Hope for Kingsway’s Water Crisis

On April 18-19, Kingsway was excited to have Ken Watkins from Genesis Waters on campus. Genesis Waters is a ministry based in Grand Rapids, Michigan that provides clean water for outreach-oriented Christian ministries around the world.

Ken was able to look at Kingsway’s collapsed well and assess their bore hole, which gives a small amount of water per day which doesn’t smell or taste good. He also walked the whole 2 km with the students to where they are currently fetching water. It’s a long haul, especially uphill with full jerry cans on the way home! Check out this video:

Ken was also able to look over Kingsway’s property, assess their current well situation, and offer some next steps.  He was optimistic about the possibilities after his visit.

First, Ken recommended they get a new water survey done of the whole property to determine the optimal place to drill a new well, in terms of soil conditions and depth. If there is indeed a prime place to drill, Genesis Waters will help install it.

If there are no good places to drill, then they will install equipment for rain harvesting since the area gets a lot of rain. Rain is a good supplemental source of water to be used for bathing and watering the animals and garden.  This is something that could be done gradually, a few buildings at a time.

The students were very impressed that Ken put forth the effort to spend time with them and walk with them the whole way to where they fetch their water.  They showered their affections on him in a final “thank-you” assembly.

Ken was humbled by the attention he received when the students performed a variety of skits and dances for him. He left Kingsway with many new friends! Ken then flew on to Kenya for other projects there.

Why We’re Excited about Shoes

Sports and physical activity are an important part of what goes on each afternoon at Kingsway Christian High School. Some of the benefits of physical exercise, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

    • combats health conditions and diseases
    • improves mood
    • boosts energy
    • promotes better sleep
    A volleyball game (note – kids are playing in flip-flops)

    All sports require some type of equipment which prevents injury and improves performance. But Kingsway has no budget for sports equipment, and they have a policy of not spending donations on sports when other needs are more critical, like books, medicine and even food. (Just a couple of years ago, Kingsway could only serve one meal a day for lack of money.)

    Yet sports are universally adored in Uganda, especially soccer (football). So alumni and local friends who want Kingsway to be able to play against other schools have donated uniforms.

    But very few students come to school owning sports shoes. Instead they play in flip-flops, sandals or crocs, or even barefoot resulting in stubbed toes, bruises, cuts and abrasions.

    In the fall of 2023, the board was made aware of the need for soccer shoes and other equipment. One of our board members asked various groups in town for donations. After a long and nearly fruitless campaign, she finally discovered a local organization called Cleats for Kids that collects used soccer equipment for charitable causes. They donated two large tubs of shoes and shin guards that cost approximately $1,400.00 originally. Hooray!

    Milly was in Michigan last October, and was able to bring the equipment back to Uganda with her, much to the delight of everyone at school. American shoes are of a much better quality than anything available in Uganda. They are durable and will be used by students in future years too.

    Students trying on their new soccer shoes

    Currently, Kingsway is also working on constructing a basketball court so they will have the option of playing basketball too. Since the school has no money to spend, the students themselves are doing the heavy work of digging the base and leveling the ground.

    Why This is Important

    Kingsway’s long-term desire is to be self-sustaining, to have a body of paying students whose tuition supports needy students who attend for free. Right now that goal is somewhat far off, because very few students pay full tuition.

    Because sports are so popular in Uganda, having a good sports program is very useful for attracting paying students. In-kind donations like durable shoes and long-lasting equipment brings them closer to that goal.

A typical day at Kingsway

What does a typical day in the life of a Kingsway Christian student look like?

4 AM – Rise and Shine, and Studying!

The students are not sleeping in until the last possible moment as many American teenagers do. Instead they rise at 4:00 am, a couple hours before dawn!

The first thing they do is get themselves physically ready for the day by brushing their teeth, washing their face, and bathing.

Next, is Morning Prep which takes place from 4:30-6:30 am. The focus of this time is on mathematics. Many students struggle with mathematics and the teachers want to see improvement in this area, so they are devoting the first part of the day to tackle what is most challenging for them academically.

6:30 – Morning Tea

The students then get a 30 minute break for morning tea. This is followed by 30 minutes of cleaning the compound and leaving it spotless.

At 7:30 students begin what is called their Early Morning Lessons. This is a 3 hour time block followed by a 20 minute break.

Then the Mid Morning and Afternoon lessons begin and continue for about two hours until their Lunch hour.

1 PM – Chapel and Lunch

Before they eat, the students and teachers have a time of praise and worship as well as a brief sermon.

Then a meal of maize, beans, and vegetables is served.

The afternoon activities include games and sports, and runs from 2:00-4:40 pm. After a long day of academic work, students change out of their school uniforms into casual clothing and head to the field where they can play football (known as soccer in the U.S.), netball, or volleyball. This time is supervised by the sports teacher, and is always opened and closed with prayer.

As most of us know, sports are a great way for kids to grow physically, mentally and socially. It also helps students hone their athletic skills and talents outside of the classroom. Sports are greatly loved by Ugandans too.

The latest project at Kingsway, involving the help of both teachers and students, is the making of a basketball court. The ground has been leveled, and the next step is to compact the soil before pouring the concrete and putting in the posts for the basketball hoops.

4:30 Fetching Water

When games and sports are done, students fetch water that is used for bathing and for washing their school uniforms and sports jerseys. Each day a different class takes a turn hauling water for school use. Because Kingsway’s well is not working, they need to walk over 2 km each way to fetch water from a community well. It’s a long hike, especially uphill back to Kingsway with a full water jug!

After all that physical activity, students are hungry.  Supper is served at about 6 PM followed by evening devotions in the Chapel from 7-7:30.

After devotions, the young men and women of Kingsway head back to their dorms and spend the rest of the evening studying until lights out at 10:00 pm. This fairly rigorous schedule leaves little room for boredom or idleness and makes supervising a large number of young people more manageable.

Holy Week at Kingsway

Holy week this year was a very memorable time for the students and staff at Kingsway Christian High School.  The significance of all that Jesus experienced during the final week of his life on earth was broken down into daily devotions with thoughtfully chosen Scriptures shared by staff at both the lunch hour and in the evening.

Palm Sunday was celebrated enthusiastically with vibrant singing, dancing, and waving of palm branches as Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem was remembered.

On Monday, the focus was on Jesus Christ turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple.

Tuesday’s devotion revolved around Jesus teaching in the temple and his  authority being questioned by the chief priests and elders.

On Wednesday the students learned about the anointing of Jesus while he was in the home of Simon the Leper and how Judas decided to betray Jesus and spoke with the chief priests and the officers of the temple to discuss how this might be done.

The Last Supper Jesus and his disciples celebrated together along with the events following; praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus arrest,  being brought before the Sanhedrin, and Peter disowning Jesus were the focus of Thursday’s devotions.

On Good Friday the teaching brought the students to the cross where Jesus suffered and died for all our sins.  The evening included a time of worship in which the Almighty was honored, glorified and exalted for all that he did on our behalf.

Saturday the devotion was based on Matthew 27:62-66 which tells us that the tomb was made secure in order to prevent anyone from stealing Jesus’ body.

Easter Sunday was filled with jubilation and much rejoicing as the students sang Easter songs and celebrated Holy Communion led by Milly.

All Sports Day

All students participated in Sports Day on March 8 at Kingsway Christian School.  The day began with a student led prayer in which the day was dedicated to God.

The teams for this year’s event were named “The Conquerors”, dressed in red t-shirts, and “The Victor’s” dressed in yellow t-shirts.  The sports activities that students and teachers participated in included soccer, field races, javelin throw, high jump, and long jump. The male and female soccer teams had their own jerseys for the game.

The staff at Kingsway were very thankful that the students had an injury free day, due in large part to the donation of sports equipment that included cleats, shin guards, and socks. (More info here.) When Milly was visiting West Michigan in the fall of 2023, she was able to take back equipment that was collected by the board.

On a side note, the boys soccer team was super excited to claim a victory over a big school in the region recently, and they do not think it would have been possible without the new gear that enabled them to play their best.

Hooray! Hooray! Moving Day!!

After over 10 years of waiting, the joy was overwhelming when the girls could finally move in to the completed first floor of the dorm.

Many hands make light work! The boys muscles were appreciated as they helped carry the beds and other items to the dorm.

Not to be outdone, the girls had fun showing how much they could move using their heads rather than their brawn.

After claiming a spot of their own, the girls were able to make their beds and settle in.

The girls could kick off their shoes and get some rest on their comfy new beds after a busy day of moving in.

What a blessing to have the dorm up and running for the start of the new school year!

The First Level of the Girls’ Dorm is Done!

Hooray, hooray, the first level of the girls dorm is now done! Everyone was rejoicing at how beautiful the building is, especially at night.

We had solar panels installed, so the girls will have free, reliable electricity in their new dorm. This will solve two problems. Power outages are frequent and can last for days, so some evenings the students have no light for studying in the evening. Also, electricity is expensive, which is a burden on the school.

Along with the dorm they also built a nice new girls’ toilet/bath house. It will be lit by the nearby dorm lights at nights. No more stumbling to find their way in the dark!

The girls enjoyed cleaning their future home, to make it spic and span.

Then the boys brought over the newly made bunk beds.

Ready to go!

Progress on Dorm – January 2024

They are now putting some final touches on the first level of the girls dorm now (January 2024). They’ve plastered the walls inside and out, finished the floors and finally installed glass in the window and door openings.

Above they are sealing around the windows of the door. The dorm has very high ceilings, windows and doors!

One other thing needs to be done – to build a dedicated latrine and bathroom next to the dorm. This goes pretty quickly.

Here they are constructing the roof for the latrine.

So this is where we are at right now with the new dorm!

They still need to apply an outer coating to the building and will do that soon.

They will also be installing some solar panels for electricity and will need to build beds for the girls too. So there are a few more things to do before the girls move in, in February.

Kingsway’s Surprisingly Heroic Mission

Because of an interesting cultural misunderstanding, I (Lois Tverberg, chair, US Kingsway board) missed a critical detail about Kingsway Christian High School until recently.

Originally I thought that the school’s purpose was to support Rev. Dr. Milly Maturu Erema’s family. When Milly was attending Western Seminary in Holland, Michigan in 2001, four of Milly’s brothers were killed in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict, and Milly became responsible to educate their 22 orphaned children. Raising school fees for so many would be impossible, and Milly and her husband were both educated, so with the help of churches in our area, they decided to start a boarding school where they could receive income from other students who would attend, and make sure their children had a Christ-centered education.

Remember the Invisible Children?

What I was shocked to learn recently was that Kingsway was actually serving a much bigger purpose, and in a sacrificial way. Shortly after Kingsway began in 2008, Milly and her husband Sam were contacted by other families suffering in the LRA conflict in northern Uganda, where they both come from. They were pleading for their children to attend Kingsway too.

You may remember hearing about the “Invisible Children” who fled from their homes every night to avoid being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that was forcing young boys to become child soldiers and girls into sexual slavery. Many walked long distances each night to sleep in cities like Gulu, where the Ugandan army was on guard. In the morning they’d return home.

There was a huge social media campaign called “Kony 2012” (see below) to call attention to the crisis, and reporters and international aid organizations flocked to Gulu to help children there. But because of the danger of the LRA, none of the visiting agencies set foot outside the city to visit surrounding villages. There, thousands more children had been sleeping in the bush every night for years, unable to attend school or church, and some had lost their families in the LRA’s massacres.


Kingsway was in southern Uganda, which was safe from the conflict. In spite of the danger, they decided to bring desperate young people from the villages in the north to Kingsway. Of course, none could pay. Yet most of Kingsway’s first 150 students came from the conflict area. Milly and Sam made many trips to get children from their school, which was about 300 miles away.

Milly’s harrowing tales of war zone travel shocked me. Normally they traveled by bus, but the LRA would stop vehicles and set them ablaze with the people still inside. So buses stopped going to the north. Milly and Sam would take the bus as far as they could, then walk the rest of the way. They walked through the bush, often many miles, because roads were dangerous. Sometimes they were stopped by the Ugandan army, who held them at gunpoint until they explained their mission.

One time Sam was bringing four children back with him when he was captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army. When they took him back to their compound, he knew his likely fate – he would be shot and the children taken into bondage. But one of the soldiers recognized him and pled to his commander, “Oh, this man was my teacher! Please spare his life!” So they let him go. It was almost evening and he was exhausted, but he walked through the bush all night long to find safety. The children were lost to the LRA.

When “Our Children” does not mean “Our Children”

I asked Milly, were these relatives or neighbors, that you would risk your life to get them? I wondered this because Milly always spoke of bringing “our children” from the north to Kingsway. I assumed they had to be at least from her own Lugbara tribe, a minority in Uganda.

“Night commuters” hiding from abduction by the LRA

The answer was actually no! They were mostly from other tribes and villages in the north. People who were sheltering “invisible children” had contacted Kingsway. Milly reached out to each one she could help.

Many Kingsway graduates now have attended university and started jobs and found good lives, a fate unthinkable for thousands of youth who gave up hope of going to school past 7th grade because of the war. Milly even spent her own money to send one of the brightest to university, and he works for a United Nations refugee camp today.

What’s ironic is that for years I didn’t grasp the heroic, unselfish nature of Kingsway because of how Milly was using the phrase, “our children.” Local churches saw Kingsway as serving Milly’s nieces and nephews. I assumed the children from the north were extended family. But to Milly, “our children” actually referred to any desperate Ugandan child who she could help.

Social Media and Kony 2012

You may remember the social media campaign called “Kony 2012,” which was the first video to become a viral media sensation on Youtube. Produced by Invisible Children, Inc., the video told the story of the invisible children coming to Gulu, and then it attempted but failed to bring the LRA leader Joseph Kony to justice.

9 21 2012 ONC- Jason Russell

The campaign was promoted by influencers like Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Bill Gates, George Clooney and George W. Bush, among others. This brought enormous attention to the tragic situation going on in northern Uganda, but it wasn’t able to end the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict. Cynical reporters mocked the efforts of the campaign, calling it “white saviorism” at its utmost.

You know what? It’s actually been the humble, grass-roots ministries of Ugandans themselves, like Kingsway Christian High School, who have begun to bring hope and healing to northern Uganda.

Western Seminary Celebrates Rev. Dr. Milly Maturu Erema as Distinguished Graduate of 2023

On November 9th, Western Theological Seminary hosted a lovely dinner at Haworth Hotel in Holland, Michigan where Milly and many good friends celebrated her award as the seminary’s Distinguished Graduate of 2023.

After dinner, Lois Tverberg shared some of Milly’s story and accomplishments that she wrote about in the seminary’s Commons magazine. (See this link to read her amazing life story.) Because of teaching at Uganda Christian University and mentoring future pastors, Milly has had enormous influence on future pastors in Uganda. She is one of only two women who have both a Ph.D. and are ordained Anglican priests. And on top of this, she runs Kingsway Christian High School which has given hundreds of children from war-torn areas a chance at a future that is impossible without a high school education.

Then Dr. Felix Theonugraha, the president of Western Theological Seminary, gave her the award.

Everyone wanted their pictures taken with her.  🙂

And the next morning they celebrated again at Western Seminary!

Along with the award, Western Seminary invited her to be a Visiting Scholar for the fall semester, and gave her a lovely office where she did research and worked on presentations that she gave while in the US this fall. It had large windows and was right next to the atrium gathering area, allowing for many good conversations with professors and students there.

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