Archive for June, 2014

High and Humbled

I have now been in Uganda for 16 days. I have been teaching on Buvuma Island out in Lake Victoria. I taught a five day Bible Institute, beginning the process of training the pastors, none of whom have had any formal training. Then I led a two day church planting conference, performed a wedding, intervened in a medical situation, and then drove back to Entebbe to pick up my wife, Gail. We are returning to the island this afternoon to continue with church planting and women’s conferences. Gail with have done 3 women’s meetings in the first two days of her stay on the island.

So yesterday as we drove to Entebbe, a pastor who has a church there was returning from the Bible Institute. I hadn’t had time to visit with him and so, with the interpreter driving my car, I asked him about his life in Christ. As usual, I am reminded to ask frequently for these stories because they always give me a lift and educate me about the culture here and the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Patrick told me that he had been a womanizer ten years ago, but at one time he chased after the wrong woman, the wife of a witch doctor. This resulted in a demonic curse which afflicted him with severe cutting pains in his abdomen. It became so intense that he thought we was dying, so he decided to go to some church and get right with God before he died (wise man there). He went to a church and received Christ, and as they ministered to him, he explained about the curse. They prayed for him to be delivered and he was instantly relieved of his symptoms. His worldly friends told him later that he could be a Christian but continue his partying lifestyle, so during the first week he returned to his old habits. Immediately the symptoms returned and doubled him over. He waiting in torment until the next Sunday and then went back to the church. They discipled him a bit in how a Christian should behave and how repentance works, and prayed for him again. Immediately the torment departed and has never returned. He subsequently became a deacon with a strong bent toward evangelism, and now since 2010 has been a pastor in a church he planted.

After my teaching on Buvuma, Patrick echoed the sentiments I have heard much in the last week as I have taught the Bible and its principles among this isolated island people group. He told me repeatedly that the gift I have brought to them with the teaching is “extraordinary,” has “kindled a great fire among them,” and “has taken me to a new level.” I have to keep these comments in the perspective of their isolation and the Lord’s anointing on my teaching, and not “deflect” with false humility as I am being taught in my men’s group back in the U.S., but also remain properly humble. I tell you that sometimes in the face of this overwhelming gratitude, this simple spiritual balance can be a struggle. However, the Lord is always ready to help in humbling me and often in the most precious manner, as I am about to relate.

Now the circumstances of his church plant are what I want to come to here. He was ministering evangelism in this area of Entebbe, and a man he had witnessed to but who had not responded died suddenly. He was led by the Spirit to go to this man’s house and pray for him. Those who were gathered there wondered aloud what prayer this evangelist could pray for a dead man. He sat with the man and prayed just as the Spirit led him for about thirty minutes. The man stirred, then as he continued to pray, he opened his eyes. As he recovered from his “death” experience, he told Patrick that he was being held down by people or beings who were dragging him away, but suddenly as he was resisting them, he heard Patrick’s voice calling to him. He related that as he continued to struggle, the voice became like a sword and cut through the arms that held him until finally he was free, and he immediately came toward the voice, and woke up in his bed with Patrick praying for him.

Needless to say, as Patrick ministered to this man, he received Christ. The people gathered there also responded to the message, about 18 praying to receive Christ. It was this group that asked him to plant a church there and pastor them. His home was quite a distance away near Jinja, but he asked his pastor and his overseer for permission to plant the church in Entebbe, and after a season of prayer, they agreed and sent him to do so.

It is worth noting that as I continued to probe his testimony, he related a second story of praying for a dead child who also returned to life in a very similar New Testament manner. I can’t use my brief time and space here to relate that story also, but maybe I will send it along later. My point is that this man, a humble pastor who is not trumpeting these testimonies, but whom I had to pry them out of during a three hour car ride, is telling me I have given “him” an extraordinary gift with my teaching, and have brought “him” to a new level in his faith. I must say, in the presence of this simple and uneducated pastor, who is merely following the Holy Spirit’s direction in his work, “I” am truly humbled, and it is a sweet humility to be used by God to teach such people as these.

Normal? Extraordinary? Typical? These terms begin to lose their meaning to me. So, you tell me…


Days of Preparation

I’ve been back in Uganda for five days now, arriving very late Tuesday night. I have been experiencing the seamy underside of missions to the nth degree – administration! Every day has been filled with endless errands, preparing for a twenty day stint out on Buvuma island in Lake Victoria, where I have ministered before. I have

  • been to the bank to convert my funds – had to go twice because I gave up on the line the first time after 30 minutes of one individual standing at the head of the line with some kind of problem that the teller couldn’t sort out – I bailed when a third person appeared from down the street to consult with them about the problem, and came back the next day
  • met with two bishops to plan the twenty days of ministry in a five day Bible Institute and 3 two day church-planting conferences all mixed in with other ministries and then leaving in the middle to make the long journey back to the airport to pick up my wife and return with her to finish out the trip with a women’s conference or two
  • printed handouts
  • trained a new driver/interpreter
  • purchased my own personal generator – no more renting
  • started two Ugandans down the path of self-sufficiency with business startups
  • computed the complex math to determine how much food for as yet unknown numbers
  • purchased said food in bulk from back-alley wholesalers my local team located
  • loaded said food in vehicle
  • scoured Jinja back-alley markets for such items as grain scoops, gas funnels, and rice bags – places no musungu (white person) goes
  • entered the abstruse world of cell phone technology to achieve a package with which to call Gail in the US while in the internet dead-zone for 20 days – hours spent standing in lines, listening to confusing explanations, trying one thing, then another, going back to the store just one more time to get our questions answered – and still not knowing for sure if I’ll have good enough cell service to actually use what I cobbled together at a cost I can afford
  • unpacked and repacked my personal bags for the journey
  • found storage for the stuff I’m leaving behind that I won’t need on the island
  • shared with an Hindu Indian lady who voiced numerous standard philosophies about all paths leading to the same god or gods, who then agreed that she needed to read the story of Jesus in the New Testament to answer her questions, then I scoured Jinja a second time for a New Testament, of which there were NONE (“We don’t sell those anymore because the Gideons give them away for free and no one wants to buy them from us”), so will try to give her a Bible when I return from the island
  • went back to the bank to convert more funds to replenish my now depleted wallet so I’m not on empty out on the island
  • met another “me” about the same age doing similar ministries in Uganda, talked a long time, and will probably cooperate in some fashion in the future – who knows, but the Holy Spirit usually doesn’t waste these kinds of chance encounters
  • etc., etc.

And this partial list occurred all in four days since I arrived in Jinja on Wednesday. I’m leaving tomorrow morning (Sunday) at 6:30 to make the three hour drive to the ferry. I don’t know at this moment if we’ll even be able to fit ourselves in the vehicle among the suitcases, 100 kg bags of rice and beans, generator, 20 liter cans of cooking oil and gasoline for the generator, etc.

All this is the preparation it takes to successfully pull off a mission trip – and I’m the only missionary going on this trip! Imagine what it would be for a group of twenty! Big shout out of respect for the Jody and Trisha Kennedy’s of the world, who regularly take groups of 10-20 into the villages of Nicaragua and other far-off places. I’ve still got an awful lot to learn…

Blogs will unfortunately be blocked out for the next twenty days by lack of internet, unless conditions have improved on Buvuma. So, see you in twenty…