A mission of hope and help in Uganda
On Aug. 5, Pastor Everett Vocature of Fellowship Bible Church in Shenandoah Junction, participated in an eight-day mission trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Uganda, Africa.
Vocature, accompanied by eight other missionaries, provided humanitarian aid to the children of Uganda through an organization called Samaritan’s Feet. Among the missionaries were his 20-year-old daughter, Megan and Vocature’s sister, Teresa Hucko, who led the group.
Samaritan’s Feet, founded in 2003, is an organization created by Emmanuel Ohonme from Lago, Nigeria.
Missionaries entered Ohonme as a young boy into a contest where he won his first pair of shoes, according to the organization’s website. This gave Ohonme hope and courage causing him to work hard, earning him a full basketball scholarship to an American college.
After earning his Bachelors and Masters, Ohonme decided to give back by creating Samaritan’s Feet.
Vocature said his reason for going to Uganda with Samaritan’s Feet was not only to provide children with shoes, but also to provide hope.
“It was more than just providing the physical things,” Vocature said. “It was an opportunity to pray with the kids, to share about Jesus and let them know that this world is only temporary.”
Although the focus of their trip was to get shoes to those in need, Vocature said he and the other missionaries were also able to help the children of Uganda in other ways.
“The Pastor in Uganda, who we were able to work with, worked for these refugee camps. Not only were we able to do the shoes in the refugee camps, but we were also able to do the feeding,” Vocature said.
Vocature said that he and the small group of missionaries were able to provide around 500 children with shoes.
“We came as a group of nine so we were limited with what we were able to do with the amount of time we had. As far as the actual numbers that we did while we were there was probably somewhere around 500 but we left enough shoes to be able to do a few thousand,” Vocature said.
Vocature said that they chose to go to Uganda because there is a need there.
“It’s Africa. You go around looking at different places that you can go since Samaritan’s Feet goes all around to different places. Uganda itself is a very open place right now. With the Congo and Kenya right next door, people are flooding in trying to escape the persecution that exists. There was a great need for us to be there,” Vocature said.
Vocature said that his favorite memory of the trip was being able to provide a particular little boy with a pair of shoes.
“There was a little boy at one feeding that we did and he wasn’t supposed to get shoes because he wasn’t in one of the classes we picked since we just had to pick what we could do. There were thousands and thousands of kids there and some of them would try to sneak in the line because they knew what was going on. What we did was put an orange band on each kid’s wrist when we sized them with their shoe size written on it,” Vocature explained.
“The little boy stood in line with his hand covering his wrist as if he had a band on, he was probably only about six years old. Other kids were trying to sneak in line and we had some teachers there that would pluck them out of line. Somehow, he made it to the front of the line and when it was the boy in front of him’s turn to go up and get shoes, he went up and sat down with him,” Vocature continued.
“Of course I was the shoe runner at that point and I knew what was going on so I walked over to him and lifted his hand off of his wrist to reveal that there was no band. We decided we could not take him out of line so we cleaned his feet to give him shoes. At this point he knew he had been caught and they had to actually hold the shoes up to his chest and wrap his arms around them for him to understand that he actually got to keep the shoes,” Vocature said.
“After realizing the shoes were his, the little boy beamed with so much excitement and joy that he was getting a pair of shoes. That to me was a picture of God’s grace. We do not deserve what the Christ did on the cross but we receive it. To me that was a great moment,” Vocature said.
Vocature said that during feeding time the kids were using paper and schoolwork to eat their food from due to a lack of plates.
“When we take shoes in to the countries, we’re traveling with bags of them. We had extra money we brought to negotiate the tariffs they would charge us to bring them into the country. Fortunately, God blessed us and we were able to get every bag through without having to pay anything for them,” Vocature said, “At the end of the trip, with the extra money we had, we were able to go and buy metal plates and hand them out to kids at the same refugee camps.”
Vocature said that in the refugee camps they encourage kids to go to school by rewarding them with a meal.
“The kids in school get a meal so it’s a huge encouragement for them to go because if they go then they get to eat that day,” Vocature said.
Vocature said the advice he would offer to someone considering doing a mission trip is to go with a “servant’s heart.”
“Don’t go on a trip thinking you’re going to teach them something or provide something great for somebody that’s in need. Just go to serve and be of help and things will go much better for you,” Vocature said.
For more information on ways to get involved, visit www.samaritansfeet.org.