We know that God works in powerful ways when the Global North and Global South partner together to bring hope and change to the poor and vulnerable among us.
Three years ago, we started a new kind of partnership with Lifeline Christian Mission and Southeast Christian Church in order to intentionally befriend the community of Adjumani, Uganda for three years. The goal of the project was to provide care and integrated support to 200 children and families through empowering 20 local churches in refugee settlements in Northern Uganda. We had 253 people from the US become BeFrienders and impacted over 1,200 in Uganda.
As we are now phasing out of the community and BeFriend Adjumani has come to a close, here are some stories of how this project transformed lives.
Saving with a Purpose
Grace, her husband, and their five children have lived a difficult life as farmers. She says, “Sometimes we would eat once in a day, sleep hungry, and always lacked money.” Her children were often sent home from school due to unpaid fees, and Grace didn’t know what to do to fix the situation. BeFriend gave her the opportunity to be a part of a savings group and taught her financial literacy. She has received seeds of groundnuts that have been planted and already produced a good harvest. The family was also given a pig that gave birth to seven piglets they could sell. Grace says, “I now save with a purpose to enhance my financial liberation from extreme poverty that has haunted me for years.”
BeFriend sought to specifically address social injustice in Uganda by equipping community leaders to promote justice and restoration, caring for the orphans and widows in their distress. One leader told a group, “Don’t be desperate like you don’t have a Father. We can’t be desperate. We are not alone.” One person who has learned this is Martina, who was struggling to raise her three grandchildren in a mud and straw hut, far from any market. When she was chosen for the BeFriend program, the packets of food distributed helped her family survive. Her big dream of raising and selling goats came true when BeFriend gifted her a little black and white, pregnant goat.
Paul Ress never imagined going on a mission trip. He thought it would be too hard to leave his wife and baby, and impossible to take time from work. Everything about it was way outside his comfort zone. But he signed up when his pastor urged him to go to Uganda. In country, Ress had little control over the schedule, the people he met, or the things he did. Looking back, he wouldn’t trade those days for anything. “I got so much out of it,” Ress said. “At one point, I felt totally out of control when I went on a prayer walk with two nationals in one of the camps. I had no idea where we were going or who we’d meet, but it was amazing —something I’ll never forget…. Going there changes lives here.”
A Pastor’s Words
One of the local pastors we worked with was Reverend Gama Joseph, who serves among the South Sudanese refugees and Ugandan communities. He says, “My partnership with BeFriend means a lot to me personally and the church as a whole. It has brought a sense of unity, love, brotherhood, and good relationships with others. Through the teachings offered, God has taught me to walk with the poor by empowering them to overcome barriers to their economic freedom.”