This is a guest blog written by Jessica Souzea, ACL team member to Uganda. She reflects on her time ministering to the children of Akisim, a village in deep Eastern Uganda.
Akisim is a village where I had the privilege of reading from the book of Genesis to about 80 children (half of them are orphans). We read the story of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark from The Jesus Storybook Bible, which shows how Jesus fits into the stories of the Bible. Although we had a translator (sweet man named Max Ogwapit-Head teacher of Hope & Joy Orphanage), the children listened so attentively and quietly that I questioned if they were even understanding me. But they timidly raised their hands and answered all the questions with the quietest voices-all correctly!
The Holy Spirit in Garden of Eden
Afterward, we passed out paper, crayons, and colored pencils and asked them to draw (in groups), anything they would like from the story of Adam and Eve. When they were finished, they went up and showed their picture to the rest of the children. Each of them showed an apple, a tree, a garden, and Adam and Eve. Dave and I noticed that there were doves in the pictures they were drawing…we simply thought they just wanted a bird in the picture. Until one of the orphans, a small boy who did not stop smiling, explained to us what the dove was. He explained:
“this is the Garden of Eden, and this is Eve who is eating the apple because the snake told her to, and this is the dove, who is the Spirit of God who came when they ate the apple and is going to come back.”
It was so awesome hearing this small boy tell us what that dove in the pictures meant. Maybe it was something they were taught, or maybe it was the way they envisioned the story…either way, it was such a cool moment.
The Whole World in Their Hands
When we were done reading the stories, asking questions, and drawing pictures, Dave blew up the inflatable globe ball that Logan had donated for the kids. We showed them where we were from and showed them the route we took to fly to Uganda. They laughed. It was great. Then, Dave taught the kids a simple, but fun game we all played as children. Keep the ball in the air and don’t let it touch the ground. Dave said when he had told them how to play they just laughed. I looked over to him and the kids and as soon as he threw the ball up in the air they went wild. All you could hear was the joyous, most incredible sound ever…the sound of 80-something kids excitedly screaming each time the ball came down because they did not want it to touch the ground. I, along with Dave, could not stop smiling. I’m so thankful for Akisim and for those kids. They created my favorite moments.
A reflection from a yesterday in Akisan, Uganda:
Today was positively exhausting. After an hours drive into the backwoods, I taught the History of Missions/Missiology course from 10-2, broke for lunch, and then taught an Pastoral Ministry class from 3-5. We discussed everything from stone worship to polygamy. The pastors were very engaged, took notes, and asked questions. Half of them didn’t have Bibles in their own language (Ateso) so Justin took a 3 hour roundtrip motorbike to the closest city to get 50 Bibles.
Receiving Bibles for the First Time
When it came to time to distribute the Bibles, people rushed the front jostling for a copy. We didn’t have enough for everyone, but those that received them were very grateful. One 80 year old man, Amos, had asked for a Bible the day before. When I gave it to him he was overjoyed. When we stopped at a trading post on the way out, and there he was on his bicycle, reading his Bible with another man.
We got out at the trading post and went up to three cement rooms with bamboo mats, where 30 orphans sleep. They asked us to help feed them, provide clothing, and education. Many of the children have been displaced from an insurgency in the area a decade ago, losing their parents in the killings. Some lost their parents to AIDS or malaria.
What would it look like for ACL to respond to these needs? How can you help? There are already three more tribes that want us to come and start more theological training centers. The women begged us to do a womens conference. Opportunities are ripe for mission. Search your heart and ask the Lord
Thank you for your partnership in the gospel, ACL!