FROM REPORTS BY MOSES MWALYE, PROGRAM AREA MANAGER, FH MBALE, UGANDA.
BY ASHLEY CHAPMAN
|New walls form the shell for St. James Church in Marare, Uganda. |
It is soon to be finished with windows, a roof, and the joyful faces and sounds of community believers.
We’ve seen that the people in Marare are full of surprises. In this case, they’ve even managed to surprise themselves.
That’s the sentiment in the hardworking community, where the growing group of Christians were stirred by a simple Bible passage shared as a devotional during a meeting with local FH staff. The first chapter of Haggai calls for the church to build the house of God, and given the state of their old building, the community took it as a challenge.
Their old building was only semi-permanent and could no longer contain the lively meetings as more people joined the church. Now that the community was running a nursery out of the church as well, things were really getting tight.
With encouragement from FH, the planning and development committee for the Marare Church of Uganda swung into action. Inspired by their study of Haggai, the church members started pledging money, time, and items for renovation and construction. By February of 2013, they started excavating the new foundation.
For their first official fundraising event, the committee invited the Rt. Reverend Patrick Gidudu, Bishop of Mbale diocese, as the guest officiant. A total of eight hundred thousand shillings (about $350) was raised and another 980,000 shillings (about $420) was pledged.
Within eight months, the red-brick walls were up — funded entirely by the community.
Given what life in Marare was like just five years ago when FH first partnered with the community, the progress and determination of the church is being noticed by all. During the visit, Bishop Gidudu was heard whispering to his wife, “I am deeply impressed with the level of progress made in this community. As a diocese, we have not contributed even a coin, but look at what they have already done.”
Community members outside the church are also commenting on the positive impact the project is having in the village. Even other faith groups are saying that the Christians in the area have shown incredible hard work and unity in their task.
At this point, the remaining tasks are the roof and a few finishing touches. The growing church and nursery are close to having a permanent home in the centre of the community. While FH has actively supported the development committee and church members through the planning and construction, this truly is a community-driven project.
Based on the community’s impressive transformation to date, the FH staff in the area aren’t too surprised by the church’s success. That’s not the case for the church members themselves, though. They never thought they could fund an entire church building, but step by step they are accomplishing the impossible.
|Bishop Patrick Gidudu and community members tour the tree nursery, located on the church property. |
The Bishop encouraged tree planting and ongoing environmental protection.