Some time ago, Stella, one of our Ugandan office staff, was sick for a day or two. While riding a matatu (Ugandan public van transportation) to a clinic, she recognized a young boy from her neighborhood in the matatu with a man she did not recognize. The boy’s face was troubling to Stella. She spoke up, noting that she knew the boy and did not recognize the man with him. At the next stop, the man was forced out of the matatu, rescuing the boy from his captor. Stella called his parents, who came to pick their son. Come to find out, the boy had been abducted to be sold for child sacrifice. We thank God for the timeliness of Stella’s presence on a matatu she would normally not be riding.
We want our blogs to share our experiences here in Uganda, but more importantly, paint a picture as best we can of the beauty, culture, strengths and struggles of the country in which we serve. We want to be ambassadors for this beautiful, yet struggling, developing nation of Uganda. There are some issues facing Uganda today that we feel can make use of the power of prayer and calling of God’s angels to reinforce the fierce spiritual warfare waging here in Uganda.
Child sacrifice has resurfaced in the last 3-5 years. As the economy grows and subsequent affluence increases, a strange attraction to child sacrifice has been reborn. We have heard of some paying a witch doctor to sacrifice a child and bury the remains on their building site in hopes of the act blessing their building project.
The recent decades of civil war, refugee camps and the AIDS pandemic have taken a toll on Northern Uganda. Led by the messianic psychopath Joseph Kony, the ironically named Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was bent on overthrowing the government of Uganda. That agenda somehow was exercised through child soldiering, raping of women, burning villages, killing livestock, forcing of sex slaves, and child sacrifice. The years of strife left many orphans in their wake.
Education of child suffering has grown through news, documentaries and movies like Invisible Children, which I have referenced in a past blog. Subsequently, many NGOs and aid organizations have made focused efforts on relief, refugees, orphanages, child sponsorship, and adoption programs. I recently heard there are only 23 government-approved orphanages in Uganda, despite the existence of probably well over 500 orphanages in the country. Some ¾ or more of children in orphanages have one or both parents still living. Rather than reintegrate these children back into families or villages, they stay institutionalized because child sponsorship has become big business. I encourage those considering support of orphanages or child sponsorship to do their research and stay connected with the ministry. A Welsh couple from our church is striving to reintegrate children as much as possible. You can read more about them at www.rileysinuganda.blogspot.com
Oil has been discovered in the Lake Albert area of northern Uganda. Many Ugandans are hopeful of the economic boom, jobs, industry development and national income it will bring. However, oil and other natural resources have not always proved beneficial to the local people. Oil in Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, Libya and Sudan have fueled corruption and often funded the armament of civil wars or genocides. Diamonds in Sierra Leone; rubber, cobalt and diamonds in DR Congo; cocoa and gold in Ghana, diamonds in Angola, etc. The proxy war in DR Congo fought by troops from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe…but no Congolese troops. Did I forget to mention the DR Congo is rich in resources of gold, diamonds and coltan? Name a resource and often there has been a civil war that has erupted over the scramble for that resource.
It is interesting to note that the LRA ravaged Northern Uganda for decades, largely unnoticed by the West. However, with the discovery of oil reserves potentially comparable to Saudi Arabia, the US now feels compelled to assist in the elimination of the LRA, specifically Joseph Kony.
Yes, there are wars, droughts, famines, and everyday violence that plague Africa. However, at the core is the failure of African leaders to provide effective government. Few countries have experienced wise leadership. South Africa and Botswana have risen as effective multi-party democracies with effective checks and balances. But, for the most part, Africa has suffered tremendously at the hands of its ruling elite, bent on holding power and some even diverting national funds for self-enrichment. Martin Meredith’s book, “The Fate of Africa”, beautifully describes the residue of colonial rule, excitement for independence, bane of corruption, resiliency of Africans and other issues affecting the African continent for the last 50 years.
A report prepared for the African Union in 2002 estimated that corruption costs Africa $148 billion annually – more than a quarter of the continent’s entire gross domestic product.
We see so much potential here in Uganda. We hear stories of young leaders with much promise. Fertile land, year-round growing seasons and plentiful rainfall bless the land. Christian missionaries in the late 1800’s willingly died as martyrs, leaving a legacy of Christianity I believe still felt today. Just yesterday, I discovered our next door neighbor spent a night last week at Namboole Stadium with some 12,000 other Ugandans to celebrate 50 years of independence and pray for Uganda.
- Protection for vulnerable children.
- NGOs and Ugandan organizations that partner with Uganda, not profit from Uganda.
- The discovery of oil in Uganda to be a blessing, not an opportunity for more corruption.
- Wise effective leadership.
- Warriors and angels to fight spiritual warfare.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” — 1 Peter 5:8-9