Stories from Uganda – David

(David, Chairman, Golden Investors Club, Jinja, Uganda)

Without question, we believe that one of the biggest ways – if not the biggest way – we can impact the next generation is to reach the men. Statistical studies consistently reveal the same findings – a man’s active presence in the home provides the best environment for children to thrive.

Of course we aren’t surprised, since the author of life and humankind itself had this to say in Genesis 1:27:

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God created both men and woman with unique characteristics, fashioned after Himself, with unique roles to play in the marital relationship. The idea is that men and women compliment one another in ways that meet their fullest expression of goodness and “rightness” as we become one flesh. This is why God said the following in Genesis 2:18:

It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

When a woman raises a child by herself without the complimentary characteristics that a father brings to the table, the child suffers. As well-meaning and as do-gooding as that mother may very well be, a single-parent home, is, by God’s definition, “not good.”  It’s true that war, disease, and other outside influences often take a father away from the core family unit. But even more often, he simply takes himself away.

In Uganda and elsewhere, this is often due to the stigmatization of the failure to provide financially for one’s family. While we admit we have much to learn, we’re excited by the continue work of a pilot Men’s Empowerment program we started in Uganda last summer.

During this last trip, our team had the opportunity to check in with one of the men helping to lead this effort. Here’s our team leader Mitch’s take:

“We talked quite a bit with David. He is the chairman of the “Golden Investment Club” which is our pilot men’s empowerment program. There are 14 men who are officially part of the investment club and they currently are meeting twice per month on their own. One meeting is strictly for business topics to help each other progress in their businesses. The other meeting is reserved for spiritual development. All of the men have their own jobs and businesses to support their family. They work together and lean on each other to help their businesses. The bigger accomplishment for this group is that for the first time, they are looking to invest in something for long term financial stability. Currently, their group has 1.5 million shillings on their way to 5 million shillings to be able to invest in a fish farm. The fish farm is very profitable and would provide extra income that each of them would split among their families for residual income. I can’t over emphasize how big of a deal this is because it is completely against their societal norms.”

The second Man Up team leaving in July will have further opportunity to follow up with David. We believe that by empowering these men to do collectively in their society what they may not be able to individually, that not just their children, but generations of children after them, might be positively affected in ways that honor God’s purposes for family.

That’s what Manning Up is all about.

Stories from Uganda – Jennifer

(Jennifer, in Masese, Uganda)

One of the other great stories to highlight from our first foray into Uganda this year is Jennifer’s.  Jennifer is a single mom who, like many women in Masese, faces the daily struggle to provide for her four children who are growing up without Dad in the picture.  In reality, her situation reminds us of the single mothers in America who are “Manning Up” to their responsibilities to be the financial and spiritual providers of the home. The difference, however, is opportunity.  Women like Jennifer simply do not have a fraction of the resources that we have in America.

Fortunately, through the ministry of Man Up and Go, God is making a difference in her life and in her community:

We spent time with Jennifer who also lives in Masese. She has two children at the Bethel Junior School and graduated from the women’s vocational training program as a tailor.  She has now more than doubled her income by working, which has reduced her food expenses.  This, combined with her children getting their first education, is literally changing their family tree. Her last hurdle is a goiter that she has on her neck that makes it difficult for her to breathe at times.  Another member of our team has committed to helping her with medical costs to help her.

We pray you’ll join us in praying for Jennifer and others just like her as the Lord brings them to memory.

 

Stories from Uganda – Luisa

(Luisa, in Masese, Jinja)

There are many stories coming out of the trip our team just finished in Uganda. We hope to share these stories in the coming weeks and months, and would ask that if you feel so led, join us in praying for God to continue to move in the hearts of His children, in whichever continent they reside.

The following comes from one of our team leaders, Mitch:

I met a lady in Masese named Luisa. She is blind, HIV positive and cares for her 2 youngest children and 2 grandchildren. Her husband left her 8 years ago and her oldest child (man in his mid 20s) as left her and has nothing to do with her. She works odd jobs at the Bethel Junior School and makes about 10,000 shillings per month ($3.50). Her rent is twice that and her daughter pays her 20,000-30,000 shillings per month to take care of her children. Two of the 4 children that she cares for go to Bethel Junior School and she stated that the school has changed their family because they get 2 meals per day and an education that they would never get otherwise. Her dream job is to have her own charcoal making business because that is one of the few things she can do being blind and can do right in her community. One of our team members has committed to donating $200 to Pastor Andrew to assist her. That money will pay for her rent for 1 year and get her all of the supplies that she needs to start her business.

How awesome is that? Five years ago, the Bethel Junior School didn’t even exist. Now this precious woman has two grandchildren being fed both materially and spiritually by the staff at Bethel Junior. Our prayer is that these children will be able to continue their education, continue to develop physically, and that they’ll grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that the foundation currently being laid allows for generational change when these children are in their 20’s and 30’s.

This story is just one of many. Thank you for praying with us and for standing with us. In Christ, our work is not in vain, for we are laying up treasures in heaven, even as we strive to improve life on earth now (Matthew 6:19-20).

Super Saturday Feeding Program Begins

A man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

This verse is a good one to remember no matter where you are, but especially when you’re an American in Africa. No matter how much calculating, strategizing, or planning you do, one thing is certain – T.I.A. will happen to you.

This IAfrica is the norm, not the exception. Its essence will lose something as I try to translate it, but the definition resembles something close to this: “Plan for your plans to be changed.”  In other words:

  • Do your best to forecast that whatever you think should happen, probably won’t;
  • Remember that Africa is event-oriented, not time-oriented;
  • Make plans to control the only thing you can control 100% of the time – your attitude.

You may plan your steps, but ultimately, T.I.A.

We were reminded of this recently during the shipment of a container of food destined for one of our ministry partners, as it was sidelined at the Kenya/Uganda border. Convoy of Hope specializes in “feeding the world,” and through the generation donations of people associated with World Missionary Evangelism, shipped 272,000 nutrient-rich meals that landed port in Mombassa, Kenya, en route to Jinja.

Enter T. I. A.

Without going into heavy detail, the cost of this endeavor – which is significant – was made even more significant just one day before it was supposed to cross the border on a truck into Uganda.  We received correspondence from former Man Up trip participant and current  WME Ugandan National Director, Katie McGinnis, that we needed an extra $1400 to pay in shipping and taxes before the shipment would be allowed to come into Uganda.  On top of that, a $300 per day fee was to be assessed by the trucking company within 48 hours if we couldn’t come up with the money and the truck just sat at the border.

It was at this point we made an impassioned plea on Facebook and with our circle of friends and family to help us raise the $1400.  With the wire transfer taking at least one day to complete, we essentially had just 24 hours to raise the money.

The Scriptures say the “righteous shall walk by their faith,” and that is the exciting element of a Spirit-filled life with Jesus.  You never know what a day will bring forth, but you can always count on Him to show up!   We had dozens of supporters of the ministry step up to the plate and within 24 hours, had raised every single dime needed to pay those [unexpected] taxes and fees.

But of course the story doesn’t stop there.  The truck still needed to pull into its intended destination in Jinja.  Merely yards from being able to unload, I’m sure you can guess what happened.

T.I.A.

Crazily, the container nearly flew off the side of the truck. The solution? Unload all the cargo box by box, straighten the container, load the boxes back, then guard the container with your life overnight so as to protect its precious contents.  Fortunately, by dawn’s early light, the crane was in place, the food was lowered, and bellies could start being filled.

Our ministry partners in both Jinja and Pallisa will be using the food to conduct a Super Saturday Feeding Program, designed as an outreach to the community and surrounding areas.  The 3 hour weekly program will not only contain a meal with enough daily nutrients to satiate any growing girl or boy, but will also endeavor to share the Gospel with Scripturally-based teachings, arts and crafts, bible stories, and other evangelistic outreaches.

We are extremely grateful to those who both gave financially and prayed for this financial need to be met.  We didn’t plan for it to go this way, but whenever T.I.A happens, you can often expect to see God right in the middle of it.

For that, we are both humbled and grateful. Thank you again to those who participated in the ministry with us to make the Super Saturday Feeding Program possible.