Congratulations on 25 years of faithful ministry, Buyamba! It has been a blessing to walk with this ministry, serving God Cares Schools, and the Dongo family, since the earliest years. God birthed this ministry and has used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to help the widows and orphans.
I first met Pastor Bethuel Dongo in the spring of 2000. I was walking in the Janss Mall with my 2 children and noticed a couple walking in front of me. I could only see them from behind but, though I hadn’t met them before, I felt like I knew them in my spirit. The woman looked familiar, but I did not know where I had seen her face before. I could not see the man’s face, only his profile and I immediately felt the Presence of the Holy Spirit and He began to place knowledge about this man into my head and heart. I began to “know things” about the man, as the Lord revealed them to me. I knew only 3 things: He was from Africa, he was a pastor, and I was compelled to meet him. I I turned to motion my kids over to me when the couple ducked into a store at the mall. I could not find them so I told the Lord that if He wanted me to find this man, He would have to allow our paths to cross again. I never saw them again.
The following morning, my family visited Calvary Community Church and I almost collapsed onto the floor when founding pastor, Larry DeWitt, introduced Pastor Dongo as a visiting pastor from Uganda. I KNEW that this was the Lord’s doing and I had to meet this man, because He allowed pour paths to cross again. Pastor Dongo was standing beside a small table in the foyer after servicer and so I introduced myself to him and shared the events from the day before. He looked straight into my eyes, extended his hand, and declared, “This is a Divine appointment.” From that day on we began to email one another. Dongo was the guest of Placide and Milly DaSilva and we all became fast friends. He explained the ministry of Buyamba and all about starting a school in the basement of his church in Uganda. He talked about his family, the God-sized vision the Lord had given him and the help he needed. I was compelled to help him. At that time, the ministry was called Buyamba Orphan Outreach and it was run by “Mum Pat” and Jerry Lehman, in NY. There were 97 students. I caught his vision.
The following year, in 2001, I agreed to host Pastor Dongo in my home and continued that tradition for several years thereafter. He would make 2 trips a year (spring and fall). I would pick him up at the airport and began to call around to local churches to ask if I could bring my pastor friend from Uganda to meet with the lead pastor to share his ministry’s vision with them. I also asked friends from various churches if I could bring Dongo to their home groups and allow him time to share about his ministry. I would set up various meetings and dinners, and school chapels throughout Southern California and would host event in my own home so Dongo could garner sponsorship support for the orphaned and destitute children of Uganda and sponsorships increased. I also took him to Hillcrest Christian School, Thousand Oaks, where I taught high school Bible and computer classes and ran the secondary school chapel program. Dongo affectionately began to call me Madam Secretary since I handled his schedule here in CA and coordinated with other friends of the ministry in various states. The name stuck. He was part of our family and his family was a part of ours. Buyamba began to grow.
In 2002, I had Dongo do both the primary and secondary school chapel programs at HCS. It was then that I introduced him to Julie Dimas. My eldest daughter, Andrea, served on the primary school student council and asked Julie if the council could raise support to help Dongo purchase land for the construction of God Cares Nursery and Primary School. The K-6 students raised $2,480 from their chapel offerings that year that would serve as the seed money to break ground on the God Cares School building program. The following year, the student council raised about $1,400 from their own efforts. Julie Dimas became a friend of the ministry and began to sponsor a child as well. I knew the ministry needed a website and more processes to sustain the growth of the US program, so Dongo and I began to pray. The Lord dropped Dave Dimas into my spirit, and we began to pray that the Lord would move on his heart to volunteer to build us a website. In the fall of 2006 Dave and Julie approached me about wanting do to more and that they felt the call of the Lord on their lives to support this work. In 2007 the CA non-profit was formed where I began to serve on the executive board of directors as, you guessed it … the Secretary, and I am still serving on the board today. When the work of the ministry became too great for Julie to work at both HCS and Buyamba, she and I met to decide which of us would run it. We joked about a coin toss, but I reminded her that God made it clear by calling HER to the work. She has served tirelessly since then. Thank you, Julie Dimas!
As the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." I have watched Dongo’s vision become a reality through the faithful stewardship of this ministry and the friends who pray and give so generously. Many have sown and watered and God has grown it. I have watched the first graduating class of GCHS move on to college. My original sponsored “Ugandan daughter”, Hadijah, was in the second graduating class, earned her degree at Africa Renewal Ministries University, is now employed in a social services roll, is married, and has a young son. They are serving the Lord wholeheartedly and she still considers us as her family. We text regularly and exchange prayer requests and family photos.
The Lord’s favor is upon this ministry. Dongo’s vision and ministry mission has grown both roots and wings. His legacy lives on. Congratulations, God Cares Schools and Buyamba, Inc. To God be all the glory!
We learned about God Cares School, Buyamba, in late 2005. Our church at the time hosted the late Pastor Betheul Dongo in Sebring, Florida. My husband I were blessed to provide his transportation during his stay in our town. To know Pastor Dongo was to love him! He enthusiastically shared his vision for the school with our church and several others.Our church at the time hosted the late Pastor Betheul Dongo in Sebring, Florida. My husband I were blessed to provide his transportation during his stay in our town. To know Pastor Dongo was to love him! He enthusiastically shared his vision for the school with our church and several others.Our church at the time hosted the late Pastor Betheul Dongo in Sebring, Florida. My husband I were blessed to provide his transportation during his stay in our town. To know Pastor Dongo was to love him! He enthusiastically shared his vision for the school with our church and several others.
Afterward his presentation to our church, we selected Deborah, age 10, from his display table. We committed to supporting her education with additional support for extra events. It was wonderful receiving letters from her, regular photographs and her report cards.
What a joy for her to graduate in 2016. She wanted to earn a college degree. We were grateful we could continue to provide support. She then was accept to attend Nsamizi Training Institute of Social Development for a Degree of Arts in Social Development. She graduated January 2022.
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Her progress was amazing and such a joy to watch her blossom and develop into a well-educated citizen of Uganda. Her heart was set to help others.
We thank God for the privilege of providing support while Pastor Dongo’s dream grew and flourished into 25 years of untold lives being enhanced. We praise God for his family that has continued to serve Jesus, one child at a time!
We praise God for this privilege. We are enjoying our second child, a young girl. What a joy to help support this fantastic ministry.
Bill and Debbie Lees
I was first introduced to God Cares School in 2010 by a friend in our life group at Calvary Community church in Thousand Oaks, Ca. She had been involved in helping Pastor Dongo with his traveling ministry. She invited him to come to a home and share sponsorship opportunities. I was so moved by the stories and excited to be able to sponsor 2 students. One of them has since graduated from university, so now I am sponsoring a different student who was new to the program.
Julie's story of how she came to Buyamba ...
It was around 2002 when I first met a visiting Pastor Dongo in the halls of Hillcrest Christian School through the computer teacher, Degna Horton. I was working as an administrator and teacher, and Pastor Dongo shared with us during a chapel about his children in Uganda, and I felt God's leading to open the door to help. I didn't know then that a few years later, in 2007, God would call my husband David and I and a new Board of Directors to take over the Buyamba ministry from the beautiful hands of Jerry & Pat Lehman, who had started Buyamba U.S. ministry in Kingston, New York. Together, we reopened the ministry in California, and from there, God continued his work of expansion into the lives of many churches, schools, sponsors, and donors.
In 2010, I was still teaching at HCS and running Buyamba, and the ministry became so big I could not handle both jobs. The Lord led me to pray about which job he would call me to full-time. It became clear that although I was still passionate about Christian education, God was doing something different. He called me to help God Cares School in Uganda and continue expanding his work in the U.S. as the Executive Director.
It has been an amazing adventure with the Lord that has led me to Uganda and back 11 times and the ability to interface with thousands of sponsors, donors, and volunteers in the U.S. that God has called to help! I have never looked back, and I am grateful for the blessing of Buyamba and working sponsors and donors who are making such a difference!