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Former child soldier Grace meets sponsor for first time thanks to MAF
3rd May 2022
On 7 July, following many years of sponsorship, Rebecca Cummings from Four Corners Ministries boards a MAF flight and meets former Ugandan child soldier Grace for the first time. They meet at a Christian women’s empowerment conference in Abaana’s Hope near Gulu, northern Uganda. MAF’s Jill Vine was there…
MAF pilot Hansjoerg Schlatter transports staff– including Rebecca Cummings – from ‘Four Corners Ministries’ who are co-hosting a women’s empowerment conference with ‘Living Stones Community Church’ in Abaana’s Hope.
MAF has partnered with Four Corners Ministries for ten years enabling the organisation to reach and serve the people of northern Uganda. This latest one-hour flight from Kajjansi near the capital Kampala to Gulu in the north, saves them eight hours of uncomfortable overland travel.
Four Corners Ministries shares the Gospel and meets the practical needs of marginalised communities through women’s empowerment programmes, medical provision, nurturing sustainable livelihoods, educating vulnerable children and offering Christian leadership training.
Their ten-day women’s empowerment conference in Abaana’s Hope attracts nearly 300 women including many former child soldiers who were abducted and brutalised by extremist group – the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Although the LRA were mostly expelled from Uganda by 2006, trauma still runs deep, and restoration and healing take time. Grace is on that journey:
‘I told them I wasn’t going to fight any more’
Grace was one of the 30,000 children from northern Uganda abducted by Joseph Kony’s henchmen and forced to fight on the frontline in a bid to overthrow Yoweri Museveni’s government.
She has experienced unimaginable horrors and hardship, but today lives peacefully with her five children living a productive life thanks to the support of Four Corners Ministries. Grace recalls those terrible times:
‘I was taken by force from my home by soldiers who took me to Sudan for training where I stayed for about two years. There was hardship all around me. Many people were killed.
‘I lived with six other soldiers and I was in charge of them.
‘One day we were sent to the well to get some water. That day I decided I wasn’t going back. When I told the other soldiers, they were very scared – they feared we would be killed if we were found. I told them that I was going to leave and that I was not afraid to use my gun if I had to!
‘The soldiers found me at my friend’s house. They were looking for guns but we had hidden them. I told them that I wasn’t going to fight any more and that I wanted to go home to my mother.
‘Once home, there was a lot of hardship – many people had been killed. I had to live off others and beg for food. My war injuries were so severe, I wasn’t able to plough my garden to feed myself. I couldn’t sell anything to make money.
‘Four Corners Ministries found me – I moved to Abaana’s Hope and began working. This ministry has completely changed my life.
‘Because of the grace of God, I am able to live on land that I have worked for and have been able to buy for myself. I have been able to feed myself and my kids and can now pay for my kids’ school fees.
‘I am so thankful to God and for everything he has done in my life. Without him and this ministry, I wouldn’t be alive or be where I am today. I have been transformed.’
Grace, former child soldier – Lord’s Resistance Army
Grace’s sponsor and MAF passenger, Rebecca Cummings from Four Corners Ministries, is privileged to finally meet Grace, which would have been a very difficult journey without MAF:
‘MAF provided a smooth flight from Kajjansi to Gulu, which enabled us to partner with the ladies from Living Stones Community Church and host this conference. We are so appreciative of the service MAF provides, which enables missionaries to reach people like Grace.’
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is the world’s largest humanitarian air operator. For over 75 years we have been flying light aircraft over jungles, mountains, swamps and deserts. We enable more than 2,000 aid, development and mission organisations to bring medical care, emergency relief and long-term development. Our pilots and personnel deliver relief workers, doctors, pastors, school books, food, medicines - everything that can only be safely and speedily delivered by air. Our faithful supporters give and pray to make this all possible.