Uganda (MNN) — What does Uganda have in common with the U.S.? Probably more than you think.
"You have some people who believe they're Christians because they're good people, which is really no different than here in America," said Julie Boyd with Lakeland, Florida-based Orphan's Heart.
Boyd recently led a team of 13 to minister and serve in the village of Kamonkoli, working side-by-side with Hines Ugandan Ministries. On their week-long trip, believers ministered to the spiritual, physical, and practical needs of widows and orphans. One of the team's goals was to show villagers how to live as true Christ-followers.
"Many times they will raise their hand and say, 'I've made a decision.' But we want to make sure they understand that decision," Boyd explained. One of the ways they accomplish this is by sharing the message of Ephesians 2:8 — "It's by grace that we're saved and not of works."
Teams worked in the village through construction, a two-day youth seminar, home visitations, and the medical clinic. One team spent time at the Kamonkoli medical clinic helping with inventory, which included many items that were donated and brought over from the U.S. Other team members visited the homes of widows and orphans to deliver clothes and other items. While there, they were able to encourage the downtrodden and continue pointing them to hope in Jesus.
Of all the projects completed during this time, the two-day youth seminar stood out in Boyd's mind.
"That was the highlight of the trip for me because I was on that team," she said.
Boyd and five team members taught a youth seminar to approximately 240 youth ranging from 12 to 25-years old. While team members had fun with the youth of Kamonkoli by teaching them the dance moves to the electric slide, they also covered serious topics. Village youth may not have received guidance on these topics from anyone or anything outside of the church.
They discussed things like setting goals, boundaries, determining good and bad friends, how to avoid and refuse negative situations, and the importance of sexual purity. Boyd noted the impact of this particular topic on one young girl.
"One of the girls went down to the clinic to be tested for STDs because she had been sexually active," Boyd recalled. "Her eyes were opened to what we had shared.
"She wanted to make sure her life was different and changed from now on."
Yet another team labored alongside local workers to lay the foundation for a new orphanage. Approximately 17,000 people live in the village of Kamonkoli, and 1,000 of them are orphans. The new orphanage will provide much-needed shelter, as orphans in Uganda often find themselves sleeping on dirt floors.
Although workers were able to finish the entire foundation, Boyd said the work isn't complete yet.
"They need more than just a foundation: they need a home," she said. "As the funds are provided, we'll continue to build that home."
A construction team is going in February 2013. Click here for more information.
Boyd requested specific prayer for two women in the village: Ida and Satina. Ida is a Muslim but is open to hearing the Gospel, Boyd said. Pray that she responds to the Lord's pursuit of her heart. Satina, a believer with severe arthritis, needs you to pray for her medical needs.
"Her hands were so severe that the bones were exposed," said Boyd. The team paid for her to have surgery, and several fingers were amputated. She is in a great deal of pain, please pray for her healing.