It didn’t take me long to realize that the things we take for granted in our community, such as water, electricity, sewage, food and education, may just be everyday life. here in Sullivan, Missouri, but for people in Rakai, Uganda, these things are often inaccessible.
What upsets us in our society and makes us smile might be a wrong order in a fast food queue or a smile when the order is correct, but for the people of this small village, just holding the hand of a American, walking with them in there community and conversation about God brings the most gracious of smiles to their faces.
Last week, John Blackmore, pastor of the Sullivan Christian Church and development director of Sheltering Wings, and Dave Thomas, executive director of Sheltering Wings, introduced us to Edward Mbuyi, pastor and education manager of Rakai, in Uganda.
A city that works to get its school accredited after students transform our bright young minds, has its school moving forward, water storage for the city, and nothing but smiles as it speaks of God.
Sheltering Wings is headquartered in Leasburg and formed about 20 years ago in St. Louis to help those in West Africa. Since a terrorist attack fatally injured a missionary in 2016, the group has provided protection, logistics and surveillance to keep missionaries safe. They also provide training for missionaries and ministers.
One of the first questions posed to Edward Mbuyi was about COVID-19 and how the pandemic has affected his community.
“It mostly affected tourist communities, but with 5 million people, about 4,000 were infected in total, so it wasn’t as big in Uganda,” Mbuyi said.
Poverty is very alarming in the area where Mbuyi preaches Christianity. which was finally allowed to perform in the country several years ago, and many children are orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic, which hit the region hard in the 1980s and beyond. This has caused many children to lose their parents to different diseases.
The Rakai region has the third youngest population in Uganda, with half the population aged 15 or younger.
Sullivan Christian Church and Blackmore will return for a mission trip under the leadership of Mbuyi and Sheltering Wings to help build a kitchen in the school, set up the drinking water collection tank with a filter and tap, build a hall dining in the school, upgrade classrooms, dormitories and more.
Eight people will accompany them during the trip.
On a trip last year, Blackmore reported that Maggie and Deb Clark of Sullivan helped teach residents how to properly raise their pigs for more profit by showing them the proper use of clean water and food to weigh and grow properly.
Blackmore said: “I love Ugandans. They work so hard. It reminds me of the stories of immigrants who would come to New York and work so hard to provide a better life for their families. The children of this city and the Uganda have gone through major trauma in their lives, and America is a mystical place for them.We love to go out and tell them that we love you and that you are loved.
Mbuyi commented that missionaries always ask him why locals always smile when they come.
“Because they know, they know that God is real, that God loves them, and that God can be reached.”
Mbuyi then told a story regarding Sullivan’s last Christian church trip, and some members decided to sleep at the orphanage with all the students.
Word spread that white people were staying with the village children and adults at the orphanage.
“Dave and I went in 2003 and worked in the village when word got out that white people had come to help people. A 93-year-old man built a truck to drive across a mountain from his home because he didn’t had never seen a white person and he had never conversed with one,” Blackmore said. “We sat down and talked with him, and he informed us that he had no roof over his head. his house, so we traveled with him to put a roof over his house. His wife couldn’t believe it.”
The local group, not all members of Sullivan’s Christian Church, will depart July 8 and return July 22.
Mbuyi organized and trained ministers in Uganda through Goodwill Ministries. He sees that those with bad intentions do not rip off the Christian organization.
“Many of those who come on a mission trip are amazed that the children and the people are not depressed by the conditions and the things they don’t have, but they tell them with a smile, I have Jesus, how can I I be depressed, I am sated with joy,” Mbuyi said.
If you would like more information about the upcoming mission trip, if you would like to contribute or possibly be involved in a future mission trip, contact Blackmore at 573-468-8142.