Set Free also works in areas of East Africa, where witch doctors have an iron grip on the people. Dean VanderMey with Set Free says in these regions, it’s children and orphans who suffer the most.
One such region is Rakai, Uganda. VanderMey visited Rakai with Set Free for the first time in 2005. He says, “Rakai had 95 percent unemployment at the time. Fifty percent of the people that we were ministering to had AIDS and there were thousands of orphans walking around kind of hollow-eyed. I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing.
“For every 11 people, there’s one witch doctor. So, the witchcraft in that area is very, very strong and they hold everyone through fear because everyone has been abused by a witch doctor there.”
Malaria and waterborne diseases are rampant in Uganda and other areas of East Africa. VanderMey says whenever someone falls ill, their first response isn’t always to visit the nearest hospital. Especially in remote areas, a medical doctor or hospital may be extremely difficult to get to, so they go to the local witch doctor.
“The first thing he will do is he pulls the curtains and that’s where you’re going to be sexually abused as a child,” VanderMey says. “After that, he will give you the herbs to cure you. So the witch doctors hold everyone through fear and terror, and there’s demonization that goes with it.”
Set Free knew if they were going to make a difference, they need to be invested in East Africa for the long haul to address emotional, physical, and spiritual problems.
The ministry met with local pastors and proposed a partnership to get kids and orphans into a safe environment where they sense Jesus’s love — namely, Christian schools.
“We said, ‘We have funds, we have money. You have time and talent. If we do this together as the Church universal, then this will work as we combine our efforts.’ So we co-joined in ministry together and the results have been astonishing,” VanderMey says.
“January 1, 2006 was our first school with 42 kids. Now we’ve founded or supported 17 schools and there are 4,800 children.”
Set Free started building a new high school in January 2019 called Light Academy. VanderMey is pleased to report they now have enough buildings to invite the first group of 200 students to attend.
It will still take another four years to finish the Light Academy project. Ultimately, their hope is to have 1,200 boarding high school students and another 800 students in the vocational training center.
There are several ways you can get involved with Set Free in East Africa. First, pray.
“We have a lot of testimonies that need to be shared and we have a lot of witch doctors that really hate us there,” VanderMey says. “So pray for spiritual safety for our teams and also a covering, that the angelic host would go before us. Also, [pray for] the witnesses who have their stories to tell, that they could tell them and give God the glory and praise due His name.”
Also, to complete Light Academy and have a profound spiritual impact on vulnerable kids in East Africa, Set Free needs more believers to link arms with them financially.
“We need $5 million to build this new high school. That’s more money than we’ve ever even ventured to raise. In fact, we had to double our budget to do it. So we need some donors who are willing to step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of this.’”
Header photo courtesy of Set Free Ministries.