Impact Blog

Steve's Second Report from Uganda: Jan 2016

On Wednesday, we began our first mobile medical clinic in a town where we had been last year. The people, especially the children, were very sick. It is malaria season here in Uganda, and a local doctor told me that this is a very bad year for malaria. While the medical clinic went on, David and Cynthia Pearson led teams out into the town with water filters. Each filter will provide about 20-25 people with a permanent supply of clean water. At about 5:30, the team went into the middle of town for an outdoor meeting. We have a very musical team of translators on this Journey, and by the time we got there, a crowd of 300-400 had gathered to listen to them sing. After a while I preached and about 200 people came forward to receive Christ. Following that, the team prayed for the sick for almost an hour. There were many healings and more salvations.

Yesterday, the team went back to the same town; this time, they distributed 300 treated mosquito nets. These nets are the best defense against malaria. (Uganda currently has the highest rate of malaria in the world.) The nets are large enough for four or five children, so the team finished in the afternoon knowing that about 1200 children were now protected. Meanwhile, others went into the homes and businesses, praying for the sick and asking God’s blessing. In the evening Lyn preached in the center of the town. As she preached, the heavens opened with a tropical downpour. People moved back to the protection of overhangs and shops doorways, but no one left. Lyn stood out in the rain and continued to preach. Afterward, the team led people to the Lord and prayed for the sick.

While all this was going on, David, Cynthia and I were driving five hours south, near the Tanzania border, to a refugee camp known as Sango Bay, where 6,000 people live. The camp is set up along an airstrip that Idi Amin had built in the 1970’s, as an intimidation tactic against neighboring Tanzania. The refugees come from three places: many are Ugandans who were expelled from Tanzania when the order between the two nations was re-drawn. They are now living in the camp, waiting for the government to make land available to them to farm. The second group is the Rwandans who escaped to Uganda many years ago at the end of the Rwandan genocide; to this day it is not safe for them to return to their country. A third group of refugees are Ugandans whose land was confiscated when oil was discovered on it.

Our friend, Andrew Banman (a Canadian missionary that I have known for a number of years) introduced us to a young Ugandan doctor, Dan Douglas. Dr. Dan has been working with the refugees for the past two years. The government is largely keeping NGO’s out of Sango Bay, and demands that any funds raised to help the refugees be channeled through the government offices in Kampala. However, because we came with Dr. Dan and Andrew, we were allowed to enter the camp. That same day, the new camp commander had arrived from Kampala and we were able to meet with him and some camp leaders to discuss our desire to do a pilot water filter project, which he approved on the spot. And so, we were in the unique position of being able to directly help the refugees. Only the Lord could have worked this out so perfectly.

Dr. Dan has trained up ten primary community health volunteers to help him in the camp. He gathered five of these for a water filter demonstration and training that David and Cynthia conducted. Each one paid very close attention to all the information, then took turns disassembling and cleaning the filter. David told them that each filter was to be shared by 5 families. Dr. Dan then asked them to go out and bring in the children from these families, so that we could give them anti-parasite medicine. We then went to look at the local water source, a large pond at the edge of the camp. While we watched various people gathering water, two different herds of cattle went into the water. It is no wonder the people are so sick. Ten minutes later we returned to the Quonset hut were we had just been. Now it was packed with over 250 people, most of them children. Lines were formed while Cynthia and Dr. Dan put a tablet in each of the children’s mouths. We were able to treat 250 kids before our medicine ran out. What struck me was how obviously sick they looked––with bloated stomachs, skinny arms and legs, and orange hair––a sure sign of malnutrition. They were dressed in rags (except for the ones who were naked) and were very dirty.

This may be our best ever opportunity to run a water pilot where we can truly monitor the progress of the families’ health after they start drinking filtered water. Dr. Dan’s volunteers will monitor each family and report back to him every week. He, in turn, will report to us the results. If the results are as good as we anticipate them to be, we hope to begin a camp-wide distribution in the coming months.

As extremely poor and needy as the people in the villages around Kalonga are, this excursion to Sango Bay exposed us to a whole new level of desperation. We talked about what we saw for hours on the long return trip home. As my friend David Ruis says, if the Gospel is not good news to the poor, it is not good news. I don’t know how many refugee camps there are around the world now, but I do know the number is growing. Something else I know is that the Lord says,

          For He will rescue the poor who cry out

          And the afflicted who have no helper…

          For their lives are precious in His sight. (Ps 72: 12, 14b)

With the growing refugee crisis in the Middle East and Africa, we need to cry out for His compassion, wisdom and justice¬≠¬≠––because we are here as His hands and feet.

Help us Lord Jesus. First give us Your heart in this matter, then give us your wisdom.

          “We do not know what to do, but we look to You.” (2 Chron. 20:12)



         

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