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Javis Mugagga Lubwama

Javis, from a family of 39 children, became a street urchin at 15 when his father died. Yet, today he is married, has a college degree, and is a media and public relations professional in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

He’s also our dynamic representative throughout the country, where several years after representatives of the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute introduced the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus to Uganda, the movement continues to grow and spread, thanks to God’s grace and Javis’ incredible efforts.

He and his 38 brothers and sisters were born to a father who had several wives. The cultural traditions in which he grewi up involved tribalism and witchcraft. When he was 15, his father who was just 42 died of AIDS. His mother With no way to support him, his mother turned him out onto the streets.

Javis migrated from his home village to Uganda's capital city, Kampala, where he supported himself with a series of odd jobs: carrying luggage for university freshman, serving as a night watchman for a garage, selling scrap and a host of other things. Fortunately, he used some of the money he earned to pay high school fees and worked hard. He was blessed to become the best student in his class.

After that, he recalls, "I was connected to an American couple that was in Uganda for a one year missionary work. That couple befriended me, and out of their kindness and love they ended up funding me for my university degree."

Since then, he says, "My life's growth and development has been as a result of Jesus-centered friends I have met along the way while experiencing the mysteries of life." Those friends have provided him a series of support networks to help guide him deeper into adulthood and his Catholic faith.

In 2015 after a long courtship, he married the love of his life, Gladys, in both traditional and Catholic ceremonies.

The Yeshua Institute's director, Owen Phelps, met Javis when he went to Uganda in October, 2011. Among the Encounters Owen led was one to students from a variety of universities in the Kampala Archdiocese's campus ministry program. "I was amazed that more than 100 students gave up a Saturday to attend the program," Owen recalls.

At the start of the program he was introduced to Javis, a recent university graduate who expressed an interest in becoming a Facilitator. "Later, when I reviewed the students' evaluations, I was amazed to discover that all of the students had attended because of Javis' work promoting the event," Owen recalls.

The next day Owen enthusiastically trained Javis to be a Facilitator. "And he hasn't slowed down since," Owen notes.

When Yeshua Fellow and Master Facilitator Dick Kunnert and retired Catholic priest Facilitator Father David Beauvais returned to Kampala to present a 2-day program for more than 200 archdiocesan priests in January 2012, Javis was there to greet them and to help them with the programs -- and to seek their guidance about how to continuing spreading the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus after they had returned to the states.

He also met Kampala's archbishop, who introduced him to various archdiocesan officials with whom he would continue to collaborate.

In his first year of work, Javis presented the principles of Leading Like Jesus to approximately 2500 people using a variety of formats from full Encounters to brief talks. His audiences varied from high school students to adults in parishes.

"My High school projects have been going fine. I have trained a lot of student leaders using our material. It is something that I want to continue doing." No stranger to technology, he adds: "I like using that YouTube video of kids speaking about how the LLJ material has helped them change the way they have been understanding servant leadership. In one quarter we have reached about 650 student's leaders in five high schools."

Javis also heads up an outreach to university students that is normally scheduled one Saturday night a month. "We do it at a basketball court, and it is full of clean fun," he says. "We normally have between 600-1300 students. We hire public address systems, and we use the projector you sent to show Lead Like Jesus videos. I know each Saturday night we save a lot of students from harmful weekend activities."

Javis also hosts an annual Freshmen Encounter for students from the many universities served by the Kampala Archdiocese's campus ministry program.

"We are motivated that our CV-LLJ work is part of the solution to the leadership challenges of our country," Javis explains.

If Javis is anything, he is resourceful. When a seminarian asked to borrow a copy of The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus, Javis gave him the only copy he had -- but only after extracting a promise that the seminarian would pass it on to a classmate who agreed, in turn, to pass it on to another seminarian. Within a year he was presenting a program to the seminarians, and since then he had reached out to students in other seminaries in Uganda. When he does have enough Encounter workbooks for all participants, he reads questions to participants and has them write their answers on scrap paper.

"We hope we can do more for him in the days ahead," Owen says. "Now that we're a nonprofit organization, we're hoping to expand our network of people who want to see the development of more S3 Jesus-like Leaders not only here in the U.S. but also around the world -- and most particularly now in Uganda.

"We're convinced Javis is a true grace to the church, and we want to continue serving and supporting that grace for the good of the church, the Ugandan people and all of East Africa."