Living among the Karimojong

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The Shepherd family, along with Ruth Mahood and Bruce & Christine Turner, have recently started serving as a team in Kotido, living and working among the Karimojong people.

Kotido is a hot and dusty town in the north of Karamoja – a place where most Ugandans we spoke to said, “Why on earth are you going to that place?” It was a good opportunity to share the gospel with those who asked, but not very encouraging! Praise God, though, we have really enjoyed our first couple of months here (although it is very hot and very dusty!). People have been very welcoming and enjoy laughing at our feeble attempts at Ng’Karamajong. We are also thanking God that the children have settled in so well and have made friends.

Sharing the Word of God

Amuk John Bosco is one of the church workers whom we have recently been spending time with. His job is to reach out to the few rural congregations in the manyattas surrounding Kotido and encourage both the leaders (if they have them) and the congregations themselves. We have had the pleasure of joining him on a few of these trips. He became a Christian because some women living near him had been given a Bible. The women couldn’t read, so they asked Amuk to read God’s word to them. He has continued doing this in his work. He travels to manyattas where between 10 and 20 adults, usually mostly women, join him under a tree and Amuk reads the Bible to them and explains what it is saying. Praise God with us for Amuk, and please pray for more passionate local workers like him.

Learning, learning, learning!

Our days are currently filled with learning. Esme is learning a lot in homeschool, we are learning how to function as a family of five and cope with 35°C heat, and we are also learning about the people we live with and among. We are learning to speak Ng’Karamajong, which has been both humbling and very funny in equal measure. We have been learning that if we see something being done differently to how we would do it, it is not necessarily wrong, and there is usually a good reason behind it. We are learning that there are people in Kotido who have a real passion for the Lord, and are anxious to reach out to the rural Karimojong with the gospel, but lack the resources to do so. We have learnt that the reason that the Karimojong people are still unreached is that most of them don’t live in the town where there is a church, but in hard to reach manyattas (settlements or compounds), far from Kotido town. Most of the business owners and workers in town are from other places in Uganda. On top of all this learning, we are also processing all the information we have gained and are trying to make sense of it – sometimes successfully and sometimes not!

A desperate need for Jesus

One thing that has become clear to us is how much the Karimojong people need Jesus. Most of them are currently enslaved to ancestral worship and animal sacrifices. We – and the church teachers we are getting to know – long for them to be set free from this and for them to experience the freedom that comes in Christ Jesus. Please pray with us that the Karimojong would be released from this false worship and come to worship the true Messiah!

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