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James and a New Ripple

[For those of you who are new followers, you can catch up on the James stories under the menu “James.”]

The “James” followers among you may be wondering about James and his progress at the deaf school. We picked him up from the Kavule School for the Deaf about 3 weeks ago. The children were released two weeks early for their usual holiday which would normally be through the month of May. However, the drought-induced famine in Uganda has caused many food shortages, and one of these was at the school – they simply couldn’t feed the children, so they sent them home in April, two weeks earlier than the normal end of term.

As the Lord would have it, we happened to be in the area and could pick him up and transfer him to his holiday home, the family who have virtually adopted him since his arrival in this region 18 months ago. He stays with Catherine, a teacher whom he bonded with when he first arrived, and it is obvious that he considers her and her 3 sons to be his family. He is always overjoyed to see them.

My evaluation of James after about 18 months of schooling? We were presented with his grade report and had an opportunity to see some of his work. Remember, this boy had no formal language at age ten, having been deaf since birth, abandoned by his mother at five and his father at seven, misunderstood and barely cared for by his clan on Buvuma Island out in Lake Victoria. He had never sat in a classroom when we found him. Now he is beginning to write sentences, his sign language has advanced to approximately 2nd grade level, and his grades in most subjects are strong and improving. He sits willingly through all his classes now and participates in class. He is liked and respected by his classmates.

This boy, now about twelve (of course, we have no way to tell his real age), is a different boy from the one we “rescued.” He runs to greet us with warm hugs. He smiles and laughs, and he even is beginning to warm up to Gail who is a bit behind the curve with him since she was not yet with me full-time when Alfred and I met James. His teacher tells us that he is learning so rapidly that he will be transformed (her word) by next Christmas. The headmaster continues to tell us that he will be a leader among the students in time.

One new ripple in the James saga: Due to the generosity of a new sponsor, we have rescued another deaf child. Her name is Faith (not her real name). She is seven and is a special friend of James. He watches out for her in a big brotherly way, and they are close friends. We have been aware of her for several visits now, but had learned late last year that her family was unable to continue paying her school fees, so she had been returned to her family in a town about 1.5 hours away without plans at that time to continue to send her to school.

Alfred with James and Faith.

However, her family returned Faith to the school because they know it is not good for her to stay home without any education among family members who can’t communicate with her except with gestures, even though they love her. Her mother died of AIDS two years ago, and so she is cared for by her disabled grandparents and her grandaunt. Though she returned to the school, the family could not pay the fees, so the school has been “absorbing” her costs as they do with many of the deaf children they take in.

Even as we arrived to pick up James and found Faith there at the school, the headmaster told us that the family requested that they please try to find some alternative to sending her home since they could not feed her because of the famine – they already have many other children to feed. At our request Catherine agreed to keep Faith also for this holiday, and we agreed to transport her, but we could not do so without “official authorization” from the family in writing, signed by a government official. As it turned out, our next week of scheduled teaching was in the same town where the family lived. We were able to meet her grandparents and the other children at their homestead outside the town and collect the signed document we needed. So now they know us and we know them, and all that is very good.

After our week of teaching, we returned to the school for Faith. She was very glad to see us – she was the last deaf child remaining at the school, the other students all having left for holiday, and I’m sure she was feeling alone and abandoned. We moved her to Catherine’s where she reunited with James. At first she was timid around the new “family,” and sad to have to say good-bye to us – we knew all of this swirl of activity, being picked up by musungus, driven in a car, dropped at some stranger’s home instead of at her own family, etc., had to be overwhelming to her, especially since we were unable to explain it to her – what confusion would go through the mind of a small deaf girl who has been bounced around quite a bit in the last two years? However, we have also learned to trust Catherine and her family.

Our trust was borne out when we had a brief opportunity the next morning to stop by to check on her and drop off some replacement shoes for both James and Faith. She was happily playing when we arrived, and she smiled and greeted us, and was perfectly adjusted, it seemed to us, to her new surroundings. Instead of being sad and sullen when we departed this time, as she had the day before, she hugged us and waved good-bye happily when it was time to leave.

So Faith is now part of the Meade International family through the gifts of her sponsor, and she will have an opportunity to flourish in the light instead of wilt in the shadows of Ugandan society, which is the fate of so many African deaf children.

(Please pray for Kavule Deaf School. The headmaster has shared with me that they are facing repeated food shortages for the foreseeable future. They need sponsors for unpaid students and help with their food budget. Hopefully, the food prices will come back down as the rains return, but this will take time. If you desire to help in some way, please contact us through the Comments section, or directly at bob@meadeinternational.org).

A few more briefs from the last 8 weeks:

  • We were leading a one-day meeting in a place called Busia, way out in the bush. I had been asked to come and teach the day. There were about 80 people there from the deep villages – this is the place I have mentioned before where they have not seen a white this far back in thirty years or more. At lunchtime the leader came before the group as we were being escorted out to the table, and announced, “And now another preacher will preach to you.” I was quite surprised. Usually when they have the opportunity to sit under a musungu, they don’t mix the meeting with multiple speakers. I was only about half finished, but I looked at Gail and shrugged, “Oh well.” We ate lunch, and were then led back to the church building. I wondered who we would be sitting under for the afternoon and what his subject would be and if the translation would be clear enough for us to follow it. When we re-entered and it became obvious that I was expected to continue the teaching, I finally asked, foolish man that I am, who the other preacher was and when he would speak. He told me that he was referring to “lunch” – I had taught them, and now they would be taught by another preacher – the lunch. It was a joke, but when no one laughed, I had taken him quite seriously, silly musungu!
  • The children in Bugembe all sing the same song to us when they see us. It is apparent that there is some little doggerel taught here in the schools that all the children learn to sing “at” the musungus. It only occurs in Bugembe that I have noticed, and so, I surmise, it is the brainchild of some local poet or minstrel. Ugandan children all seem to think “Bye-bye” means Hello in English, so all small children across Uganda will call out, “Bye-bye, musungu,” and I am used to hearing that. However, the singsong verse of Bugembe is new to me. I asked Alfred what it meant since it was in Lusoga rather than English, so he paused the car along the road and listened carefully. Then he laughed. I suspected some subtle mockery of the musungu, or perhaps the standard request for money. He said, though, that the children are singing, “Bye-bye, musungu, bye-bye; biscuits and guavas, biscuits and guavas, bye-bye, musungu, bye-bye.” Alfred looked as perplexed as we were. Makes as much sense, I guess, as “Hickory-dickory-dock…” in our culture.
  • The Holy Spirit is His usual walk-along companion with us here. I know a certain man who was struggling mightily with personal issues, but I didn’t know him well. One day the Spirit put an urgency on me to seek him out to speak with him and try to comfort him if I could. He lived at some distance, but I had a small blank spot in the program, so I asked Alfred to call him to see if I could come to him. He invited us quite happily. When I met with him shortly after that, I was able to counsel him in some key areas, pray with him and answer some difficult spiritual questions he was wrestling with. At the end of our conversation, as we were saying our good-byes, he shared that he had been praying for several weeks for someone he could talk to about these things. In his position, it was difficult to share such issues with locals, and so he felt quite isolated and alone, even hopeless, but he prayed nevertheless. He was thanking God for sending me because I was someone he could open up to since I was not one of his neighbors or associates. Oddly, only yesterday Gail had exactly the same experience with a young woman who had no one she could talk to about deeply personal issues and had also been praying that God would send someone. If we have done nothing else this entire trip, those two brief encounters of following the Spirit and speaking in His voice to two of His suffering children make this entire eight weeks well worth it.

 

Many of our experiences here in Uganda don’t warrant an entire post – they can be described in a brief “short,” or a snippet. So here are some brushes with the culture and the Spirit, and some impressions as they have passed through on our journeys.

  • In one place we were driving up and down a certain rural road visiting church-plants and interviewing pastors. On our way toward one end of road, we passed a police check-point stopping vehicles coming the other direction. We knew we would face them later that day as we returned that way, and, because these stops can sometimes be unpleasant, especially if you are a musungu who can pay a fine, we braced ourselves. Indeed, as we approached, the policeman waved for us to stop. Alfred pulled up, but then the strangest thing happened, which has certainly never happened before. The policeman did not even approach the vehicle, but peered in and saw me in the front seat and Gail in back. Then he asked, “Born again?” Alfred, caught off guard by the strange question, hesitantly answered, “Yes.” The policeman waved us to continue on our way. We still are wondering what that was about, but we are not complaining.
  • Gail and I had the oddest realization and burst into laughter shortly after we arrived in March. Many years ago when we said the grace before meals, the standing joke we always heard was, “We’re all hungry. This is not the time to pray for the missionaries in Africa.” God, You’re so funny – I guess the joke’s on us. Please, pray for us!
  • We interviewed one pastor in a church-plant who seemed perfectly normal in every way during our discussion.  Then as we asked if God had demonstrated Himself to the church in any way, the pastor rolled up the sleeve of his left arm. Then he folded his forearm back across his elbow until it hung completely backward at the joint. We were astonished to see that he had no bones in his upper arm between his shoulder and his elbow. He was an active military man serving as pastor, and he had been shot with a machine gun – the bone in his upper arm had been shattered and subsequently removed. As they prayed for him, he regained the use of his muscles and now is able to move his fingers, and though the usage is not 100%, his hand is usable. He did not have any pain from this demonstration, and he performed this bizarre maneuver with his arm it just as he must do repeatedly when he preaches and shares about the power of God to heal.
  • Life is hard in Uganda. We noticed an unpleasant reminder of this during our lunches at the Bible Seminar in Tororo. For lunch we always moved out of the building to a shaded area nearby, and each day we were joined for lunch by several ducks and a chicken, who waited for food to be dropped, then darted in to seize the prize of some rice, a vegetable or some posho. One of the ducks was a mother with 8 very young fuzzy ducklings. She was training them to forage, and we had an enjoyable time watching these tiny yellow creatures dashing around and even over our feet to catch little pieces of food. I’m not sure they didn’t get more than I did from my plate because I seemed to be quite clumsy and was “dropping” quite a lot. I said 8 ducklings, but when we met them the next day, there were only 7. Then on the next day, only 6. I asked about this and they told me that it is hard to raise chicks because there are snakes, hawks, and also dogs and cats. This mama duck came to symbolize for me what we always hear from the people when we come, and even this trip have heard – the death of a child one week, the death of a mother, the death over Christmas of a close friend here who was just a little older than we are, 2 children in Soroti who were taken to the hospital with malaria, and even this week a friend who was in the hospital for malaria and typhus at the same time. No, it’s not easy to live here.

We traveled back from Soroti to Jinja yesterday and today, and managed to fit in church-plant visits and some shoe buying for some deaf children – more on that later.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that there is a drought in Uganda causing a famine in many parts of the country. There has been much less rain during the last year and the crops have been hurt badly in what is known as the “Bread Basket of Africa,” one of the most fertile and productive countries on the continent. While we were in Soroti – and even now as I am writing this evening – the rains have begun, and people are rejoicing all over Uganda. An aside to all of this has occurred, having something to do with a combination of the season of the year, the sudden rains and the white ant population.

After the first two or three serious dousings we experienced in Soroti, a variety of ant called white ants suddenly emerged from the earth everywhere, mating (?), flying around on large white wings four to five times the length of their bodies, and then molting their wings all over the ground. We walked out of our guesthouse to go to our meeting and found the entryway, the veranda, and the grounds covered with these wings from which the ants derive their name “white ants” – the ants are actually black, as near as I can tell. We also found a small boy collecting the ants in a bucket, some with wings and some without – he did not care which, but collected them all.

White ant wings in the foyer, on the veranda and covering the ground.

We watched him briefly and then began asking questions of the gatekeeper. This kind of ant will suddenly emerge by the millions all over Uganda, shortly thereafter losing their large wings, and the people collect them and…did you guess it? They fry them and eat them. I am told they have a very sweet taste that is much sought after by Africans as a seasonal delicacy.

Tonight as Gail and I went out to the market to collect our dinner from the street vendors, the first thing we saw was a large bin full of something. I couldn’t make it out in the near darkness, so I shone my flashlight on the bin – fried white ants on sale for 1000 shillings per cup (about 30 cents). I asked them if I could take a picture, and they allowed me to photograph their little stand, for which I paid them a small amount.

I would have gladly tried a bite or two, since we are, after all, in Africa. But Alfred intervened and said they would need to be re-fried at home before I should eat them because of sanitary conditions – musungu stomachs often clash with the unfamiliar bacteria of Africa, so everything has to be cleaned and cooked hot to kill the bacteria. I did not get my taste-test of white ants tonight, but maybe Alfred will bring us some from home tomorrow. Everyone from Soroti to where we are tonight in Bugembe is talking about the white ants, and children are out everywhere gathering them in bags and buckets by many different methods, then selling them in the markets. Tonight in the market it was very common to see roasted meat sticks, fried chicken, and fried white ants set out side-by-side on the vendors’ stands.

Wings covering the driveway and lawn.

I guess I’ve never been here during the right seasonal conditions before because, though I’ve heard about the white ants, I’ve never seen them or the many millions of fallen white wings covering the ground everywhere. Enjoy the pictures I’ve included of this unusual phenomenon. And if you ever get a chance to taste this delicacy, well, I can’t really recommend it…yet!

 

 

 

What Dreams May Come… Part 2

To continue illustrating how God seems to speak more directly to Christians in Uganda, though no less mysteriously, here’s a tale that one of the students on Buvuma Island told me during the Bible Institute in March. I first came to Buvuma Island three years ago and noted the many pastors who had no Bible training. It seemed like God had prepared me during an entire lifetime for just such a work, and on my first visit to the island I committed in my heart to teach these much neglected leaders if it were possible; and the Lake Victoria Bible Institute was born. The following is a background story.

Preached in a village church-plant today under a mango tree – 60-70 new believers present after 8 months. One came to receive Christ and many came for prayer ministry. Exciting! Gail led a women’s meeting in the late afternoon with 30 women at another church. Tomorrow we move back to Mbale to settle James and Hope, two deaf children, for their school holiday  – more on this tomorrow.

The student who told me this story used to live in Kampala, but one day, much like Abraham, he was told to move to Buvuma to strengthen the work of the young churches there. He came in obedience and attached himself to one of the churches on the island where he now serves as an elder. During the training last month, he asked to speak with me when I had a moment, and at the end of one of the  days, we stood near a large termite nest in the shade of the trees, and he told me his story.

Three years ago an apostle of some kind came to visit the island. My student had little information about him, but I can surmise from what I know that he would be a church-planter, a traveling preacher, and a teacher who would be respected as having some level of authority. He prayed through the churches on the island and preached for some time. One of the results of his ministry there was to instruct the leaders to undertake a 92 day fast, the seemingly random number given to him by the Lord. He said that after the fast was completed, another teacher would come to share the Word of God with them and to lift them to another level.

There is a certain mountain on the island that is considered a holy place and is used for prayer retreats and prayer vigils. This is where many of the leaders retired to fast, pray and seek His face. 92 days is about three months, and so the leaders came and went, back and forth to the mountain, all the time fasting and praying during this season.

The man who shared this with me told me that they came to the end of that period of fasting and returned to their lifestyles. Exactly one week later I showed up to teach the first leader training “institute” in the central village of Kitamiru, and this elder was present and somewhat astonished. He had hesitated all this time to tell me this story because he didn’t at first know me, but now, he said, since I have come many times, he has seen what I have taught the leaders in this three years:

Intro to Church Planting
Hermeneutics - Principles of Bible Interpretation,
Hearing the Voice of God,
The Doctrine of Soteriology,
Walking in the Spirit,
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts,
Principles of a Godly Marriage,
Church History 1 - NT to Middle Ages,
Church History 2 - Middle Ages to Present,
Christian Leadership Principles,
Christian Stewardship Principles,
And this March - Homiletics - How to Preach a Biblical Sermon.

Now, he explained, he has come to know and trust me, and he felt it was time to share this story with me.

I confess, I hardly know how to respond. I remember so clearly that before I even left the U.S. for my third trip to Uganda, God told me, “Look to the water,” and I had no idea what He meant. But as that trip unfolded, and Gail joined me for the final two weeks, by strange circumstances we found ourselves being escorted to Buvuma Island out in Lake Victoria, and we gained a vision there for training this isolated people group that we were seeing for the first time. It has always seemed in retrospect that God wanted me to come specifically to Buvuma Island. When I am there, I never doubt that I am in the right place. Now that Gail is with me full-time, she knows it too.

Following Jesus is indeed mysterious, and with this information, we know that He has gone ahead of us to Buvuma Island. It seems impossible to doubt His purpose. I am struck with the sudden realization that all of life is really like this, but we simply don’t often have the opportunity to hear the story or discover His footprints ahead of us. But…He is always there regardless.

What Dreams May Come…

Gail and I were commenting this morning, as we finally are enjoying a day of rest after a hard week of teaching and some sickness, that this land of Uganda, and perhaps even most of Africa, is spiritually very different from the U.S. The people here live much closer to the spiritual realm with more constant awareness of it. Of course, this does not make them particularly spiritual because they are still steeped in their flesh and in the desires of the world just as westerners are, and much of their experience is with the “dark” side of spirituality, but certain experiences with God are common here that seem uncommon in the West.

A Fruitful Week in Soroti – Instense Teaching with serious questions from the students. Will preach in a village church-plant under a mango tree tomorrow, then back to Mbale on Monday.

Many times we are told testimonies about dreams that people have received which either came true or demonstrated such clear spirituality that it could only to be from God. One lady spoke of a dream about a terrible car accident where people were killed so that when she woke up in the night, she prayed against these things for a long time. Within several days the dream proved itself to be true. When she reported it to Gail, she was walking under the deep burden of guilt that she had failed to pray strongly enough and thereby had caused the deaths. Hopefully, she received Gail’s counsel that this was not the case, that she did what she could, but that one cannot make the strength of their prayers into the cause of another’s death.

Alfred often has this kind of prescient dream, but also has deeply symbolic dreams where God shows him spiritual truths which can’t be discerned with the human eye. For instance, he once dreamed of one of the many places we minister. He saw our vehicle traveling down a  road with pastors from that place clinging to the outside of the vehicle trying to get in. As we prayed about his dream, it seemed evident that God might be showing us the spiritual stronghold of this region. The people are very isolated and there seems to be a general sense among them that they have been forgotten and abandoned by everyone – their overseers, outside visitors, etc, and that they can’t “get in” to receive the benefits that others in Uganda receive. We often hear many more complaints of such neglect in this region than in the others we visit. We have observed that even when we come to teach there, they have difficulty receiving, but it is not an educational difficulty; it is more like they can’t believe that these teachings can apply to them in their sorry condition, that no one could care for them, so they are wary and only cautiously eager in receiving and applying the teachings. The insight from this dream has given us a spiritual handle on how to pray for this group of believers as we continue to minister there and bind this particular stonghold.

Another instance is a young pastor from the Bible Institute in Soroti this last week. He approached me on Thursday to thank me for the teaching and to say that these biblical principles were changing his life, which, of course, I was grateful to hear. He then went on to tell me that several weeks ago he had not heard that our conference was coming to Soroti, but one night he dreamed that two musungus would be teaching there in the town. The Lord made it clear to him in the dream that he should go and sit under the discipleship of the musungus. Then, the next week, he heard the news that there would be a Bible Institute for a week in Soroti. He knew for sure that he should attend that teaching, but he was still amazed on the first day to see two musungus.

These few instances are not isolated but are just samplings among many such reports. So why, we ask, does God deal with the people this way in Uganda? Perhaps it is the simpler lifestyle which demands from them a higher drive toward daily survival – I mean to say, these people live closer to death that we do in the West. Perhaps it is the much lower level of distraction from television, movies and sensory stimulation than we have in the West. These things are arriving in Uganda, for sure, but most villagers only have cell phones, many at the level of a flip phone, and rarely have access to the kind of “white noise” that dominates the West and distracts from the spiritual. Or perhaps it is the lack of Bibles – God speaks to them more in the old ways because they do not have access to reading His words in the scripture, so He speaks to them according to Numbers 12:6-8 (NKJV):

6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.
7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.
8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD….”

We musungus are the beneficiaries of enormous access to scripture. But even acknowledging that, isn’t it cool when we get to experience a bit of Numbers 12 in our relationship with Him also?

A Tragic Book-Burning in Uganda

We’re in Soroti, Uganda, teaching Spiritual Leadership and Stewardship for the week at the Soroti Bible Institute. Today I want to relate another issue, though, that comes up every time I speak or teach and is something very current in Uganda since it is going on right now. It will again give you much insight into the culture of Uganda and the state of the young church here.

There is a well-known pastor in Kampala, the capitol, of a church of 6,000 who was raised up by a certain other leader who is a strong and well-respected man. I am told the older pastor is responsible for raising up many young pastors and planting many churches. Recently, according to the reports, his disciple has rebelled against his spiritual father in the most violent terms. He uses every opportunity to attack his character and reputation publicly and to defame his name. Everyone who follows such things, and many Ugandan Christians do, are amazed that he is seeking to destroy this well-respected pastor who has only done good for him.

But all that is really just background.

The younger pastor is reported to be currently engaged in the most bizarre religious book-burning event that I have ever heard of. His entire church has been enlisted to help him root out the evil in these books.  Each week there are new reports in the media of further piles and piles of books going up in flames.

Is he burning witchcraft books? No. Is he trying to separate worldly books from the hands of his congregation to protect them? No. Is he raiding the stores and burning pornography? No. The tragedy is that he is burning King James Bibles! Every King James Bible his congregation can lay their hands on is fed to the flames.

So what is the issue this pastor has with the KJV? Does he say it is outmoded by more modern translations? Does he suggest that it is too difficult to read? No. His issue with the KJV is that it repeatedly uses the term “Holy Ghost,” and “the devil worshipers want people to worship ghosts,” so the KJV must be evil and deserves to be burned. His little campaign to “out the Holy Ghost” in Uganda has captured the news and the imagination of the entire nation.

You wonder about things like this. The rest of Uganda seems to rush to judgment when these kinds of events become known. Certainly, I am now asked “serious” questions wherever I go about the term “Holy Ghost” that the KJV uses and why this famous musungu bible would say such a thing. But, without being there to see the book-burnings and to ask questions of the pastor myself, I can’t even guess what his motives might be or what he is really telling his people. And unlike the majority of Christians here, I won’t judge him, though I will admit the reports are certainly strange.

Here is a link from the media covering these events: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Tempers-flare-Pastor-Bugingo-burns-Bibles/688334-3899456-pxb67pz/index.html.

Historically, whole nations have fallen into riot and violence to such strange beginnings as this while following similar campaigns “against” something  – it’s as if religious paranoia knows no bounds or reason. The latest wave of Illuminati fear among the Christians here is just now beginning to pass, leaving behind it many ruined ministries that have been accused publicly of being part of this mysterious and, dare I say it, imaginary organization (Gail says with a sardonic grin, “That’s just what they want you to think…. )

This is why I am teaching the church leaders in Uganda, urging them to come away from childish things and to engage the meat of the Word. We really just don’t have time for this kind of thing, do we?

Easter in Uganda

Easter in Uganda came and went in a flurry of hectic activity, getting ready for a week of teaching Church History at the Tororo Bible Institute. I was requested to preach in village church fairly nearby on Easter morning, then, after lunch was served to us, we returned to the guesthouse where I dug into my lesson plans in preparation for the week.

I preached on Resurrection morning on the power that raised Jesus from the dead in Romans 8:11:

Romans 8:11 (NKJV) – But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

This is a mysterious and intriguing passage to me. I have never taught on it before because, for me, it seems as deep as the sea. But as the Holy Spirit led, I taught on the various manifestations of the power of Jesus – to heal, cast out demons, raise the dead – how He restrained His power in the last week of His life on Earth, but how this power was building toward a crescendo; then how the power of Christ exploded into manifestation as he hung on the cross with an earthquake, darkening of the skies and tearing of the temple veil into two pieces as He died so that the Way was forever open between man and God. I spent some time on Resurrection morning, describing the power manifested in the raising of Jesus and forever the conquering of death. Finally, I closed with Romans 8 with applications to the lives of the believers, telling them that the power that fills them with the Spirit and turns them into the very image of Christ, gives them their faith and their gifts, is this same magnificent power that raised Jesus from the dead – it is this power that enables them to “go” in obedience to His Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

Most of this sermon was overflow of some years of meditation on the meaning of this passage. It helps me to understand it better to have taught from it. Gail and I often look at each other and marvel – “We are in Africa! How did this happen? How is it possible to be serving in Africa?” Of course, it is the power that raised Jesus from the dead.

Because it was Easter morning, the church was full – it was one of the larger village churches we have been in. They built their building on the less expensive back lot of two lots on a small rough road access. They had planned to purchase the front lot eventually, but unfortunately they were never able to raise the funds, so now someone else has purchased the front lot and is in the process of constructing an unusually large two-story building on it, the largest building in the village as far as I can tell. The effect of this is that the church building is now completely fenced off from the access road and not even visible. The only access is to walk down a narrow alleyway to the back lot where the building sits.

We didn’t know quite where the elder was leading us when we entered the alley which was crowded with youth and children from their Sunday School. We turned into another narrow alley that ran along the front of their building and found a door in – to our surprise, it was a fairly large space crammed to the walls with people enjoying the Easter service music coming from the dancing choir in the front.

Chicken tithes given on Easter Sunday.

We sat down in the front row and began to worship. The people were focused on the celebration of this day and the worship was exuberant as only Africans can be exuberant. When the offering came, we were surprised to see people bring “chicken tithes” and lay them with their feet tied next to the offering basket, which was very near us. The church will sell the chickens typically and add the funds to the offering for the day.

When I rose to preach, I taught them the western greeting on Resurrection Day – “He is Risen,” to which others respond, “He is Risen indeed.” They were unfamiliar with this practice and were thrilled to receive it – it was something new to them. At the end of their service in closing, they even cancelled their normal ritual recitation of a short creed which is the practice in churches throughout Uganda to close their services, and replaced it for Easter with the new greeting and response.

It has been a long and hard week -difficult teaching material that requires me to study each night, some little sickness with a food that didn’t sit well in our stomachs, equipment failures which had to be repaired. Because of all this, I have not posted for several days, and even this post has been written here and there over several days.

I missed greeting you all on Easter for these reasons, but now, belatedly, with great joy I say to you who follow our blog:

“He is Risen!”