To continue illustrating how God seems to speak more directly to Christians in Uganda, though no less mysteriously, here’s a tale that one of the students on Buvuma Island told me during the Bible Institute in March. I first came to Buvuma Island three years ago and noted the many pastors who had no Bible training. It seemed like God had prepared me during an entire lifetime for just such a work, and on my first visit to the island I committed in my heart to teach these much neglected leaders if it were possible; and the Lake Victoria Bible Institute was born. The following is a background story.

Preached in a village church-plant today under a mango tree – 60-70 new believers present after 8 months. One came to receive Christ and many came for prayer ministry. Exciting! Gail led a women’s meeting in the late afternoon with 30 women at another church. Tomorrow we move back to Mbale to settle James and Hope, two deaf children, for their school holiday  – more on this tomorrow.

The student who told me this story used to live in Kampala, but one day, much like Abraham, he was told to move to Buvuma to strengthen the work of the young churches there. He came in obedience and attached himself to one of the churches on the island where he now serves as an elder. During the training last month, he asked to speak with me when I had a moment, and at the end of one of the  days, we stood near a large termite nest in the shade of the trees, and he told me his story.

Three years ago an apostle of some kind came to visit the island. My student had little information about him, but I can surmise from what I know that he would be a church-planter, a traveling preacher, and a teacher who would be respected as having some level of authority. He prayed through the churches on the island and preached for some time. One of the results of his ministry there was to instruct the leaders to undertake a 92 day fast, the seemingly random number given to him by the Lord. He said that after the fast was completed, another teacher would come to share the Word of God with them and to lift them to another level.

There is a certain mountain on the island that is considered a holy place and is used for prayer retreats and prayer vigils. This is where many of the leaders retired to fast, pray and seek His face. 92 days is about three months, and so the leaders came and went, back and forth to the mountain, all the time fasting and praying during this season.

The man who shared this with me told me that they came to the end of that period of fasting and returned to their lifestyles. Exactly one week later I showed up to teach the first leader training “institute” in the central village of Kitamiru, and this elder was present and somewhat astonished. He had hesitated all this time to tell me this story because he didn’t at first know me, but now, he said, since I have come many times, he has seen what I have taught the leaders in this three years:

Intro to Church Planting
Hermeneutics - Principles of Bible Interpretation,
Hearing the Voice of God,
The Doctrine of Soteriology,
Walking in the Spirit,
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts,
Principles of a Godly Marriage,
Church History 1 - NT to Middle Ages,
Church History 2 - Middle Ages to Present,
Christian Leadership Principles,
Christian Stewardship Principles,
And this March - Homiletics - How to Preach a Biblical Sermon.

Now, he explained, he has come to know and trust me, and he felt it was time to share this story with me.

I confess, I hardly know how to respond. I remember so clearly that before I even left the U.S. for my third trip to Uganda, God told me, “Look to the water,” and I had no idea what He meant. But as that trip unfolded, and Gail joined me for the final two weeks, by strange circumstances we found ourselves being escorted to Buvuma Island out in Lake Victoria, and we gained a vision there for training this isolated people group that we were seeing for the first time. It has always seemed in retrospect that God wanted me to come specifically to Buvuma Island. When I am there, I never doubt that I am in the right place. Now that Gail is with me full-time, she knows it too.

Following Jesus is indeed mysterious, and with this information, we know that He has gone ahead of us to Buvuma Island. It seems impossible to doubt His purpose. I am struck with the sudden realization that all of life is really like this, but we simply don’t often have the opportunity to hear the story or discover His footprints ahead of us. But…He is always there regardless.