It is tangible and almost breath-taking to affect a life as much as God has been able to affect ten-year-old James, but, as powerful as that experience has been for my assistant Alfred and me, and all of you who have participated, that is not really why God put me in Uganda. I came here to plant churches, and that is what I really spend most of my time doing. Please allow me tell you a little about it.

I came originally to Uganda with I Care Enough International (ICE – http://www.iceintlministries.com/) and Dr. Kenneth Rooks, the founder and Director of that organization. I travelled originally to India and to Uganda with him in order to learn how to plant churches since that is the primary mission of ICE. I did not know it at the time, but Dr. Rooks was moving his primary focus away from Uganda just at the exact time I visited there with him. The Lord was leading him to shift his focus after more than twenty years to India instead.

Dr. Rooks has supported Gail and me whole-heartedly in our call to Uganda, and so we are now ICE’s representatives in Uganda and Africa. We use materials which originate at Riverbend International Christian College and Seminary, which exists primarily to train church-planters, and we develop additional training material as needed. Our mission here is to plant new churches and to build up the existing church.

Breaking news: through ICE’s ministry, I have just been invited to Kenya for a church-planting conference, which I will conduct probably in November of this year. This is an unexpected expansion of the ministry, and I am excited about this unlooked-for opportunity to meet with and train the leaders from the Kitale area, nestled in the foothills of the Mt. Elgon mountain range in Northwestern Kenya. This opens an entirely new door for ministry to a new people group.

I spend the majority of my time here teaching multi-day church planting conferences. It is tempting to teach IMG_0272from the population centers, the cities. However, on my second trip here, as I travelled along a dusty, pot-holed dirt road that stretched through the countryside along the east bank of the Nile River, we passed through village after village, and God clearly said to me, “These people don’t see many westerners. They don’t receive much outside teaching. Concentrate yourself here.” Since that time, I have focused on the many isolated places in Uganda.

That assignment brought me to a village last fall where they said they have not had a musungu visitor in over thirty years, and where the children were quite surprised at, then afraid of, and finally curious about the strange color of my skin, rubbing on it to see if it would come off and reveal something more familiar underneath. It’s not unusual for very young children to run screaming when they see me in such places, and P1090582for even older children to run and hide in the maize fields and watch the musungu pass by in the car. In most places, though, there has been enough white presence that the children welcome us with more curiosity than fear. And they do warm up quickly when they realize we are friendly.

I typically meet with pastors and church leaders to train them about a simple and biblical method of church-planting based on Luke 10:1-11. We often have opportunities to teach on other subjects also. In one place, after I finished, a man stood and begged me to come again since, he said, they “are ignorant and desperately want and need teaching.” This moment broke my heart but affirmed my calling. What is a “teacher” to say to such a request? Of course, I have returned to this place several times since with different teachings, even this trip teaching a one day conference there on how to practically walk out their salvation in the Lord.

It is very satisfying to note that after nearly every church-planting seminar, about two new churches will be 2013-02-25 17.45.36planted in villages that have had no church until then. I have visited many of these new works and completed follow-up training with their leaders. It is the vision of ICE in Uganda to have a church in every village in Uganda so that no Ugandan has to walk more than 2 km to church on Sunday.

So that means that after this trip, during which I will finish at least seven church-planting seminars, I can hope to find upwards of fourteen new churches when I return in the Fall. Now that is truly satisfying to the soul!

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