Uganda Trip Highlights: Summer 2023
By Steph Elliott | June 16, 2023 | Return to Blog
This post is a compilation of highlights from the daily prayer updates sent out by GPPD team leader Steph during an amazing and spirit-filled trip to Uganda. We have been so encouraged and moved by the updates, personal stories and photos that we wanted to share them with the GPPD family.
Ministry Day 1
We started the day at World Shine Primary School. This school houses and educates about 700 children through sponsorships. We went to each class, sang songs, spoke from God's Word, and shared lots of hugs, smiles, and laughter.
Grace Collective Church donated money for over 100 Bibles to distribute while we are here. The first stop was with the P7 class. These children will go to High School next year. Pastor David encouraged them to be grounded in their faith and lean on the Word of God as they transition into a new chapter. Each child received a Bible.
Later, most of the team went to a piece of land used by the community for recreation to play Soccer with the kids. Pastor Phillip and Pastor David (along with our Ugandan team) played multiple games with the youth and young adults. Meanwhile, the ladies interacted with the kids and fans on the sidelines.
While the rest of the team played soccer, Pastor Mark held a marriage seminar/Q&A for 51 people in this village. He taught God's design for marriage and how to flee from corrupting it. He challenged them to intentionally love their spouse and appreciate them as the unique person God created them to be.
Ministry Day 2
"Every minute we have here on this field in this beautiful country is a gift from God. Playing here is God telling you that He loves you enough to give you this - but the greatest gift He gives us is Jesus. You can be the best football player in the world. But if you don't have Jesus, it won't matter." -Pastor Phillip, GCC
Most of the team started the day with High Schoolers for another round of soccer. (The rest of the team ran errands to prepare for the Pastor's Conference.) After a tough loss for the Americans (big surprise), Pastor Phillip gathered the students to share the Gospel and say see you later. It wasn't a goodbye because the Sportsmaster at the school requested we bring more teams to arrange volleyball and American football outreach events.
In the afternoon, we invited pastors to a conference. We weren't sure who would come, but God brought about 60 pastors, teachers, and church leaders to the compound to hear encouragement from the American pastors. Despite unsure expectations, God did mighty work under the tent today. The Ugandans began with traditional worship, our team followed with American worship, and then Pastors Phillip, David, and Mark encouraged the group from God's word. What happened next was nothing short of the Holy Spirit moving. As Pastor Mark demonstrated humility by washing the feet of his fellow American pastors, the Ugandans immediately came up to participate. This countercultural moment shocked us. To quote Misty, “it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.”
Ministry Day 3
You said you have been to Uganda many times. This time you can stay. I have many rooms in my home” -Reverend Jonah
At Sarah's home church, Pastor Phillip preached, we worshiped through their traditional songs, and also shared our English worship style. At the end of service, Grace Collective distributed Bibles they donated. We distributed clothes to the children at the church (donated by Straight Street) and ended with a HUGE distribution of 30 goats.
It was loud and chaotic but the families were so grateful to receive the gift. These goats are given through our Global Partners Gift Catalog and will help support families in poverty. Side note: one goat escaped and ran away. Our Ugandan partner named Ema and our three American pastors captured and returned a frustrated but unharmed goat! It was definitely a highlight of the day.
Home visits are something we regularly do on trips to the Middle East. This was new for me in Uganda, but it was by far the highlight of my day. Some people are disabled or too elderly to attend church, so we brought church to them. At one visit, an elderly woman told us she had a stroke 4 years ago. (Pictured with white scarf). Since then, she cannot walk or use her left arm. We walked into her home and found her sitting on the floor. After she sang praises to God, she said: “I loved to cook but I can't anymore because I can't walk or use my arm. My husband and grandchildren help me. They cook and move me where I need to go. I'm grateful to God because you are here to see me. Praise God and thank you, Jesus. Pray for Him to heal me.” After the visit, we worked out a way to provide a wheelchair for her! It will be a few weeks before she receives it because it must be purchased far away, but Jehovah Jireh provided and I can't imagine her joy when she finds out. Thank you, Jesus!
Ministry Day 4
When you come serve with us, we get to see our Ugandan people through the lens of someone who has never been here before. -Ema, ITGM
The Hadassah Project is a program where young girls are rescued from vulnerable circumstances. They were abandoned or orphaned and have no one to guide them. At Hadassah, they are taught Biblical truth and life skills. They learn cosmetology and sewing so they can earn a living while maintaining their dignity and respect.
“I was raised by a single mom. She woke early to teach children at school all day and then came home and served me well. She taught me what it looked like to follow Jesus. My mom us the perfect balance of strength and gentleness. This is what every young lady should strive for. -Pastor David, GCC (Pictured above speaking to the young ladies)
“What a man can do, let him do it. What a woman can do, let her do it at her best. We are not competing, we are cooperating. Hadassah (Queen Esther) was raised by Mordecai. It was their cooperation that allowed her to save her people.-Mercy
If this team learns anything about Uganda, it will be that there is an abundant supply of schools and soccer. So, in the afternoon, we split for school and soccer! I took a few people with me to a new (to me) school, two ladies went to a ladies meeting to show love to women and pray over them, and the rest played soccer in the evening.
Today in Uganda, Pastor Phillip and Anita celebrated 24 years of marriage! When they are introduced as husband and wife during our ministry visits, people erupt in cheers and laughter because it is so countercultural here to be faithfully married so long. After dinner, we celebrated their testimony of God's grace with cake and songs! Congrats, guys!
Ministry Day 5
"We have many diseases. Our children get sick often. We shared water with pigs and goats. We have never had a well like this before...This clean water is life." -Village Landlord
Water well dedications are one of our greatest joys at GPPD and ITGM. The village celebrates, the name of Jesus is spoken, the gospel is delivered, and God is praised for His faithfulness. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. We celebrate the goodness of God today. He is Jehovah Jireh - God who provides - and El Roi - God who sees. When you come to this well, give thanks to God with every pump because He sees you and provided water. This water is life. More than that, Jesus is life.” -Pastor Mark, RFBC
Later in the day, we got to distribute livestock gifts! The gift of an animal can change a person's life. Animals provide milk, eggs, and meat and yield consistent support as they produce offspring. These animals were given by gracious donors through our Gift Catalog. You can learn how to donate livestock HERE.
In the evening, we hosted a worship service for about 100 people. All three of our pastors shared God's Word. In the end, our team scattered across the lawn and welcomed people for individual prayer. We prayed for families, healing, depression, those who were upset with God, single mothers, teenagers, widows, and church leaders. During that, a few team members fitted children with new clothes.
Ministry Day 6
We rose early to see the sunrise and go on a hike. It was a beautiful thing to explore God's creation and see people who live way up in the mountains.
When we see the mountains, we think of God's power. We see His detail-oriented nature in how specific He was in forming creation. As beautiful as God's creation is, humans are His masterpiece. We were made in His image. It's shallow worship if we only look at the mountains and see God as so wonderful and then look at His people and see them as an inconvenience.” -Pastor David, GCC
Pastor David met a young man named Miracle at the pastor's conference a few days ago. Miracle also came to our worship service a few days later. Pastor David came to me with a burden because Miracle wanted to be a pastor but said he needed a Bible and to be baptized. I told David I could find a Bible, but the baptism was on him. : ) After some discussion, Miracle showed up the next day at 9:30am. We went to the creek where people drew water before the well was installed and Pastor David did his first baptism. We have unofficially named the creek "Miracle Creek."
We finished our trip with a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park. We went on a safari through the park and took a boat ride on the Kazinga Channel. We saw water buffalo, monkeys, impalas, hippos, elephants, and the tip of a lion hidden in a tree. As the tour guide described the animals, I thought of how intentional God was when creating them. Some of these animals were over 4,000 pounds - strong and powerful, but gentle and stately.
Thank you for joining us on the trip God planned. It has been a pleasure and joy to serve with this team and an encouragement knowing you were faithfully praying back home. After dinner tonight, our team prayed over the Uganda team and Misty (ITGM) as they continue the work on the ground. Tomorrow, we begin our 30+ hour journey back to the States.
In Closing, If you're interested in joining a GPPD trip overseas, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We take multiple trips a year and enjoy building new teams!
Living the Dream, Serving the King,
Global Partners in Peace and Development