My name is Okumu, Yudah Tadeo. I am originally from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa — it’s such a beautiful country! I was born to Catholic parents in Butema Village in eastern Uganda. I’m the fifth of twelve children; five of my siblings died at infancy due to preventable diseases like malaria. I grew up in a miserable home, witnessing the domestic abuse my Dad inflicted on my Mom day after day. Although we shared a roof with my Dad, he was very absent in our lives. Peace at home was very seldom.
All of my older siblings were enrolled at a Catholic church-founded school, but when my time came to start school, I was enrolled into a Baptist church-founded school which was close to our home. That school had a child sponsorship program through Compassion International. Because I was coming from the poorest of the poor families in my village, I was enrolled into the program. This is when my life got a new turn. I was soon introduced to Jesus Christ through the Sunday school teachings and the weekly church services. Eventually, I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior after knowing and understanding that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). It was through the Compassion sponsorship that I was able to get an education from elementary school through college. What a great blessing! I’m forever grateful to my sponsors.
While at college, I met the one who would become my dearest friend and now my lovely wife, Harriet. She too was sponsored through Compassion International. We got married in 2010 and God has since blessed us with four beautiful children. Soon after our wedding, we received the calling to full-time ministry in 2011, when we were asked to coordinate ministry activities for a small missionary organization in Uganda. Then, in 2013, I received a call to leadership when my childhood church asked me to consider taking on senior pastoral leadership, but first we needed to get theological and pastoral training before jumping into the fray.
Through God’s miraculous move and provisions, I was able to come to Moody Bible Institute and Seminary in Chicago in 2015. Unfortunately, as is the fate of most families from humble backgrounds, we had to wait for one and a half years to be reunited.
In that season of being separated and waiting, we saw God’s faithfulness. We were reminded of 2 Chronicles 16:9a: “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…”
Going through college and seminary for six years, while childbearing, was to some degree a testing of our call to ministry, but more importantly a strengthening of our faith and commitment to the Lord and to one another as a couple. We have had our good share of joys and sorrows but knowing we were walking in His will has made a whole lot of difference. God has continued to be our daily support and strength through celebrations of childbirth, birthdays, graduation from Moody, and 11 years of marriage!
Through all that, God has also laid a ministry vision for Africa on our hearts. By His grace, He enabled us to incorporate Restore Africa Network USA, a ministry dedicated to training African pastors and ministry leaders and equipping the body of Christ for Kingdom impact. I see God mobilizing churches, men, and women to be part of the great work ahead.
Certainly, God has continued us onto the journey of additional pastoral and leadership training. That journey has seen my family move from Chicago to Milwaukee so that I could serve here at Eastbrook Church as the City Ministry Manager. We are excited about this great opportunity, and we will be here until the Lord says it is time to transition back to Uganda. As we serve and wait, we take refuge in the words of the Psalmist; “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands” (Psalm 138:8).
I love city ministry because in the city, you get to impact people from all over the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the coming years, I want to see Eastbrook’s City Ministry thrive and usher transformation in the lives of the people we serve in our core ministries and beyond. ■
In his role as City Ministry Manager, Okumu oversees the critical work of the Food Pantry and Bread of Healing Clinic at Eastbrook. To learn more about these ministries or to serve, visit eastbrook.org/missions.