In 1894, Uganda became a protectorate of the British Empire, and in 1962 the United Kingdom granted independence to Uganda. Since that time, the landlocked country in East African has suffered extreme poverty and untold hardship. According to World Vision, many older adults will remember “the brutal eight-year reign of Dictator Idi Amin whose regime killed up to 500,000 people, persecuted Christians, and left Uganda a broken nation.”
Pastor Samuel Soita, Chairman of the Ebenezer Christian Ministries in Mbale, Uganda, recently wrote, “It was like a curse being a Christian and zealous for the Lord during Idi Amin Dada’s reign. . . All Christian churches were banned. Christians were forced to pray and fellowship in hidden places. Many Christians were killed for their faith in Christ during that time. The Anglican archbishop, Rt. Rev. Luwuum, who was very zealous for the Lord was murdered by him (Amin) – shot through the mouth. People would be killed by firing squads.”
During Amin’s ruthless reign, Southern Baptist Missionaries Jim and Linda Rice arrived in Uganda in 1975, four years after Amin began his reign of terror. Baptist Press reported that “Amin made it very hard on missionaries. He accused them of being (a part of the) Central Intelligence Agency and made lots of threats." Amin banned 14 religious’ bodies in 1973, but Baptists were not included in the ban until 1977.
Although church gatherings were forbidden, Amin permitted the distribution of Bibles, food, clothes, and medicine to the impoverished people of Uganda. Rice was even permitted to start the Bible Way Correspondence School.
When Dr. Ted Moody, pastor of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Griffin, returned from Uganda in 2007 many Georgia Baptists began hearing about the needs of the impoverished nation. Moody began pleading with churches to give their Vacation Bible School offerings to help feed the children of Uganda. His passion for the destitute nation prompted him to establish a humanitarian and missions organization called Pennies for Posho.
Warren and Mary Faye Moore, members of First Baptist Church in Newnan, have two daughters Kristen and Jessica, who were discipled in the church as teenagers and inspired to shower the love of Jesus on children in a government housing project. The girl’s dad stated, “Our oldest daughter, Jessica, graduated high school soon after this ministry to the children started, but Kristen, who was 13 years old at the time continued in the ministry and her love for the disadvantaged children blossomed.
“While Kristen was in college, she continued to have a burden for children trapped in seemingly hopeless situations and joined a mission team from her school to go to Kenya and minister to children in a massive slum area. In 2013, after graduating from college Kristen volunteered to serve for a year teaching in a school in Mityana, Uganda.
“In July of 2013 Mary Faye and I joined one of Pennies for Posho's mission trips and traveled to the Namatala Slum in Uganda where we helped feed impoverished children. The homes are mostly dilapidated mud huts, with dirt floors and no windows to protect the over-crowded cubicle from Malaria-carrying mosquitos. A 6’ by 10’ hut is generally ‘home’ to as many as ten people and the raw sewage that flows from the woefully inadequate dwelling is nauseating.
“However, during our visit in the slum village, God planted in our hearts the call to serve Him there. Although our decision did not come without a period of serious ‘deliberations’ with God --- He won!"
Moore continued, “Mary Faye and I had absolutely no idea what we were agreeing to as we knelt on the floor of our hotel room that night in Jinga, Uganda. We only knew that something special had taken place in our hearts earlier in the day as we tried to minister to hundreds of children who seemingly had no hope of ever escaping the unimaginable lifestyle that they endure every day." Their experience that day inspired them to ultimately establish a ministry called Mission Mbale.
One Ugandan journalist described the Namatala Slum as a “cesspool of humanity’. This penurious, destitute place is home to over 15,000 children under the age of fifteen. Over 30,000 people, speaking 14 different languages, reside within one-half mile radius of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the original ministry hub of the Moore’s early days of ministry there. Ebenezer Baptist Church was a church plant of FBC Mbale, a church founded by Southern Baptist missionaries in 1968.
Numerous sources indicate that in addition to the unspeakable poverty, those who live in this environment are constantly subject to diseases like typhoid, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, AIDS, and intestinal infections due to the harsh sanitary conditions.
Moore added, “This culture is defined by children raising children. It is not at all unusual for a 12 or 13-year-old being the sole provider for two or three younger siblings due to having been orphaned by parents who died of AIDS or some other illness. In many cases children are simply abandoned by parents who leave the village and never return."
However, despite the abject poverty, the rampant diseases and the dominate Muslim culture that characterize the Namatala Slum, many are being fed, clothed, loved and won to faith in Christ.. Moore declares, “As we continue sharing the love of Jesus in the villages surrounding Mbale, Uganda, lives are truly being transformed . . . one child at a time.
“For the most part, Christians in Uganda cherish their freedom to worship and openly share the Gospel, and as a result, they are very intentional in following up with an in-depth discipleship process for all new believers! In fact, church membership is strongly dependent on each new child of God completing a discipleship course. In fact, I pray that our churches here in America will once again wake up to the realization that baptism without discipleship creates churches void of a true understanding of who God really is; and in my opinion, that failure to disciple new believers is negatively impacting our churches today.”
While remnants of Amin’s brutal reign linger, there is progress being made. For example, in February 2019 Ebenezer Christian School opened its doors in a predominately Muslim village and has quickly evolved into the new ministry hub. A church was also started on the site that currently has approximately 200 regular attendees/members each Sunday, a majority of whom are from a Muslim background.
Furthermore, Mike Emeott, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Chattahoochee Hills, and Moore were invited to the home of the village council chairman, a Muslim leader in the village, who was instrumental in opening the hearts of the families who live in his village to accepting a Christian presence. His influence made possible the purchase of land for the construction of the Christian school in that village.
Many Georgia Baptist churches and entities are partnering with Moore’s ministry in Uganda including: FBC Newnan, Luthersville Baptist, FBC Colquitt, Bowen Baptist Association, Journey Fellowship Baptist Church, Bremen, Roopville Rd Baptist Church, Carrollton, Providence Baptist Church, Newnan, Crossroads Church South Fulton, Fairburn, Providence Baptist Church, Chattahoochee Hills, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Newnan, Georgia Baptist Foundation (Medical Grant); West Bainbridge Baptist Church, Bainbridge, Southwest Baptist Church, Bainbridge, and Fellowship Baptist Church, Brinson.
In August over 45 people were won to faith in Christ as Moore and his team of pastors and laity moved through the village doing home Bible studies and prayer walks. In one of the prayer walks the team met four Muslim men walking down a narrow road, a 20-minute dialogue developed, and all four men knelt on the side of that path and asked Jesus to become their Lord and Savior.
It has been said that missionary zeal is not born out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of a love for God and a lost world. Warren and Mary Faye Moore illustrate that truth. If you are interested in a mission trip to Uganda, go to www.missionmbale.org.
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