Following God’s Heart
Connected to prayer
This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in October 2018. You can download the October 2018 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.
After reading several missionary biographies, Paul & Helen Shepherd started to feel God’s heart for those with no opportunity of hearing and responding to the gospel. But it was not what they’d have said was ‘a call’…
God kept showing us his heart for the lost, so in faith we started to push doors regarding mission (often hoping he’d close them!). Yet doors did open and in 2012 we did a one year short-term assignment in western Uganda with AIM, along with our eight-month-old daughter. It was there we also realised that it is possible for each family member to not only survive but also thrive on the field.
Who are the Karimojong?
Karamoja, home to the Karimojong, is located in northeast Uganda. Until recently the Karimojong have been characterised by armed conflict, often stemming from cattle raiding. This has left unresolved animosity and the current ‘peace’ in the region is the result of a significant army presence. While many of the Karimojong will say that they are ‘Christian’, sadly this identification with Christ does not usually represent a transformed life. There are many factors that hinder the church in Karamoja from fully engaging in the Great Commission and have contributed to the Karimojong being categorised as an unreached people group. Doctrinally some churches seem focused on religion or prosperity, and the presence of mature Christian leaders, able to teach and disciple others, is largely non-existent. To download resources about the Karimojong for you or your housegroup click here.
Entrusting our children to God
After returning from the UK it would have been easy to dismiss the thoughts of returning to serve cross-culturally, and instead carry on with our careers and lives in the UK. But, as Christians, we realised that we are not called to do the easy thing, so after much more door pushing we are now in rural north east Uganda, with three children who are six years old and under.
One of the main challenges here is trusting the Lord with our children. Our compound contains snakes, spiders and scorpions, and our children are the only white kids in the district which brings stares, touching and comments. They will grow up as third culture kids (TCKs), not quite British and not quite Ugandan. All these ‘difficulties’ could make it seem not worth it, but it is genuinely a joy to be obedient as a family to Jesus’ call to help make Christ-centred churches among the Karimojong.
More than a teacher?
We’re looking for a strong Christian, passionate about sharing the gospel, with experience of teaching children. Are you a Sunday school teacher, teaching assistant, nursery nurse or primary teacher who could educate missionary children and third culture kids (TCKs)?
Primarily serving as a homeschool teacher, there would also be opportunities to serve directly among the Karimojong. This ministry would be shaped around personal gifts and skills, but at the heart of the work would need to be a commitment to prayer, a willingness to serve as a learner, and to learn the local language.
The team among the Karimojong focus on training others to reach and disciple the Karimojong, encouraging them to share the gospel, modelling discipleship, or in more formal training. In whatever ministry you’re involved in, you’ll be supporting and training others with the goal to see Christ-centred churches among the unreached Karimojong people. We want to see Karimojong who fully embrace Jesus and follow him faithfully, Karimojong who are established in healthy vibrant faith communities and who share the gospel, Karimojong who make disciples among their own people and who reach out to others.
Paul & Helen Shepherd
We work in Kotido, north east Uganda among the Karimojong. We serve in the local health centres and hospital, whilst also working with the local church doing discipleship and Bible storying in rural villages.Find out more…