Wednesday, May 22, 2013


On His Way

Curiosity was the bridge between them.  On one side of the short gap was an aging and rather large white guy, leaning on the rail of the veranda.  Peering back at him from the sidewalk approaching the verandas was a group of 10 or 12 young and thin black guys.  It was a two way bridge. They stared at him while he stared back at them.  A friend of his and a friend of theirs had brought them together.  It was their first time, of many times, that they connected with each other.  The short introduction made by their mutual friend was followed by a question from the white guy.  It was a surprise to them ...and to him.  But, that question has since become common for him.

Where are you going?

Robert with his white mama Pam
Their response was normal.  They came by simply to meet this white man and his wife.  Where were they going?  They said, "we are going to Gateway Miracle Center" to play music.  They were a band called The Dove Voice Band.  Their response didn't satisfy him.  He asked them again, "But, where are you going?"  Their curiosity turned to stare at each other, hoping someone would have an answer..  Wonder covered some of their faces. Smiles covered the wonder.

Though they had no way of knowing, the question was philosophical.  It would never occur to most Africans. Survival has been the historical pursuit. Sleeping without hunger was a good day.  Finding some small money to purchase airtime for a cell phone was a good day. Marriage?  Career?  Dreams?  Strategy? Those pathways would have to be put off for another day.  Today was about survival.  Common.  So, when someone wants to inquire about the direction of a person's life .... well, that is not an everyday question.

Fortunately, one of those young Congolese men is on his way.  He heard the question.  He considered it significant.  He began to question that white man, like he was a father; someone who may help him find the compass; someone who could help him plant his feet in the right direction ... so that his life was going somewhere.

It is not hard to be a boy in a man's body in Uganda.  The extreme challenge of the dowry system has made it nearly impossible to marry before 30 years of age.  But, marriage is one of those responsibilities that helps turn a selfish barbarian into a humble servant.  Someone who cares more about others than he does himself.  Marriage is not, of course, the solution to selfishness, but its demands can certainly motivate a young man to FIND the solution.

Additionally, the difficulty of finding employment delays the process of becoming a man.  It is estimated that unemployment among youths who have graduated from college and university is a whopping 83%!  Taking care of oneself is a huge challenge without taking a wife and any offspring that come from the union.

Robert working in one of the best studios in Kampala
Two years ago, that white man and his wife (that would be me and Pam, the one who tamed me of my barbarianism) recognized that Robert was ready to leave childhood in pursuit of manhood.  We helped him uncover what God had put in his heart.  Discovering that music was his passion and his life, we located an accomplished mentor who would apprentice him.  Robert would be Adela's only student and at the end of his training in music production he would be qualified and ready to go to work.

On top of this one on one training, Robert was able to perform well on an exam from a School of Music which awarded him a much needed certification.  More doors will open for Robert because of this accomplishment.

Proud of Robert
Ask Robert, "Where are you going?" these days and his face will break into a smile.  Not the smile of wonderment that was on his face two years ago.  But, a knowing smile.  He knows who he is; who he belongs to; why he is here; and, where he is going.  The big answers to the questions of life have provided the needed foundation for the demands of manhood. Robert is well on his way. He is working as a certified Music Producer.  He has already worked with some of the better know musicians in Uganda and will soon be known as one of the best music producers in the nation.

Pam and I have heard the question numerous times.  What do you do in Uganda?  What is your vision?  Perhaps many are expecting the answer to feature some project we are attempting to accomplish.  No.  Our vision is to help the next generation discover who they are.  To help them find their way.  We want them to be able to answer the BIG question at the end of the day.  Did you do what you were meant to do while you were on earth?  We want them to be more successful and productive they we ever were.  THEY are our vision.  Their vision becomes our vision.

Robert Katembo ... a man on his way!
It is rewarding to participate in the process of teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish.  Robert knows how to fish.  He sustains himself.  Finding a sponsor for him would only delay his development as a man.  Yup. Robert is well on  his way.

We have many others who we are assisting in their development.  We have others who are in apprenticeships, training, and schools.  Their sponsorship is short term.  It is temporary, but with a long term reward.  If you would like to help us continue to help dreams come true with the next generation in the nation of Uganda you are welcome.  You can come to Uganda on a short term mission trip and connect with someone you want to see develop and become self-sustaining.  Or you can contribute financially to Next Generation Ministries so that Pam and I can continue to help them through the context of relationship. You can donate funds through the PayPal button on this blog or send a check to Next Generation Ministries, 29940 South Dhooghe Road, Colton  OR 97017.  Together we can help others like Robert be on their way to someplace.  If we don't help them know where they are going they might end up somewhere else.

ADDENDUM:  The reason I have posted this addendum is in this edited version of my blog on Robert's progress is so that I can add a link to the first song that Robert composed, sang, arranged, and produced as a milepost in his career development.  The name of this song is I Will Praise You.  If you click on the title of this song you will be able to hear the song and evaluate the value of the Robert's apprenticeship.  ENJOY!


  1. Two years ago, almost to the hour, I was in an ER after a motorcylce accident that broke my neck and multiple other significant injuries. I had a closed head injury, but still function at a fairly high level. I was given a gift. A few hours ago, we saved a life in my ER. My gift has become, their gift. I walk, even though a broken neck, and have had the opportunity to walk in East Africa and meet amazing people like Robert and SO many others.

    Nothing happens "accidentally". I think this was the only way to get through to a hard headed burned out Firefighter/Paramedic/ER doc. It gave me a gift of "sight" and allowed me to understand. It opened my eyes and allowed me to see. It was a blessing.

    We are finalizing our plans to return in July. I worry that we have everything in place and the supplies will be there. We will have fewer resources in people and "stuff" than before. I worry even when I know, I shouldn't but, that is the way my brain is wired. I don't feel compelled to apologize to the One that wired it. He knows and, it may be the reason I am semi useful for His purpose.

    Life is a gift. It is even a greater gift when it is given twice. Especially when, the second time you can fully appreciate it. I have no worrys and it will turn out as it should.

  2. Great job on the song Robert!! D&D


  4. We need to encourage this work
    From Adela Pro


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