My church-planting ministry in Uganda is taking solid shape after two developmental years during which I had to “figure out the ropes.” For the first time, the schedule for my NEXT trip in October 2015 is nearly full. This means I am getting enough requests to come and teach that I am already scheduling two trips out in front of myself. This is edifying, of course, but also administratively challenging. I have to work out some of the details about how to schedule in this future-think manner with my Ugandan partners who handle the actual scheduling and tend to operate in the “now” rather than the “tomorrow.”.

As I get ready to wrap up this trip and return home on July 21, with only one more conference to go, I’m receiving reports from this trip suggesting this pattern will only become more intense. From a IMG_0827conference I did last week at a place named Nakabongo, just north of Jinja, I am hearing very excited reports coming back of pastors who are stirred up about church-planting and holding meetings of area pastors to plan coordinated church-plants. They expect a minimum of four new churches to emerge immediately, with others to follow. My Uganda plan includes follow-up of as many new church plants as possible.

This kind of excitement breaks out frequently when leaders see this simple strategy from Luke 10 used by Jesus and later by Paul. We teach them to find the “person of peace” and then to evangelize the “oikos (household) of peace” according to the pattern of Paul in Acts 16 with Lydia. This is widely known as “Oikos Evangelism” and is one of the most effective methods of church-planting available, suitable for low budget, grass roots church planters in the 10/40 Window.

I just completed a conference up on Lake Kyioga (“Choga”) at Kawango (Kawanga? – there seem to IMG_0773be two spellings in usage). This large lake occupies central Uganda, and while it is much smaller than Lake Victoria, it is still a good-sized body of water with its own ferry that “runs sometimes.” This was the first time either my driver Alfred or I had visited this region. It was definitely old lion-country savannah, though the lions have long since been killed out of these populated areas. “Populated” in this case refers to scattered farms between scattered villages and trading centers. As we drove through it, every African movie about safari’s and lions came to my mind, especially considering the bumpy ride over many miles of wash-boarded road. The landscape even evoked stories from Pastor Waisana who accompanied us of man-eaters who plagued the building of the railroad across Uganda a century ago.

Cactus Trees of Kawango

Cactus Trees of Kawango

The region is dotted with cactus trees of a type I have never seen before. They are supported at the base by a bark-covered trunk and unfold skyward at the top into large thorny cactus branches.

Over 100 leaders attended this meeting from quite a large area around the lake. They, like us, stayed overnight because of the distance they had travelled to attend. They slept on papyrus mats on the floors of the church, the pastor’s home, and various other homes, while we slept in a Ugandan guesthouse of sorts. Throughout the meeting different pastors would enthusiastically approach me on the breaks to express to me how helpful this information was and that they would take it home and “plant many churches” in the coming months. It seems they had picked up ICE’s and Meade International’s vision: a church in every village so no Ugandan has to walk more than 2 km to church on Sunday.

Now I need church-planters to supplement my work since it is getting bigger than I can handle alone. I need young, tough, adventurous missionaries to tackle the distant islands, who I heard just today, have heard of these conferences and are crying out for such training. Conditions on the big island are difficult enough for me, so I need young men to boat in and backpack and tent their way to training conferences on the other islands where there are no facilities, guesthouses, etc. I have two potential Ugandan islanders who may be willing to be trained and to take this task on, and I must begin to develop this resource over the next year.

I am 66 now, and beginning to feel my limits. I personally would have loved to backpack in for such ministry even just 15 years ago. But now…I’m not so sure this would be a good idea healthwise.