“When God plants a spark in your heart, don’t let it die. Fan it into flames and watch what happens. The flames may well get out of your control.
So it has been with Fields of Life. God planted a spark in Trevor Stevenson’s heart following a visit of the African Children’s Choir to his Parish in Magheralin. Unknown to Trevor, God had also planted a spark in my heart nearly 20 years previously which kept alight waiting for the wind of the Spirit to fan it into flames.
The wind came in 1993, courtesy of a phone call from the Rector of Magheralin, Dean Roland Hutchinson, to my father asking whether our Company would support his curate, Trevor Stevenson, in a tractor fundraising drive around Ireland. We were glad to help and thus began my friendship with Trevor. I got excited about Trevor’s vision of helping orphaned children in Luweero through buying and establishing a farm to grow food crops and teach better agricultural practice. The sparks were glowing.
We bought that farm at Kasangati in 1996 and while Trevor and Ruth went to Uganda to set the farm up, I stayed at home and acted as liaison between Trevor and the fundraising committee in Northern Ireland . We met regularly in Fred Allen ‘s home and a wonderful group of excited farmers, businessmen, clergy and retirees rejoiced at the good news coming back from Trevor as to how things were progressing on the farm. He had battled with snakes, cleared the jungle and established a dairy herd, a piggery, a poultry enterprise and a rabbit breeding programme. Then one day came a strange request. The locals had asked Uncle T (as he was now known) whether he would build them a school and he called me asking whether we would prayerfully consider it.
This was not in our plans and certainly not in our budgets. But the flames were starting to burn where they wanted to go and we felt we had little power (or desire), to stop them. The committee in Ireland said they would raise the money for a school, and in 1997, Fields of Life Academy was opened on the farm at Kasangati. We sat back, listened to wonderful and inspiring reports coming back on a regular basis from Trevor, and thought our work was nearly done. The flames continued to grow and requests came in for schools number 2, 3 and 4 in Luweero, Namansa and Nakasangola.
We saw that God’s work, done in God’s way, would not lack God’s supply. The money came in, the schools got built and suddenly we had up to a thousand children being given hope where previously they had little. We rejoiced in God ‘s provision, again we thought our work was done but people kept asking us for more schools.
So where next? Requests came in from Kenya, Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi and it felt right to say yes. God touched the hearts of private funders and funders in churches and businesses and the work continued to grow. By now we needed an office and staff in Kampala and this was based at Shalom on Tank hill road in Muyenga, which Trevor had purchased a few years earlier. Trevor and Ruth returned to Ireland but the work in East Africa continued to grow and thrive under local leadership and staff, with direction from the Board in Portadown.
Then God took us in a new direction. He laid the burden on the hearts of a group of businessmen from Northern Ireland of providing clean, health- giving water to communities and they set about fundraising for a well drilling rig. This first drilling rig began boring and soon was establishing 3 to 5 wells a month, each well providing clean water for up to 1,000 people in local communities. This rig has now been joined by a second and third our plans are to drill 100 new wells each year.
And all of this is only part of the story, along the way, hundreds of people from Ireland, UK, USA and Australia have been touched to visit Fields of Life projects in East Africa. Lives have been changed both here and in Africa. People from all around the world who had no hope have been given hope and a future. Spiritual transformation has taken place in the lives of thousands of Europeans and Africans. The destiny of tens of thousands of souls has been altered for all of eternity. This has been no man’s vision but work of our God . And those of us privileged to have been involved count it as the most awesome blessing in our lives.
So where next?
Jesus said: The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NIV).
The wind of the Spirit fanned early sparks into flames. Those flames continue to grow and touch lives all over East Africa. God knows the plans He has for us tomorrow, next month and for the years to come. It is our job to listen, to obey and to do. There is no better thing.”
Founding Board Member