When Amin was swept from power in 1979, Uganda was one of Africa’s poorest countries, soon to face the struggles of a rampant AIDS epidemic, terrorist activity from the Lord’s Resistance Army, including child slavery and mass murder, and a nationwide population of orphans and widows.
In Beeville on Monday morning at the First United Methodist Church, an Anglican minister from the highlands of Uganda will be looking for friends to help support Juna Amagara, meaning “save lives” in Ugandan. Juna Amagara is a ministry he started in 2004 to provide education, food, shelter, physical and also spiritual support, for hundreds of AIDS orphans and children of dying parents, as well as to provide vocational training for widows struggling to support their families.
Such an effort calls for financial support and a lot of energy. The 52-year-old Rev. Ben Tumaheiwe appreciates all the support he can get from the community.
His passion and drive to help others gives him the ability to turn any conversation into a homily that is both compelling and inspiring.
Tumaheiwe is the first from his village of Bufunda to earn a university degree. He holds a master’s in theology and religion from Wheaton College and Trinity International University, and also earned a doctor of ministry degree from Trinity.
In carrying out his work, he says he is following the biblical book of James that commands Christians to “look after orphans and to help widows in their distress….”
His mission in the village rests at an elevation of 7,000 feet, surrounded by terraced farm fields, where he cares for more than 550 orphans and half as many widows.
Tumaheiwe’s link to Beeville is Andrea Gibbud, whose cousin heard him speak years ago in Corpus Christi.
“My hope is that the Lord will connect me with people in the community of Beeville who will become passionate about working with us, to learn that it is good to care,” he said.
Tumaheiwe invites anyone interested in learning more about his ministry to visit him at the Welcome Center at the First United Methodist Church on Monday at 10 a.m.
Any support he receives, he says, not only will directly benefit those in his care but is also an investment in his country’s future.
Tumaheiwe said some of those he has helped, who have left his mission to earn advanced degrees in science and business administration, have opted to return to Bufunda rather than seeking higher-paying jobs in larger cities.
Their children, he says, will carry on their legacy, as each generation raises the living standard of his country.
Tumaheiwe would like to extend an invitation for all to visit Juna Amagara.
Additional information on his ministry is available at www.amagara.org.