Believers in Uganda
October 19, 2015
Every Kuyper College grad wants to make a difference after graduation. Perhaps one of the most stirring examples of Kuyper graduates doing just that are Tim & Angie Sliedrecht, who minister in Uganda. Recently, Tim, spoke at a Kuyper College chapel, sharing some of their more recent work and how it relates to the story behind a new piece of artwork mounted on the wall in the Atrium at Kuyper. The piece, “Orphans No More,” was an ArtPrize 2011 entry and includes myriads of red footprints of West Michigan residents pointing towards the middle of the piece where a cross covered in hand and footprints represents the many new believers in Uganda. In the early 2000s, these Ugandan believers were victims of a terrorist organization, The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which enslaved children, turning them, by coercive and satanic initiation rituals, into soldiers. In 2006, when the Sliedrechts went to Uganda, they saw the horror that the waning violence had left in its wake—the bodily remains of people that had not received a proper burial because of the chaos created by the atrocities of those days. The Sliedrechts determined to create a mass grave that would honor the dignity of the dead, while also pointing to the hope of Christ. Along with the community (including much help from former freed child soldiers), they created the Mass Grave Project: gathering remains and placing them, in a clean and simple mass grave, marked by a cross with an inscription (in more than one language) of 1 Corinthians 15 and its promise through the work of Jesus Christ.
Beyond that, and through the hope of Christ, the Sliedrechts and others worked to heal the social, psychological, and spiritual wounds of those children and youth who although set free from human slavery, still suffered from unspeakable nightmares, grief, and anger. The footprints and handprints of those youth who came to know the Lord through this ministry are the handprints and footprints that make up the cross of “Orphans No More.”
Today, the Sliedrechts encourage Ugandan believers by sharing their testimony with Western Christians to show how the power of the gospel still works in the deepest darkness—changing lives from hopeless and abused orphans, to “adopted and loved children of God.”
To participate in helping the Ugandan believers, while also simultaneously being encouraged by them, those who view the artwork at Kuyper can take a prayer card with a name and corresponding foot or handprints of a Ugandan brother-and sister-in-Christ. As Tim Sliedrecht said, “The witness of these young people can draw us closer to Jesus—draw us to a greater understanding and appreciation of our relationship with our Father in Heaven, [an] understanding of who we are as children of God.”