Mission to Uganda alters student’s life path

By Bev Britton on April 17, 2017

View More: http://branches.pass.us/africaIt was after one of his three bouts with malaria that Collin Wenrich was inspired to build an airstrip to bring medical supplies to a remote area of Uganda.

“I had IV drips for two days. I could barely move,” says Wenrich, a graduate of De La Salle High School in Concord. “I was extremely dehydrated, in and out of the fetal position.”

A man next to him at the clinic was suffering the same symptoms. “When I was released and paid the fee, I asked about the guy next to me and they told me he had passed away,” Wenrich recalls. “They couldn’t treat him because he didn’t have the money. My bill for two days was $20. That just rocked me.”

The airstrip is Wenrich’s latest project through Unified in Mission, which he founded in 2015 with Amanda Johnson. The two met at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

While studying to become an FBI agent, Wenrich began feeling “super uneasy” about where his life was headed. “I wanted to do something more – I wanted to serve people,” he says.

He took a gap semester and traveled with 14 other 20- to 25-year-olds on a Christian mission to Uganda. “I loved how amazing the people were in the sense that they were so open and the joy they had was so pure,” he says. “It opened my eyes and opened my heart to the world.”

During that first trip, he helped high school students with math and sports, visited nurseries, led fellowships and completed service projects such as building water tanks and wells. “Month 3, I called my family and told them I honestly felt from the Lord that this is where I needed to be,” Wenrich says.

Unified in Mission raises funds through the Internet as well as through businesses and churches, including Clayton Community Church. Kristy Johnston has known Wenrich since she led his junior high youth group at the Clayton church. She is impressed with how much he has accomplished in just a few years in Uganda.

“I think it’s amazing. I’ve watched him set goals and achieve them far beyond what I ever imagined,” says Johnston, a Concord resident. “He has favor wherever he goes. He’s very compassionate, strong and smart.”

Unified in Mission recently finished building an “elephant-proof” school for 300 students. “The school used to get run over by elephants about once a year. Every time, they’d build it less structurally sound,” Wenrich says.

The group has land gifted for an airstrip and has collected $8,000 of the $32,000 needed to build it. The group has access to three planes near the capital city of Kampala, as well as a source for medications. Wenrich, who changed his major to commercial/corporate aviation, will be the pilot.

“We have contact people all the way through the southwest region,” Wenrich reports. “They know the places and they know the people.”

At 25, Wenrich is preparing for an extended stay in Rukungiri, Uganda. “We don’t exclude ourselves from the community in any realm,” he notes. “If they go without water, we go without it. We make sure that we are one with them.”

It’s a long path from his childhood in Clayton, where he loved being able to walk to all his friends’ houses, and his time at De La Salle, where he learned to become “a man of integrity.”

“Their life is very simple, and they thrive in the simple,” he says of the Ugandans. “They’re not distracted by a lot of the things we are distracted by. They get it that we’re doing life together, and we’re on the same team.”

For more information, visit www.unifiedinmission.org.

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