I met a pastor on Wednesday this week who told me how he had come to plant the church which we were traveling toward. He said he had heard that quite suddenly at least nine suicides had occurred within a very short time in this particular community. Many families in the community had been affected by this tragedy. He knew that something spiritual had to account for this, and he suspected the involvement of

The jackfruit tree they held their early church meetings under

The jackfruit tree they held their early church meetings under

witch doctors. This was never verified to me, but the rest of his story is quite inspiring.

He went to this isolated place and found that there was no church there. He simply followed biblical principles of evangelism, preached the gospel a little here and there, spent enough time in the village to meet a number of the people. Soon they were asking him to pray for them and people were healed, things in their lives were set right as God moved. Still, he had no clear path as to why God had brought him here other than this general kind of ministry.

One day a family near the village had one of their small children go missing. They were frantic and the neighbors and the villagers joined them in the search through the maize fields and wooded areas all around their home. They were unable to find the child. Someone suggested to the father that there was a visiting pastor in the village who had prayed for many people. Perhaps he should ask this man to help, and so he did.

The pastor came and heard the serious need of this family, saw how distraught they were over their missing child, and so he prayed with them. As he was praying, the Lord impressed him of several specific things. He told them that the Lord had told him that the child was alive. He then went on to say that the child would return to them at 5:00 p.m. that day. They were, of course, hopeful but skeptical. They had searched all these fields around them and called for the child with no success.

The church building they are constructing

The church building they are constructing

Five o’clock came and everyone was looking around wondering if this pastor was just crazy when the child himself stepped out from between the tall stalks of maize and ran to be scooped up by his sobbing parents. The pastor then shared the meaning of Christ’s salvation with this group of gathered family – parents, aunties and uncles, grandparents, cousins. Twenty-seven people prayed to receive Christ.

People were coming from all over the area to see this great miracle as the word spread, so the pastor decided to hold a small crusade to take advantage of the crowd. An additional forty-seven people prayed to receive Christ during his preaching.

As we arrived at this circle of mud and thatch houses out in the potato and maize fields, a place isolated enough that many of the children had never seen white skin before, we were met by a snaking line of dancing teen-agers moving joyfully down the narrow lane to meet us. Then women were leaping and yodeling their peculiarly African high-pitched “yi-yi-yi=yi=yi.” They came up to me and threw their arms around me in greeting, one

Celebrating my arrival

Celebrating my arrival

after the other. The dancing teens snaked around and danced back the other way, and so I followed them into the little clearing. I found a rough pole-and-leaf-roofed church building, crammed full to breaking with over 80 people, all expectantly awaiting the musungu from America.

They showed me the tree they started the church under which was in the yard of the lost child’s parents. The father had also donated the land for the building that stood about 75 yards away. After so many had responded to the gospel, the people had simply insisted that this pastor, who had done so much for them, stay and give them a church. He tried to say that he needed to return to his life in Tororo, which was twenty or thirty miles up the road, but they were so insistent that he finally acquiesced, and returned to raise up a church there. When I arrived to minister briefly among them with a teaching about

A Full and Enthusiastic House greets me

A Full and Enthusiastic House greets me

spiritual armor from Ephesians 6, I was the first musungu in their area that anyone could remember, so they were very excited. The really unusual thing is that this bursting-with-life little church family of nearly 100 people was only three months old.

And this is often church-planting in Africa.