For centuries, the Batwa Pigmies were rain forest dwellers who lived in caves and trees in the Bwindi forest within south western Uganda. Dr Scott Kellermann, an American physician, is studying the Batwa people. “They are only four and a half feet in height typically. They hunted with poison-tip arrows or nets, collect fruits from the trees or roots from the ground.” But that all changed in 1992 when the government of Uganda decided to turn their habitat into a World Heritage site for endangered mountain gorillas. Of the 750 mountain gorillas in the world, 350 live within the Bwindi forest. “The result was that the Batwa were evicted from the forest,” said Kellermann.
With no title to land, no food, no clothing, and no shelter, thousands of them walked out of the jungle into a hostile world. Tugume Gerald and his wife, Barbara, decided to leave their home in Kampala to settle among them in the village of Kisoro. “I began by preaching the message of hope,” Gerald said. The result was transformational. Batwa Pygmies heard about Jesus for the first time. Jovanis Nyirakayanje was one of Gerald’s first converts. “We smoked; we drank; we performed witchcraft,” said Jovanis. “It was the first time anyone had ever told us about Jesus. We were servants of the devil, but then we heard Christ died for our sins and that changed our lives!” Since then, scores of Batwa have been baptised. It all led to the founding of the first-ever Batwa church in the region.
“At times we get up to 1,000 who come to attend the church,” remarked Tugume Gerald. He and his wife also run a school for pygmy children. Parents are learning to be farmers. “These are the poorest of the poor,” said Tino Qahoush, who got a handful of churches in Sweden to partner with them, bringing in school supplies, shoes and clothes. They are also building small homes for the Batwa. “What I like about this ministry is that it is run by the Batwa pygmies; they have formed a board; they are caring for their own people,” Qahoush said. Reflecting on the thousands still to hear about Jesus, Nyirakayanje said, “I believe His message of salvation is going to change the lives of my tribe.”
Source: George Thomas, CBN News
Bible Study: Acts 13:47
OCTOBER Praise God for Gerald and Barbara. Thank God the Batwa have heard the Gospel and responded to Jesus’ call. Pray for an outpouring of Grace, that they will receive support to grow in faith and learn skills to provide for material needs. Pray too they will receive favour from the wider Ugandan community