I am back on the mainland and finally have internet again as of today, having had some repair issues. Yesterday, I preached at the church where I will teach on Thursday and Friday this week. On the two hour journey back from this church, Alfred, my driver and assistant, tentatively mentioned that his father was very sick, perhaps “unto death,” and with a “short” detour, we could visit him and pray for him. Of course, the detour actually took us most of the rest of the day due to very muddy, rainy season conditions. As we slogged through one mud-hole after another, he explained that his father was not a believer and had lived a wasted life, fathering 25 children from many different women. Most of his children now choose to have nothing to do with him because of his lifestyle and his lack of love for them when they were growing up. However, Alfred, since he has become a believer, has sought to forgive him and seeks to help him as he can, as does only one of his several half-sisters.

His father’s current home is far back off the main road, 10-15 km into the bush across roads that threatened repeatedly to bog us down. Being one of the rainy seasons, the weather seems determined to prove it to us by storming and dumping rivers of rain on us every night and usually one good soaking during the day, after which the sun comes out in mockery. The isolated area is populated by small homesteads, agricultural fields, and many walking Africans in the roads. The children here all seemed surprised to see a musungu and alternatively greeted me with shouts of “Jambo” (Swahili for “Hello”) and “Ay-y, Musungu!” (“Hey, white man” – strange as it may sound, a term of respect). However, about one out of every twenty children would greet me with a terrified expression and turn to run as if they had just seen the devil himself. This tells me that we are in an area not much visited by whites, where the more sophisticated older children love to regale the younger ones who have never been out of their villages with tales of horror starring the ogre-like white man as the villain.

We finally arrived at the small brick home where Alfred’s father now resides with a new wife who is a believer. We entered the front room, and he had managed to move from the bed to the chair. He was obviously very ill, and he explained that the hospital has told him he needed an operation that would cost seven million shillings (about $2000), a sum preposterously out of reach for such a family. So he is muddling along on antibiotics and home treatments as he can get them with the aid of his daughter. He could only stand with the aid of a cane carved for him by one of his grand-children. He was quite surprised to see me and welcomed me warmly, even though Alfred had told him we would discuss spiritual things.

We chatted for a while, and then I began to speak with him more earnestly with Alfred translating. Just as we began to get serious, Alfred’s mother came into the house and joined us, sitting on the small sofa. Apparently, though they have been apart now for many years, she lives nearby, and they all seemed cordial with one another. As we talked, he came under conviction, and I asked him if he was ready to receive Christ into his life. He indicated that he was indeed in need of a personal relationship with God. I was blessed then to witness Alfred help his father pray to receive Christ. We then prayed for his healing.

I looked across the small table and asked Alfred’s mother if she understood what she was seeing. She indicated that she did, and so I asked her through Alfred if she needed to receive Jesus also. She said that now, finally, she was ready to receive Christ and make him Lord of her life too. So we prayed with her. When we were done, all three of them began to clap with joy, so Alfred and I gladly joined in.

There is a little church almost across the road from their home, and I encouraged Alfred to call the pastor and encourage her to visit this family and begin to disciple them, which he did as soon as he got home last night. The wife began looking at Alfred’s Bible, which was written in their own language of Lusoga. She immediately got up and disappeared into the back of the small house. When she returned, she handed Alfred 20,000 shillings ($5.50), and said she wanted to buy the Bible so they could study the Bible together. In such an isolated place, such a Bible would be hard to come by, so Alfred gladly sold her his Bible, knowing that he could now go and replace it from the store in Jinja. This incident expresses both their poverty and their hunger for spiritual things – Alfred could have just given her the Bible, but even at that seemingly low cost to us, it was very valuable to him and would be difficult and costly for him to replace.

I left this home for the long and arduous trip back through the mud with the vision dancing in my head of the irony of this aging new believer sitting in his chair sharing Bible studies together with his former wife and his current wife. And I thought I understood better the scripture that says that God restores what the locusts have eaten.

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