Putting Christ into the Crisis of UGANDA

The vision of ChristAid began in Denver, Colorado through the conviction and prompting of the Holy spirit in the life of David Mporampora.

David, the founder and CEO of ChristAid, came to the United States from Uganda, Africa for a college education and to pursue the American dream. His goal was to use his God-given musical talents to become a celebrity Christian artist, earn lots of money and live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. In retirement, he wanted to become the missions director of a wealthy suburban church, make mission trips to Jamaica, Hawaii and other luxury vacation sites or go on cruises and minister to movie stars and celebrities. Why not? he thought! This is the land of opportunity. But God had other plans!

In order to fully understand the history of this amazing outreach called ChristAid, here is a little background:

David Mporampora survived the terrible years of the reign of Idi Amin, one of the world's most notorious and violent dictators. He personally experienced gross persecution — the closing of churches and the beating and torture of Christians. He viewed America as God's reward to him for the suffering he endured during the Idi Amin years. Once in the United States a return to Uganda was unimaginable.

After graduating college with a bachelor's degree in social science, David set out to realize his dream of stardom as a gospel musician. After all, he was very talented and nothing was going stop him. His main instrument was piano; he also played guitar, drums and percussion, trumpet, flute, harmonica, accordion and saxophone in addition to a God-given gift of voice, composition and arranging his own music. He performed at all the big, glamorous Christian events and seminars and gained recognition.

One day when he was at Denver Seminary seeking ministry opportunities, God directed him to a bulletin board where he saw a notice with a large heading: "Job ministry opening." It had been posted by the Denver Rescue Mission which worked with homeless people, crack heads, prostitutes, parolees and ex-convicts.

His spirit rebelled. This was not consistent with stardom and the American dream. But the Lord grabbed him by the ear and told him to submit an application. But he was reluctant. The words "celebrity" and "rescue mission" were incompatible.

After several sleepless nights, David could not get rid of that voice heard at the seminary. Finally he decided that the voice would only stop nagging him if he went to the mission and make God happy with his obedience.

Driving from the wealthy Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado into the "hood" in the inner-city was not fun. The sight of yelling and cursing drunks at the mission door and the broken bottles littering the sidewalk was depressing. He grumbled at God, unwilling to get out of his car. But, God said, "Shut up and go inside."

Some hear God speak in sweet, tender whispering voice of the Holy spirit, but not David. God must have known how David longed to live the "Great American Dream" and spoke to him in the voice of a marine drill sergeant giving orders to a recruit. David could only reply, "Yes sir!"

The smell of the building was overwhelming. The scary environment showed no evidence of being a stepping stone to celebrity status. That did not settle well in David's heart. In fear of what the Lord would do next, David went in and requested an application. The lady at the front desk looked at him as if to say, "You don't fit in here." She gave David the paperwork and said, "Sir, here's the application but you're wasting your time. There are at least twenty other applicants ahead of you and some have degrees in counseling from prestigious universities and seminaries. You can fill out the forms but you don't have a chance."

Yeeess! David said to himself, that was all he needed to hear. He headed out of the stinky building. Just as he was about to open the door, a voice said, "Shut up, fill the application and hand it in!" David said "okay! okay, I will!"

To make a long story short, two weeks later he received a call from the mission to come in for an interview.

Oh! no! he said to himself as he sat on a chair across from the program executive director (and members of the leadership staff). "Well, David," he said, "After carefully examining all the applicants' paperwork, most of whose resumes were more qualified than yours, we have narrowed our search to one person, you!"

David's heart pounded! "Why me?" he asked.

The director said, "As well-qualified as the other people were, they all lack one thing, the gift of music. Homeless people love music over preaching and teaching. Your music skills are exceptional. Congratulations, the job is yours."

Stammering in confusion David said, "Thank you sir." But inwardly he was upset God. "What are you doing to my life?"

Work began in frustration and uncertainty, but with total obedience to God. His responsibilities, he discovered, were multi-purpose and included counseling homeless people, assessing their abilities to get in the program which offered learning new skills and job placement so they could start over with their lives. If chaplains didn't show up, he preached and lead worship. Little did he know that God was leading him beyond what his little brain could discern.

Finally it dawned on him that God was grooming him to start a rescue ministry in his poverty-stricken homeland of Uganda which had seen every disaster: war, successive coup de tas by greedy dictators and the ultimate weapon of mass destruction called HIV which was claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. The Denver Rescue Mission taught him how to administer a rescue ministry and its CEO, Del Maxifield, was his mentor; its vice president, Kevin Mann, became his big brother and counselor.

After three years with God's homeless people, David said goodbye and worked with Volunteers of America in crisis intervention and youth counseling, further equipping him for the vision God had in mind for him.

CHRISTAID IS BORN

In 1995, David incorporated and registered ChristAid as a non-profit outreach. Later it was received its accreditation from the Federal government — a true blessing from above.

The program began with twenty case studies of orphans in Uganda. It grew to fifty, then a hundred. It now reaches hundreds of orphaned or miserably poor children. Later David started a rare outreach to grandmothers called "Grandmas for Jesus." The program began with seven case studies but now reaches out to over two hundred grandmas who have become sole-caregivers to children orphaned by the HIV epidemic.

ChristAid's first office was in the corner of David's one bedroom apartment in Lakewood, Colorado where he lived with his family. It was relocated to a small office in Aurora, Colorado donated by dear friends Dr. Randy and Pam Fincher. It was equipped with an old-fashioned IBM Selectric typewriter and later a very slow computer. The donated office was a blessing, though the desk took up half the space. We had to climb over stuff to get from one end to the other or around each other.

Today, ChristAid is blessed with a large warehouse with offices to accommodate four staff members and several volunteers, equipped with donations of medical equipment, books, computers and vocational training materials. The warehouse is filled to capacity because of the generosity of many friends.

What began as a simple ministry has exploded into a powerful, life-saving outreach to the poor of Uganda. Lives are being transformed through health care, education and the message of the gospel through action. ChristAid has shipped forty-foot containers of medical and educational equipment to Uganda and genocide-stricken Rwanda.

Over the years we have learned many lessons and God has brought great people with the biggest hearts and experience to make the burden lighter. Looking back to where we began and counting our blessings, surely God began a good work in us and has empowered us to do more in the future. We are truly humbled by God's grace.

David Mporampora, ChristAid founder and Missionary to Uganda