Hello Church Family,
Rebecca and I just returned from about 7 weeks in Uganda where our oldest daughter Rachel, her husband Daniel and a pending adoptive grandchild are living and working as missionaries. Daniel is a veterinarian, a graduate of Oregon State, and he sets up small business enterprises where Ugandans in isolated communities can raise turkeys, goats and rabbits not only to augment their own diets but also to generate some income. There are several places in Uganda where he has ‘start-ups’ so there is a bit of travel for him to keep the process in motion. Each of these locations is connected to a local church work so Dr. Daniel’s work creates a bridge between destitute and marginalized widows and families and the message of Good News.
While we were there I was able to go directly to three of the sites where he has gotten things in motion. Each one of the
visits was moving and humbling. At one location the widow we visited was so grateful for our visit, words of encouragement and prayer that she gave me a Rooster. I can afford more roosters than she could imagine but the gift was graciously accepted. At another site (about 18 hours of driving away) we visited displaced forest pygmies who have been driven onto marginal lands, and without resources and support. Large portions of Africa are being depopulated and left as animal preserves because of international effort to create wildlife sanctuaries. National governments are financially rewarded for this but nothing trickles down to blunt the effects of displacement on those evicted without compensation, from lands that they lived on out of recorded history. The Pastor of the local Baptist church in this area which is just north of the Rwandan border and Daniel have partnered to identify open land (Pastor George’s task) and establish a protein and income source for these impoverished and neglected people (Dr. Daniel’s task). The tribe they work with are the Batwa and they are an unreached people group with animistic beliefs. They are now building interdependence with the local church.
I spoke to them in a breathtaking circumstance, part way up the side of a cone volcano, one of three in a line marching into northern Rwanda. Through an interpreter I used ideas from Acts chapter 17 to present God’s nature and made the case that special trees and rocks and mountains cannot help us with our needs because they are only created things, like us. God, who made all things, is our source of help. Pray for these people as Pastor George and Dr. Daniel continue their work with the Batwa.
About 15 kilometers from the town of Soroti, where Rachel and Daniel are based is a third work that has just started. Rebecca and I were present as two turkeys each were ‘loaned out’ by the church there to widows and impoverished families. Several weeks later students from the Bible School that Daniel teaches in came along for a follow-up with those who received turkeys. We (Dr. Daniel, Pastor Charles and I) visited a blind man and his wife who have many children. He went blind in 2010 and this has devastated his ability to provide for his family. This visit almost overwhelmed me because his needs are so complex; even to provide food for his children. They eat one meal a day which many poor families do in Uganda, and the children can augment this with mangoes which have two seasons, Spring, and Fall, and anything else they obtain in the bush. The family has a small plot of land and their daily meals are derived from this. We prayed for Michael and his family before we left and you can to. Other ‘helps’ are in the works for him but they cannot be associated with U.S. money because it distracts desperate people from looking to God for help and they look to humans (us) as their benefactors. This does not mean that we cannot help but our help should pass through the local church so it is rightly identified with God for His glory.
It is tempting to pull our pockets out and let the change fall liberally all over the place. Many of us have the wherewithal to answer today’s problems for some. We may want others to see us as good people and our heart is to help and do good things, but when we do this carelessly people begin to depend on us as though we are their answer to life’s problems. That is God’s role and not ours.
So Rebecca and I are home now but home seems a little strange. Some things have changed, maybe it is us. We have atoms from the dust of Africa in our bodies. We lived as visible minorities in a culture not quite like our own. As we look around us we must conclude that we are so blessed but we feel a vague burden with our blessing. New ideas are forming in our minds. Just like Abraham was blessed to be a blessing, so have we been blessed.