Sandrah Nakalanda

Hello, my name is Sandrah and I am from Uganda. I was in African Children’s Choir 24.

I was born into a family not too foreign to most Ugandan children, an absent father and a teenage mother with no financial foothold. My maternal grandfather was an influential person in the Muslim community in Kampala yet, my maternal grandmother, was a Christian church worship leader. So I grew up observing both Muslim and Christian religions.

The place where my family lived was in one of Uganda’s biggest and worst slums, in a neighborhood filled with crime and disease. And from a very young age, for me life equated to struggle, hardship, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Education was a dream; however, God had other plans for my life.

Every morning, as a child, I would hear my grandmother get up to pray. And every Sunday we went with her to a neighborhood church. That is how I was first introduced to Jesus, through my grandmother.

In 2002 I was selected to be part of the 24th African Children’s Choir, and was further introduced to Jesus Christ through the daily devotions and Bible studies we did.

When I returned home, I continued to go with my grandmother to her different missions. In hindsight I think, growing up, Christianity was more of my grandmother’s religion, and because I loved my grandmother, I loved Jesus.

I was 16 when my father died. He had just come back into my life and I was crushed. I started to question a lot of the things I thought I knew about God. While I continued to go to church every Sunday, I started to veer off course and make bad decisions.

At some point, everything that I thought I was seeking in the things I did, I could not find. My grandmother came to me (such a wise woman) and she said, “You know, just because I have not said anything does not mean that I haven’t seen the decisions you’re making, but just take your time.” That is what she told me, “I want you to discover who Jesus is for YOURSELF, not who He is according to me.”

I remember thinking that this woman has given her life to this faith for over 30 years. And when you looked at her life from the outside, it wasn’t filled with luxury and privilege. But there must have been something there that she couldn’t find anywhere else. So I said to myself, “Take the time and get to know Jesus for yourself.”

I was actually going to church all this while, but I was not fully there. So after that I made it an intention to show up for service, to show up for fellowship, and be fully present because I wanted to encounter Jesus Christ.

I clearly remember an evening when I was at home in my room and I had not opened my Bible for months. I’m sitting there and I’m thinking how people say all the time that, “Jesus spoke to me, and Holy Spirit reached out to me,” and I thought that would be so nice if that happened to me.

So I opened my Bible and ended up reading John 14:27 that speaks about peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

To this day that verse has guided me throughout my life, because in that moment I experienced a feeling of peace that I hadn’t found after my father died. That was the first time I actually felt peace.

So I just continued step by step: it wasn’t a miraculous transformation overnight.
You don’t wake up and you’re a brand new person. It has really been just steps towards Jesus, Him showing up along the way, showing up for me in times I could never have imagined.

I was able to graduate university at the top of my class. I was awarded a first class honors degree in International Relations and Diplomacy. I was the first person in my family to graduate, and they are so proud of me.

Step by step, every day I learn something new about who Jesus is. Every day I learn more and more about why I love Jesus and why this is what I’m committed to, that I will serve the Lord for the rest of my life.

That is my story.

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