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Ugandan Neighbors

During our annual staff retreat in June 2023, we reckoned with the fact that we are each other’s neighbours. Jesus causes us to recognise the needs of others and the call to be a neighbour irrespective of the differences in ethnicity, location, and other social factors. 

We experienced a bounty crop harvest ranging from fruits, vegetables and cereals for March to June 2023.  Of course we planted early enough taking advantage of the rains. The support team in the gardens were extremely helpful,  enabling the crops to grow with maximum care against aphids in vegetables, fruit flies in mangoes, weeds and army fall worms in the maize crop. 

We had just finished our late Sunday afternoon lunch when one of our household members visited the old lady in the neighbourhood. She had been sick without our knowledge for a week or so in her house of 8 by 9 feet. She is a Rwandese refugee from the 1955 ethnic clash between the Tsusi and Hutu origins. She has stayed in her house alone for the last 5 years with no close relative known to us. She was dizzy, anaemic, dehydrated, emaciated and hungry. Her voice was faint and fading. We dispatched a rescue team including my wife. 

It was a real testimony of God’s faithfulness amidst times of trouble and need.

The old lady was given food and a drink. No medication except care and food. The house was cleaned and disinfected of the infestation of the bedbugs, fleas, and dust. Because of the fumigation, we argued with the old lady to come with us home. The purpose was to give more care and watch the progress as she continued taking fluids and food. My wife nursed her. After 5 days she was ready to get back into her house happy and rejoicing in the Lord. She tells every passerby the story of her whereabouts for the five days she stayed away from her house.

How could we have had enough food and yet our neighbour did not even have the bare minimum of the basic needs for life? No warm beddings for a decent night's rest. Not even five litres of water in the house, no firewood to boil water for tea resulting in no energy to help herself in any way possible.

Living justly and walking humbly with God? Never had I ever experienced this encounter of pain that our neighbour was in such a state, and we were not cognisant of their needs. God - open our eyes that we may recognise the refugee neighbour and immediate neighbour all the time. 

While she pondered why none of her church congregation members ever visited her, or even recognised that she was away from home for 5 days, it was a real testimony of God’s faithfulness amidst times of trouble and need. How about the role of neighbourhood in our stead? 

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25:39-41

The gospel of Jesus Christ demonstrates acts of love break down all barriers, penetrates boundaries and melts down social differences. We noticed living out justice through being available to be present in someone’s situation to provide care and support.

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