With two local friends who can translate for me, I have been working my way through the neighborhood / slums that are just down the hill from me at Ntare. The purpose of these walks are to meet the neighbors, to pray for people or serve them in their tough situations if they feel like sharing, and to introduce Christianity to those who have questions or to those who are de-churched.
Here are some of the highlights so far:
- The very first house was a mslm woman who did not welcome us in, said “so what’s the point?” and then asked us not to come back. Fair enough.
- Many single mothers who don’t have a job because the economy sucks, except tending gardens or cleaning people’s houses. They are desperate for school fees.
- Isaac the mslm. Big one here. Isaac is a mid twenties man, like me, who lives alone in a single room apartment and works as a clerk in town. He was raised mslm, shared some of his story with us, and then admitted he didn’t understand Christianity and wanted to know more. We have visited him twice to give him a book, share the basics, and to hear about his life. Goes to show that some mslms are open minded. I’ve been learning more about Islm from him, but this guy looks like he is hungry to know the truth.
- Family of women who offered me corn mash and beans cooked in a small tin over coals in the yard after we prayed for them. We also gave them a bible in the local language.
- Nabath the pentecostal. This guy was all smiles from the moment we met him, invited us in to sit for 45 minutes, and exuded warmth as we talked about everything from local politics, to the fbi, to church, to the ugandan military. He hopes to go into JAG law for the army here. Cool guy.
- Punanari, the father of seven children, still faithfully married to his wife. He is a tailor and at first was reserved in our conversation since he was a catholic and I am an anglican (according to the church I attend). He might have thought I was going to tell him he wasn’t a christian, like some people in the area do. Instead, we just told him our stories of being disappointed with our lives before God and how much change we experienced, then wanted to hear his story. so he then opened up about their financial struggles with seven kids and how bad business is. I shared Gal 6 with him and also left him with a local-language bible since their family did not have one. We’ve gone back to visit, and he wants to make me a suit.
This is a very rewarding process, and helps me to see that most people are willing to welcome you into their homes even if they are busy. Time to reprioritize, Americans. I do run into people who aren’t willing to talk much, but they are usually still glad for a visit. I usually get some strange reactions when I tell them I am a teacher at Ntare. I don’t mean to play that card as a “I am better than you” statement, but it is a pretty big class difference. Hopefully it helps them to see one of the teachers of the privileged also associating with the poor. Not that I’m special at all, but isn’t that what God does with us? The king of the universe coming to the least of these. Like Mary said in her song: “for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant … for he who is mighty (king) has done great things for me (an uneducated teenager from a nowhere town.)