In 1986, James Wacha, a son to Mzee Okabbo was shot dead in Dokolo Trading Centre (now Dokolo town) by soldiers who were fleeing after the fall of the Okello Military Junta. As a result, the family of Absalom Okabbo had to abandon their retirement home and seek a burial place at Mr Okabbo’s ancestral village in Kwera, Oyengopere. They started life in their new home with the burial of their son, James.
Following that, Mr Okabbo decided that he would not return to Dokolo, but stay in Kwera. There was no church in the area. Consequently Mr Okabbo and his wife Rachel started leading prayers in their living room – (at that time just a grass thatched hut). The prayers were attended by 7 people, Mr and Mrs Okabbo, and 5 of their grandchildren. When people in the neighbourhood heard the worship hymns on a few Sunday mornings coming from their home, they were intrigued and enquired if they could join. Mr Okabbo readily welcomed anyone who wanted to join them and retorted: “After all, Obanga tye kabedo ducu, wan oromo lego paco kan”. Meaning, “After all, God is present everywhere; we can worship at home here”. These words eventually formed the name of the Church: Obanga Tye Kabedo Ducu Church in Kwera.
In April 2003, on her first visit back to Uganda after 13 years in the UK Mildred took a number of pictures to share with her children and local church in Hillingdon.
A growing Church:
While the 7 were led in prayers by Mr Okabbo himself, he soon realised that he needed the main local Anglican Church to intervene and provide worship leaders from the Diocese when he had over 20 people from the neighbourhood join them. They quickly constructed a small grass thatched hut in which they prayed. In the meantime, the retired Deacon (Reverend Abel Oketi, RIP) who lived locally led prayers until they were allocated a lay Preacher from the Diocese. As the number of worshippers could no longer be accommodated in the small hut, they started to pray in the shade of the mango tree. However during rainy seasons they were very much challenged, so there was an urgent need to build the big church.
Due to a combined effort from the people from the UK and the local members of Kwera, funds were raised and a church was built. Donations of as small as £5 pounds to £2000 were realised from different people. One particular donor deserves to be acknowledged in full. The donor asked not to be named so she is called here Abigail (not her real name).
The conversation between Abigail and Mildred below shows how God did an amazing thing for the local villagers of Kwera. It was on a Saturday morning as Mildred was doing her housework when the telephone rang and Mildred answered it:
Abigail: Good morning Mildred
Mildred: Good morning, so nice to hear from you today.
Abigail: You know that church your father and community are building, how much did you say they need for the roofing?
Mildred: They need about £1000 to buy the timber, nails and other roofing materials. I have offered to buy the iron sheets which cost about £300.
Abigail: I will give you the whole £1000.
Mildred: No, you don’t have to because I have already raised about £380 pounds from those activities we did in church, individual donations and house groups.
Abigail: I want to, so I will give it to you. To whom should I write the cheque?
Mildred: Thank you so much, you are so kind. Write it to a charity whose title and reference I will give you after I speak with the Chairperson of that charity. God bless you abundantly.
– Mildred was overwhelmed by such kindness and straight away Mildred recalled the words of those two members of the village: “God will provide and we will celebrate Independence Day in the church”. More shocks were still to land on me because not 30 minutes had elapsed before Abigail called again!
Abigail: Mildred, it’s me again. I have been thinking about the whole process, have you thought about the windows and doors of the church?
Mildred: No, I have not and the village community have not factored it in their urgent plans!
Abigail: I will give you a further £1000 so that it can be used towards buying the window and door frames.
Mildred: Are you really sure about what you are doing? How can you be so generous to people you don’t even know?
Abigail: I am sure about it. It is God’s work and I am happy to give towards it. I will write a cheque of £2,000 and post it to you; then you can fill in the Charity name and let me have it too. Thank you, you have a good day.
Mildred: Thank you; you have a good day too. See you tomorrow.
The money was enough to complete the tasks mentioned above and the church community had a bonus, with the windows and doors bought for them. God had exceeded their expectation beyond their imagination.
The people of Obanga Tye Kabedo Ducu; acknowledge with much gratitude the support from the Christians and Friends from St. John the Baptist Church, Hillingdon United Kingdom (UK) who generously fundraised and contributed money towards roofing materials, windows and door frames for their Church. They would also like to thank one of Mr Okabbo’s daughters (Mildred Ruth Atubo) who lives in England and made the links between the people of Kwera, Uganda and Hillingdon, (U K). Above all, they give thanks and glory to God for providing the necessary support, to help them build the church.
The Christians of St. John’s Hillingdon on the other hand express much love and gratitude that they were able to help and support their brothers and sisters in their quest of building a place of worship. They give all praise and glory to God for giving them the opportunity to connect with their fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Uganda. Most importantly, distance has not been a hindrance at all.