“Don’t go to Uganda with a savior mentality, because Jesus is already there!”
I was planning to join the Corban University team on a Children to Love mission trip to Uganda in May 2020, but due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, our trip had to be postponed. After March 2020, CTL didn’t send any teams or interns overseas until just recently. The last team to travel on a CTL trip to Uganda before the pandemic was Wheaton College and they returned to the States on March 16, 2020. Fourteen months later with borders reopened in Uganda (and very minimal travel restrictions), CTL sent its first team back to that country, a team from Corban University (I also tagged along!).
As I was getting ready to travel to Africa for the first time, I pondered on a “well wish” statement that a Ugandan friend of mine from Washington, D.C. once told me. He said, ”I pray you and your team don’t go to Uganda with a savior mentality, because Jesus is already there.” Though I knew he was being sarcastic, his statement had a lot of truth to it. I believe that my friend was trying to convey that Uganda is a Christian nation and that Ugandan Christians worship the same Jesus who we worship here in the United States; and he was right. Jesus is at work in Uganda. Certainly, our team did not go to Uganda with a “savior mentality,” but we did go with an eagerness to come alongside and support the amazing staff at Mercy Childcare Ministry (MCCM) in their work with children and families in need at the village, the boarding school, the medical center, and the micro-loan program.
I was amazed and encouraged to see how God is so present in Uganda. The way Ugandans worship, praise and pray may look a bit different than it typically does in the west (like dancing in the church as is very common and culturally accepted in Africa), but they have certainly shown us that God is right there among them. What struck me the most was seeing how MCCM kids are so versed in their knowledge of the Bible at such a young age, often memorizing and reciting long passages of scripture. On Sunday mornings, the kids are up early (rather than sleeping in) and ready with their Bibles to attend the first service at Mercy Church at 7:30am. Students at the boarding school begin and end their day with prayer, worship, and a devotion. Patients from the surrounding communities walk into Mercy Medical Center for physical treatment but before they leave, they receive prayer and hear the Good News of Jesus. It is evident that God is the center of everything the MCCM staff does and every aspect of the programs.
Even though most Ugandans have very little means and live very simple lives, the children and staff I met have a wellspring of joy that can only be found in God. This is the kind of spiritual investment that Mercy Childcare Ministry makes in the lives of the children and the families in their care.
- Victor Popa, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Development, Children to Love International