Perhaps we live very sheltered lives in the US. Or perhaps the things I hear consistently from the normal everyday Ugandans with whom I speak are just fantastical and not be believed – but I don’t think so. These individuals do not seek me out to tell me these things. The stories, their personal testimonies, are dropped into the conversation over supper or lunch. I initiate the request for their story and they tell me matter-of-factually, as if what they are saying is not at all unusual. Some of what I hear is frankly beyond the scope of what the typical “civilized “American can take in, so I will not tell it here. However, some of the tamer examples, I will share.

I met a pastor who told me when I asked that he is a converted witch doctor who used to persecute the church with black magic. He has sent me a digital copy of the book he is writing of his life that contains a testimony of his various evil deeds and how he became a Christian. These are the parts I will not tell you because they contain a record of demonic activities that may stretch your sophisticated worldview too much at one time. However, I will tell you this – his story seems to be confirmed by his actions: on March 10, he left his pastorate near Jinja and moved to the capital, Kampala, to a neighborhood known for its concentration of witch doctors. He is going there to plant a church in the middle of that neighborhood, seeking to bring the light of Christ to that deep darkness. He is laying his very life on the line to do this. I know he has already gone there because he emailed me to tell me of his arrival and to invite me to come to visit him there.

Integrity is defined as matching one’s outer behavior to their inner beliefs so that they are one and the same. This man was converted from an unbelievably terrible life for which he was dedicated, raised and trained since birth by parents who actively practiced black arts. Now he has a deep burden for others like himself, to win them to Life and not to turn his back on them just because he is now free. Considering the dangers he faces, this is integrity, and for me it validates his story.

I was speaking to another pastor who was helping us purchase some food for one of the conferences. We paused for lunch in a small restaurant, eating in silence which is the custom of Ugandans. I, being American and used to talking while I eat, finally broke the silence by asking him how he became a Christian. In brief, this humble pastor, who had not given a hint of such things in anything he had said previously, told me that when he was 25, he had been persecuted by a very tall, black demon who came to him and sat on his chest, making it very difficult to breathe. This had been happening for several years, and he had tried various things to protect himself from this attack, but nothing worked. He described a visible manifestation that preceded each attack and described it in detail. Finally, he met some Christians, and though the voice speaking to him continually told him to reject what the Christians were saying, to run away and to avoid them, ultimately he received their prayers, received Christ into his life,  and was set free – the manifestation and the symptoms departed and have not returned.

This same pastor told us that he has been bitten by a cobra and was protected by the Lord from dying. If you know anything about Uganda, you know that some of the most poisonous snakes in the world live in Uganda, including the cobra and the black mamba. However, lest you worry about me, snake bites are rare in Uganda unless you are tramping around out in the bush without being careful. The cobra had entered an isolated outbuilding where the pastor entered unawares. When he was bitten, he immediately praised the Lord. Then as the poison advanced, he became very ill, and he continued to pray. Unfortunately, he was out in the countryside and too far to be transported to a hospital which may not have been able to help him much anyway. He said he just continued to praise the Lord and thank Him for his life, even if he were now going to die and go to be with Him. However, the Lord told him in the night that he would be healed. He said the next day his leg was swollen four times its normal size, but there was no pain. Then the symptoms subsided, and there were no ill after-effects. Of course, this brings to mind the scripture about Paul being bitten by a viper, shaking it off and having no sickness from it (Acts 28:3-5).

I spoke to a young lady whom we had given a ride back from the conference to the area of her home. She said that four years ago she had been paralyzed for a whole year. No one could do anything for her – the doctors had no solutions. When she finally asked to be prayed for by some Christians, she was healed and restored immediately, and subsequently she prayed to invite Christ into her life. Now she is eager to be part of the church-planting that we are teaching.

I hear these stories over and over. Here is a culture where the majority of Christians cannot even afford to own a Bible. Yet they seem to live as if in New Testament times with Jesus of Nazareth coming to their villages to perform miracles. I appreciate the wonders of our American culture, our technology, our medicine, our standard of living. But the vast majority of the population of the world lives in conditions similar to what I am seeing here in Uganda, rather than as we live in the U.S., and I believe He is God in both cultures.

Do we receive less revelation from God because we have fewer needs and don’t bother to ask? Have we westerners grown too sophisticated for God to show Himself in these same amazing ways? Are our problems just different because our cultures are so different? Does our standard of living blind us to the way the world and God really are? Or are we guilty of unbelief?

All of the above? What do you think? Use the comment section below and tell me what you think?