Our eighth day in Uganda. Eight is the number of new beginnings and this the 28th day of November 2007 finds me up early, ready to leave for Gulu, both in the natural and in the spiritual realm. I am surrendering to God's leading, knowing I am supposed to go but not quite certain of the reason. Last night I prayed to be open to whatever He would show me. I also came to realize last night that each one on this team is called for a different reason to this land and will be used in different ways. God has a plan! Open my eyes, my ears, my heart and my spirit Lord. Speak in whatever way You chose.
KPC Gulu held their first service in August 2007. The building was originally intended to be a hotel, but it sat unfinished and empty for some years. Another of God’s blessings. The walls were decorated in a simalr fashion to KPC Central in Kampala and the space felt open and clean. From Rick's journal "Great news, in only a few short months the church is overflowing, there are over 400 people attending and now they are looking at extra services"
Next stop was Bohma Fields. This is where the Ugandan president's palace was. I believe it has not been used since Idi Amin. We could see the Sudan border far off on the horizon, I knew that our government warns us about being in that area, but also knew beyond knowing that God was watching and guarding us. For as it is promised in Isaiah 58:8 "then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard."
From Rick’s journal "Idi Amin executed many people here. The land cries out for redemption. The blood cries out for redemption. KPC would like to buy the land and build a new church there"
Now that’s what we’d call redeeming the land! It’s hard to try to describe the spiritual feeling of this place, many of us simply wept, then we held hands and prayed. I felt to declare that laughter would return to this place.
More than 30,000 children have been stolen from their homes and forced to join the LRA, where they were brainwashed and placed on the front lines. Children, some as young as 8, were forced to participate in acts that have destroyed their own families and communities. Children were also ordered to kill those who tried to escape. If they refused, they risk death themselves. Little girls were sold as sex slaves, traded for weapons or given as gifts to rebel commanders. Children made up over 90% of the LRA. Children that were still free would walk each evening for miles to find some safety behind gates at this Night Commuter Centre. For more info about these invisible children, check out http://www.invisiblechildren.com/about/history/
Next we were honoured to be led through an IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camp by the pastor who runs it. 20 years of struggle are evident on his face.
It is recorded in my journal on 2-february-2003 – "a vision in the middle of the night: The Lord, my Lord said “Walk with Me. Walk with Me” and I said “but Lord I’m tired” and He kept calling “walk with Me” “But I’m tired Lord” “Walk with Me – I’ll take your burden. My yoke is easy, My burden is light” and so we walked – through sewers - and starving people were everywhere and forever – but He said all they needed was to know Him – He was there for them, He died for them. They only need to know Him. “Walk with me” " There were places in Kampala and Gulu that were the same scenes the Lord showed me in that vision almost 5 years ago. He already knew then where we would be going, what we would be doing and what we would be seeing on this trip, and was already preparing me. What an amazing God!
We were told that 51% of Uganda's population is 14 years of age or younger. It was familiar and heartbreaking to see babies taking care of babies. We never knew if these were siblings, their own children or other kids left alone needing care. In the midst of all this there were still smiles and the sound of laughter. There were girls that curtsied when I said hello. They were surprised and charmed when I did the same to them in return. As Rick wrote in his journal “It was a saddening, eye-opening sight and most amazing of all there were many who looked at us and greeted us with joy. Yes the huts were touching each other, people were barely getting by, there were health issues and other issues of too many people in too small an area, but even here, there was a small market, a sewing machine and children going to school. There IS hope. I am moved by the joy on the faces of the people we meet even though their predicament is one of hopeless poverty, whether in a town, a village, an IDP camp or a minimal job.” We were blessed indeed to catch a picture of a smile on the pastor's face as he sat to chat with someone he seemed to know well.