Arise! Uganda Report: February 11-22, 2015
Thank you for your prayers during the recent Arise! Uganda trip. Some of the highlights:
1. Arise! Women’s conference. Over 450 women gathered to worship, be encouraged, and to receive ministry. This year, we made a point to include two of the local female leaders as speakers. Wow! They were fabulous! Alisha, Diane Brask, and I also spoke. We had prayer ministry with deliverance, and it’s always such a privilege to see how God does the miraculous in setting people free!
What was very impacting to me was what happened after lunch. An older woman (the average female life expectancy is 51 years) had just lost her last child through death, so she was all alone. I’m grateful that we live in a country that takes care of its old and impoverished, but there are no government programs in Uganda. One of the female leaders felt led to take an offering, and over half of the women walked by her to give something. We all hugged her as we came forward, and there were many tears. This is the Church: Loving and providing for the Family!
2. Women from Congo. All of them were trafficked as sex workers and brought to Uganda. They have the added disadvantage of being from a different country, speaking a different language. The church we partner with has led many of them to Christ, and they have their own service on Sunday afternoon where the language spoken is in their native Swahili. Alisha spoke at their Sunday afternoon service, and we both ministered to them through prayer. We wanted to do more, so we asked the pastor to call them together for a separate meeting on Thursday afternoon where 54 attended, most of them believers. Alisha shared her testimony, and then we gave money to everyone so they could buy whatever supplies they needed. Diane Brask donated mosquito nets and birth kits. They need a lot of help since they are outsiders in Uganda. At the end of the meeting, five women gave their lives to the Lord! The church took down their names, so they will be discipled and cared for. God is good!
3. Prison Ministry. Many of the prisoners are Christians, and we enjoyed worshiping with them before I spoke. I encouraged them to see themselves the way God sees them. They were very open to my message, and at one point, I asked them to pretend they were placing a crown on their heads since they are daughters of the King. That was a fun moment. There is so much injustice and corruption in Uganda, and many of these women are in prison for defending themselves from abuse.
4. Days for Girls Kits. When I first realized the importance of reusable sanitary supplies, I started a local chapter in Minneapolis. That chapter has since become independent of Arise!, but we continue to partner with them. They gave us 200 kits to bring to Uganda, and we were so grateful that we weren’t charged $200/bag to bring them on the plane! The church had contacted the local schools and asked them to target their neediest girls, and our chairs were full. We held a meeting where topics like purity and being careful around young men, personal cleanliness, and integrity were all discussed. Of course, there’s always a lot of humor when you’re talking about menstruation! The girls were so grateful. “Thank you, Days for Girls-Minneapolis, MN, Chapter!”
5. Private Prayer Appointments. Alisha and I were able to meet with three of the top female leaders at the church. We had dinner together, and then prayed privately with each one. The trauma they experienced in the past, as well as their present struggle for survival, created an environment where the Holy Spirit couldn’t wait to bring healing and freedom. Their stories are burned into my heart. Remind me to never complain again…about anything.
6. Ministry in Unyama. This is the name of the town where the refugee camp was located in Gulu. At one time there were 10,000 people iving in mud huts with no sanitation and little food. It closed in 2009, but some of the people couldn’t afford to leave. Diane Brask first visited the camp in 2006, and she shared about this situation at a women’s retreat about 8 years ago. The women spontaneously took an offering where they gave so generously that the money was used to build a church right inside of the camp. Since it was given by women, the women in Unyama decided that they should be the ones to build the church…so they did. This church of men and women has now planted four other churches.
7. Giving Aid. We gave food and money to the poorest of the poor. Of course, since the average daily income is $2, we had to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us.
Child sacrifice still happens, so much so that mothers pierce the ears of their baby girls so that they will no longer be “pure” enough to use for sacrifice. When I asked about laws that prevent that type of evil, they told me there were laws, but they are hard to enforce.
Dowries are still common practice even among the born again people. One woman told us how this tradition enforces the idea that women are inferior to men. She told us that husbands often say, “I paid such and such for you; you are mine, so do what I say!” Fortunately, many of the Christian churches are teaching their men and women how God sees each gender.
If your husband dies, his family is entitled to come to your home and take everything away from you and your children—your furniture, household items, clothes…everything.
Although darkness threatens both men and women in Uganda, the power of the light of Christ is greater still! We go with confidence, knowing that darkness flees when we pray, love and offer physical support.
We felt your prayers and your love the entire time, and we are grateful that you came with us to Uganda.
Together, we Arise!
With love and gratefulness,
Denise and Alisha Siemens
P.S. We traveled as partners with Diane Brask. She has initiated many projects in Uganda, so if you want to read more about her ministry visit: GlobalSeedPlanters.org.