Uganda (MNN) — "Is eight years enough to forget that you killed your mother? In eight years, can you forget that you had to laugh and clap while your brother was hacked to death with a machete? In eight years, can you forgive your cousin who did it?"
These words haunt those who watch the Every Child Ministry video about Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army.
The LRA was in Uganda for years, forcing over 30,000 children to perform heinous acts. Although the group left Uganda eight years ago to terrorize Congo and Sudan, the scars of the atrocities forced upon the people remain raw.
For the last six years, ECM has been tending to the wounds of many Ugandans.
"ECM's role has been a long-term commitment to help one of the devastated communities there to rebuild. And that has included everything from building huts and latrines, to digging wells, to the most important job of rebuilding lives through the power of Jesus," explains ECM's Lorella Rouster.
This intensive care for one community is vital. Just one of the issues ECM counselors have had to deal with has been mothers considering leaving their children. Women who were widowed at the hands of the LRA sometimes receive offers of marriage again, but under the stipulation that their children cannot come along.
Children who have survived so much horror in their lives would be utterly devastated by abandonment. ECM counselors have convinced many mothers to refuse marriage and stay with their children.
It's just one of the trials that the broken people of Uganda face daily. Another overarching theme is guilt. Although many Ugandans have been told they are not responsible for the crimes they were forced into by the LRA, they feel the guilt of murder, rape, and other evils. When ECM first began to work with this Ugandan community, Rouster says the people "looked like zombies," with hopelessness written all over their faces.
But in the last six years, ECM has been able to introduce hope in a 12-pronged, long-term program. The ministry provides sewing classes for women, Bible lessons, practical care, and more. As the people have been introduced to these things, they have also been introduced to the forgiveness offered by Christ.
"The Gospel is the only message that is powerful enough to heal a land like northern Uganda," notes Rouster. And she knows from experience. She has watched the faces of many in the community transform from hopeless shells to joyful beacons of Christ's love. The truth of His forgiveness and peace has slowly begun to transform a community.
There is still a long road to recovery for many in this village, and for kids in particular. Sponsorship through ECM is one simple way to help. Learn more here.