I love children’s books.
One of my favorite books is entitled, “The Little Engine That Could.” In the book, a stranded train is unable to find an engine willing to take it up and over difficult terrain to its destination. Only the little blue engine is willing to try, and persistently tells itself over and over, “I think I can, I think I can,” which helps him overcome a seemingly impossible task.
The story reminds me of a little church just outside the Internally Displaced People’s Camp (IDPC) of Unyama. This refugee camp was started because of the insanity of a war that began in northern Uganda in 1986 led by rebel leader, Joseph Kony. He abducted children from their homes to be used as child soldiers.
I visited Unyama for the first time in 2006. When I stepped out of my jeep into this surreal place, I met a wonderful, elderly Ugandan gentleman named Sabino and his wife, Josephine. I asked Sabino if he was a Christian. “Yes, Ma’am, I sure am,” he replied.
Next I asked him if there was any place in Unyama where believers could gather to worship God. He took me to a long, narrow hut about 5 ft tall with one door and no windows. It was about 50 ft long and 20 ft wide. It was made of a mixture of cow manure, mud, sand, and grass for a thatched roof.
I asked Sabino, “Have you ever dreamed of being able to build a better church where you could worship God?” He replied, “I have often prayed and asked God if there was a way He could make this dream possible.”
I returned home and went to Pennsylvania to speak at a Women’s Spring Retreat. The women were so moved by the stories of the people in Unyama that they decided to “pass the hat.”
The generosity of this small group of women was incredible. In fact, it was enough to build a brand new, brick church for the people of Unyama. The church building sits on a beautiful setting on a hilltop overlooking the now peaceful countryside.
Today, there are about 150 people who gather on Sunday mornings for worship. Pastor Willy was there when we dedicated the church. I asked him about his dream for their church. He said, “Our goal is to plant a church a year for the next 5 years in villages that are being re-established as people leave the Unyama IDP camp to go back to their land.”
You know what…they have already done it!
The Unyama Church is certainly an example of the little church that could! They are a reminder to us all that with God all things are possible…especially when God moves on the hearts of a few women who decide to make a difference in the world.
Sister Acts believes in the power of the local church. We believe that God wants to raise up local Sister Acts Chapters of women who will be the “hands and feet of Jesus” extending His love and compassion to women and girls in their community who are the most vulnerable.
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(Story told by Director of GSP, Diane Brask)