“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:15
It has been over five years since we began supporting Paul in the aftermath of a devastating cancer diagnosis, the subsequent miraculous healing and the uncertainty of somehow plotting a path for life in the aftermath amid the frustrations and chaos of what is life in Uganda.
I have been so privileged, along with Paul’s co-sponsor Debbie Burke and the thirty or so fellow supporters on our Paul’s Fund mailing list, to journey with him through the subsequent challenges and blessings that life has brought him in the succeeding years.
Paul’s academic career as an undergraduate at Uganda Christian University has progressed with distinction, frequently attaining 90%+ marks in course work and exams, despite simultaneously dealing with one medical issue after another. Paul seems to be someone who has been entrusted with suffering with illness as his particular cross in life but at every juncture we have been inspired by his deep faith in God and untiring dedication to attainment in his studies. (Too often at the expense of his health for our liking it has to be said, but what reckless zeal for life would we possess had we been faced with death, rejection, homelessness, persecution and destitution before the age of 22?)
Our supporters have consistently supported him on a monthly basis, rising to the challenge of sometimes daunting medical costs as Paul has battled successive health crises including malarial infections, food poisoning, crippling arthritis in his legs, motorbike accidents, robberies, anaemia attacks and, for the last two years of his studies, brain seizures from traumatic brain injury from previous accidents (frequently causing tongue and jaw injuries). The seizures have been the most terrifying and costly challenge yet, for Paul and his friends who have had to witness these episodes and respond to frequent emergency situations. In response to constant prayer for Paul we have witnessed amazing generosity here and in Uganda towards him, including his amazing Neurosurgeon who has frequently taken responsibility above and beyond professional duty for helping Paul in these emergencies and their consequences, sometimes out of his own pocket paying hospital bills before we even knew of them.
Paul’s Neurosurgeon has been overseeing an 18 month course of treatment which he assured us would help reduce the seizures caused by increased intracranial pressure from brain injury. The treatment which Paul had was a spinal tap via lumbar puncture to relieve the pressure from surplus fluid in the brain. This was followed by one year of very expensive diamox meds to keep the pressure down but he successfully weaned off this after his exams in April. He now remains on anticonvulsants and the seizures are reducing in severity and frequency. Please pray that he will become free of seizures over the next year.
Somehow amid all this he managed to continue his coursework, sometimes attending class in a wheelchair when things were at their worst, and we are so proud and thrilled that he will be graduating on 5th July with a 2:1 Honours degree in Laws and is applying for entry to the one year Bar course this summer to become an Advocate. We are eternally grateful to God for not just how he has provided for Paul at every dramatic turn but also for the incalculable blessing on our lives of witnessing Paul’s grace under conditions our Western lifestyles rarely have to endure. It has also been amazing to see Paul’s gratitude and faith grow him into someone who is generous and inspiring to his peers, comforting others with the comfort he himself has received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Paul’s Kenya Surprise
As Paul’s final semester of his degree was drawing on I was determined to mark his graduation with something special in light of his hard work in spite of so much illness and trauma. So much of our support is rightly geared to dealing with essentials of food, shelter and medical costs month to month so for my 40th birthday in March we gave friends and family the option of giving towards a trip for me to go out to Uganda to see Paul at the end of his course around his birthday in June.
Thanks to this generous £800 gift fund I was able to plan something to bless Paul as a surprise and I booked a week in a nice hotel in Nyali Coast in Kenya and flights from Uganda to Mombasa which we told Paul was a special graduation gift holiday for him in June to relax after finishing. What he didn’t know was I would be there too. Somehow we managed to keep it a surprise so that when he arrived at the hotel, having had his first ever experience of flight travel by himself, I was there to surprise him on arrival. His face was a picture! What followed was a deeply blessed week of fellowship, prayer and just hanging out for the first time in 5 years.
Paul was pretty overwhelmed the first couple of days. No sooner had he recovered from the shock of finding me the night he arrived in Kenya, the next day was his birthday and I was able to bless him with various gifts and cards sent by supporters with congratulations messages for him - that was emotional! Then when we had lunch in the hotel restaurant he was treated to the entire waiting staff bringing out his birthday cake with traditional tribal singing and dancing!!! Even I didn’t see that coming when I arranged for them to do a cake. It was a priceless moment! After that he demanded to know if there were any further surprises he should be braced for. It was a week of new experiences for Paul; his first time flying abroad (that he remembers, he was flown for jaw surgery to Nairobi before but he was barely conscious), his first time seeing the ocean was really special for him (Uganda is landlocked and Lake Victoria is the only large water body), his first time on a ferry (Mombasa is an island city), his first time drinking coconut water…the list goes on.
We had a great time catching up, buying gifts for supporters and visiting Old Town Mombasa and the stunning Indian Ocean beaches. It was a supremely memorable holiday for both of us and left us both with a deep sense of awe at how God has worked our lives together and indeed continued to work in the lives of Paul’s family and friends through his story so that they are unrecognisable to what they were five years ago. Every broken thing being redeemed before our very eyes. That was the most moving part of the trip for me as I listened to Paul telling me how every one of his family had forged a deep and individual faith and bonds with his adoptive parents Medad and Connie. This was a family cold and heartless to Paul and Christianity when we met in 2014. I’m sure we will hear many more stories that have been impacted because of Paul’s life and witness to the reality of faith in Jesus in the midst of intolerable illness and suffering.
I would like to give my heartfelt thanks, and that of Paul, to all those who have sacrificially supported him over these years and continue to pray and care for him. We look forward to what’s next for Paul, I am sure God has plans that will be far reaching and great in blessing. For now Paul is revising hard for the pre-entry exam required to get into the Bar course. God willing in a year he will have passed the Bar and be a fully qualified Lawyer and Advocate. To be part of his journey subscribe to our quarterly newsletter from Paul below.