Courageous leadership in a refugee camp

Jem Hovil

Jacob Karaba is a church leader in a refugee camp in Uganda. He shares: 

‘Things are still at a stand-still as lockdown and the curfew have been extended. There have been a number of conflicts between the refugees and the host communities because of the lack of firewood. There are shortages of drugs in the health centres and the World Food Programme has reduced our food rations. Death, sickness, attempted suicide and domestic violence are becoming rampant. People are scared about what will happen if COVID-19 reaches the camps.

‘COVID-19 has exposed tensions between the faith community and the local government. Some politicians are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to finance themselves and to silence church activities.

‘In my community Christians are famous historically for staying to care for the sick and dying during plagues. After all, to risk one’s life for the sake of another is the Jesus-like thing to do. In this current crisis, pastors are risking their lives to provide some emergency services such as burying the dead, visiting the sick and reconciling families struggling with domestic violence. But pastors and church leaders are under threat of harassment. When a pastor moves with a bible it seems like he or she is carrying coronavirus. Pastoral care has become more complicated. Some pastors have set up a pastoral care roster of weekly phone or radio calls to check on both the physical and spiritual needs of church members.’

Please pray for Jacob as he leads his church in these challenging circumstances. Pray that his witness during this time would glorify God and bring those in darkness to eternal life. Pray too for protection from coronavirus for the whole camp and for the Lord’s provision for these people.

Jacob is from South Sudan but is a refugee in Uganda. Since being in the camp, Jacob has used the BUILD training course to equip other Christians to lead and teach churches. The hope is that if and when Jacob returns to South Sudan he will continue with BUILD training in his new context, and encourage other BUILD trainers in the country.

Pictured at the top of the page, Jacob is distributing food and support to the community.