Earlier this week, Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF) Uganda hosted a team of 13 church members from Live On Purpose (LOP) ministries at their new office premises and shelter (attained through the support of Rapid Response) located in Kyengera. LOP church is an all-inclusive reaffirming California based church that was founded in 2016. LOP's visit to COSF was intended to inspire and restore faith in God's love among members of Uganda's LGBT+ community who have been marginalized, stigmatized and discriminated from places of worship through scriptural violence based on their sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression.
In her introductory remarks on arrival, Pastor Erin Edwards who serves as the lead pastor of LOP said, "We hope that our visit here will create something in your hearts that reassures you that you are whole just the way you are. We are here to tell you that God loves you and there is nothing for you to chase after to create worth in you as you are already valuable, beautifully and wonderfully made as God made you. God doesn't make mistakes."
During a welcome meeting with LOP, Charles Ssena who is the Programs Director at COSF shared his testimony. Being raised in a deeply conservative and religious family, Charles narrated how difficult it was for him to reconcile his faith with his sexual orientation. "Unless it is heterosexuality, everything else is abominable. Being an LGBTI+ person strong in a given faith can be very disturbing to extremes of regretting one's own existence because the church preaches against you. In a series of events, I felt rejected." Ssena was stripped of his youth ministry in church after his dad who is a pastor got furious on finding out about his sexual orientation. Charles added with cheer that there is no scripture that confirms that God only ordains heterosexuals to serve him as they presume because God blesses everybody. "I believe he loves us all equally regardless without reservations."
Other interactions took place during course of the day through different activities. Together with COSF members, LOP team painted their office space and shelter and also shared realities that drew them away from their different faiths and also talked about pressing issues facing LGBT+ Persons in Uganda.
A lesbian and member of COSF, Lubwama commended LOP's visit to their offices. She said, "I am a pastor but I quit preaching because my sexuality was conflicting with my religious beliefs. The visit from LOP will help me learn how to be at peace with the two and who knows? I might just go back to my calling as a preacher."
Pastor Erin shared a message in an interview with Kuchu Times for LGBT+ Christians that struggle with acceptance spirituality; "To those who have been suicidal, broken, hurt and abandoned, what I say to us is that if there is goodness in your heart, kindness in your life, joy, peace and the fruits of the spirit flowing in your life, then the spirit of God is moving within you. The Bible says that nor death or life can separate you from the love of God. And I believe that to be true. So any LGBTI+ person needs to know that nothing ever can separate them from the love of God."
LOP further gave donations to those who stay at COSF's shelter. Later that afternoon, there was a joint prayer fellowship filled with praise, worship and sharing the word of God led by Pastor Erin which was finalized by Holy Communion. The day forged a friendship and partnership between the two organization's on which LOP pledged their support for COSF's future economic empowerment projects.