Interview with Pastors Peter and Phoebe Sozi

Special guests Pastors Peter and Phoebe Sozi, founders of Divine Care Ministries are coming to share about their work in Kampala, Uganda.

 

Divine Care Ministry began in the late 1990's as a committee within Christian Life Church in Kampala, Uganda. Christian Life Church is a large indigenous church in a poor region of Kampala.  Peter was serving as one of the pastors at Christian Life Church and was also working at a post office to support his family and church. The committee of Divine Care Ministry was charged by the leadership within the church to care for the sick, the widows and the orphans. At this time the HIV incidence in the population of Uganda was 28%.  There were many deaths of working-age people which lead to many orphans and widows. Phoebe Sozi was asked to chair the Divine Care Ministry committee and although the task was overwhelming, she willingly accepted the challenge.

 

In November of 2000, Dr. Rick Rogers first visited Uganda and met Phoebe Sozi and her husband, Peter. Peter and Phoebe's heart of compassion and their willingness to be used by God was very evident to Dr. Rogers. When he returned to the USA, he shared their story and rallied others to help with the challenges that Divine Care Ministry was facing.  At the time of the first visit, Divine Care Ministry was helping twenty-two orphans.  Sponsors for those orphans were recruited, which provided the funds for the committee to help others. 

 

Since then, the ministry has since acquired a primary school, medical clinic, and a dental clinic. By 2013, they have helped close to 1,500 children. Many have finished the university level of education and some even work in the ministry as staff.  The university graduates have formed an organization open to all former beneficiaries of Divine Care Ministry and this organization is dedicated to assisting the organization in the future.  Their slogan is "Together we make a difference" and they are seeing the fruit of their commitment. 

 

As children and communities have been helped, opportunities have developed to plant churches.  Churches are thriving at both schools as well as on the farm.  They have also been able to assist neighboring churches as well.  The witness of loving the children and adults in need has advanced the kingdom of God in many ways.  Since 2011, their staff has reached out to tribes in the northern part of Uganda where the gospel has seldom been heard and never successfully established.  Thousands have responded to God's call and under the guidance of Peter Sozi, leaders are being trained in these remote regions.  

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Carl and Lisa Peck interviewing Peter and Phoebe Sozi, in Kampala, Uganda

 

Lisa had traveled to Uganda in March of this year.

Carl provided some background about Uganda and about Peter and Phoebe. They’ve been married 23 years and have 5 kids, ages 23-15.

Lisa - the presence of the Lord is palpable on their campus. They have something that we in America need. Esp when you see the riots and racial tensions. There’s an incredible excitement to watch how the flow of the spirit moves through these people.

Phoebe and Peter introduce themselves.

Peter: I became a Christian June 4, 1987. That’s when I realized I needed Jesus inside of me, a personal, intimate relationship w/ Jesus. I’ve been walking with and serving the Lord by the grace of God. Thrilled to see the transformation God’s doing.

Everyday God is at work. He has never ceased to work. The opportunity he gives us as human beings, the church ,in what he’s doing across the world—It’s a great privilege.

Phoebe: I got saved in 1978. I remember our teacher told us about heaven and hell and about how Jesus is love. He died on the cross because of our sins. He didn’t have sin but he died on our behalf. That touched m heart and I accepted Christ.

I had a Christian family, but this is when I decided to ask X to be my savior.

At that time, Uganda was really dying. AIDS was killing people. All these orphans. Didn’t know what to do. And the Lord told us…

We’re just speaking love. We’re beginning to look different. TO understand. To realize so much. But at that time, the Lord pulled us out f our jobs.

If your’e working, you can support others. But the Lord said, “Stop working and serve me.” We care for orphans where there are no churches established. God’s been good.

Our coming here isn’t something we can take for granted. We know God’s doing something. It might be our first time. Our last time. We don’t know. One thing we know: we have God’s blessings and our friends here.

Uganda is in E Africa. Not the North. The heart of Africa. The size of Oregon. 36M people. Gained independence from the Brittish in 1962. Had Christianity from Britain, but continued with idolatry and witchcraft. From 1962-1985, we had 10 president because of our false religions. A lot of bloodshed.

When you mention Uganda to older folks, they think, “That’s where Idi Amin was” - the worst dictator in all history.

Uganda struggled during that time. No freedom of worship. No Sunday morning service. When we say “Praise God” in Africa, it’s a big deal. That’s why we say “Amen” in response.

Only 3 years ago we received freedom of worship.

The role of the church: We have 3M orphans in the 1990’s. 36% AIDS. Prediction was that by 2000, we’d have 100% infection and the population would be decimated.

The church cried out and prayed. And when the church prays, God answers. We are not helpless. The destiny of nations lies in the church. Nowhere else. the atrocities, HIV, bad leadership, whatever. The key the answer is t he church. God expects the church to work with him.

2Chro 7:14 - God wants HIs people to pray for their nation. People cried out in prayer. I saw my brother die. My cousin. Every home was visited by death. And we didn’t know what would happen next.

When we prayed, God heard. HIV dropped from 36% to 6%. That’s a testimony. It wasn’t a government program. Or because an organization came it. IT was because the church prayed.

We went to a neighborhood and had 7000 come to church in a matter of weeks. When the church prays, it raises the spiritual level in the church. People will come because they seek something.

Same time, we had so many orphans. We couldn’t stand back. It was our responsibility as church to respond. That’s where God called us. Not just another social program to care for and feed. We’re raising up the next generation of God-fearing children. Not only for Uganda, but Africa and the rest of the world.

 

Carl: You and Phoebe had experienced death in your families. I read that at one point it was so common, people were just accepting it. With Compassion International, World Vision, World Outreach, those sound similar to you. What’s unique about the ministry God’s given you?

 

Peter: We’re not only involved in helping and discipling children, but also communities. God wants his glory known in every community. Our goal is to respond to the GC. As we do the child program, we also touch community, family, clan, nation. We go to the remote communities of our country where we feel the greatest need. we go in any area where X is not named.

Phoebe: World Vision has started from here. We’re Ugandans. It’s the body of X coming together for the cause.

Peter: For our children, we pray for their parents. It’s a shared problem and shared success.

We have the unprecedented opportunity here. We have a child who cried out for a mother, and here is a child and her (adopted?) mother.

We cooperate with those programs. We have friends who work with them. But it’s a drop in a bucket.

We have families where the father and mother would rather drink a beer than take care of their children. Who would exchange their children for farm animals.

 

Lisa: Margaret and I have been friends for >10 yrs. When she first went to Uganda, she saw several schools. they went into a community and took over for one that was insolvent. She had the opportunity to spend the night on the campus. Some students walk 6-8 miles one way to go to school. Some kids live on campus. And they have nighttime devotions, really worship. Pastor Peter or Mama Phoebe.

At 5:30 am, they get up, drum, dance, sing, and worship before the Lord for >30min. They have student circles who pray. Adults and staff walk outside the circles praying for the children. Seemed like the lion of Judah. That’s where my heart was pressed that they understand something about prayer, worship, the presence of God. These children have such joy, peace, delight in their heart. That’s what you’re teaching/training them. Not what they do. An expression of who they are.

 

Peter: The village you’re talking about is where AIDS was first discovered. You’d find this age group all gone. Grandparents and children and graves is all you’d find.

All we knew is to call upon God and invite the presence of God. We had no other answers. If this God loves us, why would he let this happen? And we said, “We don’t have the answers. We don’t have the resources. We know who does: God.”

There were witch doctors who would drum. But the praises of the children would rise up and drown them out. And the drums of the witch doctors have been silenced.

Scripture says from the praises of children.

We have a clinic that cares for thousands. With 6 dental chairs.

 

Carl: Tell us about Divine Care Ministries. The school, the medical practice. A testimony?

Phoebe: We are a ministry with a board. Some members here in US, some in Uganda. We have ministries, schools, headquarters. We invite visitors to come. We show them around. They visit communities. We grow food. We establish churches.

Peter: Some of the commmities we’ve gone, such as in the Northern parts of or country. Some are hearing the gospel for the first time. They’ve been hostile to the gospel. But now they have nearly 100% response to the gospel of X. And that’s about 1/6th of Uganda.

Phoebe: One place had no rain. It was declared a desert. They couldn’t grow food. They depend ended on relief. But God had us pray for rain in the middle of the desert. And now God has changed things. They now have Spring. They grow food. They are accepting Christ.

And we want to encourage you that you are the hpe of the world. The church is the hope of the world. The Lord doesn’t look for the mountains. We encourage you: pray, cry out. Go on your knees. God will change the desert to good soil.

 

Lisa: They have something we need. Part of the reason I’ve asked them to come is so we could see that. We’re looking to start a prayer vigil. Women in Uganda gather under the tree once a month to pray, praise, and worship. For the needs of uganda and the whole world.

Part of my reason in going—some of the orphans in Divine Grace and Divine Hope are growing up and don’t know what a healthy marriage looks like. So I went to teach what that looks like in an age-appropriate way. I want to raise up a team of people who specialize in trauma.

Carl and I hope in 2017 to have friends to come in who specialize in that and to join us to teach and train and love on the kids.

The idea that people would come all the way from America just to see these people is so impactful. So profound.

 

Carl: How many kids have you been able to minister to?

Phoebe: over 10K. We have seen God do mighty things.

 

Carl: What are you two greatest needs from a practical standpoint? And what is your wildest dream that you’d like to see happen?

Peter: We have 2 schools. One in a muslim community. We want to add more classrooms because we’re out of space. We have a church we’re building that’s in a poor community, “Under a Tree”. We want to complete that project.

Our wildest dream: mae sure every village, every child, every ugandan has opportunity to hear the gospel. To know there’s hope for him and our country.

Phoebe: We want to be your friends.

We are praying for revival. we want to see the church revived. We want to go to the deepest villages and help children. We’ve been praying and saying God, be generous.

 

Carl: Peter and Phoebe have wares for purchase.