2017 Uganda Mission – Day 3

By | Sustainable Economic Resource Development, Updates, Women & Children’s Ministry

Kagera, Uganda- Elim Church today.  We travel over dusty red rutted roads. We pass many people walking. Some carry baskets on their heads or jugs of water. Men, women, children on both sides of the road. Motorcyclists with women sit side-saddled as passengers with toddlers on their laps. (Most “taxis” here are motorcycles.)

We arrive at the church.  It is in a remote village, and Philip needs to gauge if we can fit the van up to the mud-thatched, tin roof structure.  A woman in a long bright pink satin dress scurries to greet us…hugs us, grabs our hands and escorts us into the building. Little children everywhere staring at the “Mazungos” (white people). We take seats at the front.  Philip has six more pastors from different churches there.  At least eight speak, all in Luganda language with an English interpreter. When David speaks, he asks if anyone has a desire to know Jesus Christ or a problem we can pray for. Most of the church raises their hand and come to the front for prayer.  It was beautiful.  We sensed the Holy Spirit presence with us together.

Then it started to pour….and pour.  With all the dirt roads it was questionable that we would get out.  Could we rough it like them? Could we sleep on a dirt floor with dripping rain and no clean water or toilet?  

Philip assured us it would be okay.  So we stayed and ate lunch.  The women had been slaving over a coal firewood pit making food for 200.  They serve us mounds of rice, roasted bananas, greens, and a few pieces of beef.  So generous; it was delicious.

This congregation is part of a self-sustaining project in which we leased farmland, and they worked the land to produce crops.  The crops they harvested already well-exceeded the investment.  Praise the Lord!  There is a woman in this congregation who has seamstress skills.  She offers to train the women so they can become self-sustaining.  Poverty is prevalent and extreme here. They must muster the hope to believe that God can deliver them out of the cycle of poverty to give them and their children hope.

We must pray.

We gave them English Bibles, though Luganda is their native language.  They need God’s Word in their hearts to help them know Jesus and have victory.

As we leave, the rain stops.  We cannot make it down the hill to visit the farm, so we turn around in a driveway.  We see a 8″wide by 10″ high woodslatted shack. A child’s eyes peer through the slats…then two, three…four, and a mom and dad tumble out. Their home is half the size of a one-stall garage– more like a lawn shed.  “Take a picture!” I squeal to Robert.  The children all smile in their dirty-tattered clothes, delighted to see their own picture…maybe for the first-time.

We head back to the hotel and have dinner with a woman from California we met the day before who runs an orphanage there.  We share ideas and learn all we can.

Day 4 Trip Update

By | Sustainable Economic Resource Development, Teaching & Training Indigenous Pastors

Beloved Friends,

Yesterday we went out to the Nazarene Church. I spoke to groups ofwomen about “How to Have a Quiet Time with the Lord”, “Bitterness to Forgiveness”, and “Sharing Your Testimony”. We distributed Bibles and gave them DSCN0525mechanical pencils. They were baffled and amused by the lead tips. The women love the Lord Jesus. They’re testimonies attest to how God provides food for them daily when they have no income or resources. Almost all raise their hands when we ask, “Who has had a child die?” The men were outside the church in a Bible Study, and the kids (mostly) were at school. Many families cannot afford school. We
have to finish our lessons by noon; the sweltering heat makes us all move in slow motion. The pastor treats us all to a bottle of Pepsi.

We load back into the van, down the winding and deeply-rutted dirt
road, littered with trash. Children play with sticks in the deep muddy puddles left from yesterday’s rain.

Honestly, the most difficult thing for me is this traveling between
the hotel and the churches and the training center: the deep rutted
roads, the thousands of people walking, (most dressed very nicely in dresses, fashionable t-shirts and jeans, or suits). Some have water bottles on their heads, some have donkey carts with loads, many walk in from the refugee camps looking for work. There is unfinished construction, overcrowding, and safety hazards everywhere. But the most challenging is the drive over the bridge where we see the people bathing, washing their clothes, washing their cars, and gathering drinking water from the river.

We checked on the SSGMA Leadership Training Center school again. We have some repairs and upkeep to attend to, so we met with the school administrators at our hotel restaurant tonight. They also have a great compassion for the children. Now 450 attend school, but 150 didn’t pay tuition because they’re too poor. The administrator wants to allow them to come anyway.

DSCN0490We tried to show the Jesus film last night, but we are missing a cord to the speakers. So we are at a standstill again. My phone won’t work, the internet comes and goes, and periodically the water and electricity go off. We wait…we adjust.

We determined the greatest needs and priorities for the people, our land, and our building. Joshua Hughes got a contractor, Abram to give us estimates:

1. Water ($3500 for piped-in water, $6000 for a well)
2. An office ($12,300)
3. Bible/songbooks for refugee camps ($1500)
4. The land leveled to remove rocks ($500) and soccer field ($2000)
5. Bathrooms ($7500)
6. An enclosure wall for safety ($45,000)

Other needs on the list included: a generator, tin for roofs, new
desks, (these are broken and in need of repair), mango trees, a sign, vegetable garden, bicycle for pastors in refugee camps, and more funds for the workers here for SSGMA. Buony Kun Kong is our Ministry Coordinator, and Jiath Kume Buak is our Property Manager. Both have done an outstanding job for the ministry, and they currently receive $100 a month. Many pastors could benefit by extra funding as well.

DSCN0506Prayer is vital; finances are needed. If God prompts you to give,
get on our website and pay via Paypal if you would like to help financially.

In God’s Abundant Care,

Mary Jo Cassner

South Sudan is the world’s most fragile state

By | Sustainable Economic Resource Development, Teaching & Training Indigenous Pastors, Women & Children’s Ministry

Thank you for taking two minutes out of your busy day to read this…

“The World’s Most Fragile State.”  That’s what World Vision President Stearns said of South Sudan recently.  But the people…oh the people…They are so loving and eager to learn about God. What can you do to be a part?  You can pray, you can give, or you can go.

Since Deng Buak (our SSGMA co-founder) is from there, he knows the safe places, the language, the people, and the Christians we can connect with. There are ways you can help without going. 

David, Deng, Gary Biskup, and I are going.  We plan to arrive in Gambella, Ethiopia early January. We have Joshua (a construction worker) meeting us there. He may help us build the toilets/bathrooms for our SSGMA Leadership Training Center. A team from Australia is joining us. I think their primary mission is to adopt some orphans, and they want to see the work.

Highlights/Updates for SSGMA

  • It was so exciting to complete construction on our building, and then have a group of educators request the use of the building and enrolled 250 students within weeks! They have no running water or toilets (just holes in the ground) but we are working on that as our next project. 
  •  We will meet with Zerihune Furgassa (the leader of CEF Ethiopia) to do a TCE 1 (teacher evangelism training) for a group of 10-12 leaders there, and a “Supper Seminary” training  for a week. I will coordinate with and train Buony in CEF materials, and Deng will invite the 250 children that attend school at our building.
  • We plan to bring 100 Bibles, some health supplies, Christian education supplies, 25 soccer balls, and plenty of clothes and shoes for the children. We are sending about 2000 pair of sunglasses to distribute at the refugee camps as well.
  • Gary will supervise a health screening and basic health training possibly to include sanitation, first aid, and whatever is most needed. David and Deng will meet with the pastors in the area, and we plan on going to Mattar, S. Sudan for two days to visit refugee camps. We sent our official American Non-Profit 501c3 documentation to Buony, and he is taking it to Addis Ababa so we can pursue official NGO (Non-government official) status.

We mainly want to coordinate and introduce people in the area so the vision to spread the Gospel and the work can continue whether we are there or not.  We support two workers there, Jiath, who oversees the land and building, ad Buony Kong, who has a Master’s degree and does our Ministry Coordination.

It really is exciting to see God at work…we truly marvel at what He is doing. 

We love you guys, and we continue to pray for you!

 1 Cor 10:33 “For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, that they may be saved.”