Saturday, October 15, 2016

From Crazy To Christ

Ugandans sharing drugs with one another
It's a term that was unfamiliar to me.

He ran mad.

No ... he wasn't a runner who was very angry.

A couple of clicks on my laptop uncovered some sad and scary synonyms:

... insane, mentally ill, certifiable, deranged, demented, of unsound mind, out of one's mind, not in one's right mind, sick in the head, crazed, lunatic, non compos mentis, unhinged, disturbed, raving, psychotic, psychopathic, mad as a hatter, mad as a March hare ...

So ... that's what he was communicating to me.  Not once.  Not just twice.  He told me he had ran mad three times in the past 7 years.

He has become a good friend and brother of mine.  His name is Kitaka (chi-ta'-caw) Joel.  He proudly told me that his surname means "soil."  Hmmm.

Surgical repair was done without anesthetic
His addiction began when he was 16 and landed him in the hospital three times because his drug use drove him mad.  And, why wouldn't it.  Marijuana was his first drug, but the doorway to any and all drugs available here in Uganda.  Including shisha from Sudan. The locals here, at least those who are non-users, tell me, "It's bad.  Really bad."

The first time Joel went mad and out of his mind he grabbed a knife with his left hand and stabbed himself in the right wrist with a laceration of over 3 inches.  When taken to the hospital, the doctor told him, "since you are a drug user, we will sow it up with nothing to deaden the pain."

Joel Kitaka living at my house
Joel tells me when a person goes mad he will do things of which they are unaware and endangered their life.  He used to walk back and forth across the highway in Mbiiko with no regard for the trailers, trucks, taxis, and cars that have little and no regard for pedestrians in this African culture.

The good thing is that Joel had parents who loved him.  The second time Joel went mad was Christmas Eve in 2015.  He was taken to the hospital again where he was sedated for two days.  The day after Christmas he came back to his senses.

During these episodes of madness Joel would terrorize his family with violence and unpredictable mood swings.  Not long after his Christmas holiday madness, Joel went mad again, in January of this year, and was admitted to the hospital where he remained for two months.

While Joel was in the alcohol and drug unit of the hospital he attended sessions on Tuesdays that talked about the nature of these addictions.  Joel came to believe that he was responsible for his own life and made the choice never to do drugs again.

WOW!  Over 20 pounds of pork!
While a drug user, Joel would spend his waking hours with his friends, sharing drugs with them. He only came home late at night to sleep.  After he left the hospital earlier this year he ended those relationships and began spending time with his family.

I visited Joel's parents church last Spring because I was invited to preach, I also shared about the opportunity of the ONE STEP Course. When Joel heard about it, he immediately wanted to enrolled. However, he waited to know if his parents wanted him to attend.  While his parents offered to pay for driving instructions for Joel, he opted for One Step and his father gave him the registration money.

Joel with his mother, Susan, and father, George
Joel is now in the course and couldn't be a happier guy.  Everyday is a day of learning life skills.  Joel is grateful for the new understanding of his identity in Christ.  He has a new circle of friends in the others who are enrolled in One Step.

We decided that, after four weeks of steady progress in Joel, we would invite his parents to observe first hand the change in their son.  After they were invited, they secretly wondered what kind of problems there son was causing to be invited to the "campus."  Instead, Joel was helping Mama Pam form a menu that he and his family would enjoy.  When Mom agreed to roast pork for Joel he was ecstatic!

After sharing Joel's delightful dinner, the One Step enrollees each told Joel something that they really appreciated about him.  His parents sat stunned. Following this amazing affirmation of the good qualities observed in Joel, his parents confessed that they have never seen this smile that everyone here loves.  In fact, his father said that he couldn't remember the last time that Joel had given him a hug, just as he had when his father arrived.

To end the evening of celebrating the work of God's grace in Joel's life, several of the enrollees spoke words of life to Joel ... which his mother carefully wrote down.  After thanking God for this dramatic change in Joel, there were prayers offered over him and his life ... which he is now living abundantly.

This is just one story from the first month of this pioneer, intercultural, mentoring effort of Next Generation Ministries.  But, there are many more to tell. Joel is planning to be a part of the short term mission the team will be taking to Tanzania on November 1st.  We continue to trust the Lord for the finances that will allow us to go and give away what God has given us.

If you would like to be apart of this short term mission experience with us, please click this link for Tanzania Mission 2016.


  1. Thank you for Joel's story, Praising God for what He is doing for Joel and others through you and your team.


Please share your comments here.