It’s always interesting to visit other Youth With A Mission bases and see what their community is like and how they are living out the YWAM values. Our Voice for the Voiceless DTS spent a week at YWAM Kampala, Uganda.

Bene, our interpreter and guide

We were made to feel at home from the start, when one of the staff members, Bene Daniel Bigisho, came to meet our team of nine people at Entebbe airport at 5.00 am with a big, welcoming smile.

He had arranged a mini-bus taxi to take us to the YWAM base and the first task was to load our luggage on the roof and front seat. We had a lot of luggage! Each of us had our own personal baggage, plus eight large bags full of clothes, toys and school materials to distribute to needy people in Uganda. We also had another suitcase full of materials for working with children and some team items, including an Italian espresso coffee machine!

Bene Daniel Bigisho

Over the week in Kampala, Bene became like another member of our team. He had been assigned to us as our guide, interpreter and programme organiser, so he went everywhere with us. In fact, without him, we would not have been able to do anything on our first week of outreach. His dedication and support were impressive.

He is an example of a young person with a huge vision. He has been at YWAM for four years, has staffed on nine DTSs and is currently leading the School of Evangelism and Pioneering. This coming September, he has been accepted on the School of Worship at Herrnhut in Germany. His vision is to pioneer this school in East Africa, as nothing similar exists there yet.

The YWAM Kampala facilities

The main building is set in a garden with beautiful flowering trees and the entrance is via the garage. This space is multi-purpose and functions as an office, meeting room, classroom and dining room. We spent a lot of time here preparing our ministry times, eating, processing, praying.

Leading off from the garage there is a kitchen, the main classroom, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The bedrooms are equipped with mosquito nets as this is an area where malaria is endemic. Tucking in your mosquito net at night gives you an odd sense of security, like being inside a cocoon! One of the bathrooms has the typical African “bucket shower” which is very practical as it saves water and is quick and refreshing when the weather is hot.

Behind the main building there is a patio and some more bedrooms; an outdoor kitchen where food is prepared and cooked slowly over hot coals: the food always smelled amazing and was delicious. Other activities such as washing up and washing clothes also take place in this patio. The base keeps dogs, rabbits and hens. There is a constant supply of fresh eggs! On an adjacent property, there are more dormitories.

How YWAM Kampala started

Training, equipping, empowering and releasing people to fulfil God’s call and His commandments

Mission Statement
Saji and Sheena Thomas Kanatharayil, YWAM Kampala base leaders

Saji and Sheena Thomas, from India are the base leaders. During our stay, we participated in the sixth anniversary of the YWAM base and Saji told some of their story about how they came to be in Uganda.

Saji had been volunteering with YWAM India and he had a desire to go to Africa, although he was unsure about which country he should go to. One of his Indian friends was working in Uganda as a missionary and visited Saji’s family and showed them photos and pictures of Africa. When Saji saw a photo of Uganda he realised that was where God was calling him to go.

Saji’s first visit to Uganda was in 2011 and then again in 2012. In 2013 he returned with his wife and son and set up the YWAM Kampala base. The first DTS took place in 2014 and is the main ministry of the base.

To transform the lives of people to love God and prepare them for works of service beyond their boundaries

Vision Statement

In the six years since the base was founded, they have run 12 Discipleship Training Schools. The current one, with 12 students from 6 nations, was away on outreach while we were there. They graduated on 19 July and the next DTS starts in September.

The day after we arrived two schools started: the School of Evangelism and Pioneering, led by Bene, and the school of English for Mission headed up by Linda and Peter Taylor. Yet another school, the School of Transformational Business began in July. This school first took place in Kampala in 2014. Kampala is a base with fairly limited facilities but with a very broad vision and tremendous faith!

School of Transformational Business 2019

As well as the training aspect, the base has a slum ministry where they visit regularly to bring encouragement and practical help. They also work together with local churches, one of which meets on their premises every Sunday. As one of their slogans says, they “Aspire to inspire before they expire”!

Ministry at Katwe Slum

Community life

It was a real joy and a privilege for us to participate in community life at Kampala, such as the devotionals led by Linda and Peter, times of worship and intercession. We were able to pray for all the new students arriving for the SOEP and the EFM.

We loved meeting the other staff members and workers too, Richard, Ahadi, Elyse, Mapendo, Obed. There were others we didn’t meet as they were away on outreach with the DTS.

I think we realised about halfway through the week that our Spanish lifestyle of staying up and chatting (loudly!) until fairly late was quite different to normal life on the base, where everyone gets up early and goes to bed early! I sheepishly apologised to the staff and students in the room next to ours for disturbing them, but they graciously said they enjoyed hearing our joyful laughter around the base! We felt accepted and welcomed by these lovely, hospitable people and it became a home away from home for us.

Karen Chambers with Bene Daniel Bigisho