I’m following up an earlier post about our plans for a Crusade near the Kenya border. I’m happy to report that the three day event went really well, as many people had the opportunity to hear and receive the Good News of Jesus. We are thankful for all of your prayers, especially because this area is a really hard place to be. There is a lot of witchcraft and mixed religions, so in the past it’s been difficult to reach people’s hearts in this village called Lwakhakha.
I’ve actually never attended an evangelistic crusade before, but I’ll admit this was SO much fun! There was a lot of singing and dancing, and there were tons of kids. When we arrived each day, even before we stepped out of the vehicle we would be swarmed with kids. Our hosts would finally get us to a shady spot so we could sit in plastic lawn chairs until it was time to start. Ugandans are extremely good hosts, and always make sure that their visitors have a special place to sit. As for me, I’d just rather fit in with the rest of the crowd, but they are honored to have visitors and want to treat them with special respect.
So, we would sit in the plastic lawn chairs and quickly become the evening’s entertainment. More and more kids would come and stand in front of us, completely content to just stare. It was like they were watching a movie or something. We decided we now understand what it’s like to be an animal in the zoo. Thank God for our Kenyan friend Lindsey who finally got the kids to start singing with us. While they sang I would scan the faces of the kids in the crowd and try to focus on them as individuals. Each face is so precious. I wonder how much heartache is actually hidden behind their smiles. Life isn’t easy in Uganda, especially for children. Maybe they don’t know the difference. Maybe they’re truly happy. All I know is that I just wanted to pick up every one of them and give them a hug and tell them they are loved.
The first night of the Crusade we almost didn’t make it because the vehicle we were supposed to take broke down before we left. At the very last minute, our friend Uthman, volunteered to drive us. Uthman is our Information Technology expert at Kissito. He just happened to get back to the office early and heard we needed a ride. When we got to the site he ended up helping the pastors set up the A/V equipment and then translated for Glenn when he preached the message! God sent Uthman at just the right time, and He knew exactly the person we needed to help us. On the way home that night, somebody pulled out in front of us on a bike so we ended up stuck in a ditch in order to avoid a collision. In the States, that kind of problem will set you back at least an hour or two until the tow truck comes. In Africa, it’s only a matter of seconds until men start running out from nowhere to help. I’ve never seen anything like it. We were out of the ditch in less than 10 minutes and on our way!
Day 3 of the event was really special. We started with a Women’s Conference for the ladies, and also a Men’s leadership conference led by Glenn and Carlos. Sally, Lindsey, LoVorn, Rachel, Carolina and I spent the morning sharing with the ladies, encouraging them, and praying for them. We ended the conference with the most joyful and spirited singing and dancing I’ve ever seen. There’s no way to describe church in Africa until you experience it for yourself. When the rejoicing came to a close, the air was filled with dust inside the little church (unfortunately most village church floors are made of cow dung!). Despite the poo in the air, it’s times like these that I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Joy like these women have can only come from trusting in the Lord.
After the conferences and lunch, we started the final evening in a really beautiful way. Carolina shared her testimony about her daughter Isabella, and then danced a solo in the most beautiful outfit she had put together just for this occasion. Carolina and Carlos have been parents to the most beautiful Ugandan baby girl for the past 6 months. Her mother died in childbirth and her father handed her over to Kissito Healthcare in hopes that someone could care for her better than he could. Carolina had recently been told she couldn’t have a biological child, so Isabella was truly a gift from God. Despite the odds of the adoption actually going through in court, the judge gave Carlos and Carolina (Venezuelans) full custody of Isabella! Carolina wanted to dance at the Crusade to show her appreciation for what God had done for their family. I don’t think the Ugandans had ever seen anything like it. I hadn’t either.
God did some really awesome things in Lwakhakha and I’m thankful to have been a part of it. You see, the needs in Uganda are never ending, and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of those needs. You can feed people every day, but the next day they’re hungry again. You can give people new clothes, but eventually they become threadbare. You can give people money, but the next day they are poor again. When people have the chance to hear about Jesus, they have the opportunity to choose to gain access to the great Provider. The treasure found in Him is eternal.
*for those of you following Brian’s story, he is improving and eating like crazy! He even brushed his teeth for the first time. I will have more to report very soon.