"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