Our Story

It all began on the Buvuma Islands on Lake Victoria in Uganda in 1992.

Ralf Richtsteiger comes from Germany and begins the Buvuma Islands Project on Lingira Island.  The purpose of the YWAM work is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ through primary healthcare to the people living on the Northeast portion of Lake Victoria. At first he is joined by Catherine Kusasira and Harriet Mbazi.  But soon the team begins to grow.

Shem Mabongor joins the team after completing his Foundations in Community Development with YWAM.  Catherine comes on the scene a few months later when her YWAM Community Counseling team takes her to Uganda.  She sees the tremendous work being done on the Islands.

During this time on the Islands, Shem receives a calling to begin an equipping school to train ministers.  The vision unfolds over the next few years and Shem begins Open Chapel International in his home village of Busiu Uganda in 2010.

Journey in Pictures


Shem and Catherine meet on Lingira Island in 1992 while working for YWAM.
Shem and Catherine serve together on the Islands 1993-1995.
1995, Catherine goes to university in the U.S. Shem starts another YWAM base further out on Lake Victoria.
Catherine and Shem Engaged in Kenya 2000
2001, Married in U.S. Catherine completes university. Shem works at local hospital.
2003, daughter Kakai is born. 2004, family moves to YWAM Montana to teach Primary Healthcare.
2005, another daughter, Kana Joy is born. Family moves back to Lingira Island to lead the YWAM Buvuma Islands Project.
2006, Andy is born and Islands clinic upgraded to include a laboratory.
2009, Kana becomes ill, family returns to U.S. for one year for her surgery and recovery.
2010, family settles in Shem's home village in Eastern Uganda.
2010, Namutumba church begins. 2013, church in Busiu is birthed.
Shem travels around Uganda to intercede in prayer for the nation.
2014, Open Chapel International is officially opened as the backbone of the entire ministry,
Kakai, Kana and Andy continue to flourish in Uganda.
2015, Shem goes to Zimbabwe to study Farming God's Way - ecological conservation farming.



Visit the Mabongor Family Website:


Our Location

Our primary area of operation is in the Sub-Saharan, East African country of Uganda.  We also travel to other countries bordering Uganda such as Kenya and Rwanda with plans to reach out to South Sudan, Tanzania and Burundi in the future.  Our work in Uganda takes us across the map. We participate in open-air evangelistic crusades, intercession campaigns and  prayer convocations all over the country.   Our churches in Uganda are more focused in Namutumba and Mbale districts, though we are expanding to other districts within Uganda as well.  Because we serve people in far-away villages, we travel to where they are which means we can be called anywhere.

Our headquarters is located in the North Eastern portion of Uganda, East Africa.  More specifically, in Mbale District, in Busiu Sub-county, Buwalasi Parish, in the village of Biraa near the community borehole well.

We are 21 miles from the Malaba border with Kenya and 280 miles from South Sudan.

The property at Busiu is the home base of Open Chapel International.  This is the place from which we reach out to the rest of East Africa.

Open Chapel International headquarters is in Busiu Uganda.

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