A few years back, a couple of green teenage boys somewhat randomly ventured into Africa, hoping to catch some footage of the conflict in Sudan so they could make a film about it. While they never made it to Sudan, they didn’t come home empty handed. Instead of filming in Sudan, they ran into the thick of a conflict between the Uganda government and a rebel army based in that country.
The rebel army–known as the “Lord’s Resistance Army”–acted as a terrorist organization in order to topple the government. Long story short: they would go into villages late in the night and steal children, forcing them to be a part of the army. The army full of abducted children struck fear into the hearts of the citizens in that country, yet virtually no one in the United States knew of it.
The aforementioned…teenage boys…brought awareness to a deep problem that was tearing Uganda apart, wreaking havoc on its citizens, and creating a child refugee tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
These young men proved that it’s never too early to do hard things by not only making a fantastic film on the conflict, but by creating an organization called Invisible Children, with the goal of ending the conflict, bringing peace to a war torn area, and helping the refugees integrate back into society.
My church, RockHarbor, has been in the mix for the last five years. One outgrowth of that effort has been a partnership with both Invisible Children and Africa Renewal Ministries–a Christian ministry based in Uganda.
This weekend RH kicked off a week of raising awareness for the conflict in Uganda. If you live in the Southern California area, attend the Awareness Forum at RockHarbor church on Tuesday, November 17, from 7-8:30 to hear what you can do to help bring peace and wholeness to a land in need. The forum will feature a pastor from Gulu, the village in Uganda that has been most affected by the rebel army.
There is so much to do. The task is daunting. RockHarbor.org puts it best:
5 years ago, a team from ROCKHARBOR visited northern Uganda. They saw first hand a nation in the midst of a 20-year war. They walked among those in an idp camp that had been forced out of their homes and villages, and in that same instance, they heard God inviting our church into this story.
In the half decade since, we’ve seen God move in significant ways in the northern Uganda town of Gulu. Through a partnership with africa renewal ministries, Gulu Bible Community Church has been planted in the heart of Gulu. Each year, RH sends teams to help this church with medical clinics and vacation Bible schools and outreach events for the community.
While there has been 2 years of peace in northern Uganda, Gulu is still a land of challenges. Fresh water; Self-sustenance; Education; AIDS and war orphans. But God is certainly on the move as change has already begun.
Beginning this weekend at our celebration services and continued over the next couple of days, we invite you to find your place in this continued story. Join us at any of these events and find out how to get involved with God’s renewing of lives and hope in Gulu.
You know, this is why I’m a part of this church. This Saturday when my wife and I were at the service, a lady who has been on one of the aforementioned trips to Uganda spoke of her experience. She told of how she ran into three women in the street one day. As she began to converse with them, she told them her story of how Christ had changed her, and through an interpreter, invited them to begin a relationship with Christ. That day they bent the knee to Jesus. The woman walked away, wondering if she would ever see them again. Well, the next day they showed up to the church in Gulu, toting their kids along!
This story would be quite unremarkable if that was all there was to it. The woman soon found out that they were actually prostitutes from the Congo who were attempting to find a new life in Uganda. Not only was their eternity secured the day before, not only would the church go on to spiritually disciple these ladies, but the church was also able to help them get out of prostitution and learn a trade. Their lives have completely changed due to one seemingly random conversation. What’s more, there are countless stories just like that of how ARM in Gulu–and RH along with it–is making a difference.
Christopher Hitchens, are you watching?