A Bridge Over Troubled Water
By Keith Holloway
Representative Council Member
After 20 years of civil conflict, the land and people of Lira were worn and weary. Poverty and defeat were etched upon the faces of the villagers we encountered. In spite of this, our local CHE partners—the Pentecostal Church of Uganda—knew that the people of this town could be empowered to reclaim the upper hand over their lives and families.
Local Trainers worked to show them God’s purpose, presence, and provision in their everyday lives. Month after month, faithful Trainers would return to find villagers eagerly awaiting the next lesson. And month after month, the trainers would return to see the lessons practically applied in the villages. Neighbors had shared lessons with neighbors, multiplying the impact throughout their community. The new life in the villagers’ hearts had transferred into their hands and was beginning to produce something never before seen in this region.
After a short time, several small victories had been won: installation of latrines, improved
crops, regular access to soap and water. Now, they were ready to tackle their Goliath—the
swampy marshland separating them from their markets, schools, and loved ones. While only a few kilometers separated these villages, navigating the swamp tripled the distance. Attempting to cross it cost the lives of several school bound children each year. The villagers were ready for a change.
The communities locked together with absolute resolve, declaring, “We shall build a bridge!” This Local Initiative prompted discussions by Local Leadership. These leaders identified the Local Capacities and Resources and drew up plans to solve the swamp problem. Through the power of God and their Local Ownership, they constructed a beautiful bridge over the troubled waters!
Soon after the bridge’s completion, a local man on his oversized tractor, attempted to traverse the bridge. To his surprise, he found his fellow villagers standing in front of the bridge, refusing him passage. They boldly declared that they ‘owned’ this bridge and his load exceeded what the bridge could bear. ‘We built this bridge ourselves and we will not have someone among us tearing it down.’ To this day, both villages maintain the road and the bridge, proudly watching over it as one of their greatest assets and achievements.
Since the construction of the bridge, no lives have been lost to the swamp.
Keith Holloway is the Senior Missions Director of World Poverty Solutions, an organization working to end extreme poverty across the globe. Keith is a CHE trainer, facilitator, and a member of the Global CHE Network’s Representative Council. He and his wife Maureen live in Colorado Springs; they have six grown children and seven grandchildren.