Our primary school, New Life Academy, had 200 children last year when the Ministry of Defense ordered it closed for the construction of an Army barracks in that area. Half of those children were orphans, attending our school at no cost. Since the school’s closure, most of these orphans have been unable to attend any school, because their families don’t have school fees for them, to send them to other schools. God intervened with the Defense Ministry and plans for the barracks were moved elsewhere, so God willing, New Life Academy will reopen in February 2010.
One such orphan family is being raised by a lone grandmother, all of her adult children having died of AIDS. She has 5 orphans, ranging in age from 3 to 11. Their plight has been so difficult that several of us have used personal money to keep these little guys in school, and thanks to the kindness shown to her by that and by New Life Centre Church, the granny has come to see the love of Jesus in her hard world, and to accept Him as her Lord and Savior.
Last week, the 7 year old boy, Moses, became very ill. She took him to the local arm of the government hospital, where tests were run on him. He was running a high fever, vomiting blood and had a rough skin rash. Tests showed he had both congenital AIDS and malaria. In Africa, the only care given in a hospital is a bed and the medical care; a family member must be present to care for the patient, feeding them, doing laundry, bathing them. And they bring all their own bedding, clothes, food and necessities with them. The granny had no one else to help her with the children, so she took them all with her and Moses to the hospital, where they had nothing. She was using an old dress of her own to cover the mattress as a sheet, and they had no food. The nurses started an IV on Moses, but refused to give him any treatment until the granny would give them some money. They were there for 2 days like this, Moses rapidly deteriorating, when in desperation, Granny came looking for New Life Centre Pastor David Kasule for help.
David then came to me and shared the story. The poor old granny, new believer that she is, was cursing God, cursing the day she was born, seeing absolutely no point in her life. I let David take my car to rescue this little family and take Moses to a Christian mission hospital about 15 miles away. When David arrived at the government hospital to check them out, he found their building in darkness and the nurses verbally abusing all the patients and their families, trying to get money for the kerosene lamps.
At the Christian hospital, doctors and nurses fought all night for Moses’ life. He was unconscious, gasping for air, nearly all his red blood cells destroyed by the malaria. On the outside of this hospital is a large, wall-sized poster, stating, “We treat, Jesus heals.” Their treatment and everyone’s prayers succeeded in saving the life of little Moses that night. I saw Pastor David’s face beaming yesterday when Granny called him, and then let Moses talk to him on the phone, saying he’s been discharged!
This hospital accepts payment upon discharge. Moses’ total bill for 5 days of treatment, including blood transfusions, was $42. And yet for want of that small amount of money, Moses would've been allowed to die without a Christian hospital to love and nurture him back to life.
This week Hannington Sseruga (SEVO), David Kasule (New Life Centre/New Life Academy) and I are attending a 36 hour Christian business seminar, put on by a Ugandan ministry called Hope Education Network. It’s called “Business Without Regrets.” In this biblically based seminar, badly needed ethics and values are taught to those in the business world. Business is defined as ministry: Finding a need in the community and fulfilling it. Something that stood out to me, as we were making arrangements to attend, was the comment that they teach that making money is not the bottom line in Christian business ~ ministry is. Making money is a byproduct of ministry for Jesus.
This does not mean we go into ministry to make money, as many do. That is not ministry. Both SEVO and Christian Bible Study Centre (the umbrella name of our New Life Centre ministries) must be businesses in order to not be dependent upon outside donations. As we live in a decaying world that is denying the reality of Jesus, as well as rejecting morals and values, we are seeing more and more the grasping and greed for both power and money, both a false security. Caring for our fellow man gets lost in the rush, hearts get hardened. I witnessed the beginnings of this in my experience in the medical field when the administrator of the Catholic facility I was working in, died. As long as she, a nun, was heading that facility, the patient was king. But she was replaced by a businessman and after that, the dollar became king, and patient care deteriorated.
In the lesser developed countries of the world, this greed is more unconcealed, unashamed, because even law enforcement is also so subject to it. So the people have no protection, little recourse to corruption and bribery. I’m told that corruption causes more death in Africa than the four major infectious diseases totaled together. Moses and his granny were but one example of such victims.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. (I Timothy 6:6-12a)