One Million Arrows Christian Parenting Blog
Posted in: Arrow Stories
- Survivor from Civil War Brings New Hope to Uganda
Guest Author: Keith A. McFarland - New Hope Uganda| Share |
Paul Kusuubira lost his parents as a result of Uganda's civil war in the 1980's, a war that shook the country shortly after Idi Amin's regime collapsed. The bloody war centered 35 miles north of the capital city Kampala in an area that became known as the "Luweero killing fields."
Paul's family fled from their home and spent three years hiding in "the bush." They were constantly running from the warring soldiers, barely able to survive. The family ate whatever food they could gather from the "bush"—mostly wild yams and papaya. They drank any color of water they could find. They slept on leaves under the stars. During the rainy season they huddled together under trees. On occasions when they heard bullets coming from one direction they walked all day in the opposite direction only to be met by more gunfire. Exhausted and too tired to walk any further, the family would simply lay down on the ground to sleep, prepared to die.
Through these years God miraculously protected Paul and his family and it was with great joy that they were finally able to return to their small home in late 1986. But shortly after returning, Paul's father fell sick and died. As the family was still grieving the loss of the father, the pain still fresh in their hearts, Paul's mother fell sick and died from tuberculosis. As the community gathered around the grave, ten-year-old Paul could only weep and weep. The war had taken his father and mother, leaving Paul, his three brothers and one sister, all alone to struggle for survival.
As they buried their mother, the realization of what they had become-orphans-quickly set in. Men and women from the community rummaged freely through their house, helping themselves to whatever they desired. As cooking pots, plates, warm blankets, and clothing disappeared, the children were helpless to do anything about it. Where could they turn? Who would care for them now? Those they thought were friends and even family rejected them because no one wanted the responsibility of caring for more orphans. The title "orphan" became an invitation for exploitation and abuse. As the nightmare unfolded, Paul gave up all hope for living. He would rather die than live in such despair.
Paul heard about New Hope Uganda in 1988, the year he saw his first mzungu (white man). He was terrified because he had heard stories that "whites" buy people and sell them or even eat them! So when a Ugandan named Jonnes Bakimi, one of New Hope's "founding fathers," arrived at Paul's house asking questions, the children were suspicious and did not trust the stranger who worked for whites. But Paul's situation had become so bad that he finally decided that he would rather die than to remain at home suffering. That is when he and two of his siblings joined the family of the Kasana Children's Center of New Hope Uganda.
When Paul first came to New Hope, he heard the good news of God's love for him presented in the Gospel. He received love and care from the "aunties" and "uncles" that worked as staff, and who shared God's Word with him. But nothing made sense to him and he refused to open his heart to anyone because of the fear, rejection, and the sense of abandonment that he now carried with him.
After two years of living at New Hope, Paul's heart was finally softened by the messages he kept hearing of the Father's love for him. It was then that he repented of his sin and made a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ. God quickly began dealing with the fears and pains of his past, and as he still struggled to understand and relate to God, the word that kept surfacing in his heart was "Father." Finally, though the love of two men acting as father figures, God entered into his deep pains and sorrows and brought the healing that can only come through really experiencing the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as an "adopted son."
He took on a new identity in the family of His Dad and began to speak out to others of this amazing Father's love. As Paul grew into a young man, he began translating for Uncle Jonnes in church (one of his "fathers"), and over a few years he began to develop a vision and a burden for living out the Gospel in a community around New Hope called Kiruli. It became his desire to plant a church that would minister to the community in practical ways. He would be able to model self-sufficiency to the church and community through farm and agricultural work, as well as to model the principle of adoption and relationship with Abba Father through his own family's adoption of children.
Today, Paul's church is thriving in his community, his farm is a wonderful example of hard work and is a tool in the village, there is a unity among the pastors never seen in the area, and he and his wife have adopted two children (along with their own 3 biological children). Paul is also helping to spearhead a Pastoral Training Institute committed to equipping Ugandan pastors both theologically and practically in holistic ministry strategically designed to impact and change families, churches, and communities. He is truly an arrow sent out by God Himself...and this is just the beginning of what God has planned for his generations and the generations of those he will touch.
Keith McFarland is the principal of the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family, an ministry that offers training and discipleship for people working with orphans in Kasana/Kiwoko, Uganda.
Through family-based ministry with an emphasis on physical fatherhood, New Hope Uganda exists to bring the Fatherhood of God to the fatherless through both providing family and ministering to the extended families of orphans, providing God-centered education and vocational training, as well as community impact and transformation through the church, pastoral training, the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family, and Musana Camps (a manhood/womanhood and family training camp).
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