One Woman and a Great Big GodIrene Gleeson moved from an affluent suburb in Australia to a war zone in Uganda to start a ministry. Today she operates schools, feeding centers and churches for 6,000 children.

When Irene Gleeson got the call from God to leave Australia and go to Africa, it could not have come at a more inconvenient time for her.

She was happily married, attended a dynamic Pentecostal church, and lived in a spectacular beachside suburb of Sydney. With her four grown children and 13 grandchildren nearby, her life was rich, full and busy.

Gleeson’s journey to this season in her life had been a bumpy one, punctuated by moments of deep sadness and tragedy. But those days had passed. Now at 47 everything was on track.

So when God unexpectedly summoned her to pull up roots, leave her oceanside life, and move into a war zone two continents away, Gleeson, not surprisingly, questioned His timing.

“I remember arguing with God about this,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave my beautiful beach houses, my grandchildren and the country I loved.”

But despite her ties to home, she couldn’t escape what she knew God had told her: “Now that your children have grown up ... go.”

In 1991, just when everything was set for Irene to enjoy the prime of her life in Sydney, she instead stepped reluctantly yet obediently from beach-front suburbia into a culture of violence in northern Uganda.

In a small remote community, under the shade of a mango tree, Irene and husband Jeff’s* vision of rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned children began.

Today that tree is still there, no longer surrounded by the sounds of gunfire and mourning but by joy and singing. Strapping young men and mature young women who call Irene, now 64, “Grandmum” can still recite the words and gestures to the songs she taught them in the last decade.

Back then, these Ugandans were destitute children who sat like zombies in the dust, trapped in a longstanding insurgent war that ignited in 1987 and brought widespread social devastation to the region.

Some were perpetrators then. Many were victims of The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group led by religious extremist Joseph Kony that terrorized the country for more than two decades. One of Kony’s tactics was the violent abduction and recruitment of children for use as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

While the warfare raged, tens of thousands of Ugandans died or were mutilated by the LRA, and more than 2 million were forced into Internally Displaced People camps. At one time 200 or more of these squalid settlements, each housing up to 30,000 people, operated in the north of the country.

Conditions were appalling. All had overcrowding, open sewers, and no electricity or running water—only handouts from overseas aid agencies helped people survive. The conflict in northern Uganda was described by the United Nations as one of the world’s most-neglected humanitarian crises.

* The name of Gleeson's husband has been changed to proect his identity.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Watch for these danger signals for choosing poorly.

    4 Signs You're Making a Bad Decision

    Avoid distraction and disappointment by testing your choices with these 4 principles.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit