Recent work in areas of;

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Kenya:

On the 12th of April, Isaac and I went to kenya to help with some work and planning for up-coming conferences. We met with Gideon with whom Isaac worked for 2 weeks. During our stay, we helped him run a youth program 4 Eldoret at he holds at the Nobel Hotel every Saturday. Gideon has been generously offered a hotel room by Mr. Okware, the proprietor of the Hotel for the certificate program. The program deals with life Skills and life management skills. The two with other volunteers have put together module program that brings together youths from around the city regardless of religious backgrounds and affiliation. It was a pleasure being part of this incredible program.

Isaac, during his 2 week stay helped run some discipleship trainings with the church Choir and cell group leaders. We had a meeting with Gideon’s church youth leadership team to help strengthen and prepare them for the job. Dates were set for a youth leaders workshop in the Eldoret area to take place between the 13th and 20th of August. And a youth Camp to be held in the First two weeks of December.

Hoima:

On the 4th– 6th of May, Nathan, our Partner in Hoima who is the acting Diocesan youth worker organised his first conference in his new position. An approximate of 250 youths was in attendance for the 3 day conference. Ian was invited to give a talk o the 2nd day about using and managing our talents and gifts. A cross section of guest speakers was brought in from Kampala, Hoima and Masindi. The conference centred on the theme “letting our light shine in the world”. The conference is going to act as basis and guide of the up-coming conference in Masindi in August.

Nathan, a close friend and associate of YEA is a former attendant of our conferences in the region. It is with great pleasure having him as our work partner in the long worked in Diocese of Hoima. He will be responsible for the organisation of all future conferences and work in the Area. With our new Urban-Rural Model, he will especially be helpful in the organisation and coordination of the smaller, rural conferences with the local trained teams. A lot of communication and coordination will also be necessary for the smooth running of the urban based ones. Planning for the next trainings is underway thus a lot of prayers needed for wisdom and resources needed for this.

Masindi:

A lot of activity has been taking place in this area of the country in the recent past. Most recent of this was a series of conferences run in Butyaba, Kabango, Biizi, Kiguumba and Kijunjubwa. We had two days of schools work in Masindi town and a local Lay readers’ trainingin which we gave the basics on youth ministry and the youth’s role in the church. The most recent were the 5 days we had with Isaac, Shadiq, Shida and I in Kijunjubwa and Karuma. While kijunjubwa is an established Parish with a big area of Christian coverage, Karuma is the opposite of that yet a lot more Vibrant. Karuma has no proper church structure or a pastor. It is simply a young church with Christians full of the love of God and zeal to know Him better. Our prayers should go out to the leadership of this church as they are trying to keep God’s work going on in this area with little or no training. We pray they get the support needed for this work to be realised.

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“Our mother left us when we were Babies. Our father dumped us at our grandmother’s and left after he had got tired of us. I am now staying with an uncle and the wife. He has lately refused to pay school fees for me. He keeps telling me to get married and take responsibility for myself and my two younger siblings. Everybody hates me.”

Akello Sarah told me this story of her life with a face of an abandoned kitten. See, Akello is only 15 years old at the moment. Our paths crossed one of the conferences we’ve recently had in Karuma. She is currently dropped out of school in her senior three and working in her own uncle’s place as a House maid. On the flip side, I got to meet her at this conference in her capacity of the church’s youth leader. So young and yet so brilliant in whatever she did, I was baffled. This actually is the reason I got to talk a little more with her, trying to find out what drives her. What I discovered instead was a lifetime of wounds inflicted by almost every one and everything in her life.

“I am a mistake, an accident. That’s what my uncle says. Auntie says that it would have been better for everyone if my mother had aborted me.”

Jesus knew his identity. He came from and was going to God. He is God as He said, “I and the father are one”. Jesus knew who he was in God’s sight and also the sight of man. He however, accepted and appreciated what he was in man’s presence yet he did not let it take His focus away from the father. He did not have to through His weight around just to prove Himself and His authority. He was not moved by circumstances in His life because of the quiet confidence within and the knowledge of which it is that put Him on earth.

The psalmist said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that fully well.” (Pslam 139: 14). To so many youths like Akello, in the places we work in these words are a mystery. They do not have a clue what they mean in their lives and surely cannot claim that they know this, let alone fully well.

Fortunate for Akello, Henry a partner of YEA in Masindi offered to take care of her as she goes through her secondary school. The joy on the uncle’s face as they agreed on the terms said it all. It was surely best she gets moved. Not so many in this situation are that lucky though. One of the major causes of the high HIV prevalence rates in teens, teenage pregnancies and marriages and school dropouts in Uganda is the lack of self worth. Low self esteem is a constant description of a typical Ugandan youth.

It is this gospel of self worth and confidence in Christ that we need to focus on in a lot of our trainings. The basis that they are special and personally designed by God will mean a great deal as they see it reflected in our own lives. With our effort we can help the youth realise that Christ came to give them life and life in abundance. To help them know our father and the great love He has for us. Both children and the youth can respond with full commitment to Him and discover their place in His Heart. As it is said, “To know God’s word and delight in it, is the best foundation of living”.

“You know how when you were a small child, you were taught the Holy Scriptures, and it is these that make you wise to accept God’s salvation by trusting in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15)

With the official school holidays just coming to a close, we are ending one of the busiest times in our work schedules. While the planning happens mostly during the school terms, a lot of youth ministry happens in the breaks. This break has been no different.

Our first mission this holiday was the Hoima diocese youth conference. It was held on the 4th – 8th of May at Duhaga primary school grounds. YouthWorx came in as part of the support and facilitation team. Ian and I were the representatives and a record attendance of approximately 300 Youth attended 4 day conference.  While I was mostly a fixer for the three active teaching days, Ian gave a well received talk on Talents and Gifts as based on the parable of the talents.

The conference and the whole time we spent in Hoima was a useful and successful one on three frontiers. One, we played a part in ensuring the success and smooth running of conference in a region that we’ve worked for a number of years. A clear sign of growth was witnessed with the attendance numbers and especially in the organisational abilities can’t go without mention. The fact that a variety of speakers from around the country were brought down to the conference, the accommodation, feeding and the time keeping were all well handled.

The second frontier of success was the witness of clear fruit of Youthworx East Africa’s efforts. The conference was all prepared and organised by a young team of youth leaders in Hoima. These we have trained, worked with and watched grow over the years, the leader of whom is Nathan Asiimwe, the current acting Diocesan Youth worker of Hoima Diocese. For a first time of organising such a huge youth event, it gave us a huge inner pleasure watching this Mustard seed flower.

The third and probably most important frontier of success was the fact that new relationships were definitely birthed and the old strengthened. Notably, on the last evening of the conference, Ian and I went out for a meal with Nathan, Henry (the Diocesan Youth worker of Masindi- Kitara Diocese) and the wife Sylvia. The two had come over, for three reasons, to support Nathan, a personal and long time friend of Henry, to help with the Facilitation and also to get ideas for their own conference due for August. We jumped to the opportunity of having both of them in one place and used it to discuss our future mode of work. Fortunately, they welcomed the idea of using an Urban-Rural approach of work to reach out to the perfect target group more efficiently. We were blessed with the time we spent together just talking about ministry and finding ways forward for the work.

Nathan was meant to join us in Masindi A week later as we run two back-to-back conferences in Kijunjubwa and Karuma respectively but other commitments came in the way. While the First conference was a miss-hit in many ways, the Karuma conference is one of the best conferences I’ve been at in a while. The group composition, organisation, facilitation and welcome were all nothing less of what we could possibly ask or wish for.

On the border separation between central and northern Uganda, Karuma is a Highway town on the Kampala-Gulu road. It’s blessed with two tourist attractions, Murchison Falls National Park and the Karuma falls on the river Nile. Though we had the Luxury of taking a walk to the falls on one of the evenings while there, most of the time was action packed with a very active and engaging group of about 40 Youth Workers. Though Luo, the predominantly spoken language couldn’t be spoken or understood by anyone on our team, we did well with the help of interpreters. Henry, Isaac, Shadiq, Shida and I comprised of the visiting that run 5 workshop based sessions and climaxed the stay with a much needed and requested for prayer and delivery session.

On the second evening of our stay, one of the women  who were taking care of us in the kitchen area requested Rev. Henry and I to go have a separate time of prayer with her family. We talked, prayed and talked about different things. It was a special time seeing this older couple and their kids pouring out their hearts to two complete strangers and trusting that God had brought us in their lives for a reason. They welcomed our prayer and believed a blessing on their lives and family would appear soon with just the element of faith which we exhaustively talked about.

Karuma is in the process of turning into a parish. One of the requirements is having a church and a Reverend both of which they don’t have. They are currently constructing their church and are only led by a Bible student. With all that is waiting to come their way, Karuma is a very active congregation that needs a lot of prayer and support. Without an electric supply, Karuma will however soon develop into a big trading center since a power dam is under way. We should pray that when this happens, Karuma will be in position to handle the spiritual pressures that come with the growth. For all we know, missions and conferences will come and go, but the one thing that we should never let go, is the people we meet on the way. Let’s remember to say a little prayer for them. AMEN

Wanini Samuel Balyesiima is a 15 year old Senior 2 student of Kabalega Senior School. At such a young age, Samuel single handedly glued together the different pieces that made the mission to kijunjubwa a possibility. With the parish treasurer for a mother and the father in charge of all constructions, Samuel is a church born and raised. That however, does not explain anything about his hard-working and enthusiastic character as only 10 percent of the youth who contribute 75 percent of the area’s population are church going.

Samuel who comes from Kyakaki Village, is the first-born from a family of 6 children. With 5 siblings looking up to him, namely; Bingi Edson, Balemesa Judith, Basemera Dinah, Birungi Catherine, Bitekerezo Abby, Sam is doing a good job at setting an example.  He is the very first person that received us with a huge smile as we came into this remote village church house in Bujunjubwa. He mobilised all the attendees and ensured a smooth running of the whole program in the absence of both parish youth worker and the Parish Reverend, both of whom were attending a parish leadership meeting.

The dark-skinned, bright smiled, gentle face was in the background of everything. I asked him if he is interested in politics, just to see his views on power and leadership. He told me,

“Though I am very famous at school, and teachers asked me to, I cannot even be a prefect. My heart is only in serving God. Am on the scripture union team, which is the only power I need. I want to be a Pastor, nothing else”.

Those words shot through my Spine like a Zulu Spear. At 15, I didn’t know what I wanted to eat for dinner and here is a boy, literally carrying a whole Parish’s Youth ministry on his shoulders with more focus than a cross-country runner. Nick-named pastor already, Samuel took the group of youths through some talks and prayer sessions. He is definitely taking his calling seriously but most importantly he is blessed with a church that actually gives him a chance to serve as it definitely lacking in harvesters.

On the Sunday afternoon, after service had ended, I found Sam holding a sheep that had been auctioned off in church. With no immediate need for slaughter, he had offered to take it home (10km away) and take care of it on the church’s behalf. I engaged Samuel in a slightly deeper theological talk just to s his depth of understanding of the word. I later realised that he does not even own a full Bible. He has a New Testament Gideon’s’ one. He can only borrow his mother’s whenever he needs to use a full one. For someone so passionate about serving God and growing in faith, He actually had very little understanding of the word, the most important ingredient to growth. His Lack of access had definitely hindered his Spiritual growth in that direction.

Samuel is just one example of this very disease that is preventing the growth of the church of Christ in a lot of rural areas. While some places literally do not have access to Bibles, others lack a local, understandable translation. Those with a local translation, the price of a Bible would be enough to feed the family for a month. Reading and interpretation of the word is thus solely left to the local clergy on a Sunday morning. A lot of these interpretations are usually biased by personal interpretation and personalities. The growth of the local church which is a focal in our ministry is thus as good as stagnant, fulfilling the saying, “…the church in Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep”.

Isaac has been trying to raise money through his home church in the US to specifically buy Bibles to give out to key persons in the different places we go that honestly do not have one. He will later in July work with Wycliffe international, a Bible translating organisation. One person can only do so much. My wish and prayer is the possibility of at least every youth that goes through our trainings receiving a Bible at the end of it. We can teach so well, but without a personal commitment to personal study of the Bible, our seeds will soon be eaten by the wild Birds.

Because we had run out of giveaway Bibles, I gave Samuel my personal Bible because I felt he needed it more than I. The tears that rolled from his bright big eyes, down his dark cheeks as he said, “ thank you, thank you so much…”, told me how long he’s waited for this moment. “Finally, finally, I own a Bible of my own… I am going to read it day and night”. He said. The looks on his face as he said this, priceless.  In the bid to invest in young people, how better than investing the word of God itself?

Note…

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Note: We are now running regular youth activities for Kampala International Church which keeps either/both Ian and Collin busy from Friday through to Sunday most weeks. There will also be a camp for the 11 to 14 age group in the Easter break in Jinja and possibly a hiking trip for the 15 to 18 age group in the same week. (pending). The youth now lead services regularly and we are beginning to develop youth cell groups for discipleship.

There is also interest among the KIC youth to engage in Mission. We have made 2 trips so far to Kampiringisa (youth remand centre) and plan more. 2 KIC youth have now joined YEA teams and been involved in Kigaya youth conference with us.

Advance warning: Ian will be travelling to UK approx 19th June 2011. The total trip will be for 6 weeks but there is an outstanding invitation to visit USA for 2 weeks during this time.

It would be useful to be able to borrow a car from roughly 19th June to 17th July. Please let Ian or any of the Trustees know if you can help with this. If the trip to USA does not happen this year the use of a car would be helpful up to the end of July.

BURUNDI, THE TRUE LAND OF BEAUTY.

Posted: November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

One of our partner in Burundi, Giscard

Going to Burundi is always a highlight of my work travels for two main reasons: Burundi is a beautiful country, and it has beautiful people. They are some of the kindest and most beautiful people I’ve come across in my short lifetime so far. The journey this time was not as smooth as expected for a number of reasons.

The bus from Kampala to Bujumbura normally leave at 12 or 1 A.M. the time has been changed of recent to 9 P.M. though this may sound like an advantage to many, its surely a big disadvantage to me for I never sleep well on the bus. Meaning I now have to spend more night hour trying to find sleep which is determined to not be found. I’d almost swear it was playing hide and seek with me that night. I only started getting half dozes of it(sleep) as it was coming to 2 A.M. The up side of the time change though, is the fact that we now arrive earlier in Kigali at 6am, so by that time, we had hit Kigali city and I was on my way looking for a guest house.

Being the newly built town that it is, there was not much to do by the lonely soul I was then. Tried to call a friend working there to meet for lunch or something but luck wasn’t on my side. We had literally crossed paths as they had travelled to Kampala the night before. After checking into the nearest, cheapest motel I could find, there was only one thing I could do, finish my Sydney Sheldon book, ‘The Sands of Time’. (PS: Prosper is such a show off!!)

I booked myself onto the earliest bus to Bujumbura the following morning. What I didn’t realize is, the first bus company offices to open in the morning that necessarily has the earliest bus leaving. After being convinced that the bus leaves at exactly 8 A.M, it was not until 9A.M that I realized I should have sat down after all as I waited for the bus( so for about an hour I was pacing around waiting to board the bus). The Horizon bus was actually coming from Kampala and proceeding to Bujumbura.

What the ticket issuer at the offices didn’t bother to inquire about though was whether the bus was full or not. Turns out, it would have been a wiser move on his side if he had asked. I was stuck with a bus ticket, with no bus seat. After exchanging a few not so kind words with the operators, I was allowed to stand for the 8 hour bus trip. I nearly asked for a full refund, just before I remembered I am still in Africa. Fortunately, someone jumped off at the border which was actually a lot nearer than I remembered.

I was welcomed- at the Bujumbura end- by Emmanuel Bagumako who I was to stay with for the next few days. We went to a youth gathering which happens at his church every Saturday. I was not in the greatest of physical and mental shape for this but I endured it through all the same. After a brochette, all I could do for the rest of the night. Finally was catching up with my hide and seek playmate, sleep.

Church in Bujumbura is always rejuvenating and exciting. This Sunday was no exception. I went to Minevam Kigobe church where I was welcomed as a long lost missionary as usual. Not complaining. Fortunately, I was not asked to deliver any sermon as usually happens in rural churches. Though am supposed to be prepared in and out of season, this was one of those times where being unprepared was blissful. I spent the rest of the evening with Pr. Aime, Nina and their two toddlers. Great evening it was.

On the business side of the trip, I met up with Florent and Giscard, two of our counterparts in Bujumbura. We discussed a lot of prior and upcoming work in the area. The Bujumbura youth workers network that we helped them set up last year was central in the talks. As short lived as my stay was, I can only say, there was not a single regret at the end of it all. That is if one does not count the bus trip down….

 

 

 

Kenyan Expedition

Posted: November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

( Our field coordinator, Prosper, had an interesting few days across the border in Kenya, and has this to share with us, enjoy)

THE LEGENDARY KENYAN EXPEDITION

As funny and strange as it may sound, the Saturday of the 30th October 2010 was my first time to step foot in our neighboring lands of Kenya. Being one of the few lucky Ugandans who have had the opportunity of stepping out of Uganda’s geographical boundaries, its interesting how I had managed to go to eight different countries over the years and never to that closest to home. My trip was three-fold fulfilling as it turned out to be educative and informative, enlightening and a breath of refreshment.

Educative and Informative

My main reason for travelling for 12 hours on a bus, as comfortable as the ‘Akamba Royal’ was, was not for the luxury of exploring new lands as the title may suggest. It was to meet a few old work partners of YEA and talk about past, present and future work. Try to use the past experiences and today’s pivot as a catapult to set out plans for future work. One of the main people I was to meet was Pr. Nick K. Korir of Parklands Baptist Church. Busy a man that he is, it took me a few days to track him and finally pin him down for a talk, literally. It turned out more fruitful than even expected. We talked with him and Edgar Makona, our Kenyan delegate, at large on various issues and came up with a number of ideas on how to better and continue the partnership that has existed over the years. The one thing that got a lot of talk though was the ongoing idea of networks.

Nairobi Area Youth Workers Network (Naynet), founded in 1999 by Gowi Odera and Frank Mills has been a great inspiration in the setting up of the Kampala version with the YEA in a fore sit position. Edgar and Nick brought to my attention a few ideas that could be adapted in Kampala so as to further the growth of the network. Pr. Nick offered to travel over to Kampala in the first quarter of next year to this cause. He will be talking on one the network meetings we are to hold. To encourage and offer ideas that could be adapted in Kampala. I got the opportunity to attend a Global Leadership Conference in Nairobi that was fortunately happening at the same time I was in town. The lessons and ideas from that are enough for me to turn into a bestselling author.

Enlightening

As the saying goes in Africa, ‘It only rains where the Kid lives’ or maybe you are more familiar with the one that says, ‘If you’ve never moved around, your mother will always be the best cook ever’. Got it? Okay, okay. What I mean for those that don’t speak Japanese, It’s only after going out of your familiar environment that one realizes what is happening over the fences. As another saying goes, ‘travel is to see, return is to tell’. My trip to Kenya opened my eyes in a number of ways.

Most of the places I’ve been to in Africa are below Uganda’s standards of Biblical understanding and Christian development. I’ve always been in the teacher’s chair in all my trips teaching either youths or youth leaders. It took me a few minute of all my meetings to place my mind into the student framework and a lot of humility and grace was called upon in the process of the internal fights. Most places we work in are those that need us to help set up youth ministries or support the existing but crumbling ones. The Kenyan youth ministry in the churches I visited in Nairobi was definitely not in that category. Needless to say, YEA is still of great use as a partner to support the existing work and spread the same ideas in those places that these churches cannot reach. I picked a few leaves that am sure will come in handy soon enough.

On the road...

Refreshment

This may come as a surprise to a few but; I haven’t enjoyed church in a long time. I don’t know if it’s just me but, do any of you ever get too accustomed to going to church every Sunday that it has just turned into a mechanical routine? No? No one? Okay. Does anyone wake up on a Sunday morning and think to themselves, ‘Church, yeah yeah yeah’. At that point when you can predict what is going to be said by the preacher, because, of course you know who it is, their thought lines, patterns and style. Anyone? No Still! Then I guess it’s just me. But I was at that point in my church going life until I visited with Parklands Baptist Church or Parkie as commonly known. I had two of the greatest services I’ve attended in a really long time. The messages were very simple, applicable and relevant to me especially but I am assuming I wasn’t the only one thinking that way at the end of the services. I won’t go into specifics of the message. For reference, open your Bible, you’ll definitely get the three aspects; Simple, Applicable, Relevant.

Between the race track Speeding ‘Matatus’ and the not so gentle bus operators, the Nairobi experience is not one you’d normally refer to as refreshing. But the exhilarating feeling of being somewhere where people are bigger dare devils than your average Kampala ‘Boda boda’ cyclist is always priceless.

The plus side to my job is of course meeting a lot of people and seeing different places. I spent a few of my Nairobi days moving around in the city, getting lost here and there trying to find my way around. The fact that I had no guide with me, and I can hardly ask for a glass of water in Swahili didn’t help at all. It gave me an opportunity though to see the true colours of Nairobbery, sorry, Nairobi. My Kenyan trip was nothing short of this expectation. I met with a good number of Kenyan friends from church and University. However, the best people moments were of the new friends I made. I got a lot of work potential friends and social Friends as well, for what is the world and life without people?

Prosper K.