Uganda (MNN) — God is doing some really cool stuff in Uganda. Through Africa Inland Mission, God is changing the hearts of people toward children with disabilities.
Julie, a long-term missionary with AIM, is heavily involved in this work. “I had the privilege of being born into AIM,” she says. She’s also a 5th-generation missionary with AIM: her great, great-grandma was a missionary in Kenya.
Julie has a passion for showing children with disabilities that they are an important part of the Body of Christ.
In some areas of the world, including places in Uganda, there is a misunderstanding toward children with disabilities.
“A lot of people think that people with disabilities have been cursed, or their parents have been cursed, or they’re demon-possessed, or they’re just seen as a real shame in society for the most part,” Julie explains, reminding us that not everyone in Uganda thinks this way. However, in places where witchcraft is practiced, adopting the belief that children with disabilities are cursed is a natural tendency.
“Because of that, a lot of times they are not treated very well because there’s an element of shame involved,” Julie says. “Kids with disabilities–I’ve seen them tied, I’ve seen them locked in rooms. Often they’re the last ones who are clothed or fed.”
Julie believes that communities and families who do this aren’t really sure what else to do with the children. “They are ashamed of them and they don’t understand the biblical truth of who they are in the Kingdom of God.”
A place for change
In Kampala, there is a government school called Kireka Home. It is a safe place for children with mental disabilities and other disabilities to grow and learn, and most importantly, a place to be loved.
There are about 80 students at this boarding school from all over the country–some even coming from other countries because services like this are rare.
The school helps students with their education and daily life skills that will help them when they become adults.
Julie notes that there are other places in Uganda where programs like this are being started. The attitude is starting to change.
So, how exactly does Kireka Home help kids? It starts with letting them be children.
Julie says, “I think one of the big things that often shocks onlookers is that these kids can have fun. They’re happy, and they interact with each other. It just helps people start to see that they are people, just like we are, and can learn and have fun and interact with each other.”
A second way the school helps disabled kids is by teaching the families and communities of these children who they really are.
Julie says it’s rewarding to help the adults figure out a more biblical understanding of who these kids are: “whether it’s at Kireka Home or in churches around the country or different schools that are working with these kid.s That they were made in the image of God is a big concept for them to grasp,” says Julie.
When the concept is grasped, it makes way for them to learn more about Jesus and His purpose for them. It also destroys the worldview of shame, giving both the families and their children a new sense of freedom, which Julie says is her favorite thing to see.
She says, “When you see a kid or a family or a community make that shift from being in total bondage and shame and fear, to being free, to being loving, to being joyful again and to not having that fear of the spiritual (the witchcraft piece of things), it is a beautiful thing to watch.”
Ways you can help
For this freedom to take place, there has to be a transformation in people’s hearts. Julie says without your prayer, the transformation won’t happen.
That’s where you come in. You can pray for the transformation of communities and families and children after they come to know Christ. You can pray for that freedom to come over children with disabilities and those taking care of them. You can pray that with that freedom, these people will share Christ with others.
Learn more about Kireka Home here.
If you’d like to help the development of programs like Kireka Home, you can give online. Click here and select the Other folder; then select subfolder Other4. When you get to the “Gift Comment” field, designate the gift to “Special Needs Development.”
If you’d like to send your gift in the mail, you can find the address here. In the same way, designate your gift for the “Special Needs Development” fund.
Julie reminds us that every member of the Body of Christ is needed to help it function correctly. That is why she wants to make sure that people with disabilities are included. She says, “One thing that I am just so excited and passionate about is helping the Body of Christ–the Church with a capital C–to be whole, to be complete.”