Photographs and brief descriptions of 50 children from Uganda create a sense of anticipation and excitement in The Journey Network.
Through its newly launched Uganda Beyond Sponsorship Project, the church is partnering with ChildCare INTERNATIONAL to find sponsors and establish genuine connections with people who live in the small fishing village of Bukanaga.
“We want to share God’s love and learn from a community that has learned to trust God,” says project manager Heather (Berkenbosch) Naccarato. “We want to build relationships and be emotionally invested in this community.”
The Journey, a Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches church plant, has congregations in three locations—Old Ottawa South Parish, Manotick Parish and Orleans Parish.
The idea for the sponsorship project started when Naccarato, a newcomer to Ottawa, shared her journey of faith with Dave Harder, pastor of The Journey.
“I was praying that God would show me where I could make a difference in this world and be a beacon of hope for those around me,” she says.
When she told Harder she felt God had given her a desire to gain a new perspective of God’s love through a vacation in Africa, he told her about his recent visit to Bukanaga and the school that was started recently by Cissy Mukisa, pastor of Bukanaga Mount Carmel Ministries.
Naccarato, the director of education at an after-school teaching facility, says she immediately shared Harder’s passion to support Cissy Mukisa’s efforts to give children in Bukanaga the opportunity to go to school in their own village.
“Within minutes the ball was rolling,” she recalls. “With planning, prayer, meetings and partnerships my little vacation turned into the Uganda Beyond Sponsorship Project.”
In addition to finding sponsors, Naccarato is helping The Journey raise $13,000 to build a three-room building that will be used as a community school and church. About $2,000 was raised through a harvest festival that also served as a community building event for The Journey.
Plans are underway to support a water project that would provide an accessible source of clean drinking water for the school and community.
To help build mutual friendships and strengthen relationships, The Journey will be sending letters, as well as photographs and brief descriptions of children from the Ottawa church community. The two church communities will also learn to know each other through learning teams and mission trips that will be planned on a regular basis. The first learning team of sponsors and others will visit Bukanaga this spring.
“Our prayer is to empower children and to facilitate the building of powerful faith communities rooted in Christ’s love,” says Naccarato.
Gladys Terichow is the staff writer for the Canadian Conference of MB Churches|