New Life Academy
The turbulent mood has calmed in Kampala and other areas in Uganda (see previous newsletter)and on Saturday, November 26, 2005, New Life Academy celebrated "Speech Day," in closing of its very first school year. The town of Luweero never saw such a Speech Day, as the school hired an Army band to lead a parade of students, teachers and guests through Luweero, then 2 km out to the school's location in Nakazzi village. The town and village residents ran out to see the excitement and many children joined in, marching in ragged accompaniment.
Traditionally, Speech Day is a big event where the students celebrate the ending of the school year by each grade singing songs they've worked hard to learn, both in Luganda and English, sometimes in other languages. The Head Master gives a report of the achievements of the school, teachers are introduced, and guest speakers give talks. In typical African fashion, the celebration goes on for the whole day. The school was packed out with parents and other family members, the Army band of about 30 men from the Bombo Military Base, visitors from Kampala Foursquare Church, and guests George and Linda Hensen from Mt. Vernon, WA, USA. A Luweero vendor even took advantage of the festivities to bring his cart and sell cold water and sweet treats.
The day's activities started with a few delays, so by the time the parade started, the temperature was in the mid-nineties, but the sweating didn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm! Most of the children had put on shoes in honor of the day, to look nice with their uniforms of two-tone green. But it didn't take long for those tough little feet to begin complaining of their confinement, and soon we began to see kids falling out, taking off their shoes, then regaining their places in the march. The next thing was the littlest of the kids began to cry and lag behind, so they were picked up and put in the back of a pickup truck to ride the remainder of the parade. Three vehicles followed at the rear of the parade, carrying visitors and tired kids.
Pastor David Kasule and his wife Kate, who founded the New Life Kids Club to assist orphans to get an education, and the New Life Academy, were the happiest I've ever seen them. The didn't just march in the parade, they bounced! It was the proud and happy conclusion to a long, hard year, where we weren't always sure that our school was going to survive. The bridge between dream and fulfillment seemed impossible to cross at times. Corruption destroyed our second school, and nearly destroyed New Life Academy before being remedied.
In February 2006 when the new school year begins, we plan to start another small school in Kabanyi village, as an outreach of Pastor Ezira Matua's Kabanyi Foursquare Church. It will include preschool, kindergarten, and grades one through three. During 2005 New Life Academy has disciplined itself, in spite of its financial difficulties, to pay a tithe of its income towards helping Ezira get started. With that money, a temporary pole and roof structure has been erected on land that was donated to Ezira's church several years ago. His church is now worshipping there, while awaiting the construction of a new church building on the same land. The combination of the pole structure and the new church will provide housing for the new Kabanyi Foursquare Primary School. The church construction will start within the next week or so. Then as the new school begins to generate income, it also will find a place to begin tithing to the Lord by giving a tenth of its income to yet another ministry.
New Life Academy is resuming the building of a temporary new school structure that was started last spring. This week the school has hired inmates from the local prison to clear and till the land around the construction site so that as soon as rains start again (March) maize and other vegetables will be planted for the school. This will save the school considerable money, as the students and teachers must be fed during the day. This garden will eventually become an agriculture project for the students.
Pray for our schools as we seek to increase the standard of Christian education in our communities, as well as outreaching to families and to orphans. While many people are happy with what we're doing, others view it through eyes of jealousy or competition. So prayers for the safety of leadership and children are necessary. In Pastor Ezira's village, the area is dominated by witchcraft and by one certain church which has already built 2 schools and 2 churches in this small area in order to keep all the children within their own ranks. Just this week a teenaged boy who's been in Ezira's church for several years was threatened by members of this other church, who, combined with village government leadership, to try to scare him away. He was told if he continued to attend Ezira's church that he will be beaten and thrown in prison. He (and other threatened children) came to church on Sunday, and Ezira ministered to them, as they vowed to stay with Jesus and attend Ezira's church, even if they die.
In David's church, a young former Muslim man who accepted Jesus as his Savior, is attending faithfully. He reports his parents have cut off his school fees, which will force him to drop out of school, and other family members are putting curses on him, all to try to force him back to Islam. He was saved during our recent SEVO training conference, and testified at that conference (which includes many Muslims) that he was getting saved because Islam has not met his needs. He is determined to be a strong Christian even if it means giving up all he owns and dropping out of school. We are encouraging him that Jesus will protect him and make a way for him.
Two of our orphans, James Mutebi and Robert Wasswa, are within a year of finishing their teaching degrees. James is studying at Makerere University in Kampala, and Robert is at a teachers college in Mubende, in western Uganda. Both are eager to come on staff and work with our schools. James is already functioning as New Life Academy's head teacher. Parents at New Life Academy were happy to see these early fruits of this ministry. A Luganda proverb says: "Emiiti emitto gyegigumiza ekibira." That means, "It's the small trees that make the forest thick."