Friday, February 24, 2012


"The problem is that they build the island houses too small," explained Pastor Samson one recent evening.

He went on to expound. Most island homes have one, maybe two rooms at the maximum. As more children are born, the oldest find themselves having no place to sleep at night, simply for lack of room and privacy. They are forced out of the home to find shelter elsewhere.

His explanation made sense as to why this may be a contributing factor to the teen pregnancies that are all too common on the islands.

Amidst exciting testimonies of answered prayers, recent salvations, and a flood of new students descending on the island, we learned this week, through routine testing, that three of our girl students had started the school year (that began in early February) pregnant.

All three were in the top class. Two were in the group I had taken to a Bible camp in December. One had professed Christ last year, was in regular discipleship and was serving as the head girl student of the school. One was the niece of a good friend and an area pastor.

Those of at Shepherd's Heart and at the school shook our heads in disbelief and disappointment, and asked ourselves why.

Counseling was done before the expulsion took place and the girls were sent home. One was doggedly determined to abort the baby so she could return to school and resume her studies, saying her mom had already threatened her if she became pregnant "again." This was obviously not her first pregnancy, not would it be her first abortion.

It seems she suspected the pregnancy even before the testing was done, and bought the abortive medicine beforehand. "It is too late," she told concerned counselors Friday morning, as they tried to dissuade her away from killing her own baby.

"I didn't plan to get pregnant," said one as I sat next to her Friday morning on the boat, her packed belongings nearby. Her time at the island school had been very brief - lasting only about two weeks. Now she was returning to the mainland with a heavy burden and many questions.

When I asked about her plans, she responded fearfully, "I am going to run away." Run away from her family, her neighbors, anyone who might know her. After encouraging her not to make any decisions in haste or out of fear, I asked if she would keep the baby. "No," she said, she planned to abort. She said she was too young to be a mother and wanted to finish school.

Again, I encouraged her to turn to God to seek forgiveness, guidance and help in this hard time. "Entrust your life and the life of the baby into God's hands." I spoke of God being the giver and taker of life, and to take a life would be violating His law.

I am not sure it had occurred to her that she was carrying a precious life, a baby.

Such cases and stories are all too common here. Sexual immorality is like a plague, especially on the islands.

While some girls find themselves forced out of their family's home and compelled to sleep elsewhere, like in Pastor Samson's explanation, others turn to prostitution to earn extra money - perhaps money to buy food (that may not be provided at home) or take care of basic needs. The economic opportunities for island women and girls are very limited.

Others are forced into such a lifestyle by their own fathers or other family members. In this culture, a woman's value is found in not who she is, but in what she provides. For others, such choices are consensual and a decision they make on their own.

I am being blunt and not mincing words, because this is reality. Until fathers and families reclaim the great and God-given responsibility toward their duties, this will continue. Until the culture cries out and says this is wrong, nothing will change. Until the girls and women see their value and worth in the eyes of their Creator, they and others will continue to view them as "objects" to be used.

Until Christ captures, saves and radically transforms the hearts and minds of girls, women, families, communities and islands, they will remain in this deep and deceptive pit of sexual sin.

Satan has set many traps and many have been ensnared. Yet Christ is the True Redeemer - to redeem from sin and bondage.

Many need to be set free.

Image Source: Microsoft Office Clip Art


  1. Wow, Ruthie!! Some hard stuff you are dealing with!! May God give you wisdom to share the truth to these young ladies!!

  2. What an eye-opening post, Ruthie. Culture goes the way of human nature--sin--without the redeeming grace of Christ! It is heartbreaking that these young ladies want to choose abortion, and I will be praying for them, but also for all the Ugandan women they represent. And your words are so true that the men need to step up to the responsibility--another thing to be praying for!

  3. I truly understand what you are going through, and I'm so sorry. I knew a variety of things similar in my part of Uganda, too. What you mentioned that no one ever brought up to me was the abortion. A heart breaker. So glad you are there to help change their understanding. And I also understand the "house" bit... saw it many times. Bless you, Dear. It takes loving people like you that can make a difference in the changes needed.

  4. Thank you, Marmee! Truly we need God's wisdom and grace.
    Lauren, thank you so much for your prayers. I know it is only Christ who can redeem these young lives, and transform the parts of Ugandan culture that have fallen so far from God's ways.
    Joanne, thank you for your comment and encouragement. Unfortunately, abortion is seen as the easy and quick answer, but the gravity, sin, and lasting consequences of it are not often discussed here.

  5. Wow Ruthie that is indeed a serious issue in the islands... It is such a shame that those girls see the only way out as abortion, and they don't realise what they are doing.

    One thing I don't understand though, (but I am sure there is a good explanation), is why you would expel the girls from school, because they are pregnant?? Why can't they attend up until closer to when the baby is due (if they keep it), so that they get as much schooling as they can. I don't know of any other school that would expel girls for this reason... Provide some counseling and instruction, sure, but doesn't sending them back to - where? - give them the idea that they are responsible for something they might have had no choice about (ie. if they were forced into prostitution etc). Forgiveness and support is a great encouragement to change for the better than returning them to their old life where it will probably happen again...and again.
    I am not being critical of you Ruthie as I know you love these people and I admire your work for them. I would just like to know why the school has that policy.

  6. Bonnie, thank you for your comment and the questions and concerns that you raised. I and others I work with asked ourselves some of these same ones as we learned of the news last week. It is indeed a school policy that the girls must be expelled if they are found pregnant. In the case of these three girls, and I believe in most cases, the sexual activity was consensual and to allow them to remain in school would be like condoning their choice to be involved in sexual immorality. Education is a privilege here, especially for girls, but it must be a priority before the girls choose to involve themselves in other things. I personally have struggled with sending them back home, but I also believe the school policy must be upheld. Government schools do allow the girls to remain in school while still pregnant, but ours is a private Christian school, and must hold to a higher standard. I plan to maintain contact with these girls, at least by telephone as face-to-face visits may not be possible or often. One of the girls demanded "forgiveness," simply so she could return to her studies. Yet, there was no sign of remorse or repentance. Once the girls have delivered, they can return to the school, and we have had students who have done that. I hope I answered your questions. Thank you again for commenting.