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Local pastors visit Africa

Melksham residents, John and Sharon Firth, have recently returned from a trip to Uganda and Zimbabwe.  

Sharon, a specialist in management training and facilitation with Inspire Away, held two days of staff development training at Kampala Children’s Centre (KCC).  KCC is the home of Destiny Africa Children’s Choir (www.destinyafrica.org) who will be returning to Melksham in June.

The Centre, founded by Arnold Muwonge, is now 10 years old and home to over 140 children, many of whom were orphaned in the war in Northern Uganda.  GoodNews Church (www.goodnewschurch.org.uk) in Melksham – which Sharon co-pastors with her husband John – has supported KCC since its inception.

This was Sharon’s second visit to KCC having held a week-long management training course there in 2008. She said, “It was amazing to see how things have developed here, the Centre now has 120 staff! When we were last here the first school building was near completion – now they have over 600 children at the school, which ranks in the top 100 primary schools in Uganda (out of 6,700), and construction is underway of three new multi-story buildings on the KCC site.”

Their trip to Uganda wasn’t all work, as they attended the wedding of Priscilla Ngero, formerly a student at the University of the West of England, who was part of the GoodNews Church family during her time in the UK.

Priscilla, who graduated in accountancy, returned to Africa to work for ‘Samaritan’s Purse’ in South Sudan and is now working for Oxfam in Uganda.  Priscilla met her husband Mike Fisher in South Sudan, and Mike now works in Uganda for Samaritan’s Purse.

John and Sharon extended their stay in Africa by travelling down to Zimbabwe.  The couple were speaking at a conference in Mutare, on the Eastern border of Zimbabwe, organised by Pastor Tinashe Veremu.

John commented, “GoodNews Church have supported this ministry in Zimbabwe for many years, and it was amazing to actually meet the people we’ve heard so much about and prayed for so regularly.”

While they were in Zimbabwe the couple were invited to teach at Salem Evangelical Bible Institute Zimbabwe in Harare.  The Institute’s director, Pastor Shepherd Bero, and Pastor Veremu were both students at the Institute nearly 20 years ago when former GoodNews Church members, Jeff and Christine Carter, were on staff there.  Jeff and Christine, who now live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, introduced GoodNews Church to Pastor Veremu’s ministry.

John said “One thing that struck me was the joy and enthusiasm of the people, they have so little, but were so full of life.

“We attended a meeting held outside Tinashe’s home that spilled out onto the roadways, as people crowded to be a part, and a prayer meeting where nearly a hundred people met together in a rickety shed with a corrugated roof, filling the air with the sound of prayer – undaunted by electricity failures that plunged the meeting into total darkness.  You were just humbled by their heart for God.”