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Josephine Nsubuga visits Rutherford County

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A mother of three children, Josephine Nsubuga of Uganda shared her ministry stories recently during a visit to Rutherford County.

Standing at a long table on the patio at On Main in Spindale recently, Josephine Nsubuga of Uganda, Africa, greeted visitors as they looked at the beautiful, colorful handmade crafts she brought to Rutherford County from her home 7,500 miles away.

The jewelry, bracelets, aprons and other items were made by the young girls and mothers at the Fortress, a ministry Josephine began in Kampala, a poor area of Uganda, for mothers and girls several years ago.

The Fortress is a Christian based, nonprofit organization that lovingly addresses the basic needs of young pregnant teens and other young mothers who have been abused and victimized. She and her husband Pastor Titus Nsubuga, manage the charity where women are housed in a safe environment.

Josephine, a good friend of Christina Greene and Jenny Holland of Rutherford County, shared her story several times while visiting here. She was an orphan at age 13 after the death of her parents and was left to care for her siblings.

Although she experienced challenges every day as a young teen caring for siblings and others, her dream was to become a nurse specializing in midwifery. As difficult as the struggles were, she never lost sight of her dream.

While she was working at a National referral hospital in midwifery, she said young girls who fallen victims to abuse and crime.

"I saw the plight of these girls," she said.

Recognizing God's calling on her life to help these young victims and soon-to-be mothers, she realized she needed more than her nursing degree to help them.

She continued her education, receiving degrees in counseling and guidance, in order to meet the mental and spiritual needs of young women with whom she came in contact. At that point in her life, the Fortress was begun.

At the Fortress young girls find a safe home, food and every basic need through its programs and support.

"They stay with us from six months to a year where they receive everything they need to start their new lives," she said, of the young mothers.

Every new mother at the Fortress has every basic thing they need as young mothers - baby kit, diapers and every four months there is a baby shower at the Fortress.

The Fortress provides mentoring, discipleship, Baby and Mama life saving kits during pregnancy and time of birth and "most of all they are loved, Josephine said.

"It is a safe loving home for the teenager in crisis" where medical care, life skills and hand skills are provided for the mothers to be able to make it on their own after they move from the Fortress.

Josephine and the Fortress staff believe in the "Transformative power of love...love is the most excellent way for changing and restoring lives," she said.

Josephine's visit to Rutherford County recently was her first time in North Carolina. Having met Jenny and Christina nearly a decade ago while they were on a mission trip to Mercy for Mamas in Uganda, she reached out to them. Prior to her visit to Rutherford County, she was attending a women's conference in Tennessee. (Mercy for Mamas is similar to the Fortress also offering help for young mothers and babies. Help is also provided with safe childbirth through prenatal education, mama kits and other necessities).

Since their first trip to Uganda, Jenny and Christina, both mothers themselves, have made several trips to Uganda to help in the ministries that brings hope to women and young mothers.

Jenny is hoping to return in 2025.

"It was a blessing to have Josephine here with us," Jenny said. "It was amazing to watch the community and churches support her and love on her.

"When we started planning so many things kept falling thru. But in the end the perfect connections and opportunities happened. God definitely had His hand in each place and person that connected with her. She told me one of the days that her prayer is 'God open the doors You want me to walk thru, and shut the ones You don't.' And that's exactly what He did."

Christina said, "My family and I loved having Josephine in our home and sharing time together. She is an amazing woman of the Lord and is doing great work in Uganda. She made a lot of connections in Rutherford County and I can't wait to see what God does through her time here. We hope to meet her family one day, too."

During talks at Florence Baptist and at Father's Vineyard in Spindale, Josephine said it was clear that God had called her to help these young women and to begin the Fortress.

She told the audience at Florence she had witnessed mothers who were suffering with no support. Many of the teenage girls were victimized and abused.

As Josephine was meeting the public in Spindale at On Main, Roxi Daniels, chef at Rock Steady Caribbean Cuisine, came out on the patio momentarily to meet with Josephine. After looking through the aprons that were for sale, Roxi found one she wanted. Her son, Bruce, who works with her, took money from his pocket to pay for the apron.

"Happy Mother's Day," he told his mama, giving her the apron. He said he was glad to get the gift buying completed and was grateful to help the Fortress ministry.

Every item purchased from Josephine, handmade by women at the Fortress, benefits the organization.

Josephine and Pastor Titus have three biological children and care for other children at the Fortress.

Her prayer for her biological daughter, Olive, 3, is that she grows up to be a "God-fearing, kind and loving mother."

"It's such a blessing to be a mom. I love being a mama," she said. Watching her own children run, bake and play brings her great joy.

And just like the teenage girls at the Fortress who are becoming new mothers, she's teaching them the love of God.

"We have been blessed to transform many lives of girls and women by the power of Love," she said.

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