The Rwamwanja Refugee camp is located in a forested region of Uganda called Kyenjojo. It is “home” to over 85,000 refugees from Rwanda, Congo, and Burundi—many of them children—Rwamwanja is just one of four camps. Sixty lead pastors were carefully chosen to attend Mending the Soul’s By His Wounds Trauma Intensive Healing Seminar last week. You can read the daily updates of that conference here on our blog.
Sunday, our team preached in three different camp churches, and enjoyed a morning of prayer, teaching, and worship—it was humbling to sit alongside men, women, and children who have experienced incomprehensible loss, and yet still hold on to faith in a good God. There is no human explanation for the love and joy we witnessed that day.
We’ll tell you just one story. After preaching in pastor Uzima’s church, Steve and Jumah were able to meet this gentle, humble Congolese pastor.
He is the “Chairman” of all the Christian churches in this crowded camp. Here is a picture of Pastor Uzima with some of his children. His story is sadly much like the other refugees we met—while living in Goma, D.R. Congo with his family, the rebels came one night and killed 6 of their 7 children. Their house was set on fire when they ran for their lives, fleeing to Uganda with their remaining son who is pictured here on the left. Since settling into the camp, they’ve taken in 8 other orphans and are raising them as their own children. “They are not orphans,” Uzima clarified, “they are our children.”
The camps are full of orphans who do not know if their parents are alive or dead. When rebels attack villages they burn homes and churches, chasing families as they flee. The children hide and keep running until they reach shelter. Most of the refugees we talked to have witnessed and survived terrifying evil: rape, forced rape of family members, execution of family members while their loved ones are forced to watch, torture, and imprisonment.
Yet, God’s church stands to her feet and steps into the terror created by Satan and his hordes with her arms opened wide—to bring the love and compassion of Christ to all who seek help and healing. Monday we began to train 40 of our most gifted By His Wounds trainers from Eastern Congo in the Mending the Soul contextualized small circle group model for Africa.
I raise a hallelujah in the presence of my enemies,
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief.
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody.
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me.
I’m going to sing in the middle of the storm.
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear why praises roar.
Up from the ashes, hope will arise.
Death is defeated, the King is alive!
—Bethel Music, Jonathan David Helser (link to song on YouTube)
The attached video is a stunning performance by the orphaned children who arrived at the camp scared, traumatized, and without family. Pastor Uzima’s church has taken them all in. We’re astonished by the sacrificial love demonstrated by these refugees in their love for God and each other.
Thank you for being a part of making this all possible.
Steve and Celestia for the Mending the Soul International team