What I have seen God do in Northern Uganda
Karen was on our first team that went to Northern Uganda in 2011. She returned this year for her fourth trip
When someone says, "tell me about your trip," I stop and become unable to speak because I don't know where to start. Do I start five years and four trips ago? Do I start with the displacement of the people or the water issues or the death and destruction? It's hard to not tell it all because each piece is a part of the beautiful story that could only be written by God.
EWT's ministry began in Kampala and the slums of Soweto. Many of the people they ministered to had fled to the city as their homes in Northern Uganda had been burned and their families killed during the Joseph Kony war. In hearing the stories of the people from their staff, Rusty and Betty Jo began to feel the Lord asking them: “What about the people who are still there? Who is loving them in the name of Jesus?
So in 2012, EWT moved their children's home, headquarters, and ministry focus seven hours away to war-torn Northern Uganda. I was part of the team on the first visit there. We traveled deep, deep into the bushes, from village to village, meeting with the families in the most desperate situations you could imagine. We had gone to select children for the child sponsorship program.
It was in one of these villages that we met Eron. He was a blind man with seven children. His family had a mud hut with a thatched roof, another hut that was falling in and a small round building with no roof. Eron was the saddest, most hopeless person I had ever met, because he could provide absolutely nothing for his family. Three of Eron's children were chosen to be sponsored, giving them an opportunity for an education. Many more were selected from among the other wonderful families we met.
The following year I was honored to go back to those homes, but it wasn’t until my third visit that I began to see incredible change - change that only God can do.
EWT staff had formed groups with leaders and they were discipling the families. Those families were inviting more of their neighbors to join them. The Community Discipleship Program was underway and growing! As we would visit each village, we heard songs about their gratefulness to God for what He had done for them. We saw healthier bodies, much hope and many smiles.
And we saw Eron. As the people sang, danced and told stories, we watched him literally jump and jump and jump. We could hear his voice over all the others. He had no intention of containing his excitement for what God had done for him and his family.
I truly didn't realize what I would experience this year. As we arrived at newly dug wells and meeting places in the villages, the people would sweep the road in front of our vehicles with palm leaves and tree branches. They would sing all the way to our stop. All of this was part of celebrating all that God had done. We would pray to thank God for clean water, His provision and His Word. We would watch as they told stories from the Bible in drama and song.
The difference in this year and that first year was shocking. In my four visits over five years, I saw the miracle of hope. Where there was sadness, now there is gladness in their hearts. Where food was scarce, they are now beginning gardens and raising chickens. Where there were men missing from their families, now there is new life and commitment. One woman was a brewer, one a witch doctor and many were into occult practices.
Now they are singing praises to the God that changed their lives. Now they are learning the truths of the Bible. Now their children are being educated. One child at Jireh Children's Home wants to be a doctor. Others want to be teachers and nurses and engineers and preachers. All want to serve their fellow Ugandans.
So, you see, I have to share the "thens" to explain the "nows" of my most recent trip. Knowing that God is providing for His Ugandan children, great and small, is a wonderful miracle to watch. I am honored to have witnessed this Kingdom work. All praise to the Lord!
Written By Karen Donaldson