In the mid-90s my wife, children, and I lived in Jinja, Uganda and worked with a church planting team, what is now more identified in the United States as The Kibo Group. I often wrote about my adventures and misadventures in and around Jinja. Here I wrote about the fascinating sites and sounds along the roads in Uganda.
It was a big day. I would be preaching in Buvulunguti, Uganda village where a church started recently. And our ’92 Toyota pickup’s odometer would roll to 100,000 kilometers on the way to that village.
One-hundred-thousand is a vehicle’s rite of passage, and we males actually bond with the hunk of steel as the 99999 rolls over. You scoff, ‘Kilometers!’ Mind you, there are more bone-rattling potholes and vehicle-crunching bumps in one African kilometer than in 100 miles on most U.S. roads.
The odometer reads 99938 as I begin, and I make a mental note to watch for the important event during the drive. Driving in Uganda is rarely boring or uneventful. I zoom by a biker with a 20-pound Nile Perch from Lake Victoria laying across the back of his bicycle. A goat, tied next to the road, strains for a blade of grass just out of its reach. Continue reading →
Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular projection. Strechted by 102%. Geographic limits of the map: * N: 15.5° N * S: 9° N * W: 6° W * E: 3° E Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @ naturalearthdata.com. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’m reading a book by African ethicist Emmanuel Katongole in which he says this about Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of the country he named Burkina Faso, “land of incorruptible.”
In the five years of Sankara’s leadership, through agricultural reforms and mobilization of the population, his country achieved food self-sufficiency, which shows that Sankara’s ‘madness’ was quite sane indeed. Inventing the future requires the audacity to live in the present with energy and visions drawn from the future.
To get a better sense for what this is saying, watch the below video. Food itself becomes a symbol of imperialism in Africa that Sankara and people like him have tried to overcome.
Katongole’s overall point is not specifically about Sankara but about the role of the church as a proclaimer of God’s story that gives imagination and vision and courage to change the terrible heinous narratives that have been lived out in places like Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Upper Volta (later named Burkina Faso). Katongole speaks of the need for lament, memory, story, community of memory, anticipation of a new creation as elements of what the church can do to make a difference in the climate of a country where poverty and oppression exists.
Katie Davis was 18 when she first made a mission trip to Jinja, Uganda–a place I called home for seven years with my family–and decided to return for a year that has now stretched into three years. She went to Uganda with no college degree or nursing certificate but with a heart of Christ.
What would cause an 18-year-old homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee to forgo college, lose her friends, and break up with the love of her life–all to move thousands of miles away from her family?
Her trip to Uganda turned her life inside out. She was so moved by the Ugandan people, particularly the children–that she gave up a comfortable life to fulfill her calling to care for the poor who cannot afford basic necessities and school fees for their children.
Katie is now 22 and has published a book that will be available in October 2011.
The following are some excerpts and observations about her book and her work.
My heart was on fire with a passion to say yes to God’s every request–to do more to help the people around me. Starting a ministry in Uganda wasn’t something I had in mind when I came here, but it seemed the only logical next step as people approached me needing help and I said yes to meeting their needs. As I prayed about what to do next and sought counsel from friends and family, I realized the only way to really be able to meet all the needs I wanted to meet in this community–to pay for children’s school, keep their bellies full, offer medical assistance, and most important teach them about Christ’s love for them–would be to start some kind of nonprofit organization.
This would be the first of many, many times we would invite disease-ridden people into our home (p 97)
People from my first home say I’m brave . . . They pat me on the back and say, “Way to go. Good job.” But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for the “least of these,” so that’s what I’m doing, with the help of a lot of people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living.
Bret and Johnna Raymond have led the way to opening a production facility in Rwanda for MANA. Mark Moore is heading up the Georgia production. The children in countries like Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan in severe malnutrition can be helped with this therapeutic food made from peanuts, milk powder, sugar, and vitamins.