History of Kingsway

For over two decades, from 1986 to about 2010, northern Uganda endured a nightmarish occupation by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that massacred villages and kidnapped children, forcing young boys to become child soldiers and girls into sexual slavery.

The Invisible Children

Children fled from their homes each evening to avoid being abducted, hiding in the bush or walking long distances to sleep in cities like Gulu, where the Ugandan army was on guard. In the morning they’d return home. They were called “invisible children” because they were never seen during the day, only emerging at dawn and dusk to seek safety.

There was a very famous social media campaign (“Kony 2012”) that called 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, no one set foot outside the city to visit surrounding villages. Sadly, these were also filled with children who were hiding every night, but no outsiders came to their rescue.

Rev. Dr. Milly Maturu Erema

Rev. Dr. Milly Maturu Erema comes from northern Uganda. She was attending seminary at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan in 2001, when she learned that four of her brothers were killed in the LRA conflict, and she would be responsible to educate their 22 orphaned children. Raising school fees for so many would be impossible, so she and her husband Sam, a teacher and Anglican pastor, decided to start a school where their children could get a solid, faith-based education. Churches from the Holland, Michigan area helped build the school which opened in 2008.

The family’s children were just a few of thousands of northern Ugandan youth in villages who spent years unable to attend church or school because of the LRA conflict. In Kingsway’s early years, Milly and Sam took many trips to war-ravaged areas to bring desperate youth from northern villages to their school. Of course, no student could pay. Yet a large number of Kingsway’s first 150 students came from the conflict area.

Over time, another generation of children was born to the girls who were raped during the war, even more unable to find education. They are now many of the young people seeking schooling at Kingsway.

After the Pandemic Crisis

For two years during the COVID pandemic, Kingsway, like all schools, was shut down by the Ugandan government. When the shutdown ended in January 2022, Kingsway was in crisis. The pandemic had devastated families financially and few had money to pay school fees. Teachers had found other jobs. Kingsway had no outside funding – just Dr. Erema’s small salary as a college professor, but the government was threatening to shut them down if a girls’ dormitory was not completed immediately. It seemed impossible to survive.

It was at this time that friends of Dr. Erema in Holland, Michigan stepped in to help raise awareness and support for this very worthy ministry. They formed a board and applied for fiscal sponsorship by Christian Ministry Alliance, which could accept tax-deductible gifts on Kingsway’s behalf. With a fresh infusion of prayer and a bit of funding, Kingsway survived 2022 (with less than 20 students instead of their typical 40-50), and started again to build the dorm.

As 2023 approached, they were encouraged and decided to accept 30 more applicants to come back to full capacity of 50. But at the beginning of the year, families stormed their offices, begging them to admit their children too, because many other schools had shut down completely. The schools that hadn’t closed had increased their fees and ended any programs for needy children. There were no other options available. Even now, many impoverished children are completely unable to attend school in Uganda.

With pleading families at their doors, Kingsway prayerfully increased their enrollment to 63 students to meet the demand. They did not wait for outside friends to sponsor the rest of the children, they simply stepped out in faith to meet the need.

In 2024, they decided to increase enrollment to 100, because with the girl’s dorm being completed they would soon have more space. But still more desperate families stormed their doors and once again they decided to admit 20 more students beyond their own expanded limit, trusting the Lord to provide for double the children they had last year.

Kingsway Christian High School has historically sought to operate independently and sustainably, by enrolling local paying students whose fees allow impoverished youth to attend for free. Yet the number of needy students they could help vastly outnumbers the number of paying students every year. So outside contributions are very welcome and desired.

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