Light the Way
a King's Church Mission
Uganda 2019 was my first ever missions trip. Before we even arrived in Arua, the fact that we had made it to Uganda alone was a testament to me of God’s greatness. The past three times I had booked flights to other destinations something always happened to disrupt my plans; resulting in me cancelling those trips. I knew that God wanted me to go to Uganda and it was only by His will that I was able to make it there.
The first night that we landed in Uganda at Entebbe Airport, we then had to do the 45-minute journey to our hotel in Kampala. By this point even though we were tired from a 15-hour journey and a few of us sleep-deprived, the excitement was starting to build. It was truly starting to sink in. We were in a country most of us had never been in before, to spread the Gospel in an act of obedience to God. I was buzzing.
That excitement disappeared the following day about three hours into a twelve-hour trip to Arua from Kampala. We were into our second day of travel, I had not slept much and I sat wishing we could teleport ourselves rather than driving the almost 500km journey to the northern corner of Uganda. Nerves tried to creep in and I had to remind those thoughts that I am here for a reason. God has called us and He hasn’t brought me this far for no reason. Arriving at YWAM Arua late into the evening, all I wanted was to be able to lay my head down on a pillow and have a full night’s sleep knowing that the travelling was finally over. My social battery had been exhausted just getting there and I was ready to unpack and make this place my home for the next eight days.
We were welcomed by a gracious team who had stayed up in anticipation for our arrival. They had saved us food to eat and prepared the living quarters for us. Throughout our entire stay at YWAM Arua, the staff and people living there were nothing but loving and welcoming to us. Even the small acts of kindness they showed to us took me by surprise then I had to remind myself this is how life should be when surrounded by Christians who are all together under one purpose.
Monday morning I woke up feeling unwell. It was manageable for the most part though so I continued through our day without issue. We had an official welcoming from the YWAM Base during their Monday morning service. We were also given a timetable of what our week at YWAM would entail. This timetable was different from what we had expected, especially concerning the time we would spend at the refugee camp. Plans being changed become a common occurrence during the trip. Whenever we thought we could plan and structure things in advance they changed. One morning as I was having quiet time Holy Spirit revealed to me that it was needed. Because we faced the danger of trying too hard to plan things ourselves rather than asking Him to lead us and gives the words to say. Every time we relied solely on the Spirit, He was there for us.
Tuesday consisted of helping in two ministries, Hospital Ministry in the morning and Children’s Ministry in the afternoon. I found it ironic to be ministering in the hospital when I myself was not in the best condition but I made it through and we saw God work in that hospital. After lunch, I had been sent to rest before we were needed for the Children’s Ministry. I ended up sleeping through it all and when I did finally wake up I was healed. Whilst I’d been asleep the team had been praying for me, Max had also relayed with the King’s Church back in Chatham so they had included that in their prayers. Just as suddenly as it came it was gone. I could concentrate my full attention back to the work we were doing in Arua.
On Wednesday the original plan had been to visit both the men’s and women’s prison then later on in the day we were to be ministering to the local boda-boda drivers. Being a woman who is passionate about women’s liberation I was slightly disheartened to be told that we were no longer visiting the women’s prison, only the men’s. But God does everything for a reason and He knew exactly where we needed to be. Max and Patrick did well in ministering to the men and praying for them.
By this point in our trip I had somehow come to the conclusion that even though we each had our separate talents and gifting’s, I could not place where mine could be of use during the trip. I was looking at the trip with a very limited viewpoint. God was working much greater and complex plans and there I was trying to figure out where I fit into it all when I could have spent that time asking Him to lead me to whatever He had planned. I eventually had a very honest conversation with the team that ended up with us ministering to each other and the Holy Spirit revealed a lot of things during it all. It’s moments like that I’m so thankful for. We started off as a very mixed group of Christians, some of us were strangers before we began preparing for this mission. Yet we became a family, working in one accord for the will of God. Being able to witness how we were able to come together, support and uplift one another is something I will always treasure.
Thursdays are the appointed Lord’s Centered Day at the YWAM base. A day for all staff to has a rest without any assigned ministry work. We were shown around town by one of the YWAM staff, William, who we had been working with for the week. It was a much-needed break. We had essentially been on the go non-stop since we had arrived in Arua, we all needed that moment to just breathe and process all that had happened so far. We entered Friday with positive attitudes and fresh perspectives.
I had an opportunity to share the word with the youth at the Remand Home on Friday. The night before I’d created a structured plan of what I wanted to say to them. Like I said before, things work best when we let God lead us. By the time we’d finished breakfast the Holy Spirit told me to scrap that plan, I’d made and listened to the words He was giving me. So I did just that. The trip to the Remand Home was only the second-ever trip YWAM had taken there so it was a very new ministry that they were looking to turn into a regular thing. We all left the Remand Home feeling touched and wishing we could have spent more time there to pray individually for the young people there. For me, being in the Remand Home was one of the most moving parts of the mission trip. I didn’t want to leave when we’d been notified that our time was up.
Saturday saw us carrying the Children’s Ministry work to one of the villages in Arua. We left relatively early to account for the journey time. At the village, we split into two teams helping alongside the YWAM staff to teach essentially a Sunday school session. We used one of the banners made by Naomi in our group for the practical activity with the children. I loved being able to be hands-on and just create a joyful atmosphere for the children to learn about God and the Bible.
That afternoon we set off to one of the refugee camps in Arua named, Rhino Camp. We wanted to set out early enough so that we would still have enough daylight to set up our tents as we were staying the night in the camp. When we arrived a man named Pastor Anthony who would be our guide had prepared living quarters for us to sleep in. So all the women slept in there whilst the men chose to sleep in their tents. The first thing I noticed was that someone had been so gracious to move out of where they slept so that we could be comfortable for the night. In the midst of a refugee camp, a place full of people who had been displaced from their homes they still made space for our benefit. That alone moved me.
It had been an emotional journey for me and spending our last two days of ministry at the Rhino Camp was the peak. We had been through and witnessed so much, I guess it was all finally catching up to me by the time we arrived at the camp. We were scheduled to visit two very different churches on Sunday morning. Gill was to preach in the first church with Simi sharing her testimony, then Marta preaching in the second. I volunteered to share my testimony in the second church.
That Sunday we witnessed God do the miraculous in that camp. A man gave his life to God in the first church after Patrick gave an altar call. He joined us for breakfast after service and we were able to get to know him. He even joined us to fellowship at the second church we went to. The second church was Pastor Anthony’s actual church, a Pentecostal Church that felt like such a contrast to the Anglican Church we’d been to earlier that morning. We were invited to pray for people who had come forward to the altar. When sharing my testimony at this church I’d learned to trust the Holy Spirit to give me the words to say. I went up with not one single note but full of faith. God has transformed us all within the week we had been in Uganda. More people came forward to give their lives to God during this second altar call, Simi and Nyasha were able to minister one-to-one whilst Marta preached a word to the congregation.
After the church services, we continued Children Ministry in the camp. A high percentage of the camp consists of children, most of them orphaned, with a small group of adults set with the task of overseeing so many children. We donated shoes to be given to the children in most critical need and other supplies; tents, solar lamps, mosquito nets etc. to the camp. I struggle to put into words the way I felt by the end of our stay at Rhino Camp. God changed my perspective on so many aspects of life. He showed me how we can go into situations thinking about ourselves and our personal feelings when in fact it’s not about us. It’s about God, it’s about being obedient to Him and trusting the promises He has given us. God did not send us out there for us to feel better about ourselves as Christians. We witnessed the true essence of love, sacrifice, being vulnerable and what it looks like to live purely by faith.
That night when we arrived back at the YWAM base we all had a lot to process. We were coming to the end of our trip yet I did not feel ready to leave. Uganda had made home in my heart along with so many wonderful people that we had encountered along the way.
The Monday service consisted of us having our official send-off from the YWAM team. We spent the rest of our day packing and tying up loose ends. During the short time we were in Arua brotherhoods were formed and friendships had been made that we intend to maintain. We as a team wanted to set up some form of support that would have a lasting impact at YWAM Arua.
We set off back to Kampala early on Tuesday morning. Watching the sunrise each morning had become my favourite habit, this time it was done through the windows of the minibus. The journey home had a completely different atmosphere in comparison to the one going forward to Arua the week before, we felt more like family. Travelling back we took a detour through Murchison Falls Safari Park and had the entire Wednesday to act like tourists in Kampala before our flight that evening. On our way to the airport, I took the time to reflect on not just the past ten days in Uganda but also on the months building up to the trip and all the things waiting for me when we returned.
I’m thankful to God for the works He had started in Uganda and optimistic about all that is to follow. We all returned completely changed through our experiences. My prayer is that we not only continue to keep that zeal that was sparked in Uganda, but that we also sustain the relationships formed there.