(The following entry was written by team leader Vicki Tims from Clearwater, FL. Vicki is a wife and mother and long-time supporter of Man Up’s efforts in Uganda; she also currently sits on the Board of Directors.)
In the summer of 2013, I would take my 1st mission trip ever and it just so happened to be to the country of Uganda. This would be the beginning of the spiritual journey the Lord had called me to for this season of my life. I have returned to Uganda every summer since. During that 2013 trip, Man Up and Go would launch their first series of men’s conferences. Not unlike the United States, many Ugandan men have run away from their responsibilities as husbands, fathers and contributing members of their communities. It is Man Up and Go’s mission to restore the family unit and it starts by educating, encouraging and holding men accountable. This would also be on the hearts of some very special local pastors with whom Man Up and Go has established relationships.
Our First Woman Up Conferences
Although I truly believe that restoration will only occur if the men start “manning up”, my heart was burdened for the women that had fallen victim to the negligence of the men there. One of the pastor’s wives had labeled them “slaves” to the men in their lives. So, our trip in late July, 2017, would be our first ever “Woman Up and Go” team. We prayed and partnered with the pastor’s wives and held women’s conferences in three different districts of Uganda. 10 women and 2 men from 4 different states – Kansas, Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida – joined up for this very special trip.
The first conference was held at Glory Land Church in Jinja. Over 600 women attended! We were humbled at the response. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the diligent planning of the pastor’s wife, Juliet, amazing things happened there. The women were inspired, encouraged and refreshed as our team members shared their testimonies and sufferings openly with our Ugandan sisters. Even though we are from different cultures, we share many of the same struggles. The theme of these conferences was the Legacy and Hope of a Mother. Planting the seeds of hope, found only in Christ Jesus, was our sole purpose…letting them know that they were not alone in their suffering…that God loves them and has a plan and a purpose for every one of them – this was our message. Each conference had its own identity. The presence of the Holy Spirit embodied each one. Blessings were received not only by the women attending the conferences, but also by each one of our team members.
Precious to Him
We also spent time loving big on the orphans of these communities. We participated in one of the feeding programs conducted every Saturday at Glory Land Church. Over 600 children are fed there each Saturday. Some weeks over 900. We bought and delivered food to about 20 local families hit hard by the past year’s drought in the district of Pallisa, a very remote village. It is my heart’s desire to lift these women up and let them know they are loved and that they are valued. Christ died for us all and we are his treasured possessions. We are precious daughters of the Most High. We were privileged to witness 14 women and one man making commitments of faith, two of which converted from Islam. I know many seeds were planted during our visit and I know that God will be faithful in continuing the good work He has started there.
The Importance of Relationships
The most special part of these trips I have taken is the relationships that I have made. Each year I return, I am deeply touched by the way I am welcomed back. The smiles on the faces of all of the friends I have made there is what keeps me coming back. There is nothing better than a Ugandan smile. Over and over again they tell me, “thank you for loving us” and all the while it is God loving them through me and I am overwhelmed that He has chosen me as his instrument. I have been forever changed by my trips to Uganda and it is my prayer that the Lord will continue to remind me daily of the things I have experienced there. I pray I would take nothing for granted. Every good thing comes from the Lord. The Ugandan people have taught me that true joy does not come from the external. They have joy despite their circumstances. They trust, worship, and praise our Lord with abandon. They are truly dependent on Him and this is what He desires from us.
I believe this is the lesson that God has set out to teach me as I reflect on this year’s trip and also to remind me that, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” God is always at work. The desire of Man Up and Go is to see “Less Orphans, More Families” and I am honored to be a part of what God and Man Up and Go are up to in Uganda. I have truly seen change over these last 5 years. Lives are being impacted by the work that we are doing there. But the glory is God’s as He has enabled us to do these good works and He will see them through to completion.