Africa Blog

Follow the visit of Rev Chris and the group from St Denys here

https://uganda2017blog.wordpress.com/

 

From Lisvane to Uganda ….
A team of 16 from St Denys’ visited Mbale Uganda late January this year. The visit, lasting 11 days, follows in the footsteps of a visit from the same church in 2015 when a formal link between St Denys and Exodus Baptist Church, Mbale was forged. It’s part of an initiative by the charity ‘PONT’ which the vicar, The Rev’d Chris Burr, has been involved with for nearly 11 years. (www.pont-mbale.org.uk).
‘St Denys didn’t have an established overseas link when I joined so I set about encouraging people to come to Uganda with me and see for themselves how a meaningful link with a church overseas could impact them as individuals and as a faith community’ says Rev Chris.
Both the current and previous group included people drawn from all three of St Denys’ main Sunday congregations.
‘We’re a very diverse and eclectic church’ says Rev Chris ‘and it was a joy to see people of all ages and backgrounds come together and gel so brilliantly through their shared experiences’.
Mbale itself is very green and lush but is set in an extremely poor part of the world. The vast majority of people live in huts without running water or electricity and survive by subsistence farming. Over half of the population is under age sixteen with high levels of infant mortality and one of the lowest rates of life expectancy in the world.
Despite the challenges of living in such poverty people there work extremely hard to survive and those from St Denys testify to having encountered some truly inspirational people.
 
Whist in Mbale the group visited their new link church several times leading services and children’s ministry, preaching, sharing testimony, and joining in with some wonderfully lovely and authentic African worship! The church itself is only 4 years old and operates out of a very basic rented building yet already has a congregation of well over 200 adults and between 400 and 500 children. Their trainee pastor, Andrew Sabakaki, is currently being sponsored by our church through theological college. He is due to graduate at the end of 2017.
 
The team also visited a variety of projects and were hosted by several different NGOs (non government organisations). These included:
 
·         Child of Hope – a school and children’s home established just 7 years ago by a lady from Dorset and her Ugandan husband to educate and care for street children in the Namatala slum district of Mbale. Today it serves over 450 children every day and provides a high standard of teaching and support. 
 
·         Uganda Women’s Concern Ministries – an organisation which mentors women and trains them in acquiring a variety of skills, empowering them to seek a way out of poverty. There were many, many inspirational stories from women who had come together determined to offer their children a better life. 
 
·         Hope Ministries – an NGO which provides shelter, fellowship and hope  to women diagnosed with HIV who’d been ostracised by their families and communities and often left homeless and penniless. One after the other the women shared testimony of how their lives had been transformed.
 
There were many other wonderful and varied initiatives visited including projects aimed at providing sustainable energy, tree planting and bee keeping. The group also visited a number of medical centres as well as the local hospital which serves a district population of over 3 million!! 
 
Mbale is a world away from life in Lisvane but the friendship and partnership forged between St Denys Church and Exodus Church Kamonkoli is a truly remarkable example of the faith that binds us together being far more important than any cultural differences. 
 
Rev Chris says that the members at St Denys are committed to further strengthening the ties between the churches and to encourage others to share in what one team member described as ‘the experience of a lifetime’.
 
‘It’s a privilege to share even a couple of weeks with people who, driven by their faith, shine as beacons of hope in the most desperate of circumstances. It’s both humbling and inspiring’. 
 
A service was held at St Denys on Sunday February 26th to enable the team members to feed back on their time in Uganda. The church was full to bursting and there was a real mix of fun, inspiration and perhaps inevitably one or two heartbreaking stories also.  
 
You can find some photographs of the team’s time away in Mbale in the gallery and also some photos from the Africa Service itself.
 
If you’d like to read more about the team’s adventures and experiences in Uganda you can visit the blog they kept each day at  uganda2017blog.wordpress.com /blog 

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