“Our mission is one of empowerment – not only do we feed the hungry and care for the poor, but we put them in a position to feed and care for themselves by providing them with the tools and resources they need to live successful and fulfilling lives.” ~ Lorraine Barnes
Oxford defines empowerment as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. In Uganda, the effects of poverty are multi-dimensional, meaning there are many factors at play in why people experience poverty. Often people will find themselves locked in the cycle for generations with no way to pull themselves up. Whole villages are trapped in the cycle of poverty due to old mindset/stigmas, the misdistribution of funds, and/or environmental hazards. However, through empowerment, we can break the poverty cycle by uplifting the whole man.
Empowering a person empowers a community. The programs we have in place are designed to help the whole man, mind, body, and spirit, so that through Christ, she or he may lack in nothing. We nurture the mind by providing bibles, facilitating bible studies and services to villages. As Romans 12:2 states, “do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you might prove what the will of God is, that which is good, perfect and acceptable…” Through Christ, we are transformed; our thoughts, our ideas all begin to align with His Word. This allows the body of Christ to work and move in one accord. Although we have unique personalities that distinguish us from one another, our beliefs and values are rooted in Christ. Reading the Word of God uplifts the mind from hopelessness and despair. The Word brings life to dead and barren places. For people who only know poverty, the Word brings hope. It opens their mind to a new way of being, thinking, and behaving and empowers them to function in this world with confidence.
In 2020, Gateway 2 Missions hosted our first Empowerment Summit for several villages in Uganda. Odeke Abel traveled to several districts in Uganda teaching men and women skills to make chalk, soaps, shampoos, and Vaseline. After the training seminars, each participant received a starter kit to help them launch their business. People were given an opportunity to change their circumstances for the better.
The need is great, and it will take several years to break generational curses of poverty in the communities of Africa. However, Gateway 2 Missions continues to work with people who are in the cycle. We will continue to empower them to become entrepreneurs and leaders in their villages. As they begin to reclaim their confidence through reading the Word and skills training, we will support them through our programs until they are secure in their footing.