Archive for February, 2013

Geofrey’s Testimony

This is the testimony of a young Ugandan man named Geofrey. He received Christ in prison and became the prison pastor in just a short time. Samuel Wasula, pastor at Bujjowali, recruited him when he was released about two weeks ago. He is a dynamic young Christian, and he has been attending the teaching in between looking for a job and surviving as a newly released prisoner.

His testimony is a bit long, but it you have time and can deal with the accent, it’s worth it. He sounds a bit halting here as he fishes for the correct English words, but his English is really very good.

Toward the end, he will refer to some prisoners who escaped and were captured and returned – this story is a bit vague, and I don’t have the details, but his point is that when you come to Christ, you are never returned to your former prison.

Additionally, he will refer to Christ as “condemning” him, but what he means is “convicting” him.

This is a fine young man who has come to us from the prison ministry of a local Ugandan pastor whom I haven’t met. I hope to keep him and involve him in the future of the ministry here.

Geoffrey testimony

Here is one song from the worship in Kasimbira. It takes them a moment to get warmed up, but then that pure African music comes through. The first sounds you hear will be the church praying together – it sounds a bit raucous to the American ear, but that’s the way they do it here, at least where I’ve been. After all, raucous is in the ear of the beholder, and we know whose Ear it’s intended for anyway.

Kasimbira Worship 1

I remember this little business from my last trip to Uganda. I get tickled evKagoma International Tertiary Institute of Health, Sciences and Artsery time I see it. I have no idea what they do here – a school of some kind, I think – but their sign is longer than their building. If you look closely, you’ll notice that their sign overlaps a little onto the storefront next door. Give these folks credit – for being way out in the sticks, they have a big vision! It’s the Kagoma International Tertiary Institute of Health, Sciences and Arts. I didn’t see the Primary or Secondary Institutes around there, but they’re probably there somewhere.

I share this just for grins. I’m having a lot of grins here in Uganda, alongside some of the trials, but the Lord shares little bits like this with me, and we laugh together. I think the two Ugandans in the car with me thought I was a little loony when I wanted to stop and take a picture, but that’s okay too.Tertiary Institute 2 

I haven’t written much lately because I have been dealing with some administrative issues and this has tied up my time. Today, I’ll try to briefly catch up. This morning (Sunday) we drove to Kasimbira,Kasimbira Road1 which is a town I ministered in the last time I was here in 2011. This was the town where I had my first experience “on the ground” in Uganda. We went behind the town and I preached under a tree (very biblical feeling) and then, afterward, was asked to pray for a woman whom they told me was being demonized. Whatever your personal stance on this issue might be (I have many different kinds of readers subscribed), it was a very New Testament kind of experience for me and a great way for God to jump-start me in Uganda.

Today we left early to travel the rapidly deteriorating road to Kasimbira from Jinja. The road is much worse than it was 18 months ago. We spent the entire trip veering to avoid deep pot-holes, or veering onto the shoulder to avoid cars, taxi vans and large trucks who were veering to avoid large pot-holes. The government is beginning work on repairing the road at this time, and we drove through construction zones at both ends of the road. However, in my thinking, perhaps they p2013-02-17 10.10.13ut this project off just a little too long. For instance, I never, ever get car sick, but after today’s hour and a half swerving, bouncing and veering journey each way, I was both nauseous and exhausted.

We did finally arrive at the church in Kasimbira and I preached about the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11), which is an inspiring story at any time. It allowed me to deal with such things as the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, death, funerals, Jesus’ amazing statement, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me shall never die.” I was inspired by the story and many came forward, so I guess God had something in mind. Kasimbira Road4

It was a good day, and tomorrow I will expand my teaching to another church and community just in the outskirts of Jinja – Bugembe – and a new pastor I have not worked with before, so this is progress. Hopefully, by teaching every evening from 5-8 pm, I will be able to reach their leadership, who is my target audience for what I am doing here.  More to come as that develops.

Well, God blew my mind today. I’m still in awe. I’ve heard about it, I’ve tasted a small bit of it, Dr. Kenneth Rooks, the head of ICE International has told me about it, Jody and Trisha Kennedy of Practically Speaking English have told me about it, but now I have experienced it. My mind is blown away!

The week started with witnessing in the village where my “students” want to plant a church. This involved walking to the village, going to the individual homes, and sharing Christ. This work has yielded thirteen new believers this week.

Then we ran into some resistance – a lot of small annoyances for many of us on the team, two minor eye problems, a key leader’s wife was suddenly put in the hospital, and he had to leave to take care of her – and our crowd of 7-12 students dropped to five on Wednesday and three on Thursday. Samuel and I continued to teach and encourage, but Thursday (yesterday) was a day of asking the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2) – the five of us literally did this.

Friday arrived and we had a new man with us, Geofrey. His testimony is inspiring – he was saved in prison, became the pastor of the prison church, and has just been released. Samuel scooped him up and brought him to the training in our little center at Bujjawali. So this morning we had 6 students with Geofrey and some others who returned. I had not felt led to a particular scripture for the morning’s devotion and training. As we sat together for the morning meditation in Scripture, God gave me clearly Matthew 16:13-20 – Peter’s confession of Christ as the Messiah. This was a little off our subject area of the week, but I felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting, so I followed.

My approach has been to use scripture passages to teach them how to study and meditate in the scripture (Joshua 1:8), and then to use the same process to teach them how to teach others the Scriptures. So we were chugging along this morning through this section. No one was blowing any horns enthusiasm-wise, and I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake with this passage. Suddenly, one of the students looks out into the yard, and there is a man standing in the yard near the gate, looking hesitant. The student goes to him and talks to him, and they come in and sit down with a brief introduction of names, but no explanations – his name is Innocent. The other Africans are showing him where we are  in the Bible and catching him up on the lesson so far, etc. I assume  he is another member of the church I haven’t met yet who has decided to drop by to see what’s going on, and I continue teaching.

I teach on the confession of Peter and Jesus’ statement that He will build his church upon this rock. I ask, “What is the rock?” One of my students gives the popular answer that the rock is Peter. This leads to a discussion of what the rest of the Bible says about what the church is built on, and eventually to the truth that He built His church on this confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, rather than on any single man. Then there is some discussion that the Roman Catholics teach that Peter is the rock. But they can clearly see that this is inconsistent with the rest of the New Testament, that Jesus would not place such emphasis on one man. One of the students summed it up beautifully, “Anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is  born again and receives the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and he enters into salvation. So Jesus built His church on that confession of Jesus as the Christ.”

So finally it is lunch time, we break for lunch, and eat a very hearty meal prepared by a lady from the church made up of mitoki, casaba roots, fish stew and greens – I was stuffed. Innocent by now is one of the group, chatting and eating along with the rest. And our new member Geofrey is a Godsend. The group is back up to eight by now. I think things may be looking up, but I’ve seen nothing yet.

Lunch is finished and I get up to continue teaching. However, Innocent comes up to me at that moment and explains that he has a job at 3:00 and must leave shortly, that he has really enjoyed the teaching, and that he wants to be born again. I do a complete double take! Say what? So I ask him, “You are not a Christian?” He says, “I am a Catholic. I have never prayed to receive Jesus and I learned in the teaching this morning that I want to be born again.” I am dumbfounded, though I don’t let it show on my face, I think.

Here’s the back story, which I got afterward. This morning Innocent felt an urge to go visit a friend in the community. He was walking down the road past a small walled compound when he heard a voice speaking English, and the voice mentioned God three times by the time he had walked the length of the wall. Something in the mention of God three times touched his heart, and so he stopped in the road and listened (he’s standing at this point just ten yards from where I am teaching and my voice is drifting out the window and over the wall). He said to himself, “I really don’t have a firm program this morning that I have to follow. I think I’ll step in here and spend maybe five minutes to see what’s going on. I probably won’t like it, and I’ll just leave and continue on to my friend’s house.”

So Innocent comes into the compound where we are teaching, and you know the rest. As we continued to teach and discuss as a group the meaning this key passage of Scripture that God had chosen especially for Innocent to hear this morning, his spiritual life came clearly into focus, and he knew what he had to do. I taught in complete ignorance of any of this while God did all the work.

We prayed with him right there as a group, standing around our lunch table, and Innocent received Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. He promised as he hugged me and gratefully shook everyone’s hand two or three times that he would return again for more teaching.

The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into His harvest – Luke 10:2. ‘Nuf said.

Yesterday I walked with my students from the church where we are training back into the next village where they want to do a church plant. Their objective was to do evangelism and to locate a place that might2013-02-05 16.18.58 host the beginnings of a church. They have worked this area this week after class and have led at least ten people to the Lord. Today I went with them to see some of the work firsthand and participate in the witnessing.

The first thing I noticed was the level of spiritual warfare increasing almost tangibly as we went up the dirt road further into the village area. Whatever the spirit over this area was, it did not like me or the team being there. The team, four men and two women, which had been uniformly united and cohesive up to this point, were arguing with one another, and they seemed very confused about which direction to go though they’d had a clear plan before they set out. At one point, I actually stopped the team by the side of the road and circled them up. I pointed out the strife and suggested that it was the enemy that was causing it, and then I encouraged them to pray right there, which they did. Then, the plan seemed to re-emerge and they set2013-02-05 16.19.18 off with determination.

We embarked off the main road and hiked up over a large hill, leaving the marked areas and traveling into the back side of the village on a small cow-path. After some time, we came to one small house where the path rejoined the road, and this was where a woman who had received Christ the previous day lived. We stopped by to visit with her. She shared some prayer concerns and the team prayed for her.

As we continued on, the team would split up, some on each side of the road or path we were traveling. We would approach a2013-02-05 16.27.45 house and ask if we could share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Some would come out and say they were already born-again (a popular term here), others would say they went to the Anglican church (the only church that I have seen in the village so far), one man that we approached angrily told us he was Islamic, and some were willing to hear our message. The young men on my team led three ladies to the Lord as I stood by praying, and afterward I encouraged them a little in their new commitment, one of the team members translating.

On this next Saturday the team is planning to hold a Bible study near the center of this area and invite all of the people who have received Christ to come. We will finalize this plan tomorrow during our very hands-on classes.

When I returned to the hotel last night I encountered a series of small irritants that I have learned are a mark of spiritual attack. One by one these things are nothing, but altogether, they added up to somethin’ fishy goin’ on here. My cookpot in my room (brand new) broke and leaked watery soup out through the bottom of the unit – quite a mess. It’s been working fine up till last night. All my possible sources of internet – mine, the hotel’s, etc. – were suddenly not working again, after I thought I’d finally gotten all this worked out. When I looked in the mirror, I had a f2013-02-05 17.26.21airly severe sunburn, which was odd because I’d had my hat on most of the time expressly to prevent that. There were several other small things that all came together. That afternoon, for instance, two team members had come down with some kind of minor eye problem – one bloodshot, painful, watery eye apiece (we are having a lot of hot windy dust). Another key team member’s wife suddenly developed a difficulty and had to be put into the hospital (this happened the day before but affected the team member’s ability to serve yesterday and today).Now I’m not saying this was anything hard to deal with or was some kind of terrible attack. That’s not my point. I’m just saying it was indicative of the sort of annoyances the enemy uses to disrupt and discourage.

When these combined attacks occur, you learn to lean in, resist, and the enemy will flee from you (James 4:7). Pray for Andrew and his wife Joann, particularly Andrew’s quick return to the team. He must care for his wife as she recovers from surgery and sort out how to get enough money to pay the hospital bills. He is one of the ablest members on the team, and I have great hopes for him as a potential leader, but for the time being he is side-lined. This represents a set-back for the team that is evangelizing in the village. So hold them up in prayer, please.

If you’d like to listen to something a little longer than the first worship selection I posted, here’s a selection from my first Sunday in Uganda at Bujjowali Church in Jinja, Uganda. This one is quite long, and worth jumping around in to get a flavor of the whole experience if you don’t choose to listen straight through. It gets better as it goes along. All this from about 20-30 people.

Long Worship Bujjowali 3


I think the kids will enjoy this story. I’ve been dying to write it, but have been busy with other things. On the second of my teaching 2 weeks ago in the little church at Bujjowali, Uganda, a chicken flew in the window and walked across some piled up materials (basically junk) stored in disarray at the back of the room. She perched on a piece of wood and began preaching at us while we were in class.

We were talking and reading the Bible. I was at the front of the group sharing, and the chicken acted like she wanted to be part of the class. I have attached a recording of it here. It is really funny to me.

Chicken Preaching

It turns out that she wasn’t so much preaching as fussing. The chickens have a hen house where they’re supposed to lay their eggs. But several of the hens decided that the area behind the miscellaneous stored items at the back of the worship center would be a better place to CIMG0057build their nests. Nobody’s there most of the week, and on Sundays, the hens keep quiet because there are so many peoP1080275ple there. So up till now, no one has noticed the “secret” nests.

But when we started spending long hours in the room, talking and moving around, the hens’ union apparently decided to send their representative to confront us and tell us we need to move away from the nesting area. So, once you look at these pictures and hear the recording, you will realize that she’s scolding us rather brazenly.

The last picture you will see here is the men moving the chickens back to the hen-house so we can continue our CIMG0060lessons. Today, while I was teaching, two weeks after all this went down, two hens flew in the window repeatedly and tried to find their former nesting area, but, of course by now, the church members have cleaned all that stuff out and neatened up the area, so the hens were sorely disappointed and repeatedly chased out of the room. Sometimes while I’m talking, I will walk to the back and shoo the chickens back out the window – I have learned not to even break stride in what I’m saying while waving my arms at the hens.

On a funny note, the only day we have had chicken in our daily soup lunch was the day after the preaching incident. I wondered aloud at the time whether this was “the preaching chicken from yesterday,” but no one would own up to it.