It was fun while it lasted. Yesterday President Museveni of Uganda gave a speech which outlined the government’s further plans to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus. There are no cases in Uganda. Indeed, we seem to be in an oasis of safety here. Most of the countries at the borders have multiple cases. And it is reported that one Ugandan is now known to have the virus, but they are in Rwanda, not actually in Uganda.

In his speech he closed all the schools at any level for a minimum of 30 days. He went on to outline a number of measures and closings and bans intended to curtail the spread of the virus if it enters Uganda. The schools are closed as of Friday (tomorrow end of day), but the other closings are in effect immediately and include public gatherings, religious meetings such as prayer meetings and Sabbath meetings closed for a month, and “conferences” banned for 32 days. I am at a loss why 32 days, but that’s what the internet and the newspaper report from his speech.

This means that Lake Victoria Bible Institutes is out of business for the virtual remainder of our trip – we were scheduled to return to the US on April 29. However, now we are beginning the process of trying to change tickets and leave sooner since there is nothing to do but sit. Even unnecessary travel is discouraged, so any of the places in Uganda which it might be pleasant to visit during our down time will very likely be closed. If you have a moment while praying for your own safety where you are, please request God to show us what we should be doing if we stay, or, on the other hand, to show us to go home instead. We will be very anxious to return later in the year after all this craziness is over.

The remaining difficulties are that the Netherlands has closed it borders and we don’t know how that would affect our flight home since we connect through Amsterdam. Additionally, the US government has banned or quarantined flights from the Netherlands (which means Amsterdam), and so we are not yet certain we can come home at this time. All of these things are up in the air.

As a result, I have cancelled the last day of our current meeting, and am in discussions with the other leaders of the places we are scheduled to go about cancelling. “No public meetings” pretty much covers what we do.

The news is still fresh to us, and even the leaders here are struggling to understand the implications. I spent some time on the phone this morning discussing the cancellation of the final day of the meeting we have been holding since Monday. My perspective is that we are guests here and should adhere to the government’s requirements on us. Finally, the leader, who was resisting the idea of cancelling, who had only just heard the news from me at 7:30 a.m. when I called him and so was adjusting on the fly, said in conclusion of our discussion that we are guests here and to defy the government and hold this final day meeting could cause problems for our ministry.

My passion is to be true to God in all we do here. Romans 13:1-7 is very clear on this point:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (NKJV)

This text makes it abundantly clear what our response to the President trying to protect his people should be, even if it is very inconvenient to us. I always remind others when speaking on this passage that it is written to the Roman church, in the city or Rome, under an unfriendly pagan government, one which would persecute the church in terrible ways for the next 300 years. It was not spoken by Paul to a church sitting under a friendly and tolerant government.

My point is that if we are supposed to regard and obey such a harsh government with “honor,” how much more should we respect and honor a leader like President Museveni who only has a heart to protect the people he loves and serves. This is the position of scripture that the Holy Spirit urges Christians to adopt toward their rulers. Christians, among all people, should be the most honoring and obedient to their governments, unless it prevents their worship of God.

So it looks like we will be coming home early, not because we fear the virus, but because we have little else to do. I will keep you posted.