Return to Kenya & Uganda February – March 2020

At Home with Pastor Johnstone and his family

Johnstone Kapa and his wife Elizabeth graciously accommodated me for a week in their beautiful home in Tongaren.

Kenya is troubled at present not just by the Coronavirus Pandemic

Johnstone and Elizabeth
Pastor Johnstone and Elizabeth

and locusts, but also by persistence of the rains which should have ended in October; it rained heavily towards the end of every day of my stay. The result of this continuing wet season is that farmers have been unable to plough their fields and plant seed; also there has been a massive increase in the population of rats, which occupy every home.

It was good to discover that the Recovery groups are flourishing, many of which originate from the initial teaching in 2015. On this visit teaching was carried out in four centres, with 21 groups represented from various outlying communities; the membership of these was reported to be increasing.

Lunch in Tongaren
Lunch munching

Wherever all day teaching occurred, both in Kenya and Uganda, ┬álunch was provided from Potter’s Wheel funds for those attending.

Local Government recognition

At the visit in 2018 we had met with District Officer Bradwell who accompanied us when we were visiting the group projects. This time the teaching session in Tongaren was attended by a representative of the County Commissioner, who wants to gauge the impact of the Recovery groups on the communities in his area; to determine whether or not there would be value in rolling the model out more widely throughout Kenya.

At this meeting we were encouraged by the Chief who reported that the whole of his community had changed for the better as a result of increased sobriety; a fall in the levels of crime and violence; and that black magic had gradually reduced to the point when it stopped completely about 2 years ago.

Tororo

The border crossing into Uganda was much easier this time as we did not take a vehicle across. The queue of lorries waiting to pass through on the Kenyan side is generally many miles long.

Tororo is a town close to the border on the Ugandan side where we had taught very briefly at the last visit. Nevertheless, the Pastors had reinforced the teaching, Johnstone crossing the border as necessary; three groups remained active – youth, sufferers and spouses.

Mgale

There are two centres of recovery in this community which is in an astonishingly beautiful high location, looking toward Mount Elgon.

Mgale brick making
Mgale Recoverers brick making project

Three groups remain active in Mgale I following the initial teaching in 2015, with projects such as brick making.

We visited the home of Daniel and Sarah where recovery groups regularly meet and also worship. They had suffered greatly while Daniel was drinking, but he has maintained sobriety since 2015, and their home has become

Daniel and Sarah in Mgale
Daniel and Sarah at their home in Mgale where they host Recovery group meetings

something very special. It was the only place where I saw an apple tree growing bearing fruit in either country.

A problem was identified with respect to members who continued to drink. They were advised that if people wish to continue drinking, and are not seeking sobriety, they should no longer be part of the group. Slips should be tolerated, but not continuing habit.

In Mgale II there are five groups and a prayer group, with poultry and small scale agriculture as projects. Both centres in Mgale reported that their whole community had changed; again black magic had stopped.

Transformation in Shikunga

This was the village where we had been unable to teach in 2018 owing to the drinkers playing music very loudly. We had been forced

Shikunga
Behind the group of men is what was the drinkers’ den which is now a church and Recovery group meeting place

to leave but before doing so we had prayed, among other things that the place they were using would become a church and recovery centre.

It had!

Although the teaching provided had been incomplete, 45 people had formed three groups, thanks to follow up teaching by Pastor Stephen. There is also a church in Shikunga now, led by Pastor Joseph.

Mayenze

This is where Pastor Stephen has his church, and also an orphanage which is home for 120 children, and a school teaching many

Pastor Stephen and his wife
Pastor Stephen and his wife Rebecca at his home, school and orphanage.

more children, often cared for by grandparents.

Two men attended the teaching this time who had founded churches in remote locations following the our visit in 2015. One of these had four Recovery groups operating as part of his church; the other Pastor was in Wandago.

In 2018 there had been 16 recovered heroin addicts who had staged a drama. Their group has now successfully grown to 29 and they have reorganised, in line with what they have been taught, to become three groups, under the umbrella title “Happy Families”. They have formed a church and as their project visit other churches and organisations staging dramas, dance and comedy to pass on the message of recovery.

New Groups in New Localities

Pastor Stephen has started groups in many locations and it was possible to visit some of these, with members coming from other remote places to hear the teaching.

Buwamayi is where Stephen had found a group of school teachers sitting round a pot of beer drinking through tubing. They

Buwamayi gift
Gift of a cockerel and bananas from Buwamayi

wished to break with their habit and have successfully done so. They started as a group of four, but are now 29! A church has also started here which is particularly significant as the community sits on the boundary between two tribal areas, and so through this fellowship long standing divisions are being healed.

Many of the children at the school are orphans; they were present throughout the teaching and hopefully will never take up chemical habits. They have a number of agricultural projects operating and presented me with some bananas and a cockerel as a thank you gift!

Tubana is another community where Stephen has shared the teaching and groups have been formed. Again there was the report that as people became sober, and the brewing stopped, so did the black magic.

Wandago

This community is close to the source of the White Nile at Jinja. Here there is no agriculture; the whole enterprise of the people is the distillation of alcoholic spirit from beer known as waragi. It is famous for this and supplies all the nations surrounding Uganda, including Kenya, Sudan, Zaire, Tanzania and Rwanda, as well as Uganda at

Alcohol distillation at Wandago
Alcohol distillation at Wandago – the tubes lead to 2 gallon containers for distribution to surrounding countries

large.

Everywhere there were black oil drums on fires used to boil the fermented brew with tubes leading to yellow 2 gallon plastic containers in pits. Black magic is rife here with dedicated shrines.

It is here that Pastor Zakaliya, who I had met in Mayenze, and who had responded to the teaching in 2015, has founded a church. He is supported in addressing the problem by Stephen and Rebecca who visit regularly despite the long journey of 2-3 hours.

Here as well as at other  Recovery centres, we are intending to share knowledge of bee keeping and rabbit breeding, which would be well suited to those communities where there is a paucity of land to develop for agriculture.

In conclusion, this visit went awesomely well, and it is clear that the pastors have been very active in furthering the Recovery program. By means of God’s grace, through spiritual awakening, they report that:

  • family livelihood has improved
  • crime rates have fallen in the areas where groups are operating
  • social and economic projects have started, e.g. businesses, orphanages, churches
  • husband and wife relationships have been restored
  • children are returning to school
  • social activities such as football and volley ball have started
  • membership of groups is now reckoned in thousands
  • people are more kind to one another