Margi Nichols (wife of Doug Nichols, Director of Action International) wrote this letter, sharing about their visit to Gulu to encourage Action missionaries Jerry & Candis Bingham who have a ministry to the “Night Commuters”:
What a time we have been having. We arrived here in Kampala, Uganda, early Wednesday morning after a very long trip. The next day we headed to Gulu, a town of 50,000 people in northern Uganda. It’s about a five-hour drive, the last hour through rebel territory and potential danger. The rebels presently are targeting another part of the country, so it’s not as dangerous as usual.
Gulu is something else! You have to see it to believe it. There are 20,000 children who walk in to town every night from the surrounding countryside and little villages in order to be safe (hopefully) from the rebels. The rebels make raids nightly to abduct children. While there are many terrorist and rebel groups worldwide who use varying degrees of violence, the Kony terrorists (Lord’s Resistance Army/LRA), target children, murdering and kidnapping them for child-soldiers, slaves, and concubines. Over the last 17 years, the Kony terrorists have slaughtered thousands of Catholics and Protestants in northern Uganda and abducted 25,000 children.
So many people are killed in these raids and the villages are destroyed. There is such fear and hopelessness in the countryside. The children will walk as far as 12 miles to get to Gulu each day to spend the night in town, sleeping in abandoned schools (that are badly deteriorated—with mud floors and no electricity, running water or toilet facilities), in some hastily erected shelters, on a local hospital grounds, on the streets and in the bus park. The children arrive from 6:30-8:00 p.m. carrying their little sacks, walking barefooted, and mostly in rags. Then they leave for home as soon as it gets light, about 6:00 a.m. Doug was watching them Sunday morning streaming out of town on two roads and one trail.
There is such a need here amongst these children! No one feeds them, so that is one thing the Binghams are going to be working on. The Binghams have just moved up to this town, the only Americans there. No one can believe they are living in that place because it is so dangerous. Candis and Jerry are deeply loved by everyone up there—and they love the people. We were able two different nights to talk to 3,000-4,000 children. They put on a program for us with singing, skits and poems which they created themselves. It was so interesting. Then we spoke to them from God’s Word to encourage them. They listened very intently and quietly. Imagine three to four thousand children sitting in the dark on the ground to hear us. It was incredible!
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)
*Action International is now feeding 3000 of these children. The meal is simple but nourishing and only cost five cents per child. A child can be fed for one month for only $1.50. $7.50 will feed five children for one month. A church or group might consider feeding 100 children monthly for $150 or 500 for $750.
If you would like to give to this worthwhile ministry you may give your contribution through EPM. 100% of designated contributions go directly to the ministry noted. (James 1:27)
Action International, P.O. Box 398, Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043-0398, 425-775-4800, www.actionintl.org