There was something spiritually poetic about this morning’s prayer time before Church in Fitzroy. It was not lost on me.
We were sitting in the Onialeku Room, in Fitzroy, our Church in South Belfast. We were gathered to pray for a trip to Onialeku, a Primary School in Arua town in West Nile, right up on the north west corner of Uganda, less than 10 miles from Congo and just around 40 south of South Sudan.
In a room here praying for a school, with the same name, there. The connection was tangible.
The back story is that a wonderful leader in that impoverished community by the name of Bishop Isaac had a dream for the children running around his Church. He longed that they might have an education and started a makeshift school.
A little after he got a school started, thousands of miles away, we in Fitzroy were extending our Church halls. Though the changes in our halls were very much overdue, and desperately needed, we did not want to be self-indulgent and came up with an idea to tithe our fund raising and do something for education in a Lesser Economically Developed Country.
Investigation and prayer led us to Fields Of Life who linked us with Bishop Isaac’s dream. In 2015 we took our first team to Onialeku to be part of the school building opening.
In a few weeks we will take our fourth trip. There are 24 in the 2018 team, a wonderful mix of youth and experience. We will be doing Bible Clubs, Christianity Explored, Sexual and Health education, craft classes, guitar lessons, and some sport.
The most wonderful thing is that though only 24 are actually travelling to West Nile, the entire Church are weighing in behind the project. Almost 60 children are sponsored by Fitzroy and money as well as resources are pouring in for this trip.
All of this ends up in relationship, in partnership and in mutual learning. I will blog more about the impact of the partnership on Fitzroy this week. In Onialeku we are keen to see a school with quality education, preparing Ugandan children to take their place in the development of their nation.
We have questions to ask though. It seems vital that we make the school sustainable without us. There are many gifted people working hard on that, on the ground in Onialeku. Bishop Isaac sadly passed away a year after we opened the school. He was a gifted and visionary leader, however, and has left leaders to take up the role. We are very keen that this would be a partnership.
So, this morning, in the Onialeku Room, the miles between us disappeared as I could see in the school playground, under the mango tree, the pastors and teachers and children. We prayed for them as we prayed for ourselves and looked forward excitedly together again in just a few weeks time.