January 2013 - Vol. 65.

A Life-changing Journey to Uganda

This past August a Kairos Mission team from the European region of the Sword of the Spirit spent two weeks serving in Uganda. The team was made up of 10 young people, ages 18-26. they came from Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, London and Germany. The team worked alongside local Ugandans, one week with the African Children's Mission and one week with the missions team of Kiwoko Hospital, Luwerro District.

Our main aims were to practically serve alongside local Christians, to get to know different Ugandan mission organisations and support their mission work, to provide opportunities for team members to grow in discipleship, leadership, service, teamwork and spiritual life, and to learn about poverty, mission and development. The trip was successful and richly rewarding for everyone involved. The following reflections from the team members highlight the impact the trip had on our team.
At the end of the Trip we asked each team member to sum up what they believe God had been doing in them and through them during this trip. The following were the ten words:

change, courage, new beginnings, vision, mission, pressed, timing, tempering, move, reference point. 
I believe God was deeply at work during our time in Uganda. Since returning we have seen signs of how our joy and zeal has had some impact on our own communities and on each of us as we continue to pursue God's call for our lives.
 Phil Morrison, Mission Team Director

God's tangible presence in Uganda
by John Moran, (19, Engineering student, Dublin)

Uganda…Where to start? I can only describe it as a time where. God was more tangible than I ever imagined he could be. It has been the most significant and truly life-changing weeks of my life. I was dying to see what Africa was actually like... and I loved it all, the long drops (pit latrines), bucket showers, snakes, mosquitos, worms, termites, matoke (only sort of - it's a cooked dish made from the pulp of green banana), the "starts" (for getting the day going), the people, the work we did… everything, it was all amazing. I especially loved how the children we were working with were always so excited to see us ‘Muzungus’ (African expression for white people), and how the smallest things like a football or an old t-shirt, could make them so happy, genuine "ear to ear" happiness. 

Here are a few highlights from the two weeks...

Week one: The ten of us ventured out into the bush through the rocky roads of Kampala to the Ekitangaala ranch where we would stay the first week working with the African Children's Mission. Building mud houses is something that everyone has to try at least once in their life, but building a mud house for a family who were living in the most extreme poverty, with no food, water or shelter is something that completely changed my life. To think that this family of 5 would now have a roof over their heads to keep them dry and safe, and seeing the excitement on the kids' faces and the happiness that this had brought to them was so rewarding and heart-warming.

Week two: we traveled to Kiowoko hospital where we would spend the remainder of our time. Travelling through the clay roads of Uganda, seeing all the people, the food, the animals, the culture and the scenery was all just so... African. We met Shadrach, a man whose passion and energy for life I envy deeply; his thirst to spread God's love to people is truly remarkable.

We visited three different primary schools in the following days. Playing, singing and teaching the kids was such an  amazing experience. The welcome that we received from the children was so genuine and sincere. My favorite experience was an afternoon we spent in the wards praying with the patients. They spoke little or no English, and most of them were seriously sick or injured. It was extremely overwhelming, but God was so present in these peoples’ lives, their hope and trust in God was so encouraging to see. To many it would seem that they have so little, but to them, they had the one and only thing they needed.

God only asks me to show them love
by Marie-Claire Flynn (20, Engineering student, Glasgow) 

One of my highlights from the two weeks was when Meg and I had a chance to pray with women in the maternity ward and the babies in the intensive care unit. I really felt God present with us, especially when I did not have the words to say.... 

Regardless of my lack of wisdom, God used me, and in my feeble attempts to show love to others, He showed me something of his love for the poor. God showed me that it is not for me to fix the suffering of others, as he is able to do that in his own time; God only asks me to show them love.

team members with Ugandan family

My time in Africa was really life- changing for me, and I arrived back in Glasgow with a heart for service, and on fire for mission with our local University Christian Outreach to students. The key word I have taken from this trip is courage. God worked in me, an anxious and fearful person, and said to me, “Be strong and courageous.”
- Meg Jackson 

We saw people full of God and his promise
by Meg Jackson 
(21, Nursing student, Glasgow)

He must increase, I must decrease  (John 3:30). These words were prayed out by a Lebanese brother as we gathered in London the night before we left to put God at the center of our trip to Uganda. One of the team members prayed for real vision, for our eyes to be opened. That we may see Uganda as he sees it.

And we did. We saw a country broken and fearful and divided, but full of God and his promise. The team spent themselves for God on this trip, and he worked in powerful and majestic ways. There was mud and prayer and paint and roosters and matoki and heat and a pastor called Shadrach and kids who
came up and gave their hearts to Jesus when they heard of his love. God's protection on us was tangible, and it is clear to us that our small plans were nothing compared to what God has done and is still doing in our lives and those we reach out to.

Step up for him
by Kevin Coyle 
(21, Engineering student, Glasgow)

The main word I received from God during the two weeks was a challenge to “step-up” for him and a promise that he would respond. As someone who is quite reserved I find it tough to put myself out there for God but I felt him calling me to do this and that if I did he would work powerfully. On the back of this I have volunteered for several service roles in my home community this year and also lead the feedback session at a prayer meeting in Glasgow. Two things I would never have done before going to Uganda.

God's power to transform lives and cities
by John Robinson 
(25, Fine Arts student, Belfast)

I had grown comfortable or maybe a bit afraid and started to narrow my view inward to just living. Being in Africa made me realise that all people everywhere belong to God and that he has power to transform both lives and cities. I'm somewhat overwhelmed by all the need there is in the world, but as I process this experience I am also rejuvenated by the knowledge that as I open my life to God's vision and power again, he will use me to impact lives and build up his kingdom.

Team impact
by Christiane Lewerentz 

The team prepared for the trip with a team weekend in June and two preparation days in London at the start of the trip. Every team member had a significant role in the preparation and running of the trip – from travel arrangements, finances, worship and kids programme to coordinating gifts and keeping our supporters up to date. The positive team dynamics, mutual support and good relationships were remarkable and contributed to fruitful teamwork, helpful discussions and everyone feeling comfortable to share challenges and personal learning during the trip. Most evenings, we shared as a team or separately as men and women about highlights and challenges of the day to process together what we had experienced. 

Joining our hosts’ prayer times, through our own morning prayer and meditations, intercession nights and mentoring conversations, every team member had deep encounters with God and learned a lot about God’s love for the poor, His call on our lives and the sacrifices we need to make to build God’s kingdom. It was great to see how everyone found their place on the team, contributed, took on challenges, stepped out of their comfort zones and engaged with the people we served

 (c) copyright 2013  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom
email: living.bulwark@yahoo.com