A trip to Uganda changed him forever

Sophomore Ben Carpenter travels regularly to help with AIDS relief organization He Intends Victory. He has shot photographs of his experiences, some of which are displayed in Common Grounds.

Shanley Knox, Writer

Dan Davis contracted HIV over 15 years ago.
Now the director of ministry at the nonprofit organization He Intends Victory, Davis has dedicated his life to serving others.
He Intends Victory is an organization ministering to communities suffering from HIV and AIDS both nationally and internationally. Aside from working to encourage a spiritual awakening in the HIV/AIDS community and supporting the local church in outreach to HIV/AIDS members, the organization also sends a team each year to work with the AIDS community in Kenya and Uganda. Three years ago, Davis’ involvement in his organization’s trip to Uganda changed Biola student Ben Carpenter’s life.
“Dan asked my mother to go on a trip since she has skills as a nurse,” Carpenter wrote in an email detailing his first trip with He Intends Victory. “I couldn’t find anything God was leading me to fully put myself into, and my mom came home with stories and faces and bracelets and wooden giraffes people had made, things you don’t normally care about, but I was spiritually turned on by.”
Carpenter took his first trip the following year at the age of 17. After finishing a month’s work of school early, he informed his principal that he would be spending the month of February on a month-long medical trip to Uganda assisting in clinics, playing with children, sharing the gospel and working as H.I.V.’s team photographer. 

For that, he was given 173 hours of detention he refused to serve based on the premise that his Catholic high school should have supported him taking time out of school to work with the needy. He graduated without serving an hour of it. Carpenter said his choice to go to Africa halfway through his senior year was one of the best decisions he has ever made.
“I got [to Uganda], and I looked at it as an ‘OK, let’s see what I can get out of this for me’ trip,” Carpenter said. “Three days later, I had seen 1,200 people come into our medical clinic, helped to deliver a baby, been shot at and seen two surgeries – one of which was removing a tumor from a woman’s forehead. Then, it stopped being about me, and it started being about the AIDS orphans that we knew were going to die, and the war victims -– oh my god, gunshots and stabbings and limbs chopped off -– and the people with fungi literally eating away their feet.”
Carpenter said that his trips to Africa have changed him. His experience there has been varied, from having a drunk shoot at him, to sitting with a little boy while his team cleaned out a knife wound in his leg, Carpenter has returned to the states a different person with new perspectives on life. He said that his view of politics, community and globalization all have been influenced through his experiences overseas.
Now an integral part of H.I.V.’s yearly trip to Africa, Carpenter has begun to develop his own aspirations and goals for his own ministry to the poor and needy across the globe. Currently working towards his degree in Intercultural Studies at Biola, Carpenter’s long time goal is to plant churches and evangelize in North Korea, a country he said is described in his department as “creative-access,” a term used for places that are unreceptive to missionaries and evangelism.
In the meantime, Carpenter feels called to continue his work in Africa, which he said he believes is both a ministry to people there and, through his photography, a ministry to those he comes into contact with back in the States.

“My stories can’t make a difference like my pictures can,” Carpenter said. “You can’t ignore photographs. You can’t ignore children’s faces like you can a story.”
This year, Carpenter has expanded that ministry to Biola’s campus through posting his pictures on the walls in Common Grounds, where he works as a barista. Aside from serving as a constant reminder of both the beauty and devastation present in Uganda, the photos are a fundraiser for Carpenter’s yearly trip to Uganda this year and can be bought online for $10. All proceeds will help to fund Carpenter’s two-week trip to Uganda and Kenya this summer. This year, Carpenter’s team hopes to serve over 2,300 people in their medical clinic, aside from providing support groups for HIV/AIDS victims and their families, evangelizing through medical outreach and providing agricultural and domestic aid to support group members.
“As for me personally, I always hope to give more than I get,” said Carpenter about what he hopes to accomplish. “I find that when you give all you have, you always have more.”
Carpenter’s photos can be purchased through contacting him at [email protected], or through his Facebook page “Bent Tree Photography.” Donations can be made to his trip through checks made out to He Intends Victory with Ben Carpenter in the memo line. Cash donations are also accepted, but checks are preferred. All donations are tax-deductible, and should be sent to Carpenter’s on campus mailbox, number 326.

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