Obviously everything has changed across the world over the past few months. Maybe we should have been prepared for something like this, but I don’t think many of us were ready for the extent that a global pandemic of this nature would effect our daily lives. For us, it has impacted EVERY aspect of how we live. Many of you have read our newsletter and know the different ways life has changed for us here in Uganda (the picture here is of the empty streets of Mbale). But one thing we haven’t spoken much about yet is how we are SERVING during this time.
On March 19th, Uganda began changing and enacting policies and laws to manage the spread of Covid-19 (the latest of which includes mandatory facemasks outside of your home). For the past two months, this is greatly impacted the ministry we are a part of, because we are relational disciplemakers. We have not been able to hold our regular discipleship gatherings or theological training classes. We have not been able to visit village churches for teaching, encouragement, and sharing. We have not been able to have leaders of village churches come to Mbale for visiting in person, nor do the majority of Ugandans have the technology available to them for Zoom, WhatsApp, YouTube, or Facebook Live. Instead, we have made “old-school” phone calls to check in on people, pray for/with them, and try to encourage them during these strange times. But Ugandans are resilient. And just like them, the ministry has had to focus on different ways to serve in the communities and churches we are a part of.
The first way to help was through our local churches: In late April, we looked at the churches and regions with healthy leadership in place and elected to send them some financial assistance through mobile phones. We sent instructions that this money was to assist the families in the church AND in the community that are suffering the most from the effects of the restrictions limiting movement and employment. And this month, we contacted additional churches/areas and assisted even further. This has been possible through the generosity of our supporting churches in the US, namely Quaker Avenue Church of Christ and Onalaska Church of Christ.
The second way we’ve tried to serve is by directly supporting the local isolation centers that are being used in each area to quarantine suspected Covid-19 cases. Through a friend in the medical field in East Uganda, Dr. Emma Gahima, we learned that these isolation centers have lacked essential supplies to deal with the challenges they’re facing. Simple things like hand-sanitizer, food, cooking supplies, plates/cups, medical gloves, soap, and even electricity. While the Uganda National Task Force has focused resources on testing, tracing, and isolation, these local isolation centers are greatly under-funded and under-supported as the nation moves to decentralize their response. We have been able to support three different isolation centers with items such as these listed and in each place the medical staff has been greatly appreciative. Even in times such as these, many politicians have seen an opportunity to help themselves, meaning that the vast majority of support and donations that have been given never reach the medical personnel on the front lines. By going directly to the isolation centers and working with the medical personnel, we not only were able to support them in specific ways that they are in need of, but were also able to help ensure the items get to the people who actually need it most.
In all of the ways we’ve been able to serve during these troubling times, we are thankful to the Lord for his provision and guidance. We are also thankful to our supporters who have made it possible. We are continuing to seek ways to be the hands and feet of the Lord during an unprecedented time. We ask that you continue to pray for Uganda!