Almost 18 years ago we were part of the team that founded Christ School Bundibugyo in the wake of war, displacement, poverty, isolation, and abysmal educational measures on the Uganda/Congo border.
Our firstborn son was not even in kindergarten, but we sponsored a young teen in that inaugural secondary school class, an orphaned boy who had befriended our young family.
The vision our Serge team had developed, particularly the headmasters Kevin and J.D. Bartkovich and our team leader Paul L, was to offer a high-quality, Christ-centered education to the poorest of the poor who were also developing leaders so that they could go on to serve their communities in the same sacrificial way that Christ loved the world. We would stand against the corruption, nepotism, sexual abuse, and physical violence that were the norm in local schools. I believe we all expected glorious results.
And there has been glory, but for every spark of success we’ve slogged through years of gritty heartache.
In the school’s second year, a resurgence of rebel attacks led us to flee with the entire student body over the mountains to a safer district for months. There have been riots, stones thrown, threats against leaders, as well as more devious and subtle plots and attacks.
To keep the doors open to the neediest, tuition has been kept low, and funds raised for scholarships. We saw God provide last-minute funds for student meals and needed classrooms, the stuff of epics. However, day-to-day, let alone year-to-year, has never felt secure or sure.
But that is the way the world changes, one mind, one life at a time. Students encountering a different set of world views and values, where women have equal worth, where truth matters, where faith provides a bedrock, come out of the school equipped to make a difference.
They have become schoolteachers, pastors, electricians, farmers, business-people, accountants, and doctors. Slowly the momentum of a culture once mired in fear begins to shift. A sprinkling of salt brings the flavor of love.
Such change comes at a cost. Jesus said, if you want to do what I do, take up your cross and follow. By standing against prevailing and accepted wrongs, Christ School has become a lightning rod for opposition. People have suffered, and even died, and there have been many times all of us who have struggled there have considered quitting.
But Jesus also said: where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Why is Serge still pouring money and life and prayer and energy into this school? Because we have put our treasures there.
For Scott and me as East Africa Serge Area Directors, those treasures included all four of our own biological children, as well as a dozen other foster-child-like relationships with kids we sponsored. For our team, those treasures include hours of lesson preparation, sports coaching, construction planning, teacher mentoring, student discipleship, fund raising.
Our hearts are still in Christ School Bundibugyo. It’s not a safe place to keep your heart, but the treasures of the Kingdom shine brightest when they are invested in dodgy places. As 2016 draws to a close, we pray that others also put their treasures in this place, and allow their hearts to follow.