Buvuma Islands Ministries in Uganda
Could you live without electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, cable, or reliable cell phone service? If not, would you be willing to ride on a small wooden boat for two hours across a contaminated lake to minister to those living in such a remote place?
Missionaries and pastors serving with World Gospel Mission and Africa Gospel Church Uganda have been saying yes to the people on the Buvuma Islands in Uganda since 2001. With the Lord’s help and blessings, churches have been started, a school was founded, and community-based healthcare programs were established.
The Buvuma Islands are a chain of over 50 islands in Lake Victoria. They are very remote and isolated from the rest of Uganda. The largest island, Buvuma Island, is located about 55 miles east of the capital city of Kampala and is home to roughly 20,000 people. Those on the island survive as fishermen, subsistence farmers, or tree cutters who sell timber for charcoal production.
Today, WGM and AGC Uganda are helping people on the Buvuma Islands discover God’s love through a variety of ministries.
Church Planting and Evangelism
Since 2001, 14 AGC churches have been planted on Buvuma Island, and six additional churches are located on the shores of the mainland that fall in the Buvuma Islands district. Missionaries and Ugandan church leaders make regular visits to the churches to encourage them in the work they are doing and to assess the possibilities of planting more churches on the islands.
“The churches are out in the sticks,” shared missionaries John and Beth Muehleisen after they led a children’s ministry outreach on the islands. “There is no electricity, maybe a few small solar panels here and there. There is no running water, except what runs out of a bucket you carried up from the lake. There is no plumbing, because you don’t need plumbing if you don’t have running water. Most of the churches are in villages of 100 or 200 people living in mud huts with thatched grass roofs. Picture what you think an African village looked like 50 years ago, or if you remember an old Tarzan movie, and that’s what they still look like today on Buvuma.
“We rode out on cattle paths on motorcycles, and kids came for a program of singing, games, Bible stories, and health stories. And the children came, and they came, and they came. There were over 1,100 children and 300 to 400 adults in mud-walled, dirt-floored churches that normally seat about 70. So, we just moved outside under the mango trees. We saw a lot of kids come to the Lord, and the local pastors and church people are following up with these kids and their families.”
WGM and AGC Uganda work together closely to train and develop church leaders, pastors, evangelists, and other Christian workers. The Buvuma Islands house one of the many pastoral training centers that WGM operates throughout Uganda. Pastors and potential pastors come for training a few days each month and then return to their homes and ministries. This approach enables faithful workers to stay involved in ministry while they train and keeps the training focused on practical challenges and issues the leaders face. Many local church members currently in the pastoral training program will be expected to plant a church or start a preaching point that can develop into a church in the future.
Community Health and Development
From the beginning of WGM’s ministry in Uganda, finding practical ways to demonstrate God’s love and compassion has gone hand in hand with sharing the message of His love. The community health and development program is improving lives on the Buvuma Islands in dramatic ways as people are taught disease prevention, sanitation, and other important health initiatives. Health workers are also trained to share the gospel with those they serve.
Community health educators work with individual villages to gain awareness of their major health needs and to empower the villagers through training and networking with resource providers to help the communities take ownership of their own futures. On the Buvuma Islands, training includes immunizations, prenatal care, HIV/AIDs education and prevention, malaria prevention and treatment, water-borne disease prevention, and clean water projects. Since medical care is very limited on the islands, healthcare workers are also training local birth attendants to assist women with labor and delivery.
“We met the community health director, and she talked to us about how she teaches people to be more mindful of basic health, which Americans take for granted,” stated Jean, a former Volunteers In Action participant in Uganda. “It’s amazing to me the simple things, like where not to use the bathroom and to boil brown water before drinking it, that we learned early in life that she must teach the elders in this community. Even while walking down the dirt paths in the villages, kids were constantly grabbing at my hands. While it was touching in a sense to feel so wanted, it showed their great need and longing to be loved. It was made clear to me that the school there has a great opportunity not only to love these children but also to show Christ to them.”
Orphan Assistance and Education
Kikongo Primary School was started in 2003 with the purpose of providing a quality primary school education in a Christian atmosphere. Nearly 300 children, including around 170 orphans, attend the American equivalent of first through seventh grades. However, since many of the children have not been able to attend school, their ages range from 5 to 15. Of the 170 orphans at the school, 140 are supported through the school’s orphan scholarship program. For just $12 per month ($144 per year), you can cover the cost of a child’s tuition, textbooks, supplies, uniform, and daily hot lunch.
“As our group approached the island, we could hear the children and see them waving to us,” began Karli, a former VIA participant. “When our canoe reached the shore, the children immediately wanted to hold our hands. Some of them took my hand and just touched my skin, realizing that it did not look the same but it felt the same. These children had ripped, dirt-stained clothes, and most were not wearing shoes. Unfortunately, these children were not dressed as well as the children who were inside the school campus. I thought about how, in America, all kids have to go to school and how much I hated that sometimes. The kids standing outside the gate [of the school] dreamed of being in school. Sponsorship is not only clothing the children, but it is allowing them the opportunity for an education. My heart broke for all the children I saw on the island, especially the ones not in school.”
GIVE: For just $12 per month ($144 per year), you can cover the cost of a child’s tuition, textbooks, supplies, uniform, and daily hot lunch at Kikongo Primary School on Buvuma Island. Make checks payable to World Gospel Mission and write account #23340 on the memo line. Send check donations to:
World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948
MORE: Learn more about Buvuma Islands Ministries in Uganda.
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