My name is Pastor Henry from Adjumani, Uganda. I have served the ministry for about seventeen years, since 2003. My church is located in a local vulnerable and disadvantaged community with largely peasant farmers who are mostly illiterate and unemployed women and young people. My community experiences challenges such as high poverty levels compared to other parts of the Adjumani district, negative attitudes about education, poor health services, drug abuse, and gender-based violence, among others.
From the above situation, the church has become a vital institution in transforming the lives of the local people through continuously engaging community members in income generating activities. Being a church in a refugee hosting district, we also minister to the needs of many refugees from South Sudan, who have taken refuge in our community.
My journey of life started in1993 when I received salvation in my village of origin. This got me out of a situation which, today, I can only describe as “slavery.” I used to engage in too much consumption of alcohol, cigarette smoking, and drug abuse. I lived a useless, hopeless, and unproductive life. However, when I became born again, my life perspective changed. I developed the desire to help others, saw life differently in a positive and hopeful direction.
After six years, while in a deep sleep, I had a vision of a very bright light shining towards me, and I heard a voice say, “The harvest is ready, but you are letting it rot. Get up and reap the harvest!” After sharing this vision with my senior pastor, who became particularly interested in my faith in God, he prayed with me and started encouraging me to share the word of God with many people in my village who desperately needed transformation. When I started sharing the word of God, the experience of seeing my fellow people turning to God was an exciting venture which made me consider taking part in the ministry more actively. This conviction eventually drove me to join the Uganda baptist seminary, though at a mature age of thirty, in order to illuminate my mind to understand and interpret the word of God. With that determination, I eventually completed and graduated with a diploma in theology, which has proven so vital in helping me to preach the word of God to the lost, as well as encouraging many believers to remain firm in their faith in Christ today.
However, ministering in a community with a desperate need for positive transformation, can only be possible through meeting the different needs of the people through wholistic ministry. It has never been a particularly easy task. Bringing on board the youth to use their energy, creativity, and imaginations for positive transformation, meeting the spiritual needs of the community within the church’s vicinity (both the refugees and the host communities), addressing the social needs of the community members… requires a ministry which is more than just about preaching the word of God.
With the introduction of wholistic transformational development through LIA-Uganda, the church embarked on providing different services to the communities like:
- Guidance and counselling
- Offering psychosocial support to the needy
- Preaching to transform lives with the word of God
- Organizing community outreaches
- Reaching out to the needy to show them the practical love of God
- Involving the community members in projects that drives them towards self-sustainability
- Partnering with other organizations in order to meet the community members at their different points of need
This has been possible to achieve wholistic ministry as a church, with practical demonstration of God’s love to the needy. And most importantly, transforming the community positively towards sustainability through hard work using the available resources, as well as empowering the community members to offer solutions to their own problems by embracing the spirit of generosity.
My encouragement is that the LIA family continues its visionary project of positive transformation of communities across the globe. This is particularly important in the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has come with different secondary effects in the communities, requiring support from different angles in order to help people live in the new norm. LIA should also continue to channel a conscious effort in helping the communities across the globe in fighting the spread of the disease and the secondary effects that it has brought to people. The journey of my life, which God has walked me through, is what I feel honored to share in few words. If we can have the imagination of how beautiful any community can be, hold a firm grasp of where such communities are now, and recognize the challenges that keep such communities from living in that beautifully imagined world, then devoting our energy in finding solutions to those problems that hinder the progress of such communities will always transform any world into a better place to be.
May the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.