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The Ik TIMO (Training in Ministry Outreach) team has been living on the Ik ridge for over a year. Lucy Profitt updates us.
The Ik are a fairly small people group living in a fertile and mountainous area of northeast Uganda. They grow their own food: maize, sorghum, millet, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes and various green leafy vegetables. They are used to much more physical labour, but a slower pace of life, than most of us in the west. They are very creative with the resources they have, managing to live with much less than what we feel we need.
“Pray that the Ik would understand and live out the gospel…”
For most of the Ik, access to good education and healthcare is very limited. Literacy levels are very low and many children are malnourished. Sadly, many people spend their very limited income on alcoholic drink, which can be very destructive.
Our team started living among the Ik in October 2016. Some of us found that we were very quickly accepted into the lives of the Ik living near us. For others, the process has been more gradual. Some of the challenges include language, being at different life stages and having different values, and our lack of experience in the daily physical activities of the Ik (such as harvesting, grinding, chopping and carrying wood, fetching water, digging fields etc).
Crossing the Nile
Uganda is a country divided by one of Earth’s great landmarks: the Nile river. Baguma Britone was born and raised there, in the city of Hoima – west of the Nile. In a country where people groups are not often concerned for the wellbeing of their neighbouring peoples, Britone felt God’s call to mission. Whilst at Bible college he had the opportunity to go on a short term trip to the Ik. That experience has led to Britone going against the flow and crossing the Nile with the good news. God has given him a burden to share the gospel with the Ik and be involved in discipling them.
To see an African missionary sent by his home congregation is an answer to prayer, and AIM hopes to encourage the local church to continue doing so. Perhaps Britone’s words say it best: “God commands us all to go. It’s the Great Commission, for you and me, to reach out to people and to take the gospel. Many times, people reduce it to a call to just special people, but it is for everyone. We are all called to go.”
Many of the Ik have heard about Jesus and know some Bible stories, but they do not necessarily understand what Christ has done for us and the implications for our lives. Many may think of themselves as Christians, but still consult a traditional healer or witchdoctor and would consider sacrificing a chicken to appease evil spirits if someone is unwell.
Only Mark, Ruth and parts of Genesis have been drafted in the Ik language (Icetod). Our team is working on crafting Bible stories and translating them. We hope to tell, or facilitate others telling, these stories and encourage people to remember and retell them. We also plan to ask questions about the stories, to help the Ik discover the truths about God and ourselves and to think about how knowing these things should impact our lives.
We plan to share Bible stories informally with those we spend time with outside our homes and in the nearby villages. But as well, we hope to share them when we’re teaching the village health team (health stories and Bible stories), through Christian Religious Education lessons and after school ministry, Sunday school and coming alongside Sunday school teachers, and in Bible studies with men and in women’s groups (including health education).
Pray that the Ik would understand and live out the gospel, becoming a light on the mountains, shining the hope of Jesus to the surrounding peoples.