A Scientology Volunteer Minister Makes New Friends and Helps in Distant Lands
A Dutch Scientologist and a Ugandan Christian priest work together to uplift local communities.
Jinja is a city in Eastern Uganda on the shore of Lake Victoria, known for being located at the source of the Nile. There, Samuel Richard Sembuya, a Christian priest, came across the Scientology website when searching for a way to help local communities overcome challenges.
Some 6,000 miles away in Amsterdam, Jan-Maarten Kruijt was about to learn of an opportunity he’d always hoped for: a chance to travel to Africa as a Scientology Volunteer Minister. Together these two men set in motion an initiative they hope will change the region from one beset by poverty to one with a future.
Uganda is home to some 2.5 million orphans. More than half the population is younger than 18 and just under 40 percent live in poverty. What’s more, the country often experiences mudslides, landslides and flooding.
Rev. Sembuya enrolled on one of the free online Tools for Life courses on the Scientology website. On completing his first course, Sembuya felt so empowered with what he learned, he continued taking one course after another and rapidly learned all 19 subjects. He formed a local Volunteer Ministers group and reached out to the international headquarters of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers, which has a page for requesting an on-site seminar on their website.
“A Volunteer Minister does not shut his eyes to the pain, evil and injustice of existence,” wrote Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in announcing the Volunteer Ministers program in the mid-1970s. “Rather, he is trained to handle these things and help others achieve relief from them and new personal strength as well.”
The courses Rev. Sembuya completed are the backbone of this training.
Sembuya saw how this information could transform his community. Not only had he learned how to help resolve conflicts but there was invaluable information on organization, communication, and problem-solving—all vital for creating sustainability.
When Kriujt learned from a friend about Rev. Sembuya’s request, he immediately volunteered to go.
On arriving in Uganda, Kruijt learned Sembuya had booked three weeks of daily seminars and meetings. First he trained the priest’s new disaster response group in each chapter of the Scientology Handbook, the textbook of the Volunteer Minister. There was plenty of practical experience in each of the skills they learned.
Kruijt went out with the group to supervise them as they used these tools in their community outreach until they were confident in the application of the technology and able to train others in its use.
The Jinja fire and police departments worked closely with the new Volunteer Ministers group, calling on them to help at fires and traffic accidents.
Kruijt also provided a seminar to teachers at a school where he trained them on the Technology of Study developed by Mr. Hubbard.
When he returned to Amsterdam, Kruijt left behind a dedicated team and an inspired leader to carry forward what they had worked on together to put in place.
“In Uganda, I saw a lot of conflict among different religious and political groups,” says Kruijt. “People are looking for something that can connect them across these lines—something they can believe in, regardless of what else they believe. More and more people are finding this now in the technology of Scientology.”
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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