Managing what’s going on in Uganda from Atlanta isn’t easy. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible! We can only travel to Uganda so often. In all honesty, the phrase “sabbatical” has crossed our lips more than a few times. But for the time being we’re all staying put where God has each of us…. at least for now.
Ultimately, we need people on the ground who are reliable and can carry out the mission daily. The team that God has assembled there is really incredible. Many, if not most, of you reading this have probably met Moses, Betty and Godfrey. They do an amazing job everyday, as well as the many others who they work with and rely on. If you’ve been to Uganda even once, you know how rewarding the work is, but also how difficult and draining it can be.
On the most recent trip, the team was able to see the noticeable difference that is being made by all the work. There’s no question there is a long way to go – a really long way – but the difference just over the past year is remarkable. Our visits now include worship with the children, consistent medical care, provision of food and supplies, one-on-one counseling, work on the facilities, and some good old fashioned play time. We want to be as comprehensive in ministering to the children as Jesus is in caring for and ministering to us.
The team from America commented on how incredible it was to see the stark difference between “M” and the new prisons we’ve just started visiting. The new prisons desperately need attention. Given the great needs of these facilities and the children, Moses and the team can easily get spread thin. We are actively seeking to expand the team with faithful Ugandans committed to serving the children. Our hope is to be more engaged in all of the prisons, particularly the ones that have been neglected for much longer.
As great as all this sounds, it’s still not acceptable. Orphans, and abandoned and neglected children do not belong in prison. Period. The other night one of our daughters came into our room after she had a bad dream. We comforted her and put her back to sleep. It made me think of the children at “M” and the other facilities. What do they do at night when they have a bad dream? Who do they turn to? If they’re lucky maybe one of the older children but maybe not. Maybe they just roll over and cry. It made me sad to even think about.
The painful reality is that we know we cannot solve this problem. Children will always be at “M” and the other facilities. Uganda has the 2nd highest population growth in the world right now. It is estimated that their population could quadruple from about 33 million to an eye popping 130 million in less than four decades! So these facilities are likely to be much more crowded rather than less. The number of children subjected to neglect and abuse is likely rise rather than decline, and the need should grow at unprecedented rates.
But we plan to be there. As long as God allows us to serve, no matter where and in what capacity, we will. These are His children and we know His heart breaks infinitely more than ours ever could over their pain and suffering.
In the next update we’ll talk about some of the challenges and needs, as well as the plans and dreams we have for those children that can make it out.