What Sets Him Apart:
Christopher is a visionary servant leader with experience beyond his years.
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But it wasn't always this way. Christopher had the kind of childhood that most of us couldn't imagine in our worst nightmares. The violence of Uganda's 20 year war was raging through the country during Christopher's early years, and it found its way into his village. When he was just 6 years old, Christopher's father was brutally killed in front of his eyes as he and his mother looked on in horror. Together they managed to flee their village shortly after, as their homes were burned to the ground behind them. They were chased to another village, only to have the same thing happen again. Finally, they managed to escape to the bush, eating what they could find until they could travel safely again. Christopher and his mother settled in the city of Lira, Uganda where Chris was later forced to live on the street and was beaten regularly by locals due to his unpopular decision to become a Christian.
A New Dream
"People in my country have forgotten how to smile. But now I have found my smile again, and I want to give my people a reason to smile again too."
After I posted Mission 2016: 10 Steps for Goal Setting Success, Christopher told me how much it had meant to him in understanding the ways he had been holding himself back. He described how a majority of Ugandans have so many fears and so much trauma that they end up living in the past, instead of looking to the future. They don't set new goals because they have simply given up hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for a happy life. Hope for a peaceful nation. Hope for clean drinking water. It often seems easier to just give up hope altogether rather than to have their hopes crushed again. And when there's no reason to hope, then there's no reason to smile. But Christopher began to see beyond this pervasive hopeless mindset. And although he had experienced profound hopelessness firsthand, he had found a way to remember how to smile again. Why shouldn't his people? He shared with me, "People in my country have forgotten how to smile. But now I have found my smile again, and I want to give my people a reason to smile again too." This was a massive breakthrough and new living waters were beginning to flow.
Christopher had begun to ask himself an enormous question in between our sessions: "How can I begin to think for my people?" That one question sent shivers down my spine when I heard him say it, and it's happening again now. I have never met a person who has asked a question that big and with such power, love and humility. That question deserves attention and it commands respect from the type of leader who utters it. What else is there to do when you come face to face with such pure intention and penetrating vision? People like Christopher change the world and make it the kind of place we all would like to live in.
Shelter of Smiles
The needs in Uganda are tremendous, from lack of safe drinking water, to malnutrition, crippling economic inflation, and an epidemic number of orphaned children due to years of civil war and political unrest. In the midst of all of this, Christopher always strives to look for the opportunities in even the greatest challenges. He is a respected community builder and leader in his village, is highly active in his church, and is a loving and supportive father and husband. In the very face of these challenges, Christopher Odongo aims to brings smiles of hope to a people longing for a brighter future.
Learn more and follow with Shelter of Smiles on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shelterofsmilesuganda.