18 August 2016 // Articles & Stories

What’s Karamoja like?

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Since April, Suzanne Betts has been serving on a short term placement among the Karimojong of Uganda. Working with long term missionaries, Lyle & Ingrid Lathrop, her assignment includes spending some time at a girls’ home for orphans in the slums of Moroto and ministering alongside Ingrid to women in the local prison. She shares with us her first impressions of Moroto in Karamoja, Uganda:

Approaching Moroto from the air you notice how dry and arid it is in comparison to the rest of Uganda’s lush landscape, emphasising its remoteness and isolation. Once on the ground, the strong presence of NGO signs and vehicles add to this, giving a feeling of oppression, hopelessness and dependency. At first I found it overwhelming, and wondered if I would ever be comfortable walking around on my own or feel settled here. Praise God that those feelings changed after meeting the people here!

“Serving the whole region of Karamoja, the prison is a very strategic ministry opportunity if the women are released with the gospel!”

The God who heals our hurts

As I listen during my visits to both the girls’ home for orphans and the prison, I hear of so much suffering. Some of this is self-inflicted, some a result of physical and spiritual poverty. I am struck by a sense that underneath the smiles of the girls I meet at the girls’ home, there is a lot of hurt that God wants to heal. Most people in Moroto, I am told, will have lost loved ones through poverty, war or HIV/Aids. Surrounded by so much deprivation, I was surprised to find that the prison was in a pretty good condition. The prisoners were really welcoming and keen to hear the word of God. Serving the whole region of Karamoja, the prison is a very strategic ministry opportunity if the women are released with the gospel!

Salvation is freely given

A strong belief in earning salvation through works comes across in conversations, and although ‘religion’ is rife, there is little evidence of true relationships with Jesus. Witch doctors are common, whilst Holy Communion is rare. The Karimojong need to hear the gospel of Christ, and I feel privileged to be part of this small but growing team that God is building to establish his church in Karamoja. The presence of the Lathrops, and the knowledge that a long term team is about to start here and offer love, friendship and the truth of the gospel, will speak volumes to a lost and broken generation. Pray that God would raise up more Karimojong believers to be a light shining in the darkness