LITTLE ROCK (BP) — She was born with no name. She doesn’t know her own birthday. She was emotionally and physically abused, even raped. She lived, for a time, as a street child in Kampala, Uganda, her heart filling with hatred.
Anitha Kobusingye says her story is not unique among children in Africa. In fact, it wasn’t until coming to America for college that she discovered her story was different.
But Kobusingye, who now attends Grand Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Smith, Ark., refuses to be considered just another African sob story. Her story, she insists, is about God’s love, power and provision. It is about how He intervened in her life to use her for His glory.
Kobusingye shared her testimony at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock in honor of Black History Month. Kobusingye’s Feb. 11 speaking engagement at the college also served as a book release for her autobiography “Born Anonymous,” written with Grand Avenue member Larry Bone, whom she met when she was a student at Arkansas Baptist College.
When he introduced Kobusingye to the group gathered in the college’s gymnasium, Arkansas Baptist College President Fitz Hill explained that even the story of how she came to Little Rock is nothing short of a miracle. He said he met her while he was on a mission trip in 2009.
Kobusingye shared with the crowd that they had met at her high school in Rwanda, and Hill had given her his business card and offered to help her if she ever made it to the United States. Although she did email Hill after his visit, she didn’t know how to fully explain herself via email.
Then, in 2010, Arkansan Lynda Weir visited the high school while on a mission trip. Weir met Kobusingye and found out about Hill’s offer to help the girl and further discovered Hill lived in Weir’s own Little Rock neighborhood and was president of Arkansas Baptist College. With help from Weir and Hill, Kobusingye raised enough money to come to America and received a full scholarship to the college.
“I’m not really here to entertain you guys and to be another sad African story. That is not the point. The point is that I am here to glorify God and to just remind us what God is capable of doing in our lives,” Kobusingye said, noting that regardless of where a person comes from, everyone has a story and has gone through difficult things in life.
“So it’s not about –- really about — where I come from, but it’s about, how does God intervene in those stories to make them successful … miracles?”
She described what it was like to live as a street child. Her mother had died giving birth to her in Uganda, and she did not know her father, though she later discovered he was a soldier who was killed in the Rwandan genocide.
She was taken to Sanyu Babies’ Home in Kampala and was adopted, but her adopted family treated her as a maid and abused her, so she ran away to live on the streets of Kampala.
“(These are) toxic, overcrowded, noisy, dirty streets where nobody cares about you,” she said, noting she ate from trash cans, begged and stole in order to have food.
She admitted to the audience that she doesn’t know how she survived.
“But this is the thing — when God chooses you to put you through something, He knows how you’re going to survive through it. It’s not my job to know,” she said. “And sometimes God makes us pass through difficult times so that we may become the best witnesses of that exact thing.”
She said now she can connect with street children due to their common experiences.
According to her autobiography, through a series of events, Kobusingye found her grandparents and she went to live with them in Rwanda. She was accepted into a Christ-centered high school called Cornerstone Leadership Academy, where she would eventually meet Hill. It was there that she became a Christian and sought Jesus as her heavenly Father.
“My story to you this morning is that, yes, I’ve been there. I’ve been at the worst. But I’ve been at the best … because Jesus became my Father,” she told the audience.
Right after graduating high school, she started Lighthouse Children’s Home for street children, according to her autobiography. Though she started with nothing, God kept sending provisions, some of which came from Arkansans.
But her journey was only beginning. Before long, she was on a plane to America to attend Arkansas Baptist College.
In an interview with the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN), she expressed that in Arkansas she has connected with many Baptists and found them to be supportive and a blessing.
Kobusingye now works at a public elementary school with special needs children.
She shared with the ABN that when she went to Fort Smith, she was once again in an unfamiliar place. She had no idea where to go to church — until she plugged into Grand Avenue Baptist.
“It’s another home,” Kobusingye said. “It has helped me personally to be stable and to be settled.”
Brad Lewter, lead pastor at Grand Avenue, described Kobusingye as “a leader and her love, determination and passion is something we should all seek to emulate.”
As Kobusingye concluded her talk at Arkansas Baptist College, she noted that her autobiography is about Christ and about the people He has brought into her life and how people of all nations with all kinds of gifts can work together as the kingdom of God.
“I may be coming from Africa. There is someone coming from Asia or someone coming from America, but we all have stories that actually come together to create the kingdom of God — because it’s my story and your story that bring us together to share. That is why we are sitting here,” she said.