We’re in Uganda and enjoying the beautiful weather here in Gulu. We’re working with a ministry called the Zion Project, who takes in and counsels women who have been displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army as sex slaves or women who were forced into child prostitution in Uganda and surrounding countries.
There has been so much destruction in Uganda in the past, but in my short time here, I have really seen God at work in this city. There are countless rehabilitation centers and organizations specializing in building this city and this people back up. It is really cool to walk around and run into some Americans and find out that they’ve dedicated their lives to serving Christ in Uganda. And there are so many other people here from all over the world who’ve responded to the need and have committed their lives to serving this community.
The Zion Project is one of the many organizations here in Gulu and was established about 5 years ago by Sarita Hendricksen. We got to hear her story and how the ZP, the Children’s home, and the Imani beading business came about. She has been so gracious of her time and efforts to not only help these women and children but support them in numerous ways, including offering them a paying job with Imani.
Imani is a bead-making business that not only employs these women but keeps them off the streets and creates a community of living for them where they can worship Jesus. So much time and money goes into making the jewelry from scratch, a long process that we got to see, but the finished product is beautiful. This business is only a source of income for the Imani women right now but, as it progresses, will hopefully play a more profitable role for the ZP ministry in the future.
During our time here we have led morning devotions for the Imani women and staff, allowing us time to share our hearts and what we are learning in the Word. There is a language barrier but two of the women speak English and will help us translate. Most of them know Swahili, Lugandan, and the local Acholi language so they speak a unique language that combines all three.
We have also been able to spend a lot of time at the Children’s home. Its a place that will take in younger girls who have been displaced by the LRA or girls who were involved or are in danger of getting involved in prostitution. Many of the girls are child mothers or are products of rape by Ugandan soldiers and deemed unworthy in society’s eyes. But Sarita and the other house mothers love and care for them in a way that shows them their worth in Jesus. We have shared songs and bible stories, played games, made bracelets and balloon animals, washed feet and painted nails, and watched their tribal dances that they were so excited to show us.
We have also been spending a lot of time with the Imani women helping them make jewelry. I have a deeper respect for each one of them now because the bead-making is hard work. After just a few hours my back and neck hurt and I was ready to quit but they do this all day every day with smiles on their faces.
On Sunday we went to Gulu Bible
Community Church, where most of the women and children go. It was a really great service with lots of singing and dancing. African church services typically run longer than what we’re used to–we get out of church and go to lunch whereas they get out of church and go to dinner. But it’s so plain to see their desire for God, and they gladly give an entire day to the Lord–something I think we can learn from. Our ZP girls put on a performance at church too and it was awesome…everyone loved it and all the adult women in the audience got up and danced too. You could tell the girls felt like celebrities up there as everyone cheered and encouraged them. Ah, I hope those smiles never leave their faces because they deserve to feel like that all the time. They are so cherished by God!
We also took a walk through some villages called “the slums” to see if there was anyone we could pray for. There were a few women that were sick with typhoid fever, HIV, and malaria. We shared the gospel with them and all three came to know Jesus. That was the first time I had ever seen someone be led to Christ that had never heard the Gospel before. I was able to share my testimony with the woman suffering from typhoid fever. We also prayed healing over her life, and her smile afterwords said it all. God is so powerful and so at work in the lives of people we haven’t even met yet. And I love seeing him set up these divine appointments to bring his children back to Him.
It’s been an amazing week here and we’ve been able to be a part of so many different kinds of ministries. God really began breaking my heart for women involved in the sex industry and showing me the long-lasting effects it can have on a woman. I knew this evil existed and I knew it was hurting millions of people each year, but meeting face to face just one victim changes everything. It becomes a little bit closer to home and a lot more real. Something that used to be this lofty, blurred thought in my head now has a face and a name. And makes it harder to ignore.
Our time here is cut a little bit short, but so much was packed into so few days. And now we’re headed out for a surprise safari on the Nile river on the 2nd. The drive was a safari in itself; we saw all sorts of wildlife and the view was amazing. That night we got to our campsite and met a group from the states that was doing mission work in Uganda. We got to worship with them around a campfire overlooking the jungle with the Nile in the distance. That is something I will never forget. Hopefully I will be able to share some more safari pictures soon.
And now we’re on our way to France! Thank you for all your prayers and support. It is so encouraging to hear from some of you, and I hope your summer has been great!
this is Justine, one of the Imani women, putting some final touches on the bracelets we helped them make