Don't mess with God's servants!

"When they went from one nation to another, And from one kingdom to another people, He permitted no man to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."  1 Chronicles 16:20-22

Today was tough and amazing all within 2 hours.  We had an important meeting with the Kayepas community leaders today.  There are two people who have come forward claiming that the land the school buildings are on is their land, that they weren’t involved in the community meeting when the land was given to us for free, and they want some “appreciation” for the land.  There were many meetings and conversations leading up to today.  Our stance never wavered.  We’re not paying for land.  The only reason the school is standing today is because we were given the land by the community.  It was their contribution to the future of their children.  So if someone wants ‘appreciation’ the community can come up with it themselves.

I went into the meeting telling Pastor Philip that I wasn’t going to say a single thing until someone told me we had to give money and then I was going to say “No, not happening.  Come up with another solution.” 

We arrived late because the car didn’t arrive on time.  When we got there the guy who is claiming the land belongs to his family approached us and said “The meeting is done.  It was decided that Pastor Philip will see how to get the money for the appreciation and that is that.”  Needless to say that didn’t go over well with Pastor Philip or myself.  They started talking in their native language and I could tell it was getting heated.  Pastor Philip who is one of the quietest and most humble men I’ve ever met said “go ahead crucify me, I’ve done nothing.”  That’s when I knew things were not good at all.

The man comes over to me and starts with “You see Becky, Pastor Philip has done these people wrong.  He speaks then the story changes.”  I don’t get mad often but I was hot.  Don’t attack my friend of almost 8 years who has NEVER done a single solitary thing to ever make me doubt him, his heart, his intention, or his love for his people.  So I pretty much laid into the man who stands at least a foot taller than me.  I don’t think he expected me to say what I said.  Women here are underappreciated and expected to keep quiet.  I told myself I was going to keep quiet so that I wouldn’t disrespect anyone but I couldn’t.  I really laid into him, questioning his intentions and motives.  “Don’t tell me you didn’t know what was happening.  The village was so thrilled to hear a school was coming.  Where were you last January when they were digging a giant 20 foot deep hole by hand which took over a month to complete?  Don’t tell me you didn’t know.  But now you want some money.”  He said “No we want appreciation.”  I said “Appreciation or payment is the same thing.  It’s cash.  You want cash.  Well, you are not getting cash from the ministry and you are not getting cash from Pastor Philip.  So you can go back to the community and tell them to give you cows, goats, or whatever it makes no difference to me but nothing is coming from us.  The problem with Karamoja is everyone has a hand out all the time.  They cannot just say thank you and stop there.  It’s thank you but we also need this or that.”

The man settled and backed down.  Started saying sorry and we appreciate the school.  The government leaders are going to help with some “appreciation”.  I said that is fine but you are to clear Pastor Philip’s name.  He’s done nothing wrong and I want his name cleared right now.  He said “God knows.  He is the only judge.”  Which is true and correct.  He walked away and left.  I also then found out that this man had bought local brew for the elders to drink…

After some time Pastor Philip went over to talk to the village elders (mostly men).  I went to take pictures of the school.  When I was done we went back to the tree where they were gathered.  As I got out of the car and approached the group they all stood up.  I thought they were leaving.  Pastor said “They are standing to welcome you.”  I was floored.  They’ve never done that before.  A few approached me and greeted me with great happiness.  Pastor continued talking with them.  They asked me to speak a few words.  So I did.  I started with “Some people bring you alcohol to drink to confuse you but some bring you the word of God.  Some bring you chaos and anger and some bring you peace and good news.”  I went on to clear up all the other rumors that were being spoken and made it very clear where we stood on all of it. 

When I concluded the chief elder stood said “Becky, let not your heart be worried about this land issue anymore.  It is done.  We are the elders and we have decided what to do.  It is not for you to be concerned with any longer.  We are grateful for you and everyone who is helping our children.  Let not your heart be worried.  You are welcomed here now and forever. Don’t let these issues keep you from coming back and helping us.  If you want more land you tell us and we will give it to you. You are here to help us and we are grateful.” 

I followed up with telling them that there is no one and nothing that can keep me from coming to Karamoja except if God told me that my work here was done.  There are many things I have faced with serving these people.  There have been many more challenges that Pastor Philip has faced.  But we remain vigilant in our calling. That we are here to serve the Karimajong people.  I could be anywhere but here.  Pastor Philip could also be anywhere but here.  But we are following God’s calling on our lives.

Being a true servant of God is a total sacrifice of every part of you – mind, body, and soul.  The bible says many times that Christians will be persecuted but to have faith that what you are doing for God will be rewarded in the end.  It is not an easy thing to do.

At the end of the meeting with the elders, Pastor and I went around to each person and I have to say that the joy from them was palpable.  I’ve never been hugged by a man elder before but today I was by many.  I don’t know what they were saying but they were so happy.  They would take both of my hands and put them up above our heads, then to his chest, then to my chest, then up his head, then to my head.  Maybe it means heart to heart, mind to mind.  I don’t know but it something I’ll never forget.  No matter the struggle.  No matter the pain and frustration.  Knowing that those children will go to school and also hear about this man we call Jesus makes it all worth it.  Praise be to God and Him alone!

-Becky

Christmas 2017

Thanks to many sponsors we were able to have a Christmas party for the Ezekiel 37 Sponsored Children and each was given enough food to have a meal (or several) with their families for Christmas Day!  

For the family Christmas meal each child received:  2 kilograms of beef, 5 kilograms of rice,2 kilograms of beans, 1 kilogram of onions, 2 kilograms of sugar, 2 liters of cooking oil, 1 pack of salt, 2 sackets of tea leaves, 2 packets of seasoning, and 2 bars of soap.

The children enjoy this every year.  They look forward to the time together at the end of the year to celebrate their accomplishments and to encourage each other for the coming year.  We have seen these children truly become brothers and sisters over the last couple years.  They look out for each other, push each to do better, and have fun together.  2017 was a great year and we know that 2018 will be even better!

Thank you again to all who sponsored this wonderful day!  

(There are a captions on some of the pictures if you click on them)

It's Time!

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.

It’s time!

Interested in joining Ezekiel 37 Ministry as we the God’s people in Karamoja?  Ready to share the word of God?  Contact Becky at info@ezekiel37ministry.org about how you can get involved!

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April 2017 Akigyeno Update

We have some pictures that about a month old now but it's been hard for for Pastor Philip to send us the pictures.  The network is poor in Karamoja.  

Below is a picture of the start of the Classroom block.  They dig a trench which is about 2-3 feet deep and then they will start the brick laying to start the walls.

Below are pictures from the future pit latrine.  It's massive but it is going to have 10 stalls for the children to use and 2 stalls for teachers to use.

We hope to have more pictures very soon!

Blessings,

Becky

Update on Akigyeno Nursery & Primary School

Progress has been slower than we anticipated because well this is Uganda and communication is difficult and slow.  I was in the United States from September 2016 - January 2017 trying to find work to support me and my family.  Unfortunately, the ministry and school suffered for it.  Communicating with Karamoja is best by phone and it's too expensive to call from the states.  We tried our best but it really needed to be in person meetings to get things accomplished.

I returned with a mission team the last week of January and we held several meetings about Akigyeno while in Karamoja.  We agreed with the engineer/contractor with a revised plan for the buildings.  We agreed to start with a building that will be 3 classrooms, an office and storage room.  As well as a building for the pit latrines (toilets without the toilet).

We agreed with the engineer based on the funds that we have raised that we could start the construction and we would continue to pray for the remainder that we'll need to get the school open and operating.  Our revised budget is that we need $50,000 in order to finish these buildings and have the funds to keep the school open and operating for the year.  

To start we will have the youngest classes of Baby, Middle and Top which are essentially Pre-K in America.  Over time and as God provides we will add more classes for Primary 1 up to Primary 7.  There should be a maximum of 30 kids in each class.

We have raised just about $14,000 to date.  You may remember that there was anonymous donor who agreed to match up to $10,000 so we were going to be at $24,000.  Unfortunately, that donor has come into a financial problem and informed me this week that they will not be able to give us that money.  We are really sad to get this news but remain hopeful that God will provide.  We pray also that God will replenish the donors as they had the heart to give initially but Satan got his nose in the way.

Serving God in ministry is not easy and when we do what pleases God is often means that we upset Satan.  Over the years many things have happened that make me know for sure that the enemy is trying to destroy Ezekiel 37 Ministry.  I’ve been in a vehicle that rolled 3 times on the way to Karamoja.  Myself and others have been sick prior to a mission trip or while on the trip.  Cars have broken down, things have gone missing, etc.  Satan tries to distract us and deter us from what our calling is.  But we serve a mighty, powerful and loving God protects us when we call on Him, heals us when Satan attacks us, and who is going to see us through to the end.

The bible tells us “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatian 6:9 

It is hard not to get tired and doubt whether we are doing the right thing.  But one thing I cannot lose is HEART for the Karamajong people.  I will not give up on the children who deserve an opportunity to go to school.  They are what drives me.  Seeing the faces of the parents light up when we tell them the school is coming.  Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces as they have been yearning to learn but have not been given an opportunity.

Below are some pictures and video of the plans for the school and what progress they made while we were there in Karamoja.  I am waiting for more pictures to show what they’ve gotten done in the last 3 weeks.  But I have been told they bought 20,000 bricks!

We need new ideas of how to help this school proceed.  Some are selling candy bars in Ohio.  Some have had yard sales.  I think the possibilities are endless but it’s almost impossible for me to do from Uganda.  If you have an idea don’t be afraid to share it with me.  We welcome any and all ideas, prayers, and support.

May God bless you and your families.

Blessings,

Becky Sekamanya - Executive Director & Missionary

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."

"For we walk by faith, not by sight" from 2 Corinthians is definitely true for this period in our lives.  Never did I think that my life would be like it is now.  Ten or even five years ago I would have laughed if you told me that I would be living in Uganda, married to a Ugandan born-again Christian Pastor, have an 11 year old step-daughter, a 10 month old baby boy, and be the Executive Director of a non-profit that is trying to improve the lives of so many people in a far off forgotten land. 

I had a great paying job.  Worked for some really wonderful doctors.  Not were they only good doctors but amazing men who were mentors to me as well as my bosses.  Two of them are the ones that led me on mission trips to El Salvador and then Uganda.  I owned my own home, had my own car, could come and go as I pleased.  Everyone spoke the same language as me.  I could go shopping any day and time that I wanted and purchase whatever I wanted.

Life now is so different...almost completely opposite.  I have a job online that gives me only 5 hours of work a week, we rent a house, I can't/won't drive here, most people do not speak the same language as me, i cannot go shopping any day or time that I want and I cannot move about freely.  Life as a missionary family is not easy...

So why do I stay?  Why do I do this?  Because I believe wholeheartedly that it is what God has called me to do.  He blessed me with a wonderful husband, step-daughter and son.  He is using me to change the lives of so many people not only in Karamoja but also in Kampala (the capital where our church is).  

Our church is located in the slums of Mulago-Kampala.  You have to navigate through narrow alleyways, cross many open sewer lines and small burning trash piles to get to it.  Every time I pray not to trip or lose a sandal as I’m crossing those line drains.  Our church is full of youth who need to be counseled and encouraged and be shown how to lead a Christian life in a country full of witchcraft and old African traditional ways of thinking while also being introduced to the internet, Facebook and Whatsapp and all the negative and worldly things that can shape and change their paths in life.  We also need to get adults in the church so that they can help sustain it.

Then there’s Karamoja.  People do not go to Karamoja.  The Ugandans in the cities think negative things about the people of Karamoja.  They look at us like we are crazy for going there.  They ask questions or make comments like “Do they wear clothes?” and “I heard those people have tails.”  Like they are wild animals or something.  I find myself educating Ugandans about their own people.  Some have even asked me if I need a visa or passport to go to Karamoja.  Karamoja is part of Uganda...these are also your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Foreigners do not go to Karamoja because it’s hard to get there and who is going to tell them about it anyway?  Most churches or organizations that send teams to Uganda are in the bigger towns and cities.  Why?  Because most of those pastors went to America at some point and shared about their church, school, and/or village and the church in America felt called to act.  Others get support when visitors come to Uganda with a mission trip and develop a relationship with them.  Those teams are not going to Karamoja because who is going to tell them that Karamoja exists?  The people and pastors of Karamoja do not have access to the internet.  Most don’t even have electricity or even a mattress to sleep on.  So how will the world know about them?

Someone needs to fight for these people.  Someone needs to be willing to go to where people do not want to go.  Someone needs to speak for those who cannot be heard.  Someone needs to be here to talk to the people (young and old) to help lead them to Christ.  Someone needs to be willing to stand firm in what God has called them to do.  I am that person.  My husband, Abdu, is that person.  We know what God has called us to do.  We know where our heart is.  We know what we're supposed to be doing…

It is interesting because most pastors we know have a school (and church) that generates income for their families.  Most of those schools were built and supported by American or European churches/organizations.  Abdu and I have used our savings to build a school as our own family business and we are praying that it will fill quickly with paying students so that it can sustain itself and our family.  The dilemma for my husband and I is that we have 2 ministries. We have our church plus the school that we built and then we have the Ezekiel 37 Ministry in Karamoja.  So how can we fund-raise or raise awareness for both?  My heart is Ezekiel 37 and Karamoja.  His heart is Saved to Serve Worship Centre and Kakoni Christian Junior School.  The struggle is real…We have children in our church who should be in school but their parents, usually single mothers, cannot afford to pay for school so the children are sent home.  I have an endless line of children in Karamoja who are not in school because their parents cannot pay for them either.  So what should we do?  I don’t know really…we just continue to pray for wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and courage.

All of that is why it is unbearably difficult to accept the fact that I’m going back to America to get a job in order to support our family financially until the school we have built starts to sustain itself and our family.  I’m leaving the church behind, I’m leaving Karamoja behind, I’m leaving my husband and step-daughter behind.  It was by far the most painful and difficult decision to make in our young marriage.

Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite scripture and the reason our baby is named Jeremiah.  It says that the Lord has the plan for us.  A good plan.  A plan not to harm or hurt us.  The plan I had for myself 5-10 years ago is not the path I am on right now.  God has put us here at this time for a purpose.  We stand firm in the belief that He is going to do mighty things for Saved to Serve Worship Centre, the people of Karamoja through Ezekiel 37 Ministry, and the Sekamanya family.  What an amazing testimony we will have to share at the end of this...

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."  2 Corinthians 5:7

Blessings,

Becky Sekamanya