April 4, 2011
Several years ago I spent a couple of hours in Great Falls, Montana, at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Amazed at the journey they took from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon and back, it increased my respect and admiration for pioneers. Many are awed by the risk some people are willing to take to go where no man has gone. Lewis and Clark College, located in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, has named their sports team and school paper Pioneers. I suspect there is also a link between the National Basketball Association team in Portland ... since they are called the Trailblazers ... and those two early American pioneers.
There are few people who are willing to be first when it comes to the unknown and may involve personal risk.. Many new places and experiences go left unexplored and enjoyed if someone doesn't go first. In physical locations, like the unexplored and undeveloped West of early America, or the moon that sits out in the space of our universe, there have been men and women who have ventured into the unknown for their own benefit and the benefit of many others. People like the Wright brothers, who believed there was a way to stay suspended in the air aboard an aircraft, have made it possible for Pam and me to travel half way around the world in only 24 hours. Pioneers are those who open up new areas of thought, research, or development or who venture into unknown or unclaimed territory. I'm fascinated by them.
There are spiritual pioneers too.
Bukeeka is like many villages in Uganda I suppose. But my relationship with her has covered a half a dozen years now and I'm learning some of the historical details that have birthed an ever increasing love for her.
My first impression of Bukeeka (pronounced boo-cake-ah) was that of a place without color. There was an absence of joy. There was an absence of hope. There seemed to be a dark and gloomy survival mode to life in this village. The buildings were covered with the red brown dust of the Ugandan earth. Poverty whispered from the trading center on the highway and shouted from the houses crowding around it and ascending up the hillsides. I discovered there was no high school in the village and never had been. There was one primary school owned and operated by the Islamic Mosque, but it's main focus was on indoctrination and not the basic elements of education. Besides, the teachers were seldom paid and and they soon moved on to find a paying job. Scholastic continuity was absent. Most children didn't go to school anyway.
Historically, in Bukeeka, there were more alcoholics than not and drug use was on the rise. There were many thugs (thieves and bullies who took advantage of any who were weaker) roaming the village and adultery was more common than fidelity. At the foundation of this depressing environment was the religious system of witchcraft. Although Islam could boast they had captured 90% of the population, the prevalent belief system was still in demons. There were and are many witchdoctors in Bukeeka. I've become friends with one of them and I've begun a friendship with another. I enjoy telling them I am their friend, but not their brother ... yet.
|Elisha with spiritual mentor 'Robert|
Robert's creative idea of starting a school for the children of Bukeeka has become legendary. With serious opposition from the Muslims, the witchdoctors, and most of the villagers, Robert began with 67 students. Today Fountain of Hope Primary School has over 700 students enrolled. This year Hope High School began it's first year of operation. A solar powered water system is on the 3 acres of land that was initially purchased. The dormitories for both male and female students will be completed for boarding students before next term. The congregation known as True Worship Center has over 150 in attendance and many villagers of Bukeeka are now curious about being born again. The atmosphere of the village and some of its leaders has turned 180 degrees and Jesus Christ is building His Church in Bukeeka as He promised He would.
|Elisha's father the witchdoctor|
|Elisha's mother a new believer|
|With Mother in front of his house|
|Elisha & his father Emmanuel|
The change Elisha asked God for has taken place. As I visited with his mother, she confessed that Elisha caused her much pain. He was a thug, stubborn, and rebellious ... until he yielded his life to Jesus. She took some time to watch and see if he had really changed, but now she respects and admires him. She and her daughter have both followed Elisha in salvation.
|Elisha with sister & mother|
Elisha told me that he doesn't boast that he is such a good man, but that God has been so good to him. His ambition is to see the Lord provide money for him to attend three years of university. He said if he accomplished that he will be the first (that pioneering spirit) in his family to ever graduate from university. It will require $3,000 to pay for his schooling for a bachelor's degree, but he is trusting God to provide for him so that he can go where no one in his family clan has ever gone.
I've found another young hero: Elisha of Bukeeka