Pastor Elijah Kisakye stands in front of the Masaka Full Gospel Church, where hundreds of children and their family are ministered to each week.
Pastor Elijah Kisakye was at a loss. For 10 years, he had pastored the Masaka Full Gospel Church. Each week, dozens of people came from Masaka and the surrounding villages to the church services. But as the services ended, they wandered back into the streets, back into the bars, back into spiritual and physical poverty.
"In our first years, I don't recall anybody being saved," says Pastor Kisakye. "People would come to the afternoon rallies to enjoy the music, but that was all. Our strategy for evangelism was not bearing fruit."
NO RESOURCES, NO FRUIT
Pastor Kisakye says one reason for the lack of success was a lack of resources. With only a few dozen members, the church could not help the thousands of families living on less than U.S.$1 a day in their community. Pastor Kisakye was most troubled by the state of the children he encountered daily children orphaned by AIDS, too poor to attend school, suffering from malnutrition and malaria.
"I and the entire leadership team had a burden for the many children in the suburbs of Masaka," he says. "But we had no capacity to meet their physical, educational and social needs. And when we couldn't help them, they couldn't trust us."
PARTNERSHIP INVIGORATES MINISTRY
Pastor Kisakye and his small flock continued to pray for ways to help the poor. In 1993, God answered those prayers. That year, Compassion announced it was looking for a church partner to minister to children living in Masaka.
"When we heard about the opportunity, we embraced it with excitement," says Pastor Kisakye. And when Masaka Full Gospel Church finally opened the Tulina Omubeezi Child Development Center (UG-505), they began serving hundreds of children living in poverty immediately.
"Compassion empowered us to address the children's needs in a holistic manner," says Pastor Kisakye. "It is always my joy when I see that some of the children who looked hopeless are now making a positive contribution to the community."
He says he has seen graduates of the student center go on to become pastors, doctors, engineers and teachers. And today, 14 years later, the program continues to grow.
"The programs we hold at the project have also added value to the community," explains Pastor Kisakye. "For example, we have an adult literacy class, and we offer income-generating activities to caregivers. Those who used to come to church empty-handed are now helping people who are in worse shape than they are."
"WE ARE GRATEFUL..."
Masaka Full Gospel Church has grown to more than 230 members, and the church holds a special service for the more than 100 children in attendance each Sunday. When Pastor Kisakye looks out over his congregation, he thanks God for the answer to his prayer and for the donors and sponsors who make Compassion possible.
"Their giving is not in vain, and we are seeing the fruits of their help," he says. "Children who were sick and malnourished are graduating from the program as mature, healthy Christians. We are grateful for everything Compassion donors and sponsors have done for our church."
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