This story is one that BUILD has shared elsewhere, but it is of such significance that we want to embed it here in the story of BUILD, which this blog captures. It is one that illustrates some unexpected outcomes of a BUILD training event, which reinforced the lessons of the workshop itself and that are entirely in keeping with the fruit that BUILD encourages through its training structures (this link explains more about that).
Ivan, a seven-year-old Ugandan boy, was a little boy with a big frown. He could hardly walk because his legs had been crooked from birth. In his home area of Nebbi in the north west of Uganda, this also meant he was an outcast. His parents were too ashamed to send him to school where he would have been ridiculed, and the rumours in the community were that his parents were cursed. A local MP told his grandfather, Joshua, a pastor in the Church of Uganda, that he might be able to help. But when Joshua took Ivan to the MP’s office in Kampala there was no sign of the MP and the office told them to go away. So Joshua brought Ivan with him to a pastor training workshop organised by BUILD, which he was on his way to.
Joshua explained the situation to everyone at the workshop and they gathered around and prayed for Ivan and the family. After they prayed, one person there said that he knew of a doctor, a Christian, who had opened an orthopaedic hospital for children. The doctor agreed to see Ivan and said that he hoped the hospital could help. Over the course of time, Stephen, who leads BUILD in the Church of Uganda, and Daniel, who leads a partner organisation, helped organise visits to the hospital for Ivan, partly using funds that came from BUILD Partners to help with the costs. After a series of operations, which were surrounded by much prayer from the Church of Uganda’s own extensive local and online network and great bravery on Ivan’s part his legs are now straight. It looks as though a complete miracle has happened, which of course it has.
Ivan returned to a BUILD workshop a year later with his grandfather so that they could bring a letter of thanks from the parents and share the story with the whole group. Ivan has gone from being a little boy with a frown to one who is constantly smiling and who can now walk and run for the first time. He has now started primary education and the family are no longer ashamed or viewed as under a curse locally – in fact, quite the reverse: many have started attending church in the local area as they are all talking about what God has done for Ivan and the family and how he has lifted the curse and brought such transformation.
BUILD training brings together what many, particularly in the West, have pulled apart: the proclamation of the gospel in both word and deed. Not either/or but both/and, woven together irresistibly to “make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive”, as participants learn in Module One from Titus 2:10. And in doing so it encourages a local, East African, approach to witness rather than undermining it.