Seventy children were decorating crosses on the last day of a 10-day gospel outreach program in Soroti, Uganda, when a wild-eyed man appeared carrying an eagle whose wings he had tied with string.
Standing among the children, the man began beating the eagle—apparently to get the children and the bird itself riled up, recalls Tim Sliedrecht, who serves with Christian Reformed World Missions in Uganda, East Africa.
The children were aghast and cried out to the man, asking him to stop.
“I couldn’t take the abuse and chaos much longer, so I offered to buy the eagle from the man,” Sliedrecht says. They bargained for a few minutes until the man accepted 2,000 Ugandan shillings, equivalent to about $1.15 (U.S.).
The missionary untied the eagle to set it free, but it couldn’t fly. “The only option I had was to bring it home,” Sliedrecht says. And so began the unofficial Soroti zoo.
As providence would have it, the zoo is becoming another aspect of the Sliedrechts’ ministry. Children get the chance to learn more about God and God’s creation as they interact with the eagle. In addition, they are paid 50 Ugandan shillings for each frog they catch as food for the eagle.
Two baby monkeys—a vervet monkey named Miss Chief and a patas monkey yet to be named—have been added to the zoo. A contest to name the second monkey is now in progress.
To learn more about Tim and Angie Sliedrecht’s work in Uganda and the “Soroti zoo,” visit http://sliedrechts.spaces.live.com/.
—CRC Communications staff