I have praying for some time about how to share this information. It is a serious topic and not to be taken lightly.
Less than 10 years ago Karamoja was a dangerous place to be in. They had guns and would raid other villages at night and steal the livestock. There is very little opportunity to obtain work around Matany town (where we serve). So livestock is their currency. They do a lot of bartering and trading of goods. Desperation sets in certain times of year when their families are starving during the season before harvest.
Many bullets have been sprayed on these lands. Many machetes, arrows and clubs used in raids. Thankfully the government did come in and take the guns away. Peace has returned to the area. There are still some raids that happen but not nearly as bad as they used to be.
Africa also has a problem of witchcraft. As an American, I never really believed things like that to be real. But here it is still happening every day and is very much a reality. Someone goes to the witchdoctor and tells them what they want in their life whether it is rain, money, good health, or even to put a curse on someone. The witchdoctor tells them to come with x, y, z. It could be money. It could be an animal. It could be something more terrible. Children are abducted to be used as a sacrifice. A witchdoctor says to bring a tongue of a child or even a head of a child. So they go abduct someone’s child and bring what the witchdoctor requested.
Here in Karamoja they don’t necessarily call them witchdoctors but they consult the “wise elders” of the village. Those elders supposedly are given a vision and tell the person what to bring for the sacrifice. The people here have no money. Their currency is their animals whether it’s sheep, goats or cows. Someone consults these “wise elders” and then they have to search for what they have specified. Whether it is a brown male uncastrated goat, white female goat, adult black cow, etc. If they do not have it themselves they search their neighbors. Then they go and take it from their neighbors without asking. It is a known thing here that they do. They don’t call it stealing because they have to pay it back to the person they took from and negotiate the re-payment afterwards. Once they have what the elders have requested they take to the “shrine”. I’ve learned the shrines are where there are clusters of trees. They go there, do their rituals, sacrifice the animal and then eat it.
We have been in a village where they were just returning from slaughtering a cow to the “gods” for rain. Just in the last 2 weeks, one of our male goats was taken for this very thing. The person responsible for caring for our goats was not around and a man from the neighboring village came and took our brown male goat. This goat was not castrated. We have decided that we are not going to accept a re-payment for what they took from us. We are a Christian organization and will not condone such “deals” with the evil spirit world. We are going to use this as a learning experience for the people involved. That it what they are doing is wrong and not of God.
Between the raiding and sacrifices there has been a lot of blood has been shed in Karamoja. Human and animal.
When we visit villages they say they are Catholic or that they are Christians but from my observations and experience I believe they tell us (and all organizations in general) what they think we want to hear so that they can receive what was brought for them. There are a few true believers sprinkled in but it has taken time to see them.
A lot of these remote villages have never heard of Jesus. They’ve never heard about His saving grace. They don’t understand that if they would turn from their cultural practices that God will bless them and meet their needs. They’ve never heard of the miracles He performed. They’ve never heard that He died on the cross for THEM!
Karamoja is so far that most mission groups don’t venture this far to reach these people. Many churches and organizations send people to Uganda but they end up in the capital city, Kampala, or in the surrounding towns. Why is that? Because the people of Karamoja are not connected to the internet. The pastors here in Karamoja cannot communicate with churches in America. They cannot make “white friends”. Where will they find these friends? Mission groups are not venturing out this far because it’s not easy. The roads are terrible. We fly because it’s so far. The electricity just arrived 2 years ago in the main town but the villages have nothing. There’s no water. Food is scarce. So, how would anyone even know to come here? The way we got here is that a friend to the ministry we were originally associated with, who lived in Kampala, was from Karamoja and he asked them to come to Karamoja. Once here they couldn’t deny the needs. They asked Ezekiel 37 to join them on a trip to Karamoja. That was 6 years ago now. The needs here are massive! There’s no industry. There’s no jobs. There’s little rain. There are no schools in the villages. But most importantly there are unsaved souls who need to hear the word of God and be brought into the kingdom of God.
I’m not looking through rose colored glasses on this. I know it’s not going to be an easy or quick transformation. It isn’t going to happen in one 10 day mission trip. There are spiritual forces at work in this area of Karamoja that need to be dealt with and it is going to take time. I can tell you from my personal experiences that there are forces at work to squash what we are doing in Karamoja. Every time I come to Karamoja or send someone to Karamoja for ministry work something happens to me. I’ve been sick. I’ve been in a vehicle that barrel rolled 3 times where people asked “who died in this?” My child has been sick. Before a mission trip the team that is coming to serve almost all have had issues come up where they’ve been sick or other problems arise just prior to coming. We even lost the $10,000 financial match for Akigyeno School because the donors suddenly had a financial problem. I’m not blind to the fact that Satan is not happy with us and is doing everything in his power to stop us. I have a group of prayer warriors who cover me in prayer when it comes time to go to Karamoja that I am thankful for.
2 Timothy 4:5 says “But be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
When God calls you to do His work you really have to know what you are getting yourself into (I didn’t know when I started this work and am still learning). It is not easy work. Those before us who have worked for the Lord have not had easy lives. They struggle, they suffer greatly, and many have died for their calling. You have to know that there is a spirit world that is not happy with the work you will be doing. It is their job to make you suffer, want to quit and abandon what God has called you to do. Just as Satan tortured Job in the Bible. Making him endure some of the worst things that you could ever imagine. But Job stood strong. He never wavered in his belief and faith in God. We, too, must stand firm in the word of God. We must bring the current generation to Christ and cancel all the works and covenants that have been made over the many generations before us.
I used to believe that this ministry was about medicine and treating people for their medical needs. I thought it was about education so that they could obtain jobs and provide for their families. I thought it was about giving gardening tools and seeds so they can grow food. But the only medicine, the only education, the only food they need is in JESUS! They need to turn from their cultural and ancestral practices and commit themselves to the Lord. They need to hear the word because they cannot read or write. They need a pastor to teach them regularly. We have a school building going up and we can use a classroom as a church.
I am only one person and know that I cannot do this alone. We need an army of God to rise up! It starts on the land where Akigyeno School is being built. We need to pray on that land and cancel and rebuke all the covenants that have made on that ground. We need to dedicate it to the Lord. The school is a private Christian school and even if a church service is only our students every Sunday it is a start. Their parents will come in time if not immediately.
The people of Karamoja are often referred to as the “forgotten people” of Uganda but they are NOT forgotten people to God! They need only to turn from their ways and surrender all to Him. It’s time for an army to rise up and go share the word and love of God with them! Our ministry is founded on the scripture Ezekiel 37. Currently, the dry bones of the Karamajong are lying lifeless out here without the breath of God inside them. We need people to come from the four winds of the north, south, east and west to breathe life back into these bones.
Interested in joining Ezekiel 37 Ministry as we the God’s people in Karamoja? Ready to share the word of God? Contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org about how you can get involved!