Why Delay?

In August of 2022, I was fortunate to be able to participate in a short-term medical mission on the mountain slopes of Western Uganda. The scenery was breathtaking, the village people beautiful, and the lack of medical resources was deplorable. My compassionate daughter, Rebecca Hunter, Director of SOZO Dream Foundation, was sponsoring medical missions in remote villages and it was the first time her mother and I had the opportunity to volunteer and assist in the effort.

Though I am not a medical person, any time you put me in proximity to people I will be in my element. Meeting people I have never met before is a joy to me. Consequently, I found myself swimming in a sea of relational opportunity.

On the weekend, between treks into remote villages to administer compassionate and competent medical care, Rebecca organized a one-day conference for medical students at Kampala International University Medical School (KIU). It never matters to me if a crowd is small or large as long as there is an opportunity to share some wisdom God has deposited in me. And, amidst those in any given group of people, I have trained my spiritual eyes to look for that one or two people God has prepared for transformation. After all, one of the bylines of Next Generation Ministries that defines us is "a river of relationships connecting resources to needs." The role God has given me is to be a spiritual conduit. I like to think I am a spiritual midwife whom God places near those He is going to redeem. I simply catch the spiritual baby to whom He is giving birth.

Deep down in the village a son was born on the 29th of September of 2002 to Alice and Francis, small-scale farmers. They were very poor. They didn't own land. They were given about a half acre of land where the family resided in a three-room mud house. They farmed the land around this house. Preceding their son were seven other children. It was a constant struggle for the ten of them to survive.

There was no direction for life throughout this young man's childhood. It was simply a life of survival. Because it was the cheapest place to attend, Lauben was enrolled in a local Christian government school. He attended this school for four years though the standard of education was not high. There was a private school two kilometers away. One of the cooks in that school took an interest in Lauben and allowed the school to use part of his salary to pay the school fees for Lauben. Because the standard of education was much higher than Lauben's beginning in school, he was put back one year. Even though he was in third grade, when asked what a circle was, Lauben had no answer.

Despite this humble educational beginning, Lauben was a very bright student. Given this new opportunity, he performed very well throughout the rest of his primary education as well as his secondary education. When he took the national test to graduate from primary school he scored the highest grade possible. But paying for school fees, like every student must do in Uganda, was not easy. Lauben's dad moved to Kampala to look for a better job while his mother begged the school to grant her mercy as she worked and looked for resources to pay her son's school fees.

Still, it never occurred to Lauben to dream about a career in medicine. It was only when COVID-19 paralyzed the entire world that Lauben began to consider the value of medicine. However, given the extremely limited financial resources of his family, it seemed an impossibility for Lauben to have an ambition of becoming a medical professional.

In the goodness of God, He provided a friend who was working in a nearby clinic. This friend investigated the possibility of helping Lauben gain admission to KIU Medical School. Unfortunately, though he was granted admission, the scholarship he hoped for didn't come through and he was required to pay full tuition before he could start classes ... which he did not have.

While waiting to see if a scholarship would one day be granted for Lauben, his friend invited him to come to the clinic where he worked to assist him ... though Lauben did not have the necessary qualifications. The owner of the clinic confronted Lauben because he was not qualified to work there. But, rather than dismiss him, the owner observed that he was humble, hard-working, and of good character so he allowed him to remain working in the clinic.

Lauben saved money from that job and again applied for a scholarship to pay half tuition. By the grace of God, he was granted the scholarship and entered classes in January 2022.  Every semester since then has been a challenging struggle to pay tuition. As I sit across the table from Lauben writing these words, he is not in school to finish his last semester and become a certified nurse.

But ... enough of the sad story! Let's cut to the best part of Lauben's lifetime story. He attended the one-day conference I mentioned earlier and during a break came and conversed with Pam and me. It wasn't long before I asked Lauben if he had ever given his life to Christ. He said, "No, but I want to someday." Pam responded, "Someday? If you plan on it someday, why not today?" He had no answer. I gave him my Facebook contact and invited him to become my friend. Later that evening, he sent me a message on a friend's phone, because he didn't have a smartphone, saying he had given his life to Christ.

Since that day ... Lauben in Uganda and me in America ... have become dear friends and brothers in Christ. I am amazed at his spiritual growth and the passion he has for Jesus to be the Lord of his life. Lauben is now in Jinja for a few short days. He has become a friend of Next Generation Ministries and SOZO Dream Foundation.

This is the work that we do. Our simple goal is to change Uganda one person at a time. This change cannot happen without the transforming work of God's grace in the individual. Our relationship with them opens the opportunity to equip, encourage, and empower them as they discover their identity in Christ. This is the work of NGM ... connecting individuals to Christ and assisting them in their spiritual development to embrace the work God has given them.

Lauben is the first recipient of a scholarship granted through the recently established SOZO Scholarship Fund for medical students. This scholarship will pay all his educational expenses through graduation! 

I am so grateful that Lauben did not delay in giving his life to Jesus back in August of 2022. His life will never be the same!