually, when I remembered how I had murmured to God about the timing of this trip. My meditation throughout the trip danced between the parable of the Good Samaritan and the mandate of the Great Commission. I'm not really sure where this trip fit. To me, it was both. As we saw our neighbor in need, we helped with all of our might knowing that we were stewards of what God had put in front of us. But, I also had to consider the principles of the Great Commission. No, this was not my "Jerusalem", so to speak, of which was currently crying out for time and attention, but, it was my "uttermost parts of the world", and as I detached myself from my current involvements and considered the work of God, I realized that as easy as travel is these days, this, too, was my necessary responsibility in fulfilling the work of the gospel. Below, you will hear about the different components of the trip and please feel free to contact us directly (
) if you feel in any way called to help.
The Mityana Children's Shelter:
Two of our younger ladies came on this missions trip to help fulfill their Bible College practicum. It was their desire to work with the Mityana children's shelter to both spend time with the children there and also partner with Children of Grace, the main sponsor of the shelter, to help make a video to raise awareness and support. I would have to say they were the driving force behind making the trip altogether, and thank God they did! Both of them had visited Uganda in their teens. One had received the call to go to Bible College on that trip, the other, the call to life involvement with missionary work. Seven or eight years later, they were back in Uganda as seniors in Bible College fulfilling their final practicums.
The shelter in Mityana is located on a large plot of farm land in which they grow all sorts of produce, fish and livestock in efforts to be self sustaining. They also run a Christian school on the land. The conditions are raw, with no running water or electricity, deep in what we call in Africa, "the bush". About five years back, we had trained Annette, the matriarch of the shelter, in our women's discipleship classes, placed her in our women's dorm as she attended Bible College, and trained her in basic first aid so that she would not be defenseless against the inevitable illnesses that the children faced. We also set her up with a relationship with a registered nurse so that whenever she was in need, she could call the nurse and receive medication and treatment for the kids. It was amazing to see her fully in action five years later, having finished her Bible College courses and operating in the medical training that she had received.
Annette relayed that their biggest needs these days are in relation to the Christian School and finding committed Christian teachers. Just for some general education and statistics, the numbers vary, but the conservative estimate is that 55% of Uganda's population is below the age of 18 and 70% is below the age of 30. Furthermore, teenage drinking and sexual promiscuity (and inevitably, teenage pregnancies) run rampant throughout the country. It is our hope to encourage some of the ladies that we work with to get trained as teachers. This would provide both an outlet of ministry as well as a means of support as we give our five loaves and two fish towards the unbelievably large adolescent population in Uganda.
On another note, as we were meeting with ladies that we had not seen in five or more years at the conference, one of the ladies that used to come to the women's discipleship classes greeted us. She had been battling severe health issues for four years after the birth of her two children. She has been unable to work, and finally found out this past week that she was clear from uterine cancer. Praise God, but what a dread to have hanging over your head! As La Tascha comforted her in the suffering that she had experienced, we learned that even just the day before, she had been crying out to God, because in the small shop that her and her husband ran, she had not even made what was equivalent to $1USD the whole day. As a certified nurse's aid and child trauma counselor, she had been searching for new employment opportunities, but to date had not found any. For us, it seemed like a divine appointment. We had just been discussing the need to further medical treatment for the children's shelter as well as praying for a qualified counselor to help meet with the children on a regular basis. Now, we are paying for her to travel to the shelter twice a month to provide medical attention as well as meet with each one of the children on a monthly basis. This provides the financial support she needs to continue, and gives the children the additional medical and counseling attention that they need.
A Report On The Jesus Film:
Thanks to all those who gave towards the portable projector, projector screen and speaker. The Jesus Film was a tremendous hit, and the equipment could not have been more perfect for the environment. The speakers were loud enough for the open air conditions we were often in, the projector bright enough for the daylight showings, and all were compact enough to fit in a simple piece of luggage.
The movie was successful in two ways. One, it was amazing to share the gospel with all of these Ugandans in their local language. Remember, that not only is their English sparse, broken, or non-existent, but also, many are illiterate. So reading the Bible is a privilege that is not so easy for the common masses. This film shared the gospel message from soup to nuts in their local dialect. Very cool. Secondly, imagine being a Ugandan, with no electricity and no running water, now staring at this amazingly clear picture of a movie on a large scale. It was enough to make the churches that we were showing it in famous. So, it was quite a draw for those who may not have otherwise cared to hear the gospel or show up to a regular church service. Young and old were captivated and therefore exposed to the gospel message.
A few other neat anecdotes. While we were in Uganda, we got an email from one of our friends back home, Allison, who said that they had a contact with someone from Burundi who was now living in Uganda. We emailed her the details of the conference and the directions to pass on, but did not have very high expectations that he would come. On the first night of the conference, out of the darkness, a man in broken English slides up in front of La Tascha and says, "Hi, I am Desire." (Desire is pictured on the left.) La Tascha stared at him blankly. Finally, he gets out, "Allison". She couldn't believe it. The man had traveled 30 minutes in the pouring down rain up this mountain with roads that had been flooded out to make it to the conference, and found her. His story is incredible. He became an orphan at the age of 9, and watched his parents get slaughtered before his eyes due to tribal fightings. He had been living from camp to camp since 1998 and had just come to Uganda to find a new resting place 8 months ago. Allison had met him in Burundi on a missions trip several years ago while working with orphans. His faith in God was fresh, and impressive. In the little English that he knew, he explained that he was born again in 2009 and his whole life changed. All bitterness of the past had been washed away and his life with God had become his new hope. He did admit that he was starting to feel like his future was getting very bleak because living from day to day had become very hard. But, he tried not to think about it too much, because he knew God would provide. Upon meeting us, the clouds in the sky seemed to break a bit. We connected him with P. Sam, the head pastor of the church, who set up some future meetings to talk about moving him up on the hill to help lodge him as he attended Bible College. Please pray for him and for God's will to be done. It would be our joy to come back in the next months and years and see him thriving with God.
Some Closing Thoughts:
These are just some of the examples of what God did on the trip, not to mention the deep work in our own hearts as we lived each day not knowing what it would bring us. Jane and Jovia, the orphans that we support are growing up and doing well, some of the ladies we had trained years ago graduated this past weekend from Bible College, fresh blood is coming up through the ranks, and neighboring villages and countries were hungry for additional visits. We don't know what God has in store for the future, or what role we will play, we just know that it is the will of God for it to be on our radar, and it is our responsibility (and privilege) to make a point to care.