My first Sunday in Uganda, Carlos and Carolina introduced me to their pastor, John Kutosi. We attended service at his tiny church in Mbale where we were warmly welcomed and blessed to hear many words of truth and Biblical teaching. I am continually amazed at the Biblical knowledge and wisdom of the Ugandan people. I feel quite inadequate being a missionary here, working in partnership with people who are so mature in their faith. I am finding quickly that this adventure I’m on will be a rich learning and growth experience.
Carlos and Carolina searched for a long time to find a Ugandan pastor that was not motivated by money. Here in Africa, even in the church community, it is difficult to trust people because of the culture of corruption that has infiltrated all systems of society. One day, about a year ago, Pastor John showed up at the basketball court in our neighborhood where Carlos plays daily pickup games with the locals. Pastor just wanted to shoot some hoops, and wasn’t interested in asking for handouts from Muzungus (white foreigners). As Carlos got to know John and his sons (also pastors), he discerned that this family is motivated only by the task of building strong communities by spreading the Love of Jesus.
John and his sons David and Isaiah, have planted three other village churches, and operate a variety of outreach programs funded by their church congregation, international partners, and even from their own pockets as they are able. This family functions daily as the hands and feet of Jesus for orphans, school children, poverty stricken families, and those who are far away physically and spiritually. In addition to churches, their ministry operates schools, providing free or reduced fees and meals for orphans and vulnerable children (school in Uganda is typically not free). Their ministry has also conducted healthcare outreach programs for de-worming village children. John does not put his trust in man to provide for these ministries, he trusts solely on God’s provision. He invites partners to join him in any way that the Lord leads, not expecting anything other than answers to prayer through the people God sends his way.
In upcoming posts, I will share some of the stories from the various ministries and villages I have visited in the past couple of weeks. Today I want to tell you more about Pastor John’s evangelism ministry. He periodically coordinates evangelistic crusades in hard to reach villages where many hear the Good News of Christ and choose to give their lives to Him. Plans are already underway for the next crusade, and God is using me (and you) to make it happen! John has chosen a village near the Kenya border called Lwakhakha as the location for the three day event. The local village pastors will preach, along with messages from Carlos and also Glenn Clark, missionary from my home church in Roanoke, VA. Glenn, his wife Sally, and two other lovely ladies will be arriving next week for a month long visit and I’m so excited to see them. Sally will conduct a women’s conference on the last day of the crusade, and Glenn will teach a leadership session for the men. I’ve seen videos from previous crusades and it looks like this event will be a time of rejoicing compared to nothing else you’d ever see back in the States!
I’ve been helping John to fund and organize the event, and we are getting closer to having enough funds to cover the cost of the PA system, stage, food, fuel, and posters! Last Sunday we visited two Lwakhakha village churches and then made our way to the football (soccer) field where the event will be held. We prayed over the land and thanked God for the opportunity to be a part of something big. I even preached the sermon in one of the churches that day!
Fun fact about church in Uganda: if you’re a visitor, one representative of the visiting group gets to preach the message. Not my idea of a fun Sunday in church, but now that I’ve done this twice I actually don’t mind it too much! I shared a message about praying for one another (Colossians 1: 9-12). < Thank you my dear friend Sara Willard for sending these verses with me to Uganda>. I also shared an illustration from Exodus 17: 8-13. In the middle of a battle, Moses went to the top of the hill and held up his hands. When his hands were up, the Israelites were winning. When he got tired and lowered them, the Israelites began to lose. So, Moses’ friends came and held up his hands for him until the sun went down. Victory is won when friends support each other in partnership and prayer.
Who knew I’d come to Uganda and be a preacher? The Bible says we are all called to preach the Good News of Jesus. I used to be afraid of this command. How could such an ordinary person like me be used for something big? The answer is that God wants to use all of us for something big. We just have to leave ourselves behind and be willing to follow in faith. Maybe God is asking you to do something for Him. Actually, I know God is asking us all to do something, but are we listening? Even when we think He is quiet and we are wondering where He is, He is communicating with us.
Living in a different culture, I am even more aware of the need for good communication. Without it, everything breaks down, nothing makes sense. It is the same with our relationship with God. Without communication, we miss out on truly knowing Him. We get lost. I’m so thankful to be able to be a part of an effort to communicate the gospel to many souls that are lost. Maybe this will be the communication that these people have been waiting for as they wonder where God is when they are suffering. Help us pray that the Lord will use this crusade as a message that He hasn’t forgotten them.