Gerard Butler convinced me to go to Uganda (kinda)

I’ve heard a lot about the needs of the poor and marginalized across the globe. On a weekly basis, I read articles about millions of people dying of starvation, HIV/AIDs, war, malnutrition, and lack of water. The coffee shop I frequent displays ads about how I can help end world hunger.  Even Bono is telling me to be an agent of change.

For some reason, the message wasn’t sinking in.

I tuned it all out. Maybe because of the volume of messages or maybe it’s because there are so many needs. Or, perhaps, it was because I simply didn’t care enough to change my life and lifestyle in order to serve others. Looking back, I realize, though the statistics were overwhelming and the images were shocking, I never had a sense that we were talking about ACTUAL PEOPLE.  To me, it was all just images and statistics.

That is, (I’m a bit embarrassed to say) until I watched a movie with that dude from 300 (unfortunately, you may also remember him from P.S. I Love You). He starred in a movie called Machine Gun Preacher which graphically told the story of Sam Childres, a former drug-dealer who found Jesus and dedicated his life to ministering to child-soldiers in Africa during the reign of the LRA, which was lead by Joseph Kony.

While the film may not do a great job of portraying the Gospel of Jesus in action, it DOES do a good job of showcasing the violence toward children in Africa and the general sense of indifference that many people in my culture show toward those in need.

In one particularly convicting scene (for this author anyway), the Childers character is in America, asking people for funds to help dying kids. During a conversation with local businessman, he asks for a $5,000 donation to purchase a generator that would be used to help more kids. The Childers character is met with the standard responses: “God bless ya” and ”I’d love to help but everyone around here is feeling the pinch.”

The next scene opens on the lush home of the business owner. Here, the businessman, margarita in hand, is surrounded by tables flowing with food, mixed drinks, and party favors. In the midst of this surplus, he hands Childers a check for $150, saying, “Here’s a little something for the kids.” Childress leaves in a rage, claiming that this man spent more money on salsa for his party than he did helping dying children.

God used this scene to cut to my core. Immediately a question flashed through my mind,

“Do I invest more in salsa or people?”

I knew God was calling me to invest in others across the globe, but I didn’t know where. So I prayed and asked God how I could serve. Not long after, an opportunity came for me to join a team to serve with Watoto Childcare Ministries in Uganda. I knew right away that my question had been answered.

As odd as it seems, God used Gerard Butler to convince me to go to Uganda. And while I don’t think that my being in Uganda will change much of Uganda, I know it will change much of me.


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