In June 2018, Bryce Engbers of rural Grinnell had his eyes opened to truly desperate, life-threatening poverty in Uganda, Africa. The hog producer from Iowa was deeply motivated to take action and helped brainstorm a solution to the malnutrition: Give the Ugandas the help they needed to increase production of pork, an excellent source of protein.
Now, one year later, Engbers is preparing for a return trip to Africa, where he will work with Mission 2 Uganda to help meet not just the physical needs of the Ugandans but their spiritual needs as well.
Mission Uganda is a project that began when one of Engbers’ high school classmates, Ron “Nuper” Nunnikhoven of Pella, went to Uganda in 2017. While there, Nunnikhoven connected with a woman named Maggie, and she soon became his African daughter. Their relationship resulted in Mission Uganda being established. Nuper and Maggie put together a plan of how to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to children and adults in Uganda.
Nunnikhoven began a fundraising project, and that is how Engbers became involved.
“(Nuper’s) letter soliciting funds laid on my desk for a week or so before I realized that this was more than a fund request,” Engbers said. “God was calling me to Uganda. I had never been on a mission trip before so didn't know what to expect but answered the call and told Nuper that I thought I was called to go with him.”
Over the coming weeks, a team was assembled including Engbers, Nunnikhoven, Katie Petersen of Peoria, Lisa Brandhof of Knoxville, and Bob Holtrop of Omaha.
In June 2018, the team’s mission began. They were in Uganda for 18 days, and all experienced unforgettable moments.
“We presented the gospel to over 1,000 children and adults and handed out porridge, math sets, and uniforms to many schools,” Engbers said. “All of us were witness to the joy these people show while experiencing absolute poverty.”
A life-changing moment for Engbers was when, after a service, three children were brought into the room for a lunch. They were obviously starving to death. The mission team found out the kids’ mother had been electrocuted, their father was dead, and they were orphans who would be living with their grandmother as well as 15 other grandkids.
“Baby Bob only had a couple of days to live when I first met him,” Engbers said. “I told Nuper this was totally unacceptable and I would do what it takes to help these kids. They were immediately given food and doctor’s care, and I am happy to say they all are doing well.”
This experience planted a seed in Engbers’ heart. He knew that, unfortunately, this was more than an isolated incident and the Mukuno District of Uganda was filled with similar situations. He took it as his call to action.
Engbers called his wife, Kathy, and they decided to build an orphanage in Uganda that could house up to 24 orphans. They also decided to "adopt" three other orphans who were living with their grandmother and 18 other children in a 10-by-20-foot dirt floor hut. The three kids were also malnourished and weren't attending school because they couldn't afford the school fees.
“Geoffry, David, and Ruth are now in our orphanage being cared for by a nanny and regularly attending school,” Engbers said. “They are doing extremely well. Kathy and I have committed to caring for these children through college.”
PORK TO THE RESCUE
Nourishment is a huge problem for children in Uganda. They lack protein as their diet is made up mostly of ground corn in the form of porridge. Maggie and Engbers talked and concluded that pigs are the protein source of choice for Ugandans, who love pork.
“The greatest drawback to a pig operation is the supply of feed,” Engbers continued. “Myself and several other investors have committed to building a milling facility, which is now under construction. Once completed, the milling facility will become a profit center to begin a pig operation in Uganda.”
This project is still in the early stages. The building is under construction, and the equipment has been purchased. Eventually, the operation will be run and managed by Maggie’s husband, Dennis, and her local team of Golden Heart in Uganda.
“Maggie’s team of Golden Heart is critical to the mission in Uganda,” Engbers said. “Maggie is totally trusted and well respected in the Mukuno District of Uganda. Without her and Golden Heart, our ministry wouldn't be possible.”
Another team has been formed and will be returning to Uganda from July 30-Aug. 14 to once again share the gospel with thousands of children and adults. They will spend 12 days passing out math sets to students, providing school uniforms to children, and handing out porridge for the kids to eat during the day.
“The milling facility is nearing completion, and we are excited that some of the porridge we will be handing out will be milled in our new facility,” Engbers said. “What an exciting venture for the local villagers. They are so excited to have our mill in their area and Maggie stated many are asking about working there.”
The team is currently wrapping up donations for this trip but welcomes donations of those willing to partner with them. Nunnikhoven and Engbers are willing to meet with anyone to discuss this ministry dedicated to showing God’s love to the Ugandans. For more information, visit Mission2Uganda.org.