West Michigan students have a heart for Uganda

By August 1, 2016

Uganda (MNN) — Students at a Christian school in West Michigan are learning that young age can’t stop them from making a difference.

Over the last few years, they’ve had fundraisers to support the needs of the students at a school in Uganda. They’ve held pancake breakfasts, for instance, to buy mosquito nets for the other children.

Students in Uganda receive mosquito nets. Photo courtesy of Set Free Ministries.

Students in Uganda receive mosquito nets. (Photo courtesy of Set Free Ministries)

Allendale Christian School, through the connection of Set Free Ministries, is a sister school of FOAS — Free Orphan Academic School.

Sarah Shreuder is a teacher at Allendale. She says, “I think it’s given our students a broader perspective. “

They are learning about needs around the world outside of their own, and that they can do something about those needs. Shreuder was part of team that recently visited Uganda to minister and build relationships with the staff and students of the Ugandan school.

“It was just such a rich time,” she says, explaining that instead of working on projects, they were able to learn about the people they’ve been helping, and learn how to better pray for them.

Students from around the world

Despite the cultural and geographical differences between the schools, there are a lot of similarities in what the two schools study.

However, FOAS school doesn’t have as many physical materials. So, the classes are larger, and the students rely more on repetition and memorizing.

Another challenge they face is the religious landscape of the area.
Shreuder says, “Forty percent of the students at FOAS school come from Muslim homes.”

Because of this, there’s been some pushback to the Christian school. When the property was purchased from a Muslim man, his life was threatened. There were some attacks carried out against them during the building process.

However, over time, the school administrator has been able to establish positive relationships with some in the community.

Jeff Stam of Set Free says there’s still need for prayer: “The oppression from the Muslim community has not stopped by any means. In fact, they have chosen to build a mosque and their own school right next door.”

Students hear the Gospel

At FOAS, students get to learn about Jesus along with their regular curriculum. In addition, they hold chapel services every Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of Set Free Ministries.

(Photo courtesy of Set Free Ministries)

Shreuder says there is praise and worship and the students share their testimony of what God is doing in their life. Afterwards, there is usually a Bible message and students sometimes volunteer to lead it.

“We were just blown away and brought to tears by testimonies they would give and their commands of the Scriptures they had learned and being willing to teach their peers about it.”

Not only do the students share the knowledge of God with one another, but they also have the potential to bring it back to their families. When the team from Allendale was there, they helped the students make salvation bracelets to share with their families. Each color corresponds to a different aspect of our salvation story.

“I think the potential for these students hearing the Gospel message at school and even practicing giving these testimonies and sharing — they’re being empowered to really preach the Word of God at school, and I think they’re going to go home and do that.”


Overall, the trip was encouraging and helped the team better know how to pray for and provide for the school in Uganda. They learned that some struggles the children face have nothing to do with their location, culture, or community.

Shreuder says they met a young girl who comes from a hard background. She’s experienced the trauma of abuse. By hearing her story, Shreuder was able to learn how to pray not only for the general needs of the school, but for the individual.

It is the goal of the school to be able to train and employ this young girl in sewing. This will provide her with an income while providing the students with uniforms.

The school also wants to grow. Shreuder says the administrator, Partson, has big dreams. But big dreams begin small. Currently, they need a van to help transport teachers and more students to the school.

If you are able to help with either the van or vocational tools such as a sewing machine, you can contact Jeff Stam, International Director of Set Free, here.

You can also be praying for the hearts of the students as they grow educationally and spiritually. Pray for courage as they go home and share the Good News of Jesus with their families. Ask God to open the hearts of those still practicing Islam to His truth and love.

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