Anne was one of those children at Bugolobi Child Development Center who gave their lives to Jesus Christ every day after the altar call at the center. She had done this for the three years she was part of our Child Sponsorship Program.
As a Child Development Officer at the center then, I did not know whether Anne and the other children took salvation seriously or, better still, whether they understood what salvation was. It was not until Anne turned 10 that I understood that God honors a child’s commitment to Christ, and He gives such a child His Spirit, too.
I remember that it was an ordinary Saturday. Because Anne was 10 years old, her mother, a police constable, deemed Anne old enough to come to the center and return home on her own.
After attending the center program with a host of other children on that Saturday, Anne boarded a 14-seat commuter taxi that evening for Kitintale, the suburb where she lived with her mother.
My colleagues and I were stunned when at dusk Anne’s mother appeared at the center premises concerned that her daughter had not returned. We immediately reported the matter to the Bugolobi police.
We put announcements on radio describing the little girl and asking if anyone knew her whereabouts. We did not get any response from the public.
After five days, Anne’s mother called the center informing us that Anne was at the Jinja police station. The kidnappers had abandoned her in Bujagali. Bujagali is located about 100 kilometers (80 miles) east of Kampala near Jinja town; it is a lonely spot famous for the whitewater rapids of the River Nile.
Eventually we did meet the little princess and she narrated her ordeal. Anne said that when she entered the taxi, she assumed that the two women were passengers going home after a busy day.
“They were friendly. They gave me a book with pictures to read.”
Anne did not remember what happened next except that it was morning and there was a loud sound of gushing water coming from the neighborhood. She saw a big river that she recognized. We had once taken all the children at the center to see the Bujagali rapids.
Anne continued to share with us in tears, wiping her eyes all through,
“I was taken to a small hut. The man inside the hut saw me and told the women that his spirits did not like the Holy Spirit inside me. He said that the women should go and bring another child to sacrifice.”
The two women ushered her out of the witch doctor’s shrine and ordered her to walk ahead of them. That was the last Anne saw of the women; they disappeared into the bushes lining the footpath.
In Uganda, most footpaths reconnect to the main road. Anne trekked until she reached the Kampala Highway. It was the most tormenting journey of her tender life!
At the highway, she asked for the nearest police station. A Good Samaritan took her to Jinja police station whereupon the police made connection with the Bugolobi police.
When we got Anne back, we took her for trauma counseling. She found strength to testify before fellow children at the center. Her testimony moved the one hundred and fifty plus children in attendance that Saturday to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and ask God to give them His Spirit.
Anne reiterated to the fellow children that when children give their lives to Jesus, God gives them His Spirit!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerald Kateu served as a child development officer with the Bugolobi Child Development Center for seven years before joining our Uganda field office as Sponsor and Donor Services Associate in July 2008.