Sunday, June 25, 2017

Churches and Communities United

by Ruth Sanders, a projects coordinator in the Samaritan’s Purse UK office, who visited our projects in Wakiso district, 30 kilometers outside Kampala

Samaritan’s Purse currently has two programs running in Wakiso district in Uganda designed to empower and encourage local churches to help their neighbors. The first pilot project is now in its third year. Since the project was launched, five churches have started looking after and caring for 90 families within their communities.

Uganda-ChurchesAs we sat and chatted with some of the church leaders and their volunteer action groups, their love for one another and their communities was evident. Their stories of unity with one another encouraged me.

“My church used to be dead,” one pastor said. “There was no relationship with the community around us, but after we were envisioned by Samaritan’s Purse, we realized that we needed to be active in our community and that there were many needs. They reminded us that God loves us and He wants us to share His love with others by caring for the orphans and widows.”

Caring for Those in Need

One church decided to start a primary school as there were many orphans in the community who weren’t receiving an education. Volunteers from the church helped by teaching some of the classes, and school materials and uniforms were given to the children. Since then the groups have been regularly visiting families within the community to provide them with both physical and spiritual support.

“There was a drunk man in the community who had a collapsed house, his children had nowhere to sleep, and their clothes were dirty and torn,” said a pastor named Kim. “We decided to help him rebuild his house and together as a church brought clothes for the children. We then began to teach him the Bible and his children started coming to our school. Gradually we started to provide counseling for him, and he and his children now attend our church regularly. The people in the community are starting to see that we are being active and are wanting us to care for them. Our church has now grown from 120 to 180 members. More and more families are looking to the church as a place they can find hope and are coming to know Christ. It is so exciting.”

Pastor Kim went on to share that the greatest success has been unity. Before the project started there was a lot of conflict, especially between the churches.

“The envisioning brought us together, and we are united as churches,” he said. “We now love one another as brothers.”

Pastor Kim and Pastor Julian of the Anglican Church are now looking to work together more closely and want to create a savings circle and start a vocational institute where they can train people in livelihood skills so they can grow their own businesses and support their families.

The treasurer of the group shared how she previously struggled to handle the money but thanks to the increased unity within the group, through encouragement and working together, she has learned a new skill.

Uganda-Churches“I can now use a computer,” she said. “I can now account for the money, but I now also have a skill I can share with others too.”

These churches used to be withdrawn, but now they have been empowered. They can now reach out to their communities and help them.

“You have shown us that God is love and now we have hope and life for the future together as one,” one of the group members said.