(Photo: Moses Buyiinza with his wife Joan and their seven children express thanks for their new Fuller Center home in Uganda.)
Two new homes in Uganda stand as testimonies of faith that inspire community around them
The Fuller Center for Housing of Uganda’s two latest home dedications are for two very big families — one with seven children and the other with 10 children. These families had other things in common, including having to raise their children in inadequate homes while maintaining a strong sense of faith in God that things would get better. Today, they are now in safe new homes where their children have a stronger foundation for a successful future. These are their stories:
The Buyiinza family
Moses has been a hard-working field officer for his town council for more than 16 years. In a country like Uganda, that kind of steady, dependable work is hard to come by and appreciated. Yet, his salary has only been sufficient to afford rent for a single room. Perhaps that would be plenty for him and his wife, Joan, but they have shared that single room with seven children.
They began saving in 2010 toward their dream of having a simple, decent place to live. After nearly a decade, they finally had enough money saved … for a piece of land. They purchased a 50-foot-by-100-foot lot in 2019.
“It had taken us nearly 10 years of hardcore saving to acquire this land, but how to proceed in constructing a decent house was a mystery,” Moses recalled.
On the final Sunday of November 2019, the family was in church when the senior pastor began telling the congregation about a relatively new organization in the area, a faith-based housing ministry called The Fuller Center for Housing — specifically The Fuller Center of Uganda, whose launch was supported by the Uganda Baptist Convention. The pastor asked his congregation to give what they could to help the nonprofit work.
“I put in whatever I had toward the program,” Moses said. “My heart prayer to God was that someday I also could become a beneficiary. My pastor personally received my donation with joy, and he prayed over it. He then told me that as he would be submitting the collected funds to the Uganda Baptist Convention head offices (also home to Fuller Center of Uganda offices) he knew my greatest need and would submit my profile for consideration.”
The thought of repaying the costs of new Fuller Center home rather than saving for another decade as their children grew up in a single room together was exciting, but Moses and Joan tried to temper their expectations and high hopes. The image of a decent home, though, could not escape their thoughts.
“This awakened hope in me and my wife,” Moses said. “We started believing that God would have mercy and consider us. Indeed. He says in His word He will have mercy to whom He wants, brethren. He heard our cry, our fervent prayer, and came to our rescue.”
The family’s new home was built in 2020, and they now live in a beautiful four-room home that was dedicated before a large crowd of well-wishers. In fact, at least 10 people in the crowd were so moved by the moment that they joined the church that very day.
“A gift like this for someone who didn’t have any hope is indeed a great testimony,” said Kevin Chaya, administrator for the Uganda Baptist Convention. “Ten nonbelievers came to Christ because of this miracle to such a family they knew very well. It was a great joy and we thank The Fuller Center so much for your partnership.”
Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell said the Ugandan story reminded him of the Biblical parable from Luke 21:1-4.
“There’s a wonderful story of Jesus watching the wealthy dropping great sums into the temple treasury when he sees a poor widow drop two mites, the lowliest of coins, into the plate,” Snell said. “Jesus told His disciples that this widow had given more than any of the rich as they gave of their abundance but she gave of her all. Here we have our own widow’s mite story that speaks to the blessings that come to those who reach out, even in their poverty, to help others.”
The Wefafa family
Barasha Wefafa and his wife have been blessed by children — 10 times! Their children are evenly split between five sisters and five brothers, ages 9 to 22. They live in the Bugiri District of Eastern Uganda, a rural area where Barasha grows seasonal crops that he sells to make a living and feed the family. Unfortunately, kidney problems have begun to hinder Barasha’s efforts.
Their family has been fortunate that they inherited the land on which they have lived for the past 25 years from Barasha’s father. That land, though, did not come with a decent house. So Barasha had repeatedly built grass-thatched shelters for the family that would ultimately be decimated by wind, rain, rot and termites. The little income Barasha has been able to muster has gone to educate his children.
“I always wanted my children to have a brighter future and never had enough money to start building a permanent house for my family,” he said.
Then COVID-19 hit in 2020, presenting plenty of obstacles but also an opportunity.
“Because my children were not going to school because of the lockdown, I was able to start saving a little money,” Barasha said. “My church then called those in dire need of housing to apply to the Fuller Center for Housing of Uganda. When they visited my home, there were so touched by how I was living with my family. They saw that the grass-thatched house was on the verge of destruction by heavy winds as termites had eaten the poles supporting the old roof of our house. They prayed with me and told me to believe that God is able.”
The family was approved two months later for a new home. Today, Barasha says not only is his family happy and safe, but the entire community is inspired and hopeful.
“I was overjoyed at seeing my family have such a beautiful house with a latrine,” he said. “The Fuller Center for Housing has increased the faith of everyone in the community, especially those in dire need of decent housing.”
Of course, like all Fuller Center homeowner partners, Barasha’s family is required to repay the costs of construction — on terms they can afford, over time, with zero-percent interest charged and no profit made. Those payments go into a local Fund for Humanity to help others in the community get the very same kind of hand-up into decent housing. In this way, Fuller Center homeowner partners are not charity cases but are transformed into givers who make even more homes possible.
“God is enabling us to repay, and we are relentless in seeing those payments completed in the agreed time,” he said.
Fuller Center Vice President of International Programs Ryan Iafigliola also is inspired by how The Fuller Center’s ministry and Ugandan churches have meshed. It provides a shining example of The Fuller Center’s stated principle of being “a servant of the Church.”
“We’re so proud of our partners in Uganda,” Iafigliola said. “They have truly set the standard for mobilizing the churches to make the ministry happen in their area. And they’re doing it in a place where almost everyone who gives for the work could stand to benefit from what we do, which is pretty impressive and sobering at the same time.”