As I’ve mentioned, I have a team visiting from my home church in Virginia. My dear friends Glenn and Sally Clark are full time missionaries based in Roanoke, VA and they’re here with a team of two lovely ladies, LoVorn and Rachel. I can’t believe they’ve been here for almost a week already! We’ve experienced so many blessings in a short period of time. I’m honored to be working with Glenn and Sally, as they have committed to head up the Missions efforts of Kissito Healthcare International. I’m the full time boots on the ground here in Uganda, and Glenn and Sally will be traveling back and forth about three times per year. As we work together, our mission is to connect churches in the United States with local Ugandan churches in order to form long term partnerships. These partnerships will unite people of different origin, race, and culture to spread the gospel while promoting transformational community development.
Already, God has opened up so many doors to connect people and provide a way to begin this work in Uganda and other parts of East Africa. One example of this is the partnership between New Life Christian Ministries in Roanoke, and Christco Church in Uganda. Christco’s leader here in Uganda is pastor Benjamin Otim. Kissito’s president, Tom Clarke, has shared a friendship and partnership with Pastor Otim for a few years now. Christco operates a private hospital in a village called Butiru, about an hour outside of Mbale Town. Kissito and Christco Hospital have a long standing relationship, and have recently committed to expanding thanks to this amazing commitment from New Life in Roanoke!
Last Friday, Glenn, Rachel and I traveled to Butiru to meet with Pastor Otim and the Board Members of Christco to discuss the vision and partnership. Our meeting was held behind the hospital in a little open air building with a tin roof and plastic chairs, overlooking eight acres of beautiful land. As the breeze flowed through our little meeting place, so did the presence of God. We discussed the way forward, and we all agreed that God is doing big things here. We have to EXPECT those great things from Him and He will surely deliver, more than we can ever even imagine. As we shared more details of this common vision, I had a feeling of amazement at how God brings people together from an ocean apart to carry out His mission. There is no better feeling than to know that somehow you’re part of something greater, something that only God fully understands.
The vision for this land is simple, yet far reaching. Kissito is committed to strengthening the operation of the health center, and also incorporating a malnutrition stabilization center for severely malnourished children. Additionally, through the partnership with New Life, a new church and discipleship center will be built next to the current hospital. You might ask: “How does healthcare and ministry work together”? That’s a question that I’ve heard many times in my first month here. Like the vision, the answer is also simple, yet far reaching. Pastor Otim shared a verse from way back in the Old Testament which states it very clearly. Exodus 15:26 says: “…for I am the Lord who heals you”. So the vision for this project is that people, families, and communities will be transformed both physically and spiritually through the marriage of healthcare and discipleship. All throughout the New Testament, it is made clear that Jesus met people’s physical needs time after time, having compassion on the sick, the needy and the oppressed. As followers of Jesus, we are called to imitate Him in our actions.
As God brings people together to carry out the vision for this project, lives will be saved, the connection with the community will be strengthened, disciples will be made, and people’s lives will be enriched by the gospel as it spreads from near, far, and to the ends of the earth! As our group looked out over the land, we could envision the possibilities; see the flurry of activity as people come together to build, teach, strengthen, and encourage. There are SO many opportunities for people to get involved. Maybe you’d like to get involved too! The needs here in Uganda are great, but the Ugandan people have a willingness for change and development. They just need someone to help them utilize their resources, expand their skills and knowledge, encourage them, and most of all LOVE them. Maybe you would be willing to be a part of it!
Glenn explains it best when he tells the story of Noah. What if Noah hadn’t been obedient to do something crazy like build the Ark? All of humanity would have been destroyed by the flood. It only takes ONE person to make a difference. YOU are that ONE person. We are the people that God uses to carry out His mission. Otherwise, who else is going to do it? Check out this video from New Life explaining more about the challenges in Africa and the vision for this new project in Butiru!