Changing a nation one person at a time

Published on: 1 July 2017

Stoke Holy Cross Church is a small rural church in South Norfolk. When our vicar, Rob Baker, initially introduced the idea of twinning with a rural church in Uganda, through the New Wine and Tearfund Change a Nation initiative, we felt it gave us a fantastic opportunity to be directly connected to a Ugandan village and help to change peoples’ lives.

The thinking and praying behind this was that the money would be used to fund a person to work with the church to train people using biblical principles, not only to believe in Jesus with their heads but to be ‘whole life disciples’ – making use of the skills and resources God had given them to bless the whole community.

Three years ago, we started sponsoring Pastor Robert and his congregation at the Okunguro Church; we committed ourselves to raise £3,000 a year for three years. This seemed like a huge mountain to climb in the beginning but by breaking it into three amounts of £1,000 a year, it seemed much more achievable. £1,000 was committed by the PCC from the church’s income (as we already donated money to charities); we felt that £1,000 could be raised by individuals giving monthly amounts of around £15 a month, with the final £1,000 to be achieved by fundraising.

The aim was always for the whole church community to be involved. Our children wrote letters to the children in Okunguro. We made display boards about Okunguro and regularly updated everyone on how we were doing. We often had tables of craft goods, cards and jam for sale in the church and one homegroup’s members committed to giving £1 each time they met.

Through our various efforts, we raised the first two years’ target and then, towards the end of 2016, we put in a really big effort to raise the final amount of money needed by holding a Christmas craft fair and coffee morning. Cakes were baked by people of all ages, crafts made by others and the event was well attended by young and old. It was very much a joint effort by the whole church community and raised over £600, which was widely celebrated. Shortly after this, Tearfund told us we had completed our task.

“We were inspired by the participatory approach. Looking at the gifts God has given me: the provision and ability that I can use for the benefit of my family or community; for my fellow man. That approach could be well-applied in Stoke Holy Cross, were our community are as open to faith as they are in Uganda!”

We were inspired by the participatory approach. Looking at the gifts God has given me: the provision and ability that I can use for the benefit of my family or community; for my fellow-man. That approach could be equally well-applied in Stoke Holy Cross.

Playing a part in changing lives in a rural village in Uganda has been a huge encouragement to us all. Although this project has come to an end, we shall certainly be continuing to look to support other initiatives beyond our borders.

Written by Henry and Eostre Caswell

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