Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where Is He Now?

All indications pointed to a disastrous conclusion.

The beginning was about as bad as possible.  Six years old.  No mother.  A father who could be gone on a two week drunken stupor.  A younger brother and sister to care for.  No food unless he was able to catch fish ... which he could sell for other food items.  No neighbors for miles around.  Regular brutal beatings whenever his father did show up.

It was a miserable childhood beginning of life ... with no promise of it ever getting better.


William Faulkner said, "History is not what was but what is."

There is a continuity between what was and what is.  Looking back is one way of helping define the present.  And that is what I want to attempt to do in this blog.

Typical loading & unloading boats bound for the islands
I met this young man in 2001.  There is more to his past than the beginning you have read. His past didn't improve from that beginning. When he was 13 years old, his dad sold him for a bottle of beer.  Soon after that, with no hope for a better future, he attempted suicide by throwing himself in the falls of the Nile River ... only to survive with a bruised and bleeding body.  When his father heard about his attempt to died, he took a metal slasher, used to cut grass, and stuffed it in the boy's mouth and twisted it cruelty.  Severe headaches were also common.  You see, as the firstborn he had been promised to the demons to become a witch doctor ... but his father had no money for the ordination requirements of cows, goats, and chickens.  All resources were used for alcohol.  Consequently the demons tormented the boy with headaches.

Robert Sityo - Founder/Director
Fountain of Hope Ministries
I started working with this young man in 2004.  Jesus Christ had intercepted this young man's life during his teen years, with a promise that Jesus could heal his headaches, and a corner was turned.  Robert Sityo sensed a call upon his life to carry Jesus to a village that was 90% Muslim.  But because ever effort to bring Jesus to that village never succeeded, or even survived past 6 months, any new attempt promised to be rewarded with failure.  Instead of obeying the call, Robert got on a boat bound the opposite direction, for an island in Lake Victoria ... only to discover he was a modern day Jonah.

Repentance drove Robert Sityo back to Jinja where I met him as part of a Youth Empowerment event. During those two weeks my job was to bring faith to life in the lives of the next generation.  My strategy was to identified the Goliath's of Uganda.  It was obvious that some of the prominent giants in the land were poverty, malaria and HIV, polygamy, witchcraft, corruption at every level, human sacrifice, unemployment, broken families, a fatherless nation, and the orphan spirit.  The voices of these giants tormented the whole nation and erased any hope for change.  That is the way it appeared.  But, I came preaching hope for change ... and faith in the next generation.  I saw them as the Davids of the day ... with the assignment of slaying these giants.

Fountain of Hope High School Campus
Armed with fresh courage and faith, Robert and Sarah, his wife of one month, set out for Bukeeka to plant a church that would preach the gospel of the Kingdom and the superiority of Jesus Christ.  Sarah was the lone member of a congregation that Robert would preach to for 8 months!  During those months curses were put on him; he was chased with machetes; and a bounty of $2,500 was put on his head at the mosque.

But it's good to know where you have been so that you know where you are going. Robert contextualized the good news of Jesus by offering a superiority education for the children of Bukeeka.  He loved the children of the Muslims, who opposed this "born again."  And, soon, they came to love him.  Change began and arrived in a big way.

Beginning with just 7 students in 2005, Robert founded Fountain of Hope School.  Opposition continued. Some ladies once prepared to stone Robert and me.  The local chairman reported us to police and political leaders.  Those who cooperated with the school were threatened.

NGM Driver, Peter, with Robert on campus
But, where is Robert today?

First a look at the recent present.  Today Fountain of Hope is a full primary and secondary school with over 1,200 students enrolled.  It is the BEST performing school in the district.  The church congregation grew from Sarah to over 500.  Robert has planted 8 other churches as well.  He conducts a small bible college and dreams of a university.  He has led thousands of people to Christ and discipled and mentored dozens. Though unable to produce biological children, he and Sarah parent 18 children who had no family.

And ... where is Robert today?

Oklahoma Ranch with Don Neufeld
He was one of 10 scholarship students who are currently enrolled in the post graduate studies at Wheaton College in America, working on his Masters in Intercultural Studies.  A year ago, in November, he began competing against 430 applicants for one of these scholarships granted by the Billy Graham Foundation.  Tempted often to give up, he survived the cut and has now been a participating full time student for the past month.  Amazing ... really.  Absolutely amazing!

Robert's effective leadership is evident. Graduation from this course of study will be in December of 2015. The primary and secondary school continue to operate smoothly in his absence. The church is in the hands of capable leadership.  And, by the grace of God, Robert and Sarah will be able to see each other several times during the next 16 months.

While I was in Fairview, Oklahoma, the past ten days I was privileged to fly Robert from Chicago to Oklahoma City.   We shared life together during the past weekend.  He, and many of his friends from there, were delighted to reunite on this side of the world.  They celebrated the amazing privilege he has been given to study in America at one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the States.  Please feel free to contact Robert while he is in the States.  He would love to connect with you.
Sharing at Fairview MB Church

It has been an awesome 10 year relationship. And, this is where Robert is today!

Robert's contact:
Sityo Robert
Wheaton College
501 College Avenue CP 4366
Wheaton, IL  60178
Cell phone:   630-785-7023

Email Address:   sityo.robert@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. Paul this blog really touches my heart as we were privileged to meet Robert and Sarah when we were in Uganda and also host him in our home when he came to the states for a visit. We got to see the school and hear incredible stories about his life, some of which you mentioned here and many more which you wouldn't have room to write about here. You should write a book. (Really) I'm so happy he is enrolled at Wheaton College. I'm sure he will bless them every bit as much as they will bless him. Thank you dear Lord for sparing Roberts life so many times and please continue to Bless and strengthen him as he is faithful to answer your call upon his life. Thank you Paul and Pam and all associates of NGM for reaching out to the Robert's and countless others God has connected you with. We love you thank God for the ministry He has called you to and for the small way we can be involved. Thanks again for the Blog. Love you. Go Robert !!!!

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  2. Wow! What an exciting opportunity for Robert and Sarah! Thanks for sharing Paul.

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