The DNA local network in Uganda, Transforming Nations Alliance (TNA), recently finished training more than 100 of the nation’s emerging adults through a vibrant partnership with Compassion International, a leading Christian child-sponsorship organization. As a result, many of these young people have started their own initiatives to meet local needs with local resources. Read on to learn about these outstanding young leaders!
A dynamic partnership
Designed as a movement and not an institution, the DNA seeks to spread its ideas as widely as possible, following God’s lead and working collaboratively with other individuals and organizations (see our seven operating principles). This organic, open-handed structure has allowed the DNA to multiply rapidly and to team up with existing organizations seeking social and cultural transformation.
In 2000, the DNA conducted a Vision Conference with Christian leaders in Uganda. “The church latched on and formed a national task force to make sure the ideas didn’t die but lived on,” says Judith Murungi, the national coordinator for TNA which was birthed out of that task force as an independently registered Ugandan organization. Click here to read about TNA’s church-based community transformation program.
God has faithfully grown this movement in Uganda over the years and, since 2010, TNA has worked closely with Compassion to train some of their most promising sponsored college students just a few months before they launch into the marketplace as young adults.
Developing Christian leaders in Uganda
Compassion’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) offers university education and intensive Christian leadership training to the most gifted and service-oriented graduates of its child-sponsorship program. LDP students seize the opportunity to develop their God-given potential and become skilled professionals and Christian leaders of influence in their churches, communities and nation. The LDP provides academic assistance, leadership training, mentoring and discipleship.
“As Compassion International, we believe and hope that with the skills acquired by the students, they will advocate for positive change in their communities and country, and that LDP graduates will mobilize to end the cycle of poverty that undermines our nation,” says Compassion staff member Brendah Kikomberwa.
Most of these students are the first in their families to attend college.
TNA is one of the key trainers chosen by Compassion to help graduating students understand and apply a Biblical view of work, life and leadership as they enter into the marketplace.
“All these topics equip the students with knowledge and a skill that is so essential for the marketplace and personal development realities,” Brendah says. The students are equipped to “tell the whole breadth and depth of the transforming story which is God’s story, and its ability to transform individual lives, lift communities out of poverty and build nations that are free, compassionate and just,” she says.
Wholly aligning with God’s Word
Christians everywhere can identify with what the DNA calls the sacred-secular divide: the tempting view that some parts of life are sacred and others are secular when, in fact, all of life and everything we do falls under the kingship of Christ.
“TNA teaches a wholistic approach to Christianity,” says Judith, “and the kids are receptive to this. It’s encouraging for them to know they can be a Christian who is excellent in education, business, etc. and still be a Christian at church.”
Judith tells the story of one young man who began to think education was a waste of time–perhaps, he considered, he should only preach the gospel and win souls for Christ. TNA showed this man how ideas have consequences, and he began to see how his engagement in school at the level of philosophers actually could reach many people and have kingdom impact. He now is a professor at the university.
Putting faith into practice as agents of transformation
Many of these LDP students from the past five years have planned and carried out Seed Projects–small acts of service to the local community using local resources. Here are just a few examples:
Employment is hard to find in Uganda, and many proud new college graduates become dependent on their parents, waiting a long time for the white-collar job they believe they deserve instead of taking any available job that provides an income. TNA teaches the students to start small and see themselves grow, so one young lady started a business making and selling charcoal. Exercising humility, honesty, a good work ethic and trust in God, she was able to earn an income even before later accepting a better job at the university.
Peter, after realizing his potential for making change in his community, used some of his allowance from Compassion to form a community-based organization supporting widows and orphans. Today, he helps 46 widows and 34 orphans with school fees and materials, also training them in marketable skills for income generation.
A medical student, after being challenged by this training, used a small monetary gift from her sponsor not on clothes or other luxuries but on 1,000 trees to plant on her parents’ land. In this way, she planned for her future, cultivating the trees during school holidays and receiving good returns on her investment, selling the trees for use in furniture and construction. Today, she is married and working as a doctor.
Sebastian and his friends, after seeing so many of their peers drop out of college due to a lack of money, started a fund in partnership with the financial-aid office at Uganda Christian University. Using the slogan “serving to save a buddy,” this fund is supported by fellow students as well as school staff and faculty. Sebastian estimates that since 2013, more than 80 students have been helped by more than 5 million Ugandan shillings (about $2,000 USD). This is not the only Seed Project Sebastian has done; click here to learn more.