Training leads to conversions and rape-reduction in Uganda
When BMS World Mission workers Deb and Dug Benn wrote safeguarding training in Uganda, they didn’t realise what a massive impact it would have
Three Ugandan policemen have become Christians in one village and the number of children raped each month has dropped by over 90 per cent in another, thanks to safeguarding training written by BMS mission workers.
Last week, BMS workers Deb and Dug Benn received a letter from their friend and former colleague in the town of Kasese, Pastor Alfonse. He was writing to tell them of his recent trip to a village way up in the mountains of Kasese District. Part way through the journey he had to abandon his motorcycle and walk for three hours to reach his destination.
What happened when he arrived was amazing.
Pastor Alfonse had been going to the village to deliver Sunday school training. But while he was there, he decided to teach Guard, Guide and Grow, the Benns’ safeguarding material, too.
“You won’t believe this, but it is reality,” Pastor Alfonse told the Benns. “Three policemen gave their lives to Christ, and I had to baptise them! It was a very wonderful time.”
Pastor Alfonse is a huge advocate of Guard, Guide and Grow, always carrying a copy with him and, as he shared the importance of safeguarding children, these three policemen encountered God.
“They were so impacted by what he was saying, the way he said it, and God speaking through him, that they gave their lives to Christ there and then,” says Deb. “That’s incredible!”
And that’s just one example of the way the training is transforming lives.
A local councillor from another village wrote of the impact the training had on his community.
“People realised the need of saving children,” he said.
In that village, more than ten children were being raped every month, before pastors, community leaders and others received the Guard, Guide and Grow training. But between May and August there were only two cases of defilement (which means rape of a child in Uganda).
“I’m not sure exactly why it made a difference,” says Dug. “But I think the training brought home to people that this is not right, and we have to do something about it. And therefore the rate of defilement just plummeted.”
The Benns developed Guard, Guide and Grow to help adults in Uganda protect children and also protect themselves. It provides simple advice and tools: from getting references and not being alone with a child, to not using corporal punishment and putting soap by sinks. One school recently told Deb and Dug that because of their training they no longer beat the children.
Deb and Dug have given Guard, Guide and Grow training to all the Compassion staff in Kasese – who work with around 5,000 children. They’ve also trained 800 other people across the country, including community leaders, pastors, Sunday school teachers and policemen. Altogether, the number of children who are being, or will be, affected by the training is likely to be huge.
The Benns’ time in Uganda came to an end at the start of this year, and they are now back in the UK speaking at churches about their mission experience and exploring possible other placements with BMS. So, how do they feel knowing their work continues without them?
“It’s an incredible encouragement,” says Deb. “We were very sad to have to leave Uganda, although we were aware that our time there was limited. We’ve left some really special people there. But how exciting for us. What an incredible privilege to know that the work is continuing!”
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission
BMS World Mission, 05/02/2015