by James Colten
Don’t worry. I’m just kidding.
About the never coming back part. But in all seriousness, I’m going to Uganda in a little under 3 weeks. I leave Easter night and return a week later on Monday.
Great question. There are a lot of reasons why I’m going, but if I’m honest with myself, I think I’m a little bit crazy. When Caleb returned from Uganda the first time, he told me a story about a priest who lived in a slum. There are three things I remember clearly from his story:
The first is that the priest led Caleb through the slums of Kampala. This was his parish, these were his people.
Next, Caleb asked, “What can we do?” What can Western, American Christians do to help? I remember leaning in—this surely was the golden ticket to international development. A priest understands the appropriate balance between aid and ministry, so as to promote economic growth and development without creating cycles of dependency.
The priest, wise from many years of ministering to his city, said, “Tell them to come and see.” My first reaction was this: Do you know how much it costs to fly to Uganda from United States? Don’t you know there are a thousand better ways to use that money? Surely there is something—books, vaccines, school fees, micro-loans—that would be a more effective use of USD.
There is a boy named Herman who lives at Raising up Hope. I’ve helped him out with school fees since Caleb and Sonja first asked for sponsors. In his last letter he asked, “when are you coming to visit Uganda?”
Herman, don’t you know that the plane ticket alone could pay for two years of schooling? Isn’t your education more important?
In the same way that the priest’s words have stuck with me, so too has Herman’s question. He was really asking, “When can I show you where I live? When can I show you the school and the market?” and maybe even, “Do you actually want to get to know me?”
Isn’t that all we want? To be known and to be loved? To come and see and show and be?
There is a small part of me that hopes I come back new. Refreshed. As if Uganda is my Mecca, my Jerusalem, and this is a pilgrimage. Another part of me wants this trip to give me the energy and the heart to sustain my soul through the first two years of being a teacher in Washington, DC. And another, the chance to rub shoulders with two young men who are raising up hope in Uganda, so that I too may raise up hope in DC.
I do not know what is going to happen, but I know I will be blessed.
So why Uganda?
Someone has to break the news to Herman that his sponsor doesn’t actually know Obama.
If you are interested in supporting this journey beyond clicking, reading, and liking this post, check out this video I’ve recorded here.