We Are All Co-Laborers

by Justin Lonas

After 10 years of living in the United States, Reuben Musiime and his family returned to their roots in the villages of Uganda seeking to serve the Lord through the church in that country. What they found there were countless children doing chores or playing during the time they should be in school because they did not have the resources to obtain an education. They felt a burden to change the situation, and with the help of longtime AMG missionaries Harold and Muriel Lovestrand, they founded AMG Uganda.

That was 1996. What began in the village of Bugongi with 11 children is now a thriving ministry serving 1,200 children in five different villages in addition to a host of other projects.

While the work in Uganda as outlined in the following paragraphs is tailored to meet the needs of the people there, it is also structured similarly to AMG's projects in other countries (notably Indonesia, Guatemala, and the Philippines).

Childcare and Social Services

AMG Uganda operates childcare centers in 5 villages: Bugongi, Bukoto, Masajja, Igamba, and Namugoga. At each of these facilities, over 200 children are given the opportunity to attend school and provided with the necessary materials (books, pencils, etc.). Additionally, basic healthcare and nutritional needs are met.

Child sponsorship is very meaningful and effective there, as the population around the main facility largely consists of subsistence farmers without many resources or opportunities. However, the linchpin of the children's ministry, according to Musiime, is the Saturday gatherings where children are taught the Word of God, receive spiritual instruction and counseling services, and have a praise and prayer time.

"[The children] have to make sure they don't miss out on Saturday," Musiime said.

As in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is a large problem in Uganda, resulting in many deaths and orphaning over 2 million children in the country. Musiime felt led to take a part in caring for those whose parents have succumbed. Currently, they have 18 children living at a rented facility in Kampala with plans to expand.

They have purchased and cleared land on the outskirts of the city with plans to build a permanent facility as funds become available. The home office of AMG in Chattanooga will be hosting a golf tournament in October to raise support for the new orphanage, Camp El Har (God's Mountain).

AMG Uganda also operates the Hope Medical Center in Bugongi, providing emergency services and outpatient care to a rural community of over 20,000 people that would otherwise have to travel over 10 miles to receive medical care.

Ministry and Outreach

One of Musiime's first loves is teaching. He's a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, but he is keenly aware that most Ugandan pastors haven't had the same opportunity to receiving training.

"Many of them have heard the call' but lack the skills," he said.

AMG Uganda now offers classes to teach pastors hermeneutics and Bible study, church administration, and homiletics. The goal is to provide the vibrant and growing Christian community in the country with sound, biblical truth and equip the pastors to lead their congregations well.

AMG Uganda also offers a radio ministry that is broadcast weekly with the potential of reaching up to 10 million listeners. Broadcasts include gospel presentations, messages on discipleship, responses to questions from listeners, and Bible teaching.

Much as in America, prisons in Uganda are filled with people in desperate need of Christ's healing. AMG has been facilitating Bible studies and ministering in various prisons there on a weekly basis for the past 7 years.

Musiime said that he has seen many prisoners come to the Lord or return to following Him over the course of the ministry. Some have even committed to serving the Lord vocationally upon their release.

Getting Involved: Needs, Future Plans, and Unified Ministry

"I have almost 40 staff members, and I exercise general oversight and vision setting," Musiime said, but there is currently a lot of staff turnover.

"We want people who can offer at least a 5-year commitment," he said. "We need faithful people to work with us who have a heart for ministry, and are not simply looking for a job opportunity. We need people for discipleship, particularly encouraging the youth in the program to grow in their walk with the Lord. Consistency and long-term work is needed to make an impact.

"We're interested not just in providing care and education for these kids, but we're trying to build strong families for the future of Uganda and the church in this country."

Musiime said that he wants to create more self-sustaining projects and income generating activities for the ministry as they cope with rising expenses.

"We don't want to be totally donor-dependent anymore," he said.

AMG Uganda has begun experimenting with microfinancing to help young couples and widows get a head start on making a life.

"With special gifts from sponsors of even $100, we can help families find something to do with that money to generate more income. We're helping them make business investments and start something for the future," Musiime said.

Getting Western churches more involved in the work in Uganda is also one of Musiime's goals, and he readily welcomes mission teams. "Short-term teams are a great ministry to us and a great benefit to those who participate. Come and exercise the gifts the Lord has given you in Uganda!" he said. He encourages contribution to and participation in all areas of the ministry there, though not through a traditional, "us-them" understanding of missions.

"These days, missions is partnership between national churches and the missions agencies and churches [in the West]. It's no longer about doing things for us'; it's about working together to devise common strategies," Musiime said. "It is the Lord's Kingdom we're promoting, not anything else. It's his harvest, and we are all co-laborers."

Justin Lonas is publisher of Pulpit Helps.

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