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Global Outreach International

Summer - a Struggle for Global Ministry

by Blake Wages
The time to help is now. A missionary's take on challenges facing the mission field this summer.

Summer struggles are ahead around the globe

In just a few short weeks the summer months will begin here in the States.

As you look ahead to summer, you may have all kinds of plans in mind: your kids or grandkids are out of school, you may be planning for a beach trip, and you may stay up later to enjoy s’mores and bonfires with good music. You and I may be longing for a return to normal in summer of 2021, but what will this summer mean for missionaries serving overseas? 

The global pandemic still proves to be largely impacting many countries around the globe, especially more impoverished countries where many Global Outreach missionaries serve.

Now that some states have begun to relieve travel restrictions, our staff has been blessed to have missionaries visit our home office in Tupelo, Mississippi. In a recent visit to our office, Andrew Smith, a missionary to Uganda, told us the reality of what this summer is shaping up to look like in the area he and his family serve.

Andrew serves on the Islands of Lake Victoria in Uganda. If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit Uganda, know that life works a little differently there compared to the United States. As you exit off the plane, you are surrounded by large amounts of people where you then take a taxi through traffic that would make any westerner concerned about hitting the 5 cars that are all less than a foot away from you. Once you make it through the airport area, it's an 4-hour drive before eventually you find yourself in Jinja. From there you make a night's stay in a local hotel before heading out by river boat to the islands the next morning. 

Lake Victoria, infested with bacteria, is seen by the locals as having evil spirits and considered a place no one would dare venture out on. In the past, only those on the run or seeking a means to escape from military persecution would dare cross the lake. This mindset also creates a distinct cultural divide between the people on the islands and the mainland.

The islands of Lake Victoria is where Andrew, alongside his wife Karina and their boys, serve alongside the team at Shepherd's Heart International Ministry (SHIM). This dedicated group of missionaries teach close to 250 students that otherwise would never be able to receive or afford an education. The students not only receive an education they can use to improve their communities - they also receive the Gospel. Andrew and his wife Karina focus on discipleship and train up pastors to carry the Gospel to the rest of the islands and beyond.

Summer in Uganda - the reality right now

When asked what the summer looks like, Andrew notes that the summer months are not much different. Life, for the most part remains, unchanged. The temperature is roughly around 80° all year round and school continues throughout the year into the summer with short month long breaks between trimesters. The work never comes to a stop, and unfortunately, the summer months are the hardest for Andrew's team as funding hits a slump. 

Andrew says that funding is always a concern in the summer months. The effects of a global pandemic that is still heavily impacting their area makes this year much harder. In fact, the situation on the islands has reached such a dire state that Andrew and his team are partnering with as many pastors and people as possible to help people simply survive. Although pastor training and teaching is their primary focus, their efforts are now aimed at saving the physical lives of the people on the islands.

Andrew stated, "without the extra support we’ll need this summer, we are faced with the reality that some of our neighbors simply won't make it. This is why we need help now more than ever -- help facing this grim reality."

The pandemic not only brought COVID-19 to Uganda, but 2020 brought massive flooding and a significant loss of homes throughout many of the islands. Along with flooding, the Nile perch, which serves as a large source of income, is also dying off and fishermen are without money or food creating a struggling economy amongst the island groups.

Andrew, his wife, and team are choosing to serve the island people the best they can and to show God's love is more powerful than the gods that are commonly worshipped there. The islanders, already abandoned by society, are now in a situation where hope is slim. But you and I know that the darkest places is where hope can shine brighter than ever before.

This summer, you can make an impact that will save lives physically and spiritually. The needs across the globe are great and you and I can make a difference in one person's life at a time. Missionaries serving in desperate situations need prayer, but they also need support this summer.

Your impact can save lives now

Things may seem close to being back to what we consider "normal" in the States. But, if I can be honest, my heart doesn't want to accept this comfort because of the reality that still faces so many countries and the Church overseas.

As we enter in the summer months may we keep missionaries, especially those serving in countries with dire needs, in our prayers.

If you would like to make a difference and make a direct donation to helping care for the villagers on the islands of Lake Victoria, visit Andrew and Karina's missionary page HERE and make a donation today! 

Click here to make a donation and assist with island relief efforts.