Female Protection: Ending the Political Hysteria

At the age of 14, just beginning her physical transformation into being a woman, a child bride is forced into marrying a man twice her age in a sub-Saharan African village. With life expectancy in the 40s, this man dies, leaving little wealth except acquired “property.” In standing with village customs, the wife (or property) is passed on to his brother, who is known to carry HIV.

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A few years later, this young woman gives birth to a baby with microcephaly. The villagers, who lack  knowledge about medical disorders, only see the shrunken head of the child as a curse. Quickly, this woman, her children Continue reading

To Have It All

Around the corner from a major road, across a grass field littered with trash, and down a muddy path, 1000 people live on 24 acres of land, according to the 2010 Jinja Municipality Slum Profile. These “houses” are mostly 10 by 10 ft concrete block rooms, originally built for single male railroad workers in the early 1900s. There is no electricity, running water, or sewer system. To NGOs this is a slum in Jinja, to me it is the Loco neighborhood, to friends it is home in Uganda.

Loco is a community like many in the third world, where dinner roams in your yard. With no fixtures or appliances, cooking outside over an open-pit, and any entertainment is given by friends singing in the day light. Ignored or threatened by the government, the settlement is always vulnerable. Several families lost everything in a recent fire, but, with the help of local churches and each other’s time, they rebuilt.

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Traveling through Uganda, there is a real understanding of true necessity; an average person’s possessions is a very small list. A pastor in a Northern country village Continue reading

Forgive and You will be Forgiven

The meaning behind the word forgiveness is forgetting a wrong committed. To many it is an action that requires at least two parties. However, the deeper concept of forgiveness is an act for oneself. In fact, in Buddhism, it is practiced to prevent harmful thoughts of revenge that can over take one’s identity. Also, resentment and anger is a continuous cycle that harms a person’s mental health. Throughout the New Testament, punishment is not man’s responsibility when wronged. God’s followers are called to let go. Grief should lead to forgiveness and comfort, or be “swallowed up with too much sorrow,” (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

This amazing ability to forgive even the most intentional and malicious atrocities is common in Africa. A young Rwandan man honestly and openly shared his horrific story of the 1994 genocide on a walk one evening. Faisal’s father was killed by rebel forces, Continue reading

How healthy is the care?

The white metal van, with its little rubber wheels, rolled up the hill a mile away from Calvary Chapel in Jinja, Uganda towards a municipal hospital. Inside, a mix of a dozen newly arrived Americans and regulars from the congregation bumped along. The property had several simple long buildings with bare doorways and windows. Inside, iron beds ran along each side, exposing the soiled floor. There were no devices beeping, just the quiet whispers of family by bedsides.

During this routine ministry outreach, different groups visited various wards for tuberculosis, HIV and maternity patients. The nurses wore white paper-like hats and white rubber shoes, reminiscent of images from America in the 1960s. I saw no one administering care for over an hour on the grounds. Let me rephrase, Continue reading

To share the Truth and return with more Truth.

In a little over a day I will be in Africa. Let me rephrase, after a life time of caring about a continent that I have no real connection to, and dedicating years of my life to study the politics and culture of specifically West Africa, I will be arriving in Uganda in a couple of days. I will be experiencing the hospitals, clinics, villages, prisons, slums, natural preserves, market places and church services with all of my senses. In many ways this feels like a conclusion, or at least a dream being fulfilled. I am not sure where this journey will lead or what new dreams it will create, but I do know I feel at one in my heart right now.

As happy as this voyage makes me (to do wonderful work, medically and for the Lord), Continue reading

To have that bigger piece…i mean greater peace

It is easy, as a former journalist and political science major, who still listens to talk radio each morning and is planning a trip to a violent continent, to think of peace in a large context. The word is mostly used in reference to the ending of a violent dispute. That implies that without initial chaos, there is no need for peace. Or that peace is only important as a way of counteracting atrocity.

Even situationally, peace is commonly described as the absence of harsh elements. “I need some peace from…” Webster’s dictionary defines peace as freedom from disturbance or agitation. The concept is seen in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Captain Nemo, Continue reading

Does blood run cold in the heart of darkness?

After years of living in the desert, the heavy, humid air is calling me to Uganda. I am not sure how much of my time will be spent looking out from the banks of Lake Victoria, but I desire a real understanding for what the largest tropical lake in the world can bring to one’s soul. Victoria’s lapping waves actually originate in the Nile. In fact, the White Nile flows out of the town I will be staying in, Jinja. The idea of seeing liquid reflections with such a deep history has stirred in me a wonder. However, knowing the violence that stretches along the river, all the way to Northern Africa, makes me realize this beauty in my mind has been plagued by such destruction and death. This great water source, which should be a benefit to a people’s, nourishes children that have grown into hard stones and communities thirsty for peace.

Although I know man is inherently sinful, Continue reading