by Bucky Rogers
Founder and Executive Director of Benjamin House Ministries
James grew up in the northern part of Uganda, in a city named Gulu. Gulu was one of the cities hardest hit and most affected by the 20 year war led by Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). Within just a few years of the conflict, many of the adults in the region had been killed and many children had been abducted by LRA troops to become child soldiers. The children would leave their homes and hide at night out of fear that the soldiers would come and kill their parents and take them away to become soldiers. Deep into the conflict, Uganda emptied the cities of the north and gathered people into very large refugee camps. An entire generation grew up in those camps. James told me about his life growing up in an area that was basically under prison encampment conditions. “Mom and dad died when I was 4 years old leaving me with my little brother, Joel, and my grandma. Life became really hard during that time. My brother, Joel, and I weren’t able to go to school, and my uncle would drag us from the hut almost daily and beat us. My grandma wasn’t able to care for us because she had nothing to feed us and there was no way to buy food. We would wait on food from the government people who ran the refugee camp. Life there was so terrible. We would go days without eating. Sometimes I would steal from our neighbors so my brother would live. We were caught so many times stealing and they would beat us so badly. When I was 7 years old I was abducted by the rebels (the LRA). They took us out into the bush and for 6 months I was forced to carry heavy things very far distances. There were 7 of us that were abducted at the same time. 4 of them were killed in fighting, and 3 of us survived. They made us kill. I refused at first and they beat me over the head and made me watch them kill a woman who was simply fetching water at a local well. I saw many people killed during that time.” James spoke softly as he showed me scars literally all over his body. He showed me 2 large scars in his leg where a stick hand gone through his shin as they were running through the bush when he was abducted. “We happened upon some government soldiers and the rebels started firing. I started running and I jumped down and embankment to get away. That’s how I escaped and went home.” After some time passed, a man from Canada came to the camp and collected all the orphans to take away to an orphanage. James and his brother, Joel, were separated and taken from their grandma. He was able to eat and go to school, but even James admitted, “We were so wild. We were used to bush life and had no family, nothing to ground us.” A few years later, the leaders of the orphanage were exposed. They had stolen money meant to help the kids and the orphanage was closed and all the kids taken back to Gulu. Some were reunited with family members, and others were left to the streets. “The only way I’m able to go to school is because I am one of the lucky ones who has a sponsor,” James said. “My grandma can barely afford to feed us, she surely can’t afford school. Joel isn’t in school because he doesn’t yet have a sponsor to help with school fees. He dreams of becoming a doctor when he is able to go back to school. I want to be president.” James is 21, and his brother, Joel, is 18. I met James through a strange set of circumstances and the Lord compelled me to tell his story. I don’t tell his story to get people to get emotional and say to themselves, “Man, that’s so sad. How could anyone treat children like that.” Honestly, I don’t believe God has called me to try to move people’s emotions. He has called me to move people’s actions. To motivate a nation to rebuild families, restore relationships, build great moms and dads, put away corruption and deceit, and lead their country. He has called me to wake up generations of Americans who have fallen asleep at the wheel and been anesthetized by plasma screens, apps, status symbols, and extravagance. He reminded me again today that the point of life isn’t simply to arrive safely at death with more toys than your neighbor. I probably shouldn’t say things like that. I’m sure it will come across as harsh and judgmental. But, honestly, I value the lives of the children of Uganda(and many other places in the world) and the future parents they will be one day more than I value being liked. We have no idea in this country what 90% of the rest of the world faces on a daily basis…the fear they wake up with and go to bed with every day. But you can choose that your life will be different. You can determine that you’re going to live life with your eyes open and although you can’t save every child…you can save one more today. You can build a father today. You can help a mom keep her kids today. You can stand with a young, pregnant and terrified 13 year old girl so that she doesn’t have to walk alone. You can choose to sponsor Joel and make sure he finishes high school, university, medical school and changes the lives of countless other Ugandans he will treat one day. You can lock arms with us at Benjamin House Ministries and make a difference. Or, you can go back to life, enjoy your kids and grandkids, and arrive safely at death. I think most people are just waiting for an opportunity to make their life count for something greater. Stand with us. Sacrifice to help us fund the ministry that will accomplish all these things in Uganda. Become a child’s sponsor and make an impact that will be felt for generations. Or, if not us and if not Uganda, then do something…somewhere. Life is a breath and then it’s gone. Let’s use every ounce of it. To donate online, visit www.benjaminhouse.net. To contact me, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to make time to talk with you. Child sponsorships for Joel and thousands of kids just like him will begin in March 2016. For those of you who have been following my family and our story, we fly over with a one way ticket to Uganda on March 8th with no plan B. We need you rowing with us. So, grab an oar, and may God bless you for your sacrifice.
Benjamin House staff, short-term missionaries, and our founders