Uganda minister reaches out to Princeton

A small group of school children in Katosi, Uganda, react to the camera like most children seem to do across the world, with personality.

A pastor from Uganda was recently in Princeton for about a week, seeking financial help from two Princeton congregations to help support the pastor’s orphanage.

The Ugandan pastor, Timothy Kakooza, runs Community

Concerned Ministries, which oversees the orphanage, two schools and a medical clinic, and is working on other projects to uplift the quality of life in the part of Uganda Kakooza lives in.

Kakooza’s connection with Princeton began with Kakooza introducing himself to Princeton pastor Loren Ferch in Orlando, Fla., in January 2010. Ferch is pastor of the area’s Freshwaters United Methodist Community. It has church campuses in Princeton, Zimmerman and Spencer Brook Township.

Ferch was pastor of the United Methodist churches in Sebeka and Menagha in northern Minnesota when he met Kakooza, who is from Katosi-Mukono, Uganda, in eastern Africa. Katosi is a fishing village on the northwest corner of the shores of Lake Victoria, about 30 miles from the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

The meeting between Ferch and Kakooza took place when Kakooza and Ferch were attending the “Billion Souls” international pastors’ conference. Ferch remembers sitting at the convention site, reading a book called “The Hole in the Gospel,” when Kakooza introduced himself.

The book was really convincing about the need to do something outside myself, Ferch said. Ferch added that it made him think about how his two parishes back in Minnesota should do something mission-wise beyond the borders of the state and nation.

The opportunity to do that came into focus when Kakooza walked up to Ferch, introduced himself and explained his church’s mission.

Kakooza called Ferch not long after the conference, inviting him to visit Kakooza in Uganda. Ferch did that in the summer of 2011. Kakooza, meanwhile, visited Princeton in October 2010. During the visit, Kakooza talked to Ferch about the work that Kakooza needed help with in Uganda, where AIDS, war and malaria have taken a toll.

Kakooza’s work also includes pastoring at a church in Katosi and overseeing 300 other churches in Uganda’s Mukono District.

 

Orphanage started in Kakooza’s home

Kakooza started his orphanage in 1995, in the home that he has with his wife Janepher and their four children. Kakooza recalled how in the beginning, 25 children plus the couple’s own four children were in the Kakooza home.

“Our house was full of kids everywhere,” Kakooza remembers. “We prayed and God started opening up doors (of opportunity).”

That came in the form of a small building being turned into an orphanage for about five years. Later it was torn down and a new building constructed in its place in 2000, for the new orphanage facility. The orphanage holds 456 children ages 5-17, according to Kakooza.

The “AIDS scourge,” wars, and diseases including malaria and Bilharzia, are the main causes of children becoming orphans there, Kakooza said while he and wife Janepher were visiting Ferch. Kakooza participated in worship at New Life Church in Princeton on Oct. 7 and explained his mission to the congregation.

Kakooza is also working on starting a vocational school.

So far, a total of 52 people, from the two congregations of Freshwaters and New Life, have committed to sponsoring a child in the orphanage, according to Ferch, who says each sponsorship is $35 a month, or $420 per year. New Life also gave money to build a roof over the orphanage kitchen, Ferch noted, and Freshwaters raised funds to buy orphanage beds.

Ferch also talked about a dairy cow initiative in Uganda, in which a person can donate $900 to purchase a dairy cow for Ugandans.

One new project being planned in Kakooza’s area is to start a home for babies who have been abandoned.

Ferch noted that a United Methodist Sunday School class in Louisville, Ky., raised $35,000 for the medical clinic that Kakooza oversees. Kakooza also talked about how the planned vocational school could teach trades like carpentry, hair salon work, bicycle repair and cell phone repair.

“Uganda is regarded as a poor country and is densely populated,” Kakooza said. Ferch explained that Uganda is about the size of Oregon but has a population of 34 million.

 

Hopeful note

Uganda has seen progress in slowing the amount of AIDS infection, Kakooza said. He explained that it was once at 37 percent and is now down to seven percent. He pointed to education and the teaching of abstinence before marriage, and being faithful during marriage as contributing to the AIDS reduction there. Because AIDS is a problem that threatens everyone, the Ugandan government came in to help fight AIDS, Kakooza said. The church also “raised its voice” through its “Glory of Virginity” movement, he added.

Educators have also had to combat the witch doctors’ message that AIDS comes from being “bewitched,” Kakooza noted. The educators, he said, have countered that changing a behavior is what reduces the spread of AIDS.

“I think the progress (in fighting AIDS in Uganda) is good so far, but the struggle still continues,” Kakooza said. “Men still have to stand in their right position; because if you have a strong mind, you will have a strong family. If you have a strong family, you will have a strong home. If you have a strong home, you will produce a strong church. If you produce a strong church, you will produce a strong community, and if you produce a strong community, you will produce a strong nation.”

It’s easy to give, Ferch said about sponsoring a child in Kakooza’s orphanage. Ferch added that it is not like the charities where so much of the donation goes to administration. Anyone wanting more information on this program, Ferch said, can contact either Freshwaters at 763-631-1185, or New Life Church at 763-631-4858.

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