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Editors: Les Norman, (England); Josť
Luis Iparraguirre D'Elia (Argentina)
On The Other Side of the
Everyone is asking us for news and photos of our 8 day visit to Kenya and Uganda two weeks ago, so here it is. The Kenya and Uganda we visited was intentionally very different from the tourist images that everyone is familiar with.
In Kenya we visited the EAPTC School of Mission led by Korean missionaries Paul and Eunice Lee. When Paul Lee came to Nairobi 10 years ago he opened a traditional Bible School which although it was good, it did not achieve the hoped for results in terms of many graduates going on to plant new churches and engage with cross-cultural mission.
Then five years ago Paul changed to the discipleship-based DCI School of Mission from this website and since then his graduates have opened more than 60 new churches many with their own Schools of Mission in Kenya, more than 40 in Uganda and others in Burkina Faso, Malawi and Sudan some of which are already opening yet more churches and Schools of their own, mothers, daughters and grand-daughters. Someone said that the School of Mission in Kenya is like Alpha in the UK. The School of Mission in Malawi has just had its first graduation and one student from there is already in the process of opening the training in Botswana. See the full story here and read how this outstanding growth has taken place because you could see the same happening in your country and for you.
Les and Pilar with a pastor who
lives and works in East Africa's biggest
We also spent time with pastors in both the Kibera and Kawangware slums where millions of poor people live in a place where crime and cults abound but where EAPTC graduates go and live to open new churches, schools and School of Mission training and do countless acts of kindness to the poor in Jesus' name. Curiously the slums are bordered by avenues of beautiful homes with high walls blocking out any view of the slum people. Life on one side of the wall is a tropical delight, life on the other side is very unpredictable and ends prematurely for too many.
A packed slum church
school in a tiny borrowed shanty building
with no materials.
According to Paul Lee's research the three biggest needs in Kenya are preaching training because maybe two out of every three churches in the vast slums are cults or take advantage of the poor; then children's ministry because thousands of kids are totally neglected, and finally the need for Christian books to be sent over because there is a huge book famine. Indeed, many people asked us for a book. See this page for how to send some of those books from your shelves.
Uganda is the birth place of the River Nile and was once known as the pearl of Africa, but is now on a long, slow road to recovery after decades of wars one of which is still ongoing and was described by the UN as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world that never makes the headlines. AIDS has also decimated a whole generation.
Our partner since 1996,
Pastor George Purkweri and Bishop Tom Okello
In the 1990's we visited the dangerous north of Uganda several times where our daughter who was 8 at the time caught malaria, and it was to Lira and our friends there that we returned having worked continually together at a distance during this time. The conversations continued as if only ten days had gone by . . .
With our encouragement over the years George has turned away from looking to the West for support and instead raises chickens, mushrooms and even cats for sale. He employs ladies who operate knitting and sewing machines and trains AIDS and war orphans in the Bible, sewing, building and carpentry. His wife runs a one PC computer shop and when they built their home, they made extra rooms to rent out. George has impeccably distributed thousands of pounds of gifts to the poor from DCI supporters and readers over the years and has worked tirelessly in teaching, preaching and caring. He has become known as the pastor of the poor in Lira.
Bishop Tom was executed by Idi Amin in his reign of terror in the 60's but after the Lord visibly slowed and diverted the bullet a few times the soldiers fled in fear. Since then Tom has served as the head of the Elim churches in Uganda and will retire soon. His ANCC mission has a Bible School in the bush that we helped to open, a clinic, they drill wells and Tom teaches hundreds of young pastors in twice yearly national seminars.
Lira was never a prosperous small town and fear always lurked at the side of every road at night but on Sundays the streets became rivers of men and women going to church. Two years ago in a time of particularly violent insurgency some 30,000 refugees arrived all at once in Lira to seek military protection having had many of their men and families massacred without warning that month. Lira changed forever.
The refugees are still there in 17 camps situated in many cases on land around the churches and 1,865 live outside Tom's Bible School. All the people are visibly cold, hungry, dirty, ragged and sick and can only watch as the UN relief trucks drive by on their way to even worse places further north.
These are men and women who had nice village homes, land, income and families until recently. Now the 13 to 15 year old girls voluntarily but tearfully sell themselves to bars in order to send some few coins home to the babies, the elderly or to a surviving parent who is heart-broken and of course they catch HIV the first week. The tents are ripped and the mud homes are roofed with straw, rubbish, plastic bags in fact with anything, none of which helps when it pours with rain as it did when we were there.
One bale unpacked,
ladies queue in hope, children got priority for warm clothes,
We were able to buy three bales of second-hand clothing for £63/$100 a bale each with around 280 items in it. Unfortunately some 29,000 more people are still waiting. As we left we found a further £200/$300 between us which was enough to provide one meal of maize flour and beans for all 1,865 people in the Bible School camp and we tried not to think about the other camps. Don't tell me that the United Nations, or the United States or the United Kingdom can't find £200 for food for the next day. But the trucks drive by . . .
The graduates from the camps and the Bible School with 1865 refugees on the land in front.
On a happier note, amazingly, we were able to graduate and pray for 19 men from the camps who in the most adverse circumstances imaginable had properly completed a full university accredited training course in the Bible School and qualified to be much needed pastors in the camps of still traumatised refugees. Incredible but true!
And further down the road was even better news. Once upon a time we had banks for the poor in three villages but two of the schemes were wiped out a couple of years ago when a lot of people lost their lives in just one night. However Aduku village was not touched by the violence. In late 2003 we provided an initial capital fund of 500,000 Ugandan shillings which is about £160 or $200 to a local community group working for the benefit of widows and orphans and we went to see what had happened.
We went to Aduku and met a parade of widows, young and older, who told us how their families had prospered and how their children were at school because of the loans. The leader showed us from her books how not one micro-business had failed and that the original capital had now grown to 2,500,000 shillings through gifts and 2% interest per loan. We were able to leave another £300/$450 which is 1,000,000 shillings to increase the fund. The full and very pleasing story is here. We had no time to visit the new church at Loro Village, see their goat project or talk to the new believers that George has won for Jesus through words and acts of compassion.
All too soon we had to start the 29 hour journey home to a different world, but our hearts are still moved daily by the spiritual hunger for Christ and for God's word in Kenya and by the opportunities to show Christ's love to the poor in Lira, Uganda. At this stage the only thing we know is that we can never return to being the same and doing the same things as we did before the trip. All the very good things that we have seen and all the very, very bad ones too will take care of that.
Only this week a slum church building in Kampala, Uganda, just like the ones we were in has collapsed in mid-service during heavy rain killing 27 people and injuring 100 others. There was no electricity at the time and they could not even find the injured in the rain and darkness. The full BBC report and pictures We are very sorry.
Our daughter Lizzie, now 17, writes,
"In February I went with my parents and my cousin to Kenya and Uganda for 10 days. Although I knew that it wasnít going to be a relaxing holiday Iím not sure I was fully prepared for everything I was going to see. Firstly we were taken to a slums in Nairobi which is the largest slum in East Africa. Although Iíd learnt about slums in geography lessons, nothing quite prepares you for the reality of it. A lesson in a classroom doesnít allow you to smell the overpowering fragrance of a small city built on a rubbish tip, or the smell of sewers running wild in the street, if you can call it a street. A lesson in a classroom doesnít allow you to have the experience of having all eyes on you, as white people rarely enter such a place. A lesson in a classroom will also not allow you to stare poverty in the face when visiting a Ugandan refugee camp where the people genuinely donít have anything but their names, only the temporary hand-made mud huts they seek shelter in which immediately become useless when it rains. Africa offers a lot of lessons to be learnt, most of which cannot be learnt within the constraints of the four walls of a classroom."
Lizzie, 17, now a veteran speaker in African seminars and churches
Our niece Debora from Barcelona, Spain writes,
"in Uganda we visited some micro-business projects for widows and saw how one £8 goat can change the life of an orphan by giving milk, fertilizer and kids which when sold pays the school fees and creates hope for the future. These widows and orphans are truly abandoned and have nothing and no-one. Seeing their situation I saw for the first time why the Bible repeats the command time and time again to care for the widow and orphan. We went to several refugee camps. Uganda is in a cruel and unwanted civil war where you have no idea who the enemy is until one night your neighbour comes and kills your entire family. Thousands of people have had to abandon their land and homes to seek safety near soldiers. In Lira these people live worse than animals on land that is loaned to them until the war ends. The Bible School is also used to give the children some lessons but these are children with filthy rags on their backs, with swollen stomachs and huge umbilical hernias hanging out. These poor children are full of disease, truly in a horrible state. At least we were able to buy some clothes for a few of them and we left money to feed the camp for a day. The truth is that after being in the camps I am finding it hard to eat. The people in Lira looked after us very well, we had food to spare. Above all I feel so grateful to God and although I do not know why I was born on this side of the fence, I do know that whatever God gives is for us to share not to hoard for ourselves, and it is through people like us that God give to others."
What can you do ?
The beauty and the simplicity of prayer releases God to do extraordinary things which we could never do ourselves. So time in prayer is always well spent, especially prayer for peace in Uganda so the refugees can go home in safety.
You can send books to Kenya, in fact they asked for nothing else. See how here.
Teams of medics/nurses and people with practical skills would be more than welcome in Lira, expect to preach and teach as well !
You can send money which is love in an easy to transfer format, through our own charity / NGO if you wish, and we will make sure that every penny or cent will be spent on the poor in Lira without any deductions whatsoever. From £150 to £500 will start a new Banking for the Poor project which will transform a small community. £8 buys a goat, £200 buys a cow, clothes for 750 people or a meal for 1865 poor people for one day. You decide, we will go for you. Or you can support our work in general and leave it up to us to decide what is the best opportunity to get involved with.
Alternative ways of sending a gift to the DCI Foundation, since 1987.
It is very hard to compress the sights, sounds and smells of eight
intensive days into a few short paragraphs but we have done our
best, leaving so much unsaid and unseen but trusting that a
previously unknown distant world has just opened up to you, a world
of people that Christ died for and cares passionately about. Why
does God allow all this ? The question never occurs to the Kenyan
and Ugandan people. They see things much more black and white.
They say that the devil is totally bad and he is the author of all
this suffering, but God is totally good and He is the one who has
spared their lives, who has kept them to this day and gives them
hope for a better future. After we had spent a few hours in praise
and prayer with them we were convinced. Maybe you would like to join
us to be hands and heart that Jesus uses.
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