Over 90% of Ssese Islanders are infected with HIV. (Image courtesy of Melanie Musselman)
Uganda (MNN) ― People living in southern Uganda need our prayers.
"It's a very spiritually dark place. It's a hard thing to put words to," says medical missionary Melanie Musselman. She serves with Africa Inland Mission and has called the Ssese Islands "home" for the past two years.
"The devil has a lot of power there, unfortunately," she says.
It's also home to high HIV/AIDS infection rates: over 35% in the fishing villages where Musselman works. She says it's a result of transient lifestyles.
"There's a lot of prostitution, a lot of drunkenness, a lack of sense of community," says Musselman. "It's not looked at as 'home:' it's looked at as a place that we move between. Because of that mindset, there tends to be a lot of using and abusing of people and things."
The Ssese Islands are an archipelago of 84 islands in the northwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. Musselman says in her blog that along with the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the region has generally poor health care, frequent family breakdown, widespread belief in witchcraft, high levels of commercial sex work, and a relatively young Church.
But there's a silver lining.
"Whenever we encounter a patient in the camp, we always ask if we can pray with them," she explains. "There's never been one time that we've offered to pray and someone has turned that down."
Musselman says the truth and hope of Christ's resurrection is especially significant to HIV/AIDS patients.
"It's a life-or-death situation," says Musselman. "They're seeking that 'hope after' because it's a huge reality to them; death is close."
While the AIM medical team treats HIV victims both physically and spiritually, they're also helping healthcare become more sustainable and sharing the Good News with Ugandan volunteers.
"[Volunteers are] trained in Biblical models that are translated into community healthcare development," states Musselman. "As we use these Biblical stories, we take them out of the Bible and we say, 'What does that look like if we're going to do that in our community?'"
Volunteers trained by AIM act as a "point person" for people who are sick, helping them get access to the care that they need. They come from numerous religious backgrounds, including traditional Ugandan beliefs and Islam. Pray that their eyes would be opened to the Truth.
Pray too for new believers, that they would grow in spiritual knowledge and understanding. Also pray "that it wouldn't be a surface level of understanding, but they would really, truly understand."