Real Hope Flickers

The smile of a destitute woman, unable to feed her small children, captures the emotion of hope breaking through the despair when servants of the Lord arrive with food.

A smile breaks through when this woman was told that help is on its way.

Total desperation is rarely felt in our daily lives here in North America. Even when one region of our community is hit with a fire or terrible storm, somewhere else nearby has supplies and is readily available to provide relief. Not so in Africa. Especially not among the poorest of the poor and outcast people of the rural villages.

That’s why our hearts have been burdened to reach the people living in Kikarara, Uganda. They have not heard about Jesus, and they have never experienced the love and compassion of genuine truly born again believers in Jesus. When our team from the churches in Rukungiri Township area arrived with food–loaded into the back of a dump truck–someone asked, “Why are you bringing us food, none of the other churches with the big fancy buildings have ever done anything to help us?” Pastor Onesimus shared the exchange he had: “Many people asked why we were giving out food, when we told them that, the Bible commands us to support those in need. They said, “Wow, our religious leaders have only taken from us. You are indeed God’s people. They said though we have not preached with words we have showered them with love. Some asked to visit the church in Katobo for prayers.”

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One 25kg bag of maize (pictured below) costs approximately $16.50 USD and feeds a family of seven for about one week.

Our team leaders sit with the local government leaders and clarify the plan to distribute the relief.

One important step in the relief delivery was to work with local government leaders. The Chief in each village holds a position of authority and our team members respect the responsibility of government leaders to govern. This relationship can become very useful especially when the government leaders discover that the church members are not coming to their region to enact political change or usurp the government authority.  Our team members from Rukungiri sat with the chiefs and leaders of each regional area that they were providing relief and confirmed with those leaders who were the most desperate people in their village.

In addition to the confirmation with the government leaders about how the distribution should take place, the local officials also offered wise advice. They gave information about the background of individual families and shared how certain families had been impacted by untimely deaths or diseases wiping out the wage earner causing them to be in more desperate conditions. The government officials appreciate the ministry to their people, and some even became interested in hearing more about the gospel.

One of the police officers maintains the orderly line and keeps a watchful eye on the crowd.

We were hugely privileged to have the attention of the police in Rukungiri Region. They sent along a leader with a detail of nine officers to help ensure safe and organized delivery of the food and supplies. When you enter an area where people have been poor for many generations and are now suffering tremendously, it is helpful to have the added protection of a police escort. The testimony before the police officers was also incredible. They watched the church members share Christ and demonstrate compassion towards the needy. The presence of the police also provided the air of an official sanctioned delivery of relief. The local health inspector even came to check the food and he gave a full endorsement that the supplies were fresh and in top condition.

This inspection also protects the team from accusations that the enemy of the gospel might try to throw at them to hinder the demonstration of compassion linked with the gospel message.

This was not a small project.

The first delivery included a truckload of food and over 1,000 pieces of clothing. White Fields provided the funding to rent the truck and buy large bags of ground corn called Posho by the residents and dry beans for protein.  The members of the churches we are planting near the Rukungiri Township collected the clothing from among their people. In this way, they were participating in the relief. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deeds” [Proverbs 19:17, ESV].  In this relief event, the partnership between White Fields Ministry and the members of the churches becomes a double blessing. They become the hands and feet delivering the aid and proclaiming the gospel. The donations from our partners expand what they can provide by purchasing large bags of maize and beans. But because the people were donating from among their own meager resources, it allows God to provide a blessing even to them. Together we become a stronger team.

This Relief Delivery was an Incredible First Step

We need to plan well how to systematically prepare the stage to eventually plant a church. Our ultimate goal is not just to feed these people once or twice. We are engaging them with the proclamation of New Life through Jesus Christ. Then we will begin Bible studies for the new believers and eventually provide for them a pastor with a church building, water tanks to harvest rainwater and training to teach them how to farm in dry and drought conditions. This will lead them to totally transforming their whole community. Their initial response was reported to us by Pastor Onesimus, “They welcomed us in the community, and asked if we will consider coming closer to them and plant a church here? They also asked us to begin teaching the Bible. I told them to keep praying for us, for God to open doors and means to come to their community. One of the leaders of the community said he would sell to us one of his pieces of land approximately 2 acres of land for 4 million shillings ($1,111 USD) to put a church if we ever consider planting a church in this community.  This is after he saw what we were doing and said this is the right church to support.” By God’s grace, we hope to provide the monthly salary for a national church planter to come live among these people, shepherd them and teach them God’s Word.

Hundreds of People Given a Smile

Pray for the continued ministry among these people. A big impact was made in the first delivery. We hope to have a second relief ministry by July 19, 2017. Then we are prayerfully seeking the opportunity to provide a more substantial outreach from our current churches into this new mission field.