Two Canby churches have been traveling to Africa on missions to help locals there, and one couple, Sam and Josephine Sesay from Sierra Leone, recently traveled here to meet the congregation that has been supporting their efforts since 2000.
Tim Barton, senior pastor of Canby Alliance Church, said his fellow congregants send the Sesays anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000 every three months. Sam Sesay said that money has gone toward building a church, three primary schools and a medical clinic for a village inhabited by a tribe called the Susus.
"In 1999, I wanted to reach one of three tribes that had not been reached by the gospel," Sesay said. "We prayed on it and chose to reach the Susu people. The head of the tribe told us we would not be able to break through as far as the Susus are concerned unless we can reach their grandchildren. I was not comfortable with that statement and started thinking about what I could do. I prayed about it. I could not sleep thinking about these people."
The Sesays fled the civil war in Sierra Leone and moved to Guinea. It was there they first met people from Canby Alliance Church, who eventually decided to support their faith-ministry mission. Sam and Josephine now "walk among the Susu people," living and working in their village.
"We started with one family," Sesay said. "We are using their language to teach them. Salvation for us is the Lord Jesus Christ. We the Christians believe he is the way and that's what we teach. Without him there is no assurance. Many of the Susu people believe the New Testament has been corrupted because it has been revised, and their text, the Koran, has not."
"It was very difficult to get through to them," Sam continued. "You can't just go and talk to them about Jesus. The first thing you have to do is befriend someone. From that point you can start sharing stories about Jesus. We did that. It was very difficult."
A co-op in Kacungwa
Brandon Chase of Canby Christian Church last traveled to Uganda in January, but he recently received good news from the village of Kacungwa, where the church has been helping the locals by building a medical clinic, and raising crops and livestock.
"There's been a lot of growth with the co-op," Chase said. "Just in the last month we completed our first corn-buying program. We budgeted about $10,000 to buy from local farmers, and paid them well above market price to help them out. We stored the corn for about two or three months and just sold it. We were able to sell at an offseason price, and as a co-op profited about $1,500 on top of the initial buy-in."
The co-op also sold soy beans, which had not ever been grown in that region. And the livestock it raises are pigs. The co-op started out one year ago with 12 pigs. Ten of them were female, and they bought a boar and now they have 180 pigs.
"It's hard to find a buyer that's honest," Chase said. "We've had some problems. There's a lot of corruption in Uganda, and people have tried to cheat us."
Chase said they also are exploring the possibility of opening a butcher shop or a restaurant to sell pork themselves rather than relying on buyers who often take advantage of people. Additionally, Chase and others from Canby Christian Church went to Kacungwa last year to help establish a medical clinic. Today, that clinic treats dozens of people each month, and about 14 are saved from life-threatening diseases, like Typhoid and Malaria.
"It's not self-sustaining yet," Chase said. "We're still subsidizing it through the church. We have a five-year window to get to that point."
The church sponsors 150-200 children, and just raised more than $40,000 through private donations for its African mission.