Sunday School Children Raise Support for Ugandan Kids

Post a Comment » Written on June 11th, 2009     
Filed under: News
LEXINGTON, MA (June 11, 2009) – The children’s Sunday school class at Trinity Covenant Church gave up at least one snack a day during Lent and donated the money they saved to provide food for The Christian Mission Academy Orphanage Program in Baaka, Uganda.

The kids didn’t stop with the Easter effort, however. Because they kept going, the students exceeded the goal of 3,300 meals – enough to feed each child one meal every day for a month – and raised $3,888. The students saved their money daily, placing it into soup cans.

Sandy Gannon, the Sunday school superintendent, says the children were passionate about raising the money because many of them already have a relationship with the Ugandans.

The children are prayer sponsors for one of their Ugandan counterparts, with whom they have been paired. The students get the name, age, and picture of each Ugandan child and commit to pray for them. The process is similar to other international child sponsorship programs.

Those relationships are just part of the congregation’s ongoing commitment to the Ugandan orphans and members of the Jesus Power Church, a congregation in Kampala, which operates the orphanage, located 27 miles outside the city.

The relationship was not planned.

The Ugandan church had fallen on hard times. A businessman turned the place they rented into a bar. They began meeting in a tent that had to be put up and taken down for each service in different locations, so people began to drift away. The orphanage was closed due to a lack of appropriate facilities.

“We looked like failures,” writes Ugandan Pastor Frank Mukiliza on a website set up for Trinity’s ministry to the Ugandan church.

The church decided to send Mukiliza to the United States to seek support.
“They are incredibly poor people, so it took them years to raise the money,” says Gannon. Many people in the village have never even traveled far in their own area.

Mukiliza landed in New York City in 2006 with a phone number for a contact who turned out to live in California, Gannon says. Through a series of events, he discovered Trinity on the Internet while doing a web search and arranged to meet with Pastor Doug Cederberg.

Cederberg met with Mukiliza and invited him to speak at Trinity. “The man touched the hearts of many people,” Gannon says, who still speaks with a sort of awe about the moment.

Since that time, the church has started Hearts and Hands for Uganda to provide ministry that has been holistic and extensive:
•    Provides educational scholarships and has sent 12 teens and young adults to college
•    Supports the orphanage
•    Started an Internet café in Kampala to generate income, create jobs, and provide training
•    Trained pastors
•    Provided shelter and other necessities
•    Helped members start or expand small businesses
•    Donated operational and capital support to the church
•    Develops adult educational assistance programs

Providing education to children of the orphanage and others has been a challenge. A majority of the children did not attend school because they were unable to pay the $20 fee required by the government-sponsored school.

The children also are frequently exploited. Many are orphans who were taken in by villagers and used as slaves on their farms. Gannon writes on her blog about the ministry: “A team of Americans (supposedly) went to the village and took some of the children, saying they would provide them with education. I have no idea where the children were taken.”

It was discovered that they tried to sell the children “for adoption.” The government arrested the Americans, but four of the children already were adopted and the remainder have been scattered.

Parents and guardians often do not want the children to attend even a free school because they use the children to work on the farm or beg in the village, and other children have been used as slaves by villagers who took them in.

Gannon notes that not all of the children are true orphans, but their parents did not want them. “They’re really not valued by anybody.”

The ministry is providing hope, however. Trinity has helped purchase land for a new school facility that is being built. The church also is helping fund construction.

Four teams of Trinity members have traveled to Uganda. Todd Klipp has made every trip and left last week to spend several weeks helping to develop the work. Klipp has led the church’s economic development efforts and helped sponsor several individuals to pursue an education.

A letter from a Ugandan named Steven posted on Gannon’s blog tells how he had wanted to attend college to enable him to minister more effectively. However, tuition was beyond his reach.

“Miraculously this is the time the ‘angels’ came from USA after pastor franks’ visiting to US, and God connected me to Brother TODD KLIPP (Gabriel Angel with my good news)” Steven writes. “Through little interactions and communications, he realized my need and sponsored my degree program at Uganda Christian University Mukono. Am so grateful to God for brother Todd’s generous heart out of which my Vision for life is becoming clear and real, capacity for ministry is enhanced, my personal dreams will be realized in the nearby future.”

Gannon is excited that the children of Trinity want to make dreams come true for the Ugandans. The congregation was scheduled to gather last Sunday for a pancake breakfast to thank the church’s children for their work and view a video of the kids whose lives are being changed with help from the Lexington children.

Gannon’s life also has been changed through Hearts and Hands. She titled her blog, “My Uganda Adventure.”

“Before I went to Uganda, I didn’t even have a passport,” she says. Now, helping the people of Uganda has become a passion.

Click here to see additional photos.

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