Making Progress Against Poverty in Uganda

Making Progress Against Poverty in Uganda

Gary Wilkerson – June 28, 2010

During its devastating twenty-year civil war, Northern Uganda suffered indescribable horrors of mass deaths, widespread destruction and extreme poverty. The ever-present violence caused nearly 95% of the population to be displaced. During that time, an estimated 25,000 children were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. To survive the raids in their villages, children were forced to leave at night and walk long miles to urban areas where they slept on the floors of churches and schools. They were became known as “night commuters” because of these nightly treks that saved their lives.

What has transpired in Northern Uganda during the past few years? Some 800,000 of the nearly 2 million displaced people have returned to villages. They found their homes destroyed, with food and water scarce. In spite of vast humanitarian efforts, malnutrition in the region has doubled. Today 82% of Northern Ugandans live on less than $1 U.S. dollar a day.

An Opportunity Amid Tragedy

In the midst of this tragic and unimaginable situation, an opportunity for World Poverty Solutions has arisen. We have undertaken a vast endeavor that envisions ministering to tens of thousands Northern Ugandans who otherwise would face lives of poverty and hopelessness.

In the past two years, World Poverty Solutions has raised up six local evangelist/trainers who currently minister in 12 villages (representing 50,000 people) in Northern Uganda. These trainers preach the gospel, assist the ministries of local churches, and reach out to the poorest of the poor by providing limited short-term assistance, training in farming techniques and practical life lessons.

In two years’ time, the effects of this ministry have been life-changing for thousands. To date this outreach has seen the following results:

  • A reduction in extreme poverty and hunger. The rural poor learn of God’s love for them as they are trained to farm effectively (including raising chickens for their livelihood) and personal hygiene.
  • An increase in primary and secondary education. More children are being educated as their family’s health and income increase.
  • A reduction in the infant mortality rate. This happens as mothers are taught how to have healthy pregnancies.
  • Spiritual renewal. Pastors from villages throughout Northern Uganda have been encouraged to preach, lead and send serving believers into their impoverished communities.
  • An increase in church presence. Fifty churches are now participating in the program. Each has seen continual growth, demonstrating the love of Jesus to all in their communities.

Each time we go to Northern Uganda, meeting with the on-site staff and local leaders, we can hardly hold back our tears at the changes we see. More children are attending school, families have food on their tables—food they had grown for themselves instead of receiving it as a handout—and churches growing with many new believers. People have come to Christ as they’ve seen the love of God in action through a serving church in their community.

Lasting Hope Comes Through the Local Church

Northern Uganda is a shining example that Jesus, through the local church, is the hope of the world. There is little lasting hope that can be provided by governments or even humanitarian organizations. Yet through Jesus, the hope of glory, this region is experiencing love, life and lasting change.

Please continue to pray for continued progress among the poor. Lives are being impacted daily, with transformation clearly visible throughout the communities. Yet so much more needs to be done; there are so many more poor to be cared for and lost to be reached. Your generous support goes directly to our ever-increasing ministry to the world’s poorest of the poor—and Christ’s glory is shining forth!