New Life in Uganda

Rachel Chimits

One village sent out someone to track down help for them, and today their lives are transformed.

In February, heat shimmers over the road. This is Uganda’s summer season, and temperatures soar to 95 degrees or higher at midday. This heralds the beginning of the Lira sub-region’s rainy season. 

Orumo’s residents are gathered under a mango tree as Steve Voyen, World Challenge’s director of Sub-Saharan development programs, and Dan, Uganda’s development director, pull up. 

An adult literacy lesson is taking place beneath the mango’s broad canopy that cuts the stifling heat. Students labor over a passage of scripture as Samuel, a local community trainer, teaches them to pronounce each word on the page. 

He asks for a helper, and an elderly man volunteers and comes to the front. Samuel has the passage written on a large drawing pad for the gentleman, and he reads it with enthusiasm for his classmates. 

“It was truly striking,” Steve observed later, “to see this man reading out loud, part of witnessing this community coming together to learn what God’s Word says.”

The Heart of a Story

The trip to Lira was to meet and encourage local pastors and ministry workers like Dan and Samuel who have been diligently working in this region for years. 

After Samuel’s lesson was finished, the students and other residents of Orumo gathered to meet Steve. He offered to share a story about an eagle, hyena, giraffe and warthog. People were invited up to play different parts, and light-hearted debate broke out over how a hyena would sound.

The story told was about a wounded warthog by the side of the road, ignored by both the eagle and hyena because he was not one of their people. Finally, a giraffe comes along and decides to have mercy on the injured pig. 

Dan—the giraffe, one of Africa’s most iconic animals—even managed to pick up the “warthog,” much to everyone’s delight. 

After the laughter died down, Steve asked if this story was comparable to any of the Bible stories they’d learned with Samuel.

Immediately, a woman stood up and began to explain the Biblical story of the good Samaritan to the crowd, pointing out the significance of a stranger helping someone in need. 

In a country historically troubled by militant groups and tribal violence, the heart of this parable presents an opportunity to heal decade-long wounds. 

New Life in Orumo

Several years ago, an Orumo local heard about World Challenge’s work in other parts of the Lira area and left the village to track down these lessons and return with them for their people.

This most recent visit, residents proudly gathered to act out their own skit, demonstrating the new practices they’ve adopted.

One of the women knelt down with an indignant-looking chicken in her arms, miming the act of inoculating it, a community health lesson that has improved many locals’ micro-businesses and given them extra food to put on the table for their families.

Another man wanted Steve to see his bee-keeping field. As they drove to the house, a boy peddled by on his bike. Steve later learned this was the man’s son who is able to go to school this year, thanks to the honey sales.

“These successes are important evidence for many people of God’s presence in their life,” Steve said. “When their neighbors see how their situation is different—when the way they treat others has been changed, then the door opens to share the source of this transformation: Jesus.”