On Friday April 6 a team from Lisburn Cathedral will travel to Arua, Uganda, close to the border with South Sudan, where they will work with Bishop Hilary of Yei and the Church of South Sudan.
Bishop Hilary and hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan currently live in the huge camps in this part of northern Uganda, having had to flee their homes due to ongoing civil war.
A team from the Cathedral had hoped to go to South Sudan in 2016, but due to the outbreak of war things had to be put on hold.
The six-strong team travelling to Uganda with Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) and local charity Abaana, is made up of the rector, the Very Rev Sam Wright, Dean of Connor, his wife Paula, Margaret and Denis Fullerton and Jill and Martin Lester.
Dean Wright said: “The mission trip has changed in many ways from the one planned originally with CMSI. For the first time CMSI and Abaana have come together to plan a mission trip that will involve the team in the work and ministry of both mission agencies.
“Having discussed with CMSI and Abaana whether this might be possible, I felt that it was just too good an opportunity for the team to miss. In order to get to Arua, in the north of the country, we will be travelling through Kampala where the Abaana New Life Children’s Home is based.”
The team will begin their mission experience trip by bringing greetings and sharing the gospel in Namirembe Cathedral and other smaller churches in and around Kampala on Sunday April 8.
They will then spend the week working and sharing with the staff and children in the children’s homes. “Hopefully, we will meet up again with Derek, who is sponsored by our young people in Mettle Youth Group and some of the other children who visited Lisburn Cathedral as part of the Abanna children’s choir tour in 2017,” Dean Wright said.
As part of their visit, the mission team will also meet the staff of ‘Heroes,’ the partner organisation of Abaana and see at first hand their work with the street children.
Following this the group will fly to Arua where they will meet up with Bishop Hilary and his wife Mama Joyce. They will also be joined at this point by Linda Abwa of CMSI.
“This aspect of the mission trip will be very different for the team,” said Dean Wright. “The latest published report states that there are over one million refugees who have fled their homes due to conflict, 99 per cent live in refugee camps, 82 per cent of whom are woman and children, including a significant number of children who have either been separated from their parents or are orphans.”
During their time in Arua, team members will be involved in working in the ‘Rhino Camp,’ one of the biggest refugee camps, which has 86,770 people.
This will be extremely challenging for the team. Among other things, the ladies in the group will get involved with the Mother’s Union and they will also deliver training in making ‘Days for Girls’ packs and teach the girls about related health and hygiene issues. The team will be bringing the many packs made by and through the generosity of members of the congregation and friends of Lisburn Cathedral.
“One of the tasks I am most looking forward to will be engaging in Theological training, as part of a week’s refresher course for pastors,” Dean Wright said. “We will also be involved in practical work, in administration training and sharing the gospel with various groups, as well as preaching and giving testimonies in a number of churches, some of which may meet under trees or makeshift structures.
“During our time in Arua we will aim to show love, support and encouragement to the South Sudanese people, we are very excited and a little apprehensive but we know our loving Lord goes before us and with us.”
The team members were commissioned on March 18 at morning worship by Lisburn Cathedral Curate, the Rev Danielle McCullagh – Danielle was on a Mission placement to Arua three years ago.
“Please remember our team members Sam, Paula, Linda, Margaret, Jill, Martin and Denis in prayer,” the Dean added.