By Dave Bouffard, Executive Director of Musana Camps, NHU Staff since Jan. 2010
Every time I travel and am away from my children for a few days, I notice subtle changes in their growth. One will seem a little taller, the youngest looks a little older, and the other has mastered some new skill. It’s not something I always detect when I’m with them everyday. Growth in ministry is often similar. When you are in the trenches day after day dealing with the ups and downs of successes and challenges, it can be hard to see progress. However, when you take the time to look back, it can be amazing to see how much change has taken place. This is definitely the case at Musana Camps. In a very short period of time, we have seen God take a vision he gave Jay Dangers and start turning it into reality. It is absolutely incredible to see what God has done, how He has done it, and who He has used to do it with. All of it is has been according to His plan unto His glory. We are so blessed to be a part of it!
My family and I joined staff at New Hope on the first of this year as I came to serve as the Executive Director of Musana Camps. After my wife and I spent our first five months here as students in the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family, I began focusing full-time on my responsibilities for the camp. I am very excited about what God is doing at Musana now and for its future.
But first, a bit about how it got to this point. Syd & Andrea Sparks have been a part of Musana Camps from the beginning serving as the only full-time staff until my family arrived. They have experienced both disappointments and joys in the process of establishing the camp. Pioneering a ministry like this out in the African bush has not been easy, yet they will be the first ones to share about how God has blessed the development of the camp as well as their personal lives in profound ways. Our Ministry Coordinator, Uncle Jonnes Bakimi, recently said that Musana Camps today is similar to what Kasana Children’s Center was like 20 years ago! Clear progress has been made and it is nothing less than evidence of God going before us and establishing this ministry
Here’s a short list of some of what has been accomplished in the past two years since the inception of the camp:
- There are now three full-time staff families from the USA and one full-time Ugandan staff person serving with the camp: Syd & Andrea Sparks, Dave & Andrea Bouffard, Nathan & Kendra Jackson, and Medie Kanyike. Pastor Nswemu Nathan, an Estates Officer for NHU has been instrumental in the establishment of the camp as well. Five full-time Ugandan security guards watch over the property as well.
- Approximately 74% of the purchase agreement price has been paid for the 713 acres of land we have acquired, including the squatter compensation that is applied to the balance due for the property. Most of the squatters have been compensated for their homes and gardens and have now moved off camp property.
- A detailed site development plan was completed by EMI (Engineering Missions International) and volunteers from North America also completed surveying of the property.
- A basic rustic camp site has been built including: a duplex cabin (has been used for staff housing thus far) w/water tower and ground cistern, a storage shed, a composting latrine, two shower stalls, three safari tents w/concrete pads and anchored canopies, a volleyball court, and swing set. These basic facilities can currently accommodate approximately 30 people.
- Several short-term missions teams have come from the US and Canada and provided essential equipment and manpower for the camp.
- A team from Bellingham/Lynden, WA conducted a medical clinic and treated nearly 750 people from our surrounding communities.
- Three out of the seven Family Groups from Kasana Children’s Center have now come to the camp for a retreat and the remaining four are scheduled to come over the next two school holidays.
- The first retreat of people from outside of NHU was held for a group from Kampala Deliverance Church.
- The Sparks have nearly completed the construction of their home and are now living there.
- We have partnered with community members to improve the public access road leading to the camp. Much roadwork has been done and much more still remains.
We are very grateful for what God has done and for those He has used to do it. Our greatest priority now is to finish the process of purchasing the land, including compensating the last few squatters. We are confident and trusting God to continue to provide the remaining $50,000 needed to finalize the transaction. Would you make a donation to help us meet this goal and finish the purchasing of the land? Please prayerfully consider if He is calling you to be a part of meeting this need! Though it can seem a bit daunting, when we consider what God has already done, we are encouraged that He will continue to faithfully provide for Musana Camps. We are also very glad land is so much cheaper in Uganda than it is in the U.S.!
Please pray for us as we go through the process of compensating the last few squatters. The few who are remaining have been challenging to work with and we hope the compensation process will be an opportunity to build deeper relationships and reflect and reveal the glory of God to them. This has been our heart from the beginning.
It has also been our heart to offer a setting that God would use to change lives. As we have begun using the camp, we see that God is doing just that. During this first two years, over 275 people have come at different times for retreats, family holidays, volunteering, and more.
When we run into other organizations which are ministering to children in Uganda and we mention the camp, there is almost always an immediate interest and excitement. It confirms that there are currently very few such options in the country. We are currently working out the details for a ministry in Jinja to bring the street children they work with to the camp in August. Although the beginnings of Musana are small, our God is big and is powerful to transform lives. The following comments show how the Lord has already used Musana Camps to influence the lives of some of the recent guests.
[quote source=”Dinah, a secondary school student”]The best thing about my time at Musana Camps was sitting alone thinking about my life. I learned to talk to God in my own free time and to depend on God only.[/quote]
[quote source=”Annet, a primary school student”]The best thing about my time at Musana Camps was resting from work, going to swim, and spending time with God.[/quote]
[quote source=”Aziza, a secondary school student”]My time at the camps taught me how to make good decisions and to ask for help when needed. It also taught me to be real in everything I do.[/quote]
[quote source=”Enock, a Kampala church leader”]We had an amazing time there and the team is still talking about it. It was hands down the most refreshing, relaxed, hassle free and effective retreat we have had to date and we definitely plan to be back sooner than later. Some of the pics are up on our facebook page and we have got a lot of response from people who would love to hold their events there.[/quote]
As we look back and see all that God has done and is doing at Musana Camps, one word comes to mind: Faith. Faith that God will accomplish his purposes through Musana Camps and through us. In the challenging times, it is faith that produces joy as we look not through our own eyes at our circumstances, but through God’s. In the times of celebration and joy when we count our blessings and see what God has done, it is faith that gives us the proper perspective of giving him the glory for it all. Perhaps you will appreciate this excerpt from a devotional that God recently used to encourage my wife and I as we look to the future at Musana Camps. It is taken from Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts and is entitled, “I Will Bring the Victory:”
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57.
O My child, have I ever failed you? Have I ever turned My back on you, or forsaken you? Have I not been your refuge and your strong defense?
I have protected you and kept you in sickness and in health. Yes, I am with you to help you now. Fear not. My purposes will be fulfilled in spite of your weaknesses, if in your need you rely on My strength.
My will shall be done regardless of the flaws in your life, if you count on the power of My righteousness. I do not work only in cases where there are no obstacles; but I glory in overruling the prevailing circumstances, and I take pleasure in bringing victories in those places where no victory is anywhere in sight.
Count on My coming. Know that whenever faith brings Me on the scene, everything is changed. Darkness is turned to light. Grief is turned to joy. Sickness to health. Poverty to My sufficient supply. Doubt to faith. Anxiety to trust.
No negative force can occupy the same place as My Spirit. When My Spirit comes in, all these things must go. Yes, they shall go!
Ask for the victory. I will come and bring it. Don’t look for the victory – look for Me, and you will see the victory that I will bring with Me. After I have come, you shall behold the miracles I will do.