Joanne Greer Visits Uganda

Ulster Missionary Joanne Greer spent three weeks in Nsaalu, Uganda, East Africa, after being evacuated from Liberia because of the Ebola virus. She visited a new work of the Free Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland, and wrote a report about her experience.

Ulster Mission Joanne Greer picture with school children in Uganda, East Africa.

Ulster missionary Joanne Greer pictured with school children in Uganda, East Africa.

The apostle John said in his third epistle, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (v.4). This thought of “children walking in truth” came to my mind during my recent three-week visit to Emmanuel Christian School (ECS) in Nsaalu, Uganda. The Rev. Noel Kelly and his wife Stella, from England, have been running ECS since 2004, but due to their imminent retirement, they have asked the Free Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland (FPCU) to take over the running and support of the school. The FPCU has agreed to oversee and support this project for an initial period of one year, and I was very glad to make a short visit from October 22 to November 12 when asked by the mission board.

A student studies in the early morning sunlight at Emmanuel Christian School in Nsaalu, Uganda, where they lack electricity and running water.

A student studies in the early morning sunlight at Emmanuel Christian School in Nsaalu, Uganda, where they lack electricity and running water.

Emmanuel Christian School has 234 students enrolled, about half of whom pay full or partially reduced fees. Many others, however, are orphans or abandoned children or come from impoverished families, and some have moved from conflict-torn areas like Rwanda; many of these children are given a free education. There is a church on the school property where the 70 boarding students and some of the staff worship each Sunday, and some people from the local community also attend.

Emmanuel Christian School

Emmanuel Christian School

Conditions at the school are very basic, with no running water or indoor plumbing, and the only electricity comes from a generator that is turned on twice a week for a few hours to charge phones and flashlights. Rev. Kelly also has a few small solar panels that charge batteries during the day so that the missionaries and one or two others can have an inside light for a few hours each evening.

Rev. & Mrs. Noel Kelly

Rev. & Mrs. Noel Kelly

I got the opportunity to teach some Christian Religious Education (CRE) classes to Primary  3-6, and I also spent quite a bit of time teaching some hymns and choruses to the children, which, although unlike their usual style of singing, were well received. Academic standards are emphasised and valued at ECS, and last year they received the highest grades in primary national examinations in the district. But what most encouraged me were the signs of spiritual life and interest in the students. Children gather spontaneously to pray, a few 12 or 13 year old boys voluntarily speak at the students’ devotions, and teenaged boys and girls (again voluntarily) go out into the community with the pastor each Sunday afternoon for evangelism. Please pray for the current students of ECS, for wisdom for the Mission Board as they oversee the work for a year, and for funds to come in to support the students and to carry out some necessary development on the school property.