“Even though our supporters may be on the other side of the world, they are with us in spirit right now, sharing your pain and hoping to make a difference for you in the name of Jesus”
Hundreds of mission volunteers arrived at the Buskenyi Slum in western Kampala to clean the streets as an act of love and service to the community. The streets and gutters were piled high with rubbish and filth, but our team faithfully cleaned and witnessed to the community about Christ’s love.
The locals were so taken aback by what they witnessed, they could think of nothing else to do than to join them. It wasn’t long before our volunteers were working hand in hand with locals to clean up the dirtiest parts of their community.
It was here that Ben Campbell, CEO of AE Australia met Dickson. A man in his early twenties, frustrated and unemployed with a degree in social sciences. Ben noticed Dickson having an animated conversation with a young mother named Ruth who had joined the cleaning effort. Dickson was angry. “Why haven’t you cleaned the whole slum?” Dickson asked, his tongue loose from alcohol. “Do you know that if I came here and tried to clean on my own, people would beat me up?!” His anger hid a begrudging admiration for the mission team who had done something that he desperately longed to do; make a difference in his community.
Dickson invited Ben and Paul CEO of AE Uganda back to his home. He and Ruth are neighbours and do their best to look out for each other. As they walked down eroded and rocky pathways through the slum, they passed many small village shops and homes with people cooking and cleaning clothes in buckets. Young children stared and followed the group, giggling, their clothes torn and their smiles shining through dusty faces. Young men, drunk early in the day, called out, momentarily distracted by the visitors walking into their midst.
“You see how we live?” Dickson said, at pains to point out the shortfalls of their home. “I hate this place. I feel like I die inside when I wake up to this dump every morning.”
Soon they arrived at Ruth’s home. A 2×3 metre room at the end of a narrow alley. She shares one single mattress with her three children aged 10, 8 and 4. All her belongings were jammed behind a curtain and on her wall were posters praising God. “I love God,” she said in broken English. Her children gathered, eager to meet and welcome the new guests.
“You see how she lives?” Dickson said, still frustrated. “I do what I can to earn money to help her feed her children. But I desperately want this place to be better. If I die and have made a difference here, I will be fulfilled.” he said.
As Ben and Paul continued to speak with him, they discovered that Dickson attends a church but feels that his faith is empty. Seeing his pain, Paul encouraged him to open his heart to Christ. “God has given you an ability to see the needs of your community. Look for the bigger picture of how God can change your life and use you to affect your community.”
“I believe that the church is the only thing that can make a difference in our community,” Dickson said. “The government can’t help us, but the church surely can. Thank you for coming today, you’ve given me hope.”
Ben also took a moment to pray for Ruth and her children. He encouraged her on behalf of AE’s partners across the globe. “Even though our supporters may be on the other side of the world, they are with us in spirit right now, sharing your pain and hoping to make a difference for you in the name of Jesus,” he said.
Please pray for Dickson and Ruth that God would open the way for new opportunities and courageous hearts as they face difficult circumstances. Pray that the local church would gather around them for support. Pray that Dickson’s frustration would be turned into vision and action for his community.