Never Lose Hope – the story of St Apollo School, Kasizi, is a book ‘littered with miracles, grace and generosity,’ guests in the hall of Christ Church, Lisburn, heard at its launch on Tuesday July 5.
Sub-headed Journey of Partnerships, the book is written by the rector of Christ Church, the Ven Paul Dundas, Archdeacon of Dalriada, and tells the story of the partnership between Christ Church and St Apollo School, located in what was once the ‘killing fields’ of Uganda.
In the book’s preface, Paul writes that it is a story across many miles with many lives changed and transformed. “At the heart of this story is the children at St Apollo School, Kasizi, their education and learning and growing in a place of hope because of the God we worship and learn.”
He describes it as ‘an amazing journey long before the first brick was laid on the new school buildings in 2012.’
The story is based partly on Paul’s own reflections, as well as thoughts of members of the teams who travelled to Kasizi in 2012, 2015 and 2017, those whose trip was thwarted by the pandemic in 2020, and published documents, including the parish magazine.
It was launched in the presence of a large gathering of parishioners by local MLA Robbie Butler, who said he had found it full of miracles, grace and generosity. “It is really astonishing what God can and does do when we are faithful to his calling and obedient to act. That’s clearly what has happened here with the partnership between Christ Church, Lisburn, Fields of Life and St Apollo School, Kasizi,” Mr Butler said.
He added that the book’s title Never Lose Hope was a powerful phrase, and one that would resonate both in Lisburn and in this part of Uganda.
“There is much to be proud of in this book and in the delivery of the help to the families with the school at Kazisi. For me it is the seeds of God’s love that you have planted in the hearts and lives of those children and adults that will help transform those families, the villages and in Gods time a nation,” Mr Butler said.
Introducing his book, Paul said he had been inspired to tell the story of St Apollo when, during the Covid-19 lockdown, he read From Killing Fields to Fields of Life, by Fields of Life founder Trevor Stevenson. This, he said was about ‘amazing hope’ and ‘amazing people.’
“God is good is something that has resonated in our hearts,” he told guests at the launch.
“When the first team went to Kasizi, all they saw was a building site, but now it is a community because of the God we know.
“It is the amazing children, with their smiling faces; it is the staff who sustain the school; it is all who have journeyed from here to here and those here who have been so supportive.”
It takes time, Archdeacon Dundas said, to build relationships. “St Apollo is located in Idi Amin’s ‘killing fields.’ Families had to flee. What a transformation, hope now prevails. It is a different world completely and an amazing place to visit.”
The Archdeacon thanked the members of the various teams, his family, the designer of the publication, and the Rev John Pickering for checking its contents.
In a foreword in Never Lose Hope, John pays tribute to the vision of Fields of Life. “It is being part of the rejuvenation of Africa from poverty and corruption to increased prosperity through education, with the building of schools,” he wrote
Referring to the new school building, a cook house, teachers’ residence, nursery, an extension to the church and skills training in husbandry, his foreword continues: “The great achievement is heightened when it is realised that this vision of Fields of Life will be ongoing for generations of children to come in the future. The interest of the parish will be continued and deepened.”
Following the speeches, there was a steady stream of people wishing to buy a copy of Never Lose Hope, with Archdeacon Dundas signing each copy. Copies are available from the parish office, priced £4, with all proceeds going to St Apollo School.