Some of you may have heard of the bombings in Kampala that happened a few weeks back. On July 11, at least 76 people were killed when two restaurants were bombed by members of Shabab, a militant Islamist group from Somalia who were allegedly retaliating against Uganda for its role in sending African Union peacekeepers to Somalia. While no IJM staff members were present at the site of the bombings, the bombs were extremely violent and resulted in injury or death for many of those present.
Some people have been asking how this makes me feel as I prepare to go to Kampala. I have a few things to say in response: First: I’m pretty sure anywhere can be dangerous. I almost wrecked my parents’ car today while driving in downtown Boise (but that’s a different story). Second: Kampala is a relatively safe and stable city in Africa, and such acts of terrorism have not occurred in Kampala since 1998. So in that respect, I don’t feel any fear or trepidation at the idea of living in Kampala.
However, it does cause to me think again on the pain that Uganda has felt in recent years. Beyond Kampala, the northern region of Uganda has been suffered continuous attacks by the rebel forces of the Lord’s Resistance Army for almost 10 years. More than 1.2 million Ugandans are forced to live as internally displaced peoples (which essentially means they are refugees in their own country, unable to return to their home villages for fear of rape, abduction, or death). In addition, although HIV/AIDS infection rates have declined across the country, the disease continues to ravage many families in Uganda, leaving even more widows and children vulnerable and unprotected from the threat of illegal property seizure. And now this unprecedented act of violence has wreaked havoc in Kampala, so out of character for the bustling and modern city that Kampala is becoming.
So how do we respond to such news? A wise professor of mine reminded me this week that these battles are not against flesh and blood, but against the evil one. And so, for now I suppose we pray. Pray that the Lord will bring peace soon to the northern region of Uganda. Pray that the work of IJM will continue to bear fruit in the lives of widows and children who are at such a high risk of losing their home and property. Pray that Kampala will recover from the attacks and that in the light of such loss and pain, people will turn to God and trust in Him. And let us not forget these words: Ps 46:11 “The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Thanks for your prayers.
P.S. I have prayer cards ready to send out! If you would like to receive one, please leave a comment here or send me an email with your postal address, if you have not yet done so. Thanks!