Shalom Ministries 2020 Annual Report
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
As we all know, 2020 was unique in many ways but I would name it the “YEAR OF GOD’S FAVOR!”
We found ourselves in an extremely strict lockdown from March to July 2020 and we asked ourselves so many questions: "What, where, how, when, who why…?"! The scripture above did not only rebuke me from complaining and questioning things that were out of our control but humbled my heart and redirected my prayers …” Lord, let Your will be done in your ways….”
For sure, Covid-19 was a challenge to Shalom in many ways but the blessings were many more! The support we gave to the district task force and feeding of the homeless persons from the restaurant alone made such a great impact as it showed the heart of Christ for Kotido and Karamoja. Youth were served and EVERY NEED was met and beyond!
We would like to thank all our dear friends and supporters, including individuals, churches, and organizations who gave so generously to Shalom in 2020. Your support made it possible for us to practically demonstrate God’s unconditional love through the care and support that we are providing to the vulnerable children and youth. Because of your partnership with Shalom, we never felt alone in this shocking year of 2020 and we would like to let you know Shalom really thank you so, so much for choosing to be part of what God is doing through us. I hope you enjoy reading below what you helped us realize and the love that was shared.
We wish you a happy year full of joy. We look forward to partnering with you in 2021!
Denise + Rainbow = Double Rainbow
Rainbow Mike and Denise Baustert first met when Denise volunteered to help run the Restaurant and make it profitable in mid 2019. A 3-month volunteer opportunity developed into a life-long commitment to Rainbow Mike since they were married in Sept 2020 in Oklahoma, where Denise is from. The couple had planned to return to US and get married before Rainbow Mike’s visa expired on September 4th things seems to go the wrong way; boarder closed, USA not issuing visas, until 2021, pressure of visa and lockdown was so depressing especially to Denise.
From Rainbow: “Through many prayers., we saw God working in ways we did not expect.
Denise and I finally got on repatriation flight from Uganda to USA on August 30th. We arrived in the USA 4 days before my visa expired and got married by September 26th. The favor of God was so real throughout the trip. We went to USA not knowing when we would return to Uganda since there was no repatriation flight scheduled to Uganda at a time, but we trusted that God would provide and indeed a miracle happed, our government reopen the airport on October 1st. We thank everyone who supported us in prayers, finances and those who took such a big decision to come and celebrate with us… Your love for me and Denise was greater than your fear for Covid19 and we just want to let you know we deeply honor the sacrifice you made to be with us.
You are rightly thinking during this turbulent year how Covid-19 impacted Shalom Reconciliation Ministry? This has been the common question for 2020 and I would like to share our experience.
We found ourselves housing the biggest number (57) of children and youth at Shalom Home, this was because of a very strict lockdown, no one could travel anywhere and so even youth we already reconciled to their relatives and being supported to attend boarding schools could not return to their villages. We wondered how we would provide enough meals for all these children and youth for an unknown period?. God surprised us with abundant provisions enough to take care of everyone and even shared (fed) with about 300 children and youth who live on the street of Kotido and children whose mother died during the lockdown. We also contributed fuel to the District Covid19 Task Force to help sensitized our vulnerable community about Covid-19.
We experienced the reality of God’s favor and promise to be with us always, support came even from people we did not ask or know. Compassion International (Uganda office) gave us a huge food donation. Their staff told us that they learned about Shalom from someone from within their national leaders who knew about the work of Shalom. Karamoja does not easily come on the list for National selection like this! Shalom was therefore among the few selected children's homes in Uganda for food support.
God is with us!
It is true that when we seek God’s kingdom he shall add to us what he knows is good for us even without writing a proposal
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well”
Due to Covid-19 and lockdown, some of the NGOs, Churches, and government offices stopped serving, Shalom remained opened to serve the vulnerable children and youth in this community though at times the needs and the number of people seeking help or being referred to us is overwhelming.
The Hopes Program helps to both engage youth in business and engage them in learning and practicing their skills as they contribute to the businesses that generate income for the ministry locally. Shalom Savings and Credit Cooperative was effectively at a standstill for the entire year, Shalom Restaurant was nowhere near profitable but gave Shalom the opportunity to run a feeding program for two months, and the van business has been rebounding after the lock-down in Kotido. Shalom plans for the businesses of the Hopes program to make a profit in 2021 and reaching out to more youth. To get more information on how you can help Shalom to invest in more local opportunities to earn revenue and equip youth on business, please get in touch.
“Shalom Restaurant is the Best in Kotido and maybe even in Karamoja” – Regional District Chief, Kotido
Shalom still sees a lot of gaps but it’s good to know that he and all these other officials appreciate the service of the restaurant. I think we need to restructure/ make some price increases at the restaurant so we can move toward profit. We have recruited some more staff and hope they can now work to the expectations.
Van hire is doing much much better, Denise made a new fee structure for hire and I think we are moving in the right direction toward profit.
Thanks and keep praying for us for wisdom as we guide the Hopes program.
One of the biggest highlights for 2020 is the spiritual growth in the lives of the youth we served at Shalom Home, schools were closed and so that allowed more time to continue discipling the youth and I want to thank God for what he is doing and a big appreciation to our team (staff) who are doing their best to serve day and night.
One of the older youth, named Lokol John, now 18 years old at Shalom Home surprised us in November. He asked us to allow him to find some work so he can raise some money and help get his Father out of the street. Lokol and his two younger brothers (Angola Kizito and Naabong Jeff) were received at Shalom in 2012. Their parents had decided to all leave and each disappeared leaving Lokol in a rented house with no food, no beddings, no clothes except for 1 cooking pot and 1 spoon. Lokol by then 12 years old took the responsibility to care for his younger brothers by begging for food from neighbors. After 3 months the neighbors got tired and the Landlord chased them away from the house. One neighbor who was more concerned reported to the district officials about the situation of these boys, the district social welfare officer then sought help from Shalom and we did receive the three boys at Shalom.
Their father ended up living on the street of Kotido town. Later, he learned that his children were at Shalom Home and would occasionally appear at the gate with just one small piece of mandazi (bread) for the little boy (Naabong). Lokol never wanted to see him and would not go to greet him. However, this year God changed his heart toward his father, and he is now communicating with the Dad and with a desire to help him come out of the street life. Also, Lokol asked us to take him to try to find his mother who is said to be living in some village near Moroto town (about 2 hours drive from Kotido).
Agape Football Club
As some of you already know or heard before, Agape started with former street boys and shepherd boys who once treated each other as enemies but through football a team was formed in 2008 and continued to grow physically, socially, and spiritually. A few years later God made it clear that he wants to use the football team to work as peacemaker for Karamoja and it’s been so amazing to see the work of the Holy Spirit within the team and through the team.
Before Covid19 and the lockdown, we did football outreach in three districts of Karamoja. We went to Nabilatuk, south Karamoja (about 2 and half hours drive). We were welcomed and hosted by the political leaders, district education officer and district sports officer, and the entire footballers of the district. The leaders told us that Jie community have never visited their community for good reasons except raiding and they were so glad this time the Agape united on behalf of the Jie community visited their community in peace! Our visit was announced on the radio and over 5,000 people gathered to watch the game. Nabilatuk district team won 3.1 but they were surprised by the attitude of our team (we did not behave as a team that lost the game), of course, we lost the football match but not our mission for visiting them and this is something every Agape team members understand). Because of our attitude, the area MP and other district leaders organized a big feast (food and drinks) for all the two teams and members of the community. During the big meal, the leaders thank Shalom and Agape for the initiative to make peace in Karamoja and told us to take their greetings and message of peace to Jie community, political, and kraal leaders. The education and sports officer for the district thanked Agape for being a good sports team and encourage their district team to copy the same attitude, the education officer added that the youth of Karamoja should leave raiding and pursue education and peace not hatred.
We spend the night in Nabilatuk, and we were sent off to Kotido with a big HE GOAT as a sign of peace between their community and the Jie community. We travel to North Karamoja at the end of Feb 2020 and we experience the same hospitality as well the team got to visit Kidepo National park.
Shalom Home gets rejunevated
God is so good! It's amazing to see the dreams of the building come to reality. I was going through my notes and found that in 2010 I had a dream that there was a team that came to visit Shalom and later commits to helping build Shalom Home. The team also left behind their personal belongings because they saw the needs at Shalom and were moved to help. I concluded it was the teams that First McKinney Church from Texas sent in 2014 and 2019. Am so glad to see how God speaks and brings things to reality!
In December, Shalom concluded most of the construction projects with work on the renovation of Shalom dormitory and newly finished visitor's house. Two of the biggest highlights of 2020 are the improvement of the sanitary facility at Shalom Home and the Kitchen. They have really brought a lot of joy and peace to Shalom Home.
Here are the details of projects we accomplished and that we still hope to do as God provides in 2021.