Uganda (MNN) — Cost-of-living protests erupted in Kampala,
Uganda at the end of last week.
Anger over the skyrocketing costs of food and fuel, along
with political unrest, came to a boiling point with the brutal arrest of opposition
leader Kizza Besigye. President Yoweri
Museveni also cracked down on the protests with brute force, which ended the
lives of a handful of protesters.
Every Child Ministries was right in the middle of it. ECM's Lorella Rouster says, "When it first
started, it was mainly closed right in that area where our national ministry
center is located. The roads were blocked. There was very heavy military
Between the roadblocks, security, and the knots of people,
those who didn't live in the immediate area, like ECM's national director,
couldn't get through. That left a small
staff on hand to take care of the children.
Even though things seem to have calmed, Rouster says, "More
recently it has spread quite widely throughout the city, and many roads have been blocked. So it has
become a problem to many of our programs."
Tensions are still high, and violence could overrun the
streets at the blink of an eye. That has
had a direct impact on their newest program, the Beggar's Children's
program. Already a vulnerable population
at the brink of starvation, Rouster explains that "their only way of making a
living was to go to the market and offer to carry things for the shoppers. But
those markets are closed now, so they really have no way of making a living; their situation is extremely difficult."
ECM workers are still trying to get food to the sponsored kids
and their families, but it is sporadic contact, made even more so by a break in
the school schedule. "There have been
times when the military or the police have fired tear gas into the crowd, and
children have had to disperse. So it has been increasingly difficult for our
Besigye promises to continue the protests, which means the
future for ministry from expatriates is uncertain. It has already affected ECM
plans, says Rouster. "We recently postponed a couple of missionaries' arrivals,
but we have other teams that were planning on going in just a month to help
over the summer. We're not sure whether this will quiet down."
Since the program began in January, the team has been able
to present the Gospel through the clubs. "We ask for prayer that there really
would be a Gospel breakthrough, an understanding of the Gospel," says Rouster, adding that
"they're kind evaluating us to see if we're really trustworthy, and maybe even
evaluating God. We would just ask that
God would make Himself real to them."