Last May, the Hindman United Methodist Church (Prestonsburg District) had the privilege of hosting and supporting the Hope For Africa Children’s Choir from Uganda. During that time, many people felt God stirring their hearts towards the people of Uganda, and in retrospect, it became a pivotal point in the life of this church. The Hindman congregation wanted to build on that experience and show their commitment to the Ugandan United Methodist churches in the Gulu District. They also knew that this would require a leap of faith from the whole congregation in partnership with churches from the Prestonsburg and Ashland Districts.
In July 2008, Pastor John Shroll received a call from Bishop Daniel Wandabula of the East Africa Conference of the United Methodist Church regarding if we could help them. “I guess Bishop Wandabula and the Gulu DS figured that since Hindman UMC by itself hosted the Hope For Africa Children’s Choir and escorted them into town with two fire trucks, we could do anything,” remembers Pastor John.
Bishop Wandabula shared his desire to purchase land that would cost $30,000 as a first step in his vision for the Gulu District. His vision was to build a multi-purpose center, a clinic, and a vocational training center. Rev. David Ntogohnya, District Superintendent of the Gulu District, also responded stating that “the church must take the lead to work towards hope, health, security, spiritual renewal, and reconciliation.” He also said that these facilities on this land “will work toward bringing peace, hope and wholeness to our children, youth, and families who have been affected by the 20 year war” in Uganda.
On November 1, the first part of the Gulu Challenge was launched to raise the $30,000 necessary to purchase the land in the Gulu District. The Hindman church challenged its own members as well as many United Methodist churches in the Prestonsburg and Ashland districts. The goal of $30,000 in these hard economic times, coupled with the extremely short timeline for raising the funds, seemed impossible. But with God, all things are possible!
On January 11 it was official, with the support of the local Hindman congregation (who contributed $27,131), as well as the following congregations who contributed over and above their own mission priorities: Meade UMC ($1,000), Graceway UMC ($500), Greenup UMC ($600), Louisa UMC ($250), and Prestonsburg Community UMC ($519). The first goal for the Gulu Challenge was achieved. All it took was a leap of faith.
The next goal…a missions trip in November 2009 to Uganda to help in the Gulu District.
Missions Minister, Hindman UMC
Gulu DS David Ntogohnya (right) and the owner of the Gulu Property. Photo by Linda Gardella