In July 2015, a team of 13, from Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, travelled to the Arua district in northern Uganda, to officially open Onialeku Primary School; a school which the congregation had generously committed to raising funds for. Reverend Steve Stockman shares his reflections from the trip:
“Sitting in the back of a Fields of Life service, in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, I had a “eureka” moment as my friend, Alain Emerson, told us about Source of Light Primary School. This was a familiar story, I had followed the dream and construction of this school; but when Alain stated it had been built for £75,000, a light went on in my head. We were doing a building project in Fitzroy that was going to cost £750,000…we could tithe and build a school somewhere.
The decision to build the school with Fields of Life was after more leading of the Holy Spirit, but last July a youth team of 13 arrived in the far reaches of West Nile and gazed in utter joy at the brand new Onialeku Primary School, just outside Arua. It was a wow moment, and there was much exuberant praising of God! On arrival our team were welcomed with open arms and swarmed with love.
The team were in Onialeku for seven days; during the week we did children’s clubs every day, we did the same programme with the junior school first thing in the morning, and then again with the senior school after break time. It was a wonderfully creative blend of Bible stories, drama, worship songs, games and crafts; and in the afternoon we played more games…if the heat didn’t beat us!
We also took part in the Sunday morning service in the church, attached to the school, and joined in with the Thursday school chaplains worship time.
On our final day we had the privilege of being part of the official opening of the school with politicians, church leaders, teachers, parents, pupils and the entire community; we enjoyed a day of speeches, singing, dancing and feasting. It was truly the privilege of our lives to be here for such a moment. I shared how the people of Onialeku might be seen as poor in shillings, but they were very rich in inspiration, love and hope. We, on the other hand, were seen as rich in shillings but how poor we were in comparison when it came to inspiration, love and hope!
The impact on a youth team from such trips is deep and wide. Watching teenagers wrestling with mission and vocation, and how following Jesus can make a difference in the world, makes a pastor’s soul smile! When young people see a school, and their church’s name on the dedication stone, it can only help them believe that with God they can transform the world.
As we got on the bus for the last time there were many tears. As a mentor of mine, in another part of Africa, once said, “We don’t want your money. Leave us your heart.” We pray that this trip will have changed hearts in Onialeku and in Fitzroy. We thank God for what we were given and taught. We look forward to the next time.”
Reverend Steve Stockman, Fitzroy Presbyterian Church