Norwich idea reaps harvest in African mission

Twenty years after the tiny seed of an idea germinated in a student at Norwich Bible School, it has become a harvest field of miracles bringing relief and support to the poor in Africa. Sandie Shirley reports.

LMCCSchoolSpeechDay420Emmanuel Rucyaba was at a Norwich Bible School when he knew God was calling him to return to his native Uganda to begin a seemingly impossible mission for this war-torn, deprived country.
 
His obedience and sacrifice, that included giving up his home to be used as a clinic, birthed a God-mission of heart, hope and help that continues to flourish.
 
From training pastors and planting over 120 churches, building schools and medical centres, to farming and prospering women through small business schemes, Life Ministries Christian Centre is intent on being a light in the darkness.
 
Today, it is supported by a growing team of tradesmen and professionals from Norfolk, and across the globe, to bring relief to widows, orphans and families from rural areas and the slums, in this part of Africa, as they fight poverty, disease and AIDS.
 
Volunteers have helped with schooling; training in IT and business practices; advised on farming or provided the prayer and finances that are vital to growth.
 
Life Ministries Christian Centre currently needs child sponsors and £30,000 to complete the first phase of a 15-bed hospital in Seeta, Uganda.
 
The mission has particularly caught the heart of Norwich Christians, Rosemary English and Brian and Elspeth Fawcett.
 
Rosemary, a grandmother and retired physiotherapist, has been a powerful prayer support and fund-raiser from the beginning and returned from her second visit this summer. “The ministry has developed with excellence and proves that nothing is impossible with God,” says the campaigner who meets with Emmanuel, who was trained at Drayton Hall under the late Bob Gordon, during his annual Norwich visits.
 
Businessman Brian took early retirement and first visited the suburbs of Kampala with Elspeth two decades ago to see the initial groundwork. They have returned regularly ever since, often staying for four months or more at a time. Brian provides administrative support, leadership training and commercial strategies for growth while his wife builds relationships to share the gospel with women who are motivated to take on new livelihoods to keep them from poverty. 
 
Elspeth also divides her time between the school classroom and the slums where families and street children live near the ministry’s health clinic that offers free vaccinations and health education for mothers with babies.
 
“No-one has running water in the community. Clothes and dishes are washed in the street at a standpipe and children are often washed in polluted waterways or ponds so infection spreads,” says Elspeth, who returned home last month while her husband continues to work at the ministry’s headquarters in Uganda.
 
“When one woman’s home was repaired by a team from Norfolk with a roof and two new replacement walls, it was originally found to be made from mostly recycled plastic bags and scraps of discarded timber loosely nailed together,” says Elspeth.
 
LMCCEnglishFawcett420But like many other women, Philda who lives in the make-do home, has found the strength and faith to support her many children and husband who has AIDS. Due to the input of Life Ministries Christian Centre she is a budding entrepreneur, waking at 5am to buy bananas at the local market which she sells from a huge basket on her head.  She also makes paper beads to sell to tourist shops and, with training, she has become a seamstress with a sewing machine to make and sell beautiful, colourful clothes.
 
Another woman is training to be a hairdresser and braiding hair while another is breaking up rocks in a quarry to provide smaller valuable stones explains Elspeth who leads a weekly women’s bible study.
 
The hospital plans were drawn up in 2001 and work continues today. Two gifted German artists have even painted colourful pictures depicting African family life for the reception walls.  From the artistry to the architecture, “God is in the whole deal,” says Elspeth.
 
The ministry’s school programme began with a class of 35 children and now there are 700 youngsters in nursery, primary and high schools, many of whom have overseas sponsors. And when Life Ministries bought 450 acres of land it began a unique farming project that will eventually produce crops and milk producing cross-bred cattle, to provide a supportive income for the ministry and a farm training scheme.
 
LMCC has just received a donation from the Jerusalem Trust which will enable this project to take off next year after a bore hole was sunk to provide the constant water supply to guarantee success. “It presently has £6,500 of the £8,500 required and we believe that by the year end the balance required will be supplied. God has provided abundantly over the years and will continue to honour the work of the LMCC,” says Brian. 
 
Elspeth recognises God at work. “Never despise the day of small things. The world is such a huge place and there are enormous needs but if we do the little we can God will do the rest.”
 
Contact: brian@Imcc-africa.org; or visit www.lmcc-africa.org
 
Pictured above are Rosemary English and Elspeth Fawcett and pupils from the LMCC school in Kampala.

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Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > Norwich > Norwich News 2011-14 > Norwich idea reaps rich harvest in African mission
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