Let's Go To Uganda
Who says “let’s go to Uganda”? Nobody. Well nobody you know. But when my friend Steve Wells asked me to come with his wife, him and another member of his church that I didn’t know, it wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t surprising because that’s who Steve is. For me saying yes was easy on a number of levels, but let me give you the back-story so you understand why the question was even raised.
Barbie, Steve’s wife, went to school with Angie Halverstad in Hickman, Nebraska from grade school through high school, and while their relationship does what most do…fall off with time, Barbie was reunited with Angie on Facebook. Angie had started an orphanage several years back, and for reasons too numerous and complicated to get into, the orphanage needs help. Angie put out a blanket appeal, like you do, on Facebook for your ‘friends” to help out. Barbie, however, didn’t just send a check, pat herself on the back and move on. She organized some friends to help out the cause, and investigate what meaningful everyday help could be. After a presentation in church as an open invitation to learn more, my wife Christine and I offered our help. I said I wanted to help, but not in a write a check, pat myself on the back kind of way. So the next thing you know we were asked to help with the Lincoln board of Hope Center Uganda, and I was asked to go help evaluate their orphanage, school, farm, ministry, and help document what we saw on video. So, Steve says “let’s go to Uganda”.
Now the easy thing to do is say, absolutely…let’s go! The other easy thing to do (which would make this much shorter) is to say I sprang to my feet and was super enthusiastic! I didn’t say “let’s go!”, and I didn’t spring to my feet. I should say, I wasn’t afraid, but I was concerned. What I didn’t know about Uganda was rivaled only by my lack of knowledge of Jupiter. It is an African country, third world, and a crooked government. That’s it…my only base of Ugandan knowledge. In approaching the next few minutes I can appreciate the way the prophets felt when called on by God. “Why would you want me to go?” I asked myself, but also my friend Steve and his wife. I took this trip as an ambassador for the board very seriously, I wasn’t sure Steve thought that through, and Barbie should have talked him out of it surely! The answer from Steve was simple, and beautiful, “I want you there”.
If you follow me around for a couple days I’m sure you’ll realize I probably will never be confused with any of the apostles. That doesn’t mean I’m not religious, that I don’t want to be as close to God as possible, and after a very painful and scary heart attack and bypass surgery at a fairly young age, I appreciate my mortality better than most. But what Steve said to me was amplified by the fact that I could feel God saying it at the same time. So pragmatic, realist and sarcastic me found myself on a plane with like minded Christians that care about an orphanage, that we had never seen, that was a short 29 hours away.
I’m not sure what brought you to the website. Maybe you know one of us. Maybe you were sent this through a friend. Maybe you’re curious to find a way that you can help. Can I offer one other scenario? God wants YOU here. If “giving back” means writing a tax deductable donation and you get a blanket in return means something to you, great. What if that means helping someone, the least of us, a child, with a traumatic background to stay alive? That’s simply it. Once we can keep that going, we can move on to education and transitioning into a different family situation. But for right now, let’s just keep these kids alive.
God wants you here to know that Uganda is not paradise. He wants you to know that out of all the “worst cases” in orphans you could hear about, these are the bottom of the barrel kids in the Mityana district. He also wants you to know, that he cares deeply for these children. The care these kids get is a miracle given what they are up against. They are sweet, innocent, and beautiful kids that have a rotten story in their past and a bleak future save Angie and her staff. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, and God wanted me there to tell you to act on what I’m telling you.
Africa is always forgotten, pushed to the side for more American or European news. It makes sense; it’s easier to relate to. However the human component is not. You can make a difference, you can be a vital part of keeping one of these children alive, and you didn’t find yourself at the bottom of this blog entry by accident. Thanks for helping.
P.S. I’ll be writing more about what Uganda is like, and some of the very surprising people we met while we were there. I promise it won’t be so preachy.