Prayer Experience Walk-Through

During the month of July EastLake Church Chula Vista held a prayer experience centered around Uganda and the needs in city of Kampala as well as Bulanga in the Rakai District of Southern Uganda.

Feel free to use your imagination, read through the documents and make some time to pray in specific ways.

Welcome to the Bright Hope Uganda Prayer Experience. Today’s journey is an invitation to use your imagination by stepping out of your familiar environment and into an example of life in Uganda. We want to empower you to know how to support and pray for these children by sharing the details of this partnership with you. Our hope is that this experience will help you grasp the importance of the work happening in the Bulanga Village of Rakai District, Uganda

Take your time as you go through the stations. You don’t need to rush. Read slowly. Reflect on the words and images allowing the experience to sink in. If you’re drawn to stay at a particular spot for a longer time, you’re free to do so. Move to the next station whenever you’re ready without feeling pressured. If several people are at the next station, pause where you are until someone leaves.

Order of the Experience:

Station 1: Life in Kampala
Station 2: Family life in Kampala
Station 3: Life in the Bulanga Village of Rakai District
Station 4: Life at Bright Hope School and Child Care Program
Station 5: Photo wall (experience the story in pictures)
Station 6: Sponsor a child

Station 1: Life in Kampala

Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. When we send teams to visit Bright Hope School, this is their first stop. The city is crowded, awake around the clock and full of life. You can hear the beeping of horns, the roar of traffic and conversations on every street corner. You can see people—so many people—selling things, caring for their children, trying to get their business done and make enough money to feed their family that day. Bananas are “big business” in Uganda and the way they stack them as high as a house leaves you amazed.

The most common form of transportation is what they call a “piki-piki,” otherwise known as a small motorcycle. With no helmets or license required, this form of transportation has become the best taxi and source of income for people who have found a way to purchase one. No stoplights or traffic lanes make for quite an exciting ride!

There are modern buildings along with traditional markets, making Kampala the best place for picking up supplies before heading into the country to see the children of Bright Hope. On a recent trip the goal was to purchase socks and supplies for washing the feet of over 500 children as we fitted them for new shoes. Footwear in Africa is extremely important in order to reduce trauma, hookworm and other parasitic diseases that can enter through bare feet.

Our guide led us to a market that was far from what you imagine when you hear the word market. The smells and desperation of the people in this market place were overwhelming. Women and children spend hours in dark dirty hallways trying to escape the heat. Their lack of awareness of where they are, what day it is, and what might be beyond the hallway they currently reside in leaves an expression of emptiness in their eyes. Shopping here had moments of adrenaline filled with excitement but mostly an uncomfortable awareness that this is not the life you would wish on your worst enemy. While we were able to stay in the safest areas with our guide, you could not help but feel the darkness of that market in the city and know there was much more happening than your eyes could see.

Ways to pray for the city of Kampala

  • As you interact with the people of Kampala, there is a real sense of the oppression they face daily. Pray that God provides leaders that usher in change and order to the city.
  • The last study on HIV/AIDS in Africa was published in 2013. That study showed that over 1,000,000 children have been orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic. Pray for those trying to educate the people of Kampala and those who are caring for these innocent victims of AIDS.
  • The most widely professed religions in Uganda are Christianity and Islam. Pray for the pastors of the many churches in Kampala. Pray for favor and protection. Ask God to give them relationships and influence with those they are serving so that they can bring life change in their communities.

Take a minute to be still in this structure. Engage all of your senses to take in what you see around you. Based on what you have learned reading this, spend some time praying the way the Holy Spirit leads you.

For the Eternal will be a shelter for those who know misery, a refuge during troubling times. ~ Psalm 9:9

May the king offer justice to the burdened and suffering, rescue the poor and needy, and demolish the oppressor! ~ Psalm 72:4

Station 2: Family Life in Kampala

The following is a story told from a child’s perspective and was created based on a compilation of true stories told by children in Kampala

Be quiet. Do you hear the sounds of the men in the alley? They are drunk. It’s okay; they will go away shortly if we don’t make any noise.

My dad left my mom about a month ago and now we are living behind the market where my mom sells bananas. At night she has to bartend just to make enough to keep me in school. I might not be able to go much longer because my uniform is getting too small and we cannot buy another one. I also owe money for my books. I’m 15; most girls my age have been given away in marriage to help cover the expenses of home. Marrying a boy will provide money for education, will pay the dowry, and help to support my family. But my mom wants a different life for my younger sister and me. She says I can be a doctor or a teacher and have a different life than we do now. I work hard to study and pass my tests but sometimes I’m so tired and hungry that it is hard to focus.

I think the men left now and mom should be home any minute. Maybe we can sleep some now before it’s time to go to school. God, if you are real, please watch over my mom and my sister. Help us to be safe.

Ways to pray for the families of Kampala

  • The children of Kampala are stuck in poverty and often exploited and abused. Pray for protection and hope.
  • There are opportunities for people, including young teens, to learn new skills and obtain good jobs in the city. Pray for continued opportunities for those looking to create a safe life for their families.
  • Education is available. Pray for more affordable opportunities for those wishing to complete an education and give back to their country and communities.

Take a minute to be still in this structure. Engage all of your senses to take in what you see around you. Based on what you have learned reading this, spend some time praying the way the Holy Spirit leads you.

When the upright need help and cry to the Eternal, He hears their cries and rescues them from all of their troubles. When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close and revives him in his pain. Hard times may well be the plight of the righteous—they may often seem overwhelmed—but the Eternal rescues the righteous from what oppresses them. ~ Psalm 34:17-19

Station 3: Life in the Bulanga Village of Rakai District

Imagine we have just taken you on a 9-hour bus ride out of the city of Kampala and into the countryside of Uganda. We have seen small villages along the way with lots of lush land stretching between them. Each village looks less and less like the city the farther we travel. A random fruit stand, small children playing on the side of the road, a woman walking to get water are just a few things we have seen on this drive.

We have passed the equator and entered into the Bulanga Village of Rakai District. The typical family lives in a small hut made from natural resources of the local area. They have few possessions, mostly tools that are used to prepare food and take care of the land surrounding their home. Mats and bowls made from banana leaves that are hand-dyed become extremely useful. They can be sold as well as used for the family’s needs.

Most of the children do not go to school. They walk miles for clean water and assist mom at home while dad tries to find work. If the father of the home has abandoned his family or died from AIDS the children are considered orphans. A woman in Uganda cannot own land and is forced to try to take care of her children while being limited on what she can do for a source of income. The women of Uganda are beautiful and strong, not to mention resourceful.

When children are given the opportunity to go to school they are so excited! They just can’t wait to learn. Often children will wake up well before the sun rises to start a very long walk in order to arrive at school on time. The older ones study for 10+ hours per day and then still need to walk home; returning after the sun has set. In Uganda, education is seen as a privilege and those given the opportunity never take it for granted. The families in Bulanga have little possessions but the joy of their children is infectious. It does not make logical sense to us who have so much but gives a whole new understanding of the common phrase “less is more”.

Ways to pray for the families in the Bulanga Village of Rakai District

  • Pray for continued development and opportunities for education in Bulanga’s villages.
  • Pray that the fathers find work and are able to stay sober, providing more stability for their children. Pray for the pastors of the local churches that are ministering to men and teaching them how to live the Jesus way.
  • Pray for the women who have been abandoned and their children. Ask God to give them strength and to provide a way to care for their children.

Take a minute to be still in this structure. Engage all of your senses to take in what you see around you. Based on what you have learned reading this, spend some time praying the way the Holy Spirit leads you.

She reaches out to the poor and extends mercy to those in need. ~ Proverbs 31:20

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! God chose the poor in the world to be rich with faith and to receive the kingdom God promised to those who love him. ~ James 2:5

Station 4: Life at Bright Hope School and Childcare Program

The following are letters written to individuals who have traveled to Uganda. Some of the team brought journals with them and the children chose to write to them while they were there. “Aunt” is a common respectful name used for those older than them.

Dear Aunt,

I wish you a good journey back home. The reason for writing this letter is because I want to greet you. I thank you for the love you have shown us.

From your friend, Asiimwe Kennedy

Dear Aunt,

I would like to greet you and wish you a good journey. I pray God to keep you when you are back home. May the Almighty God bless and keep you alive.

From, Kayinga

Dear Aunt,

I would like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a man and his name was David. This man had two children Kato and Wasswa. Kato was sickly. Wasswa taught him to read. Now Kato is a good boy. Kato wishes to be a doctor when he grows up. Wasswa wishes to be an editor.

I wish you a good journey back home. May the Holy King bless you.

From your best friend, Kayingo Achileo

Dear Aunt,

My name is Mawejje Abdul. I have one brother and my sister died. My mother is dead and I don’t have clothes and shoes. My aunt brought me to Bright Hope and now I get clothes.

My name is Mawejje Abdul and your best friend.

The children at Bright Hope are thriving. They were recently recognized as having some of the top testing scores in the country. The teachers are committed to the children and their success. At Bright Hope the children are not placed into classrooms by age. They could be 13 and never have attended school before so they start at the primary level and the teachers work with them. Some of them take more time to adjust but many of them excel and advance quickly making up for lost time. Meals are provided to all the children at the school. It doesn’t matter if they live off site or on the grounds of Bright Hope; all current students are fed. Having a nice uniform and meals transforms the children, allowing them to learn. The Bright Hope School staff has learned from experience that when basic needs are not met learning cannot happen. By caring for the health of the children, they have opened the door for an education.

Ways to pray for the Bright Hope School

  • When children finish primary school they must test to enter secondary school.The results of that test determine their futures and what careers are available to them. Pray for the teachers and students who are preparing this year for these important tests.
  • Pray for continued resources and support for Bright Hope. Beyond caring for those in the school, this committed staff travels into the nearby villages looking for ways to help protect kids and keep them healthy. Ask God to bless that work.
  • Pray for health and protection for the staff and children at Bright Hope School.

Take a minute to be still in this structure. Engage all of your senses to take in what you see around you. Feel free to look at some of the children’s writings and schoolwork. Based on what you have learned reading this, spend some time praying the way the Holy Spirit leads you.

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You As I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. ~ Psalms 139: 13-16

Whoever welcomes a child like this in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me is welcoming not Me, but the One who sent Me. ~ Mark 9:37

Station 5: Photo Wall

“There are two people in every photograph: the photographer and the viewer.” ~ Ansel Adams

Take some time to wander around the photo wall and take in the emotions portrayed in the pictures taken by members of different teams that have visited Uganda and the Bright Hope School. Notice the feelings and sensations they evoke. Pray, as you feel led while you explore the photos.

Station 6: Sponsor a Child

Thank you for participating in the Bright Hope Experience. Our hope is that you have learned more about what life is like for the children of Uganda and will consider helping to support a child. $30 a month provides food, education, and medical supplies to care for one child.

If you would like to make this commitment today, click here to set up your recurring or one-time donation.

We firmly believe that by sponsoring a child two stories will be changed today. You are making a huge impact on a life thousands of miles away but you are also changing your story as well. There is something that happens inside of us when we live generously. When we make a commitment to care for the poor and the orphans, God makes his presence known and does something in our hearts. We are praying for you to feel his presence as your family decides to make a difference for another family you have yet to meet.

Download the print version of the Prayer Experience.