Get Flash

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Musings from our Bombastic Bredrin Ben - part 2

Ben Kiang continues from his previous blog about his time with River of Life Church...

Community Visits
Visiting Buggya village with Elder Betty was an interesting time and a great opportunity to go right into the heart of the local community. I was introduced to a number of women just to meet with them and pray together. All were visibly happy to see us and invited us into their homes. Each week Betty asks them for prayer requests and then encourages them with a word or a prayer. Many who we saw were newly converted Christians from all different backgrounds; one woman was formerly a muslim and another was even involved in some kind of witchcraft. Many were grateful for God transforming their lives but they also experience daily challenges of sickness and poverty. One woman we met simply asked us to pray that she would be able to provide financially for her children. A common desire among all the women was for themselves and their families to draw closer to God and form a deeper relationship with him. The River of Life is a source of light in Buggya. Not only do they visit residents weekly, but they have also planted a small church which now has a congregation of around 12 adults and 15 children, and it is growing.

White Eagle Project
The WEP is an amazing scheme which provides a home for boys and girls under the age of 18, taking them away from dangerous family situations and giving them a safe place to enjoy their childhood and youth. I’ve had such a good time getting to know the young people there. They have such energy and joy and in the short time I’ve known them I can see they are growing into strong men and women of faith. Some of my favourite memories of my time here have been spent with kids, whether it be visiting a crocodile farm, or playing cards, or joining them for meals, praise and prayers in the evening.

They have some keen video gamers, and so I suddenly became very popular when they realised I have spent far too many hours playing MarioKart Wii. Subway Surf on the mobile is also apparently a firm favourite, thus I often went long periods without ever seeing my phone. Such a range of characters, but all so friendly and welcoming. They seem to be a tight-knit group but welcomed me straight away, as if I was family. In many ways, it is easy to forget that these children have all come from difficult and often damaging backgrounds, such is the sense of happiness and hope they embody. This is testament to the constant work of the staff and how God is using the church to transform lives.

Heading home
All in all, I’ve had such a good time soaking up the new culture and having all sorts of different experiences. It has been a privilege for me to get involved with the River of Life, and everything they have to offer. Taking into account all the different ministries (including schools and prisons), the number of people that the church is reaching and the impact it having on the local community is really inspiring. As I leave to head back to London, I pray that God will continue to enlarge their territory and increase their sphere of influence in Masaka, and in Uganda. Mukama yebazibwe! (Praise God!)

‘Ask me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.’ Psalm 2:8
See ya dude!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Musings from our bombastic bredrin Ben (part 1)

As I’m sitting to write this post, my final days in Uganda are fast approaching. I arrived almost four weeks ago from the UK in order to visit the River of Life Church. Having just finished school, this is my first time travelling on my own away from home. I wanted to spend some time before starting university, and going into another three years of education, to challenge myself and do something exciting… I have not been disappointed; drawing alongside the church here in Masaka to serve God and reach out to the people of Uganda has been an incredible experience and one that I will never forget.

Synergy As a keen football player I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the Synergy football programme, particularly on the academy side that works with boys aged 6 to around 15. It has been a pleasure for me to work alongside academy coach, Abby, to prepare training sessions and even see the team in action during a friendly match against another local team.
The players are motivated and talented, but most importantly they just love the game. Synergy provides a safe environment for roughly 90 boys (in the academy alone) in the local community to train and play. The coaches strive not only to improve the boys’ ability on the field but are also a positive influence in their school lives and in their development as members of society. I also really admire the club’s ethos to operate in the right way even when, given the nature of football in Uganda, it would often be easier to cut corners. The integrity of the coaches on the field, and behind the scenes, sets them apart from most other clubs. I’m always so inspired by how football brings people together. Seeing the number of young lads Synergy is reaching through their sessions is so cool. I wish them luck in their upcoming season.

Kitovu Baby Unit Visiting the baby unit at Kitovu hospital was another eye-opener. There was one baby who at 20 days old weighed only 1.74kg. She was so thin that her bones almost protruded through her skin and sores were forming where she rubbed against the bed. In the bed next to her was another girl, only 6 days old, who was having to fight hard for every breath. A nurse stood over her to make sure her weak lungs did not collapse completely under the strain of breathing. Things like that are difficult to see and I do not envy the nurses who are there each day and night. However, it highlights the vital work that they are doing and the need for continuous prayer. There were also more positive stories and a notice board displaying photos of a number of fit and healthy-looking babies; young lives that have overcome their sickness. Improvements have been made to the medical equipment with the latest addition being an oxygen splitter that is used to distribute oxygen from one tank, to up to five patients at a time.
Hospital Ministry One of the highlights of my time here was visiting the local hospital to give out food and minister to patients. Those we saw were suffering from Malaria and Tuberculosis. It was tough seeing people often very weak from sickness and I found it was difficult at times to find the right words to pray. However it was a rewarding experience, and interesting to see how people reacted to us being there. The patients came from all different walks of life. Some were Christians and were happy to discuss their faith with us and, despite their illness, proclaim what God had been doing in their lives. There were also Muslims and those of no faith and even prisoners in their conspicuous yellow jumpsuits, handcuffed by one arm to their beds. Not one person in either ward declined when asked if they would like some prayer. It struck me that there is a real desire among ordinary people for some level of faith and a relationship with God, especially in times of need. There are people all around searching for answers. I learned that sometimes it just takes a few people spending their time and showing kindness and asking who would like prayer. Bananas and bread are also very effective at getting people interested!
Stand-by for more from Ben next week….

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And if you see a Crocodile..... Don't forget to SCREAM!!

The White Eagle Children’s Home kids nearly lost their heads this past week when they were sent on an amazing trip to the Crocodile Farm (on the edge of Lake Victoria) by Auntie Sarah’s old ballet teacher, Miss Hare!  Fortunately it was just a chicken that lost its head… and whole body, for that matter… when it caught the eye of a ferocious croc...

The day was jam-packed with activities that had the kids squealing and laughing (when their knees weren’t knocking with fear!). We learnt about crocodiles in all stages from egg to adult, not forgetting those tempestuous teen crocs. The kids even got to hold a baby crocodile (which, though tiny, was strong enough to take off our fingers, so we had to be very careful… health and safety experts, look away!).

As legend would have it, one particularly cantankerous (and very large) beastie has killed over 50 people in Lake Victoria and the River Nile. It was a pleasure to make his acquaintance, but as you can imagine, we were very, very polite!

One of his protégés (Romeo, who cohabits with a rambunctious young lady called Juliet, naturally!) impressed the kids by eating a live chicken with one loud ear splitting thunder-clap SNAP! It gave us all a (healthy) fear of going anywhere near the edge of a river!

Chicken.... the other white meat!

And the day’s festivities would not have been complete without the very rare treat of a delicious meal of fried chicken (or fish) and chips, and a tender morsel of croc meat to tantalise the palate. We then played games on the field, enjoying the torrential rain shower that came at exactly that point – if anything, it made it more fun! The children went back to school with some great stories to tell their friends (and if anyone asks, the three youngest were in no way far-too-scared to hold the crocodile on their own – no, no, they are the BRAVE WHITE EAGLES… well, that’s the party line, anyway!)

Croc... num num!