Thoughts from an African Van Ride

I am writing this from the back seat of a van.  We are travelling through Uganda, watching  a foreign world pass by our windows.  This is my 2nd trip to Africa.  This is a beautiful country.  These are beautiful people.  Some of them are my friends. More are becoming my friends.  We are much the same.  We share a common belief in God.  We are human.

And the similarities seem to end there.

They live in a culture I do not understand.  They live in conditions that I cannot wrap my mind around.

In a training session with African Pastors, a Pastor stood and asked me a question.  “How do we do ministry to our people who are in extreme poverty.”  I thought for a moment.  I searched for a great answer. I have observed poverty in many countries.  I am involved in releasing kids from poverty.  I have a theological degree.  I am ordained.  I am a full-time Pastor.  I help train Pastors to do ministry.  I thought hard and fast about my answer.  Calling on all my experiences, I looked him in the eye and gave him my answer.

“I’ll be honest: I do not  know.  You live in conditions that I do not understand.  You deal with issues I cannot get my mind around.”

I don’t understand poverty.  The issue itself is deep and wide.  Looking through the van windows I see an issue that looks overwhelming.  The problem is complex.  The solutions even more so.

Something, somewhere has gone terribly wrong.

The solution to eliminating extreme poverty from the masses?  I don’t know.  But . . .

I do know there are small things to do to combat extreme poverty.  Compassion International is an organization I have been involved with for 25 years.  They help release children from poverty in Jesus name. Compassion offers education, a spiritual base, food, and medical care (and more). You can make a difference in the life of a child through a monthly sponsorship of $38.00.  I might not stop poverty for everyone.  But I can stop poverty in the life of one child.  And so can you.


Tomorrow we visit New Life Baptist Church Nakawa.  My friend Richmond Wandera grew up there, in extreme poverty.  At a young age, he  became a compassion child.  His life was slowly released from poverty.  Today Richmond (who holds a masters degree) serves as the Founder of the Pastors Discipleship Network.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts from an African Van Ride

  1. What a tough and difficult question….that I would not be able to answer either.
    I was spending time in Isaiah this morning and learning about ‘true fasting’. Isaiah 58:6-11.
    “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.The Lord will guide you always he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

    Scot, you and the team are ministering to those in extreme poverty… a sun-scortched land. You are satisifying many hungry souls and helping to remove the burden of the oppressed. Where the Lords name is being glorified and honored, a spring will begin to rise and flow and never fail. I truly believe that physical needs will become met once the Lord is received. Praying earnestly for the MCC team and all the African ministers who are spreading the glorious name.

  2. Hi Scot,
    It’s great to hear your “voice” through the airwaves. We missed you this morning at worship service but really enjoyed hearing from Justin Gillespie. Someone said he reminded them of you. Anyway, we think of you and your team every day and pray for you to continue your work faithfully in Africa. I can’t imagine the poverty there that you are trying to wrap your head around, but the drought here is unbelievable for us farmers. It’s still dry here and the crops are suffering. We are accustomed to humid, moist summers that grow corn and soybeans and this one is totally opposite. If you could, would you bring back some monsoon rains with you? 🙂 And in return we will encourage people to be a Compassion International sponsor.
    God bless you and keep you, Mark and Jo Ellen