Uganda 2018

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.  Ephesians 1:9-10

We have been back in the US for a few days.  It takes a few nights to readjust to American time, and of course, every year it feels like we leave in the summer and return in the winter!  Between coming back to the whirlwind of business and family, I have thought about this verse in Ephesians 1—the fullness of times.  God’s will is sometimes a mystery.  His pleasure and purpose are always carried out.  But He gathers together things in both heaven and earth, and suddenly I realize I am walking in one of God’s “fullness of times.”

It was one of those times in Uganda this year.  We began seven years ago with a vision of preaching and teaching to church leaders in a rented tin building, where we distributed Bibles and bicycles, and gave a few dozen children food and shelter.  Seven years later, we are working to be instruments of God’s favor in establishing a bustling orphanage and school, businesses that will support five churches, breaking new ground in a neighborhood where many have never heard Jesus’ name, and enabling a television ministry that will reach six nations.  We have felt the pleasure and purpose of God as we have built on the growing ministries where God’s pleasure and purpose are now apparent—a magnificent pig farm that supports a church, miracle ownership and renovation of a church in the poorest neighborhood in Kampala, a new church plant where people responded immediately to the gospel, sewing shops where people are trained and new jobs created, seven buildings with teachers and joyful children on a hillside of picturesque rolling hills and cisterns, and a leap into television ministry for a faithful Bishop of Kampala.  Those are just the little pieces of the mystery that has become clearer than ever before this year.  God’s favor, His kindness, His abundance, His lavish grace—Spirit led believers are rising up in Uganda and the whole nation is prospering because of God’s people.  Such success always seems fragile to me as I look around and see clearly that there is much opposition.  But it is not fragile at all.  It is the good pleasure and purpose of God to lead His people into fullness of times when all the circumstances of seven years of sacrifice and faithful work begin to pour out fruit.  A growing season is not so long.  We will reap if we do not grow weary—and I know from experience this year that God’s promise is true!  As I have enjoyed the fresh fruits and vegetables from the lush gardens and fertile soil of this country, so I have enjoyed the fruits that come in one of God’s “fullness of times.”  How beautiful it is to walk in the mystery of His will!!!!

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Finishing Well

Today we finished where we began, in ministry at Prayer Palace.  While we have been here, the roof has been completed on the first section of the building, but the walls are temporary or nonexistent, and today it was chilly.  It rained all night.  I prayed for Lewis and his first Sunday services at Nyanema.  We had managed to buy enough bricks and mortar to put up a four foot wall on the foundation, and it greatly cut down on the water rushing through the church, but the red clay road had deep ruts and standing water.  We went by after our services at Prayer Palace to see the wall, and to encourage Pastor Lewis.  It was amazing how much they had built in a day!

Prayer Palace has an EARLY service from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.  It got started late today because of the heavy rains.  When the motorcycles can’t get through, it hinders movement in Kampala.  The rain was soaking until about 7 a.m.  So the first service ended about 8:30.  I spoke in the second service,  which ran from 8:30 to 11:00, and Judy spoke in the late service that ran from 11:00 to 1:30.  They also have daily prayer meetings from 4:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. that are well attended.  Pardon my lack of faith.  I don’t think that would fly in America!  Grivas had prepared some boiled eggs and coffee for a quick bite between first and second service.

Prayer Palace has a magnificent choir and an indescribable worship leader.  I am overwhelmed with the Presence from the moment I walk down the concrete steps into the open building, across a small drainage ditch, up a 2 inch step–watch your step!  Oh, the music!  It is just a heavenly place.  I stood to speak, and I had to spend a minute taking in the glory before I began.  I enjoy the freedom here.  I preached an hour, but no one is tied to a clock. You can speak from the heart, hear from the Holy Spirit, and walk in heavenly places.   Some people stayed for the third service, a few attend all three.  Judy brought people to their feet with a stirring message about bringing the future promises of God into the present.  God’s blessing is all over this place, but there is also great sacrifice.  A thanksgiving offering at the beginning, and a tithe offering, and a free will offering, and then many stepped forward to promise funding for the building.  They will bring their building offering on Monday evening.  The people are joyful, and God has given them a great work, and a greater vision.

Please pray for George, a delightful young man who is part of the worship band at Prayer Palace.  We got to know him in Mubende last year when we worked in the crusade there.  On Saturday, he was on the back of a motorcycle in a Kampala jam, and was hit by two cars.  Motorcycles are the taxi here, and they drive so crazy.  There is never more than a foot between moving cars, and the motor cycles will turn sideways and drive between cars, and even in the ditches to get around the long jams.  We have not seen many accidents.  George’s leg was not bending, and he was moving so slowly.  His faith and his grin are both contagious.  He loves God so much, and he has been spared by a miracle of mercy.

Grivas took us to a local Ugandan buffet for lunch.  I ate chicken steamed in banana leaves, papaya, pineapple, avocado, tomatoes, cabbage, baked pumpkin, some root vegetables I couldn’t identify, a bit of a leg of goat, and some spicy peas.  Art took pictures of my plate–no sermons on gluttony; I couldn’t help myself!  My favorite drink here is a mix of beet root, passion fruit, and carrot juice.  They bring a couple tablespoons of fresh squeezed ginger juice to pour in it.  Wow! It’s amazing.  Grivas has an organic powdered ginger that he puts in his coffee.  I asked our driver to get me a bottle of it.

We came back to the hotel and met with a young couple who want to start a clinic here, and they wanted advice on business start up with Art, who was happy to meet with them.

We have not made it over to see Pastor Steve’s sewing operation, which he has expanded successfully since our sewing machine donations.  We will go over in the morning.  A couple final meetings with pastors in the afternoon, and we leave for the airport at 5:00. It seems like we arrived just a few days ago.  I will try to write down some reflections on the plane and post a final blog from our trip when we get home–it’s about 31 hours of travel time, not counting the 4 hour Kampala jam that is unavoidable on Monday at 5:00.

Continue your prayers that the seeds planted, the many people that have been saved, the healing services, and all of the plans for building the Kingdom of God will move forward as we begin our long distance partnership with these vital Ugandan ministries.  Until next year….

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Catching up in Uganda

I am taking a break after a couple of long days, and it will be wonderful to have a night in at the hotel.  Our all day meeting at Faith Tabernacle Church was wonderful.  We watched the sky, and this time, the rains threatened, even some bolts of lightning, but we stayed dry.  Pastors Steve and Gordon came and lent their support.  It was so great to have them.  There were many children there, and they seemed a bit restless, so I suddenly had an idea.  When my children were growing up, they often asked to hear the story of the lost sheep and the Good Shepherd.  Over many years of telling it, I embellished the details and added lots of motion.  They never got tired of it.  So I asked Lewis’s permission, and pulled a chair into the middle of the pile of kids, and told my story.  Just like my grandchildren, they were counting the sheep and listening for the faint baaaa in the thicket.  It’s a cross cultural story.

The adults began gathering in and Judy gave a profound word of encouragement based on the story of Gideon.  Did I mention that five goats also came to church?  One stepped up to the keyboard and I thought he was going to sing a solo.  We prayed for the people and anointed them with oil.  We left just before 5 to figure out how to beat the jam and outrun the rain.  Lewis said the people stayed until 6:30 asking for prayer.  He has set Tuesday and Thursday for prayer and praise from 4 to 6, and will have Sunday services at 10.  I believe we have had a small part in birthing a new church that will bless Nyanema and beyond.  Doesn’t it make you want to jump on the next plane to Uganda?  There is such glory here!

A few more donations have come in, so we have commissioned Pastor Steve, who has excellent building skills, to start laying brick for a couple feet of wall so the water will not rush through the church when it rains.  He sent pictures already!  The bricks and sand and concrete were delivered today, and the church will have a perimeter of red bricks.

Art and Judy left early this morning with Grivas to work on the legal side of the television station and NGO that has been formed to get the equipment into the country.  Their meeting with the lawyer went on for hours.  I felt sorry for them.  I asked Eric to drop me off at the craft market, and I had a couple of leisure hours to shop for gifts for family, especially grandkids!  We went back to the hotel where we were to meet up and go eat.  We are eating out one meal a day to save money, so I had a snack with Eric while we waited.  Grivas called, and Eric told him we had eaten.  I finally got a a message to Art to bring me a to go box of some real food, whatever meat and vegetables was available.  They were too far away to get through the traffic to come here first.  Judy arrived a few hours later, and was very proud of the box she handed me.  I looked at it.  It was bumpy like coral rock, and mushy like pasta.  What is it?  She said the waiter told her it was beef stuffed with a curry sauce.  I ate a couple of pieces, but it’s hard to eat something when you don’t know what it is, and you’re in the middle of Africa.  She was disappointed, and I was hungry.

A couple hours later, I looked it up on google.  Sure enough it was beef–cow intestines to be exact.  I’ve heard of tripe, but I’ve never eaten it before.  The moral of the story is, don’t send Judy for carry out, and use the internet before you eat, not after….  We all laughed hysterically and I fried a couple of eggs and had ginger snaps for dessert.  The ginger in Uganda is amazing.  They pour it in fruit juice, and anything ginger is very strong with the spice.

Tomorrow morning early, Art and Judy will go to Signet, the television people who will finalize what has to be done to get on the air.  Art and Grivas are a great team.  Never give up, persevere, keep asking, seeking, knocking.  It is going to happen, and millions of people will soon hear the gospel broadcast from Prayer Palace.  I wish I could give you a report on all of the legal and tactical work that they have done on the ground.  I will pray, and be involved in the logistics as much as I can.  There has been significant work here for each of us in very different spheres of influence.  I have felt so much a part of the body of Christ with the coming together of business, preaching, church planting, painting, building, praying, celebrating!!!

Three more days.  There are lots of loose ends to be tied!

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Launching Faith Tabernacle Church

Yesterday Pastor Lewis’s ten year vision became a reality.  The very first service at Faith Tabernacle Church was held on his new property in Nyanema.  The service was to begin at 1 p.m., and at 12:45, the the fierce battle of principalities and powers in heavenly places began.  The skies opened up in blinding rain, which turned to large hail that beat on our car.  It was deafening and certainly unnerving in Kampala traffic.  We were close to Prayer Palace, so we diverted our route and took shelter there.  We sat in a small dark entryway, and Art began to pray in the Spirit and in power.  we all joined in, and took authority over any hindrances that stood in our way.

I have to admit, I thought of the steep hill of red clay and deep ruts that the van almost could not navigate last year when it was dry and sunny a we went to the property.  How would we ever get there?  I mentioned to Judy it would be safer to walk the last quarter mile.  She had not worn walking shoes, and frankly, it would have been hard to do even if we all arrived in hiking boots.

Art prayed louder.  The rains receded.  About 1:30 we loaded back up fir the short drive to Lyanema.  My concerns were unmerited.  An alternate road had been grated, and we drove easily right up to the property.  As we turned the corner, Lewis came running up the road, so relieved to see us.  NOTHING could keep us away from this divine moment we had prayed for all year.  Lewis said water was rushing through the church earlier, and they were wiping down the plastic chairs.  It was time to begin!

The church has a crude concrete foundation poured, but the floor was covered with mud from the storm.  There are 12 concrete poles, similar to a wood deck 6X6, and they were mud brick lightly covered with concrete, and the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, one tribe painted on each one.  Long tree trunks about 4 inches in diameter run from pole to pole, and the sheets of tin are fastened to the poles.  That’s it.  It’s an “open air” church, but the fact that there are no walls makes it seem so very inviting, like a picnic shelter in an American park.  A permanent sign with a logo and the name of the church is prominent at the top of the building, and Lewis had purchased a huge banner announcing our healing crusade.

There were about ten children and one adult as we began, but the sound system was loud, and more people began coming quickly.  Tammie sang and her music reached out to the houses in the neighborhood.  It was beautiful.  Judy was bold!  She led the people in a prayer to accept Christ, and many responded.  I spoke about healing, telling the story of the unnamed woman and the daughter of Jairus; then explained why we anoint with oil in the name of Jesus.  Art spoke on the prophet Jonah, and Pastor Steve exhorted the people to hear what the Holy Spirit was saying to them.  The prayer lines formed, and we began anointing and praying.  Most of those I prayed for were children who asked for knowledge and courage, and that God would provide their school fees so they could go to school.  It is every child’s dream to go to school, and the barrier is a book and supply fee that every child has to pay, or they simply don’t get to go.  It is interesting that the church stands just 100 yards away from a large primary school with pretty painted walls and groomed landscaping, and these children stand outside praying for a miracle.  I glanced over as Judy prayed for a pregnant woman and an older man who had signed of arthritis and aging.

Today we will return to Nyanema and celebrate with the people, and pray for more who come.  There were about 70 present by the time we started the prayer lines, and I am believing as the word gets out to the community, we will have a larger gathering today.

Tuesday was Uganda’s 56th Independence Day.  We have been so blessed by First Lady Janet Museveni, who prays in Jesus’ name with great anointing for her nation.  We bought newspapers that were 100 pages of Ugandan history and commentary.  It will help us so much to deepen our understanding of God’s faithfulness to this great nation.

It is time to pray and hear from the Lord for our services today.  Thank you for praying for us!   God is answering your prayers.


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A Day With The Pastors

A highlight of our mission trip is when all of the pastors and leaders come to our hotel and we pray for one another and enjoy fellowship.  The ladies went to the market with Pastor Steve, and we bought pineapple, watermelon, African tea with plenty of milk and sugar, and some bread and crackers.  I had brought a block of cheese from America, and Pastor Gordon gave us a pint of the most amazing honey.  It tastes like citrus blossoms, and is fine!

We prepared a table of food, and Judy and Tammie sorted through the gifts for each family, including a small item for each of the children, a bracelet for the ladies, and Pastor Carroll’s books for the pastors.  We were shocked and delighted with an amazing gift for the team–you will see it soon.

The prayer was led by David, who prays in faith, and is clearly a uniting force among the pastors.  Lewis and Maria, who are starting the new church plant, were brought into the circle.  We were so glad to see them encouraging one another and praying for one another.  Pastor Steve has construction skills, and spoke with Lewis about the building that is in progress.

Today, we need especially for our church to be praying for us.  Lewis has been preparing for this day for months.  We will launch Faith Tabernacle Church with a healing crusade.  He has invited the Muslim community that surrounds the church, and we have been able to purchase some chairs.   Today will be a walk of faith.  I can’t wait to see what the Lord will do!


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A Day with the Children

Yesterday we navigated our way back to Life Mercy Orphanage, for a glorious breezy day on the rolling hills of Muduuma, which is a monument to God’s miraculous power.  Every time we go there, I think of the empty overgrown field we marched around seven years ago, claiming this land for Christ and His Kingdom, and for the hollow faces of hopeless children we had found in the city slum.  The children watched in wonder as Tammie and I finished up the wall mural on the nursery building.  I can’t wait for you to see her masterpiece!!  I have NEVER done anything like it.  Tammie kept saying “just put a flower there, or just draw in some spots on that giraffe.  No, Tammie, you draw, and this poor bookworm will do her best to color in the lines!!!  I sat with my brush and stared at my little piece of work area, and when it was time to leave, and I stood back, I couldn’t believe it could be done in a few days.  Tammie had shaded in mountains and water, and put a head on my poor giraffe, and discreetly touched up everywhere, and we left a visible message of love and joy to our children.

Art and Judy met with the orphanage director and his wife.  David Matovu is a short, smiling man with a very tall vision.  His wife is always dressed like she lives in a pristine subdivision, not the red clay and gardens of Life Mercy!  Together we have sought God’s direction and wisdom to make the greatest impact with the resources He has given.  David has started a small piggery, and has fields of corn, sweet potatoes, and banana groves, but it is not enough to feed all the children.  He rents logging equipment and clears land to raise money.  Uganda is a country where less than 20 percent of households have electricity, and clean water is not available in many villages.  We are asking God to help us to finish buildings and infrastructure so the orphanage will be able to be self sufficient.  Their main expenses are salaries for the ten teachers, and food for the kids.  Our focus is maintaining clean water, electricity, adequate buildings, and we are sharing dreams for expanding the curriculum and training so the children can get jobs.  We have dreamed about buying a motorcycle so they could learn mechanical repair; the sewing project we started a few years ago could be expanded; animal and produce farming can be improved with equipment and crop rotation.  The pastors here are examples of seeking first the Kingdom of God, and seeing Him add to them and their families, and beyond, what is needed.  I have learned so much about helping people–you don’t give food and a sermon and walk away.  We listen to their dreams for the future; we pray together, we believe God beyond what we can ask or think, and God has answered our prayers.  We have had a small part in making Life Mercy, and Antioch Church, and Prayer Palace, and Faith Tabernacle, great lights in Uganda for Jesus Christ.  I prayed for Art and Judy as I painted yesterday, and God has blessed Life Mercy Orphanage more than the promises we heard.  There is much work ahead, but I am so encouraged by their reports.

Tammie went over the “rock project” with David’s wife and a couple of the teachers, who will teach the kids scriptures, and they can paint these rocks, add a verse of encouragement and use them as “gospel tracts.”  Only an artist could dream up such an idea.  The kids are excited about painting!  Paint is a luxury in Uganda.  Most paint is whitewash.  We bought exterior weatherproof paint for the mural, so they have that as well as artist paints and brushes Tammie brought from the U.S.  I can’t wait for their facebook posts when the kids finish!

Today we are hosting a gathering for the pastors and leaders.  We want them to network and pray for one another, and deepen their connections and share their successes.  Pray for them today==David and Somalie, Eric and Grace, Lewis and Maria, Gordon and Judy, Steve and Rita, and Gideon and his wife, I don’t remember her name.  These couple are multiplying your donations and our efforts to bring the gospel to this great land and beyond.  Gordon is headed for Burundi in late October.  Tammie and I will give him our clothes to take there.  It is an extremely poor country.  Gordon has started a branch of his ministry, Children’s Heritage Organization, there.  We are helping Gordon to expand his ministry to the poor in Jinja through his sewing and medical work, and he is carrying the gospel to the nations.  That’s the most amazing part of this work.  We plant a mustard seed, and God grows a tree!!!

We will have all day services at Lewis’s land starting tomorrow.  It is a healing crusade.  Pray for us.  A great and effectual door is open to us and there are adversaries (I Corinthians 16:9).  I thank God for His anointing.

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Our Day of Worship

We had a wonderful day of worship on Sunday.  Art and Judy returned to Gideon’s church.  I wish I could have been in two places at once.  There were testimonies of healing from our prayer day on Saturday, and both Art and Judy spoke.  There were many good reports of victory.

Tammie and I went to Pastor Steve’s church.  It is a couple of miles down a red rutted path off the main road, and is crudely constructed of tin walls and roof.  The service had been going on for two hours when we arrived.  We heard testimonies and lots of lively singing and dancing.  Pastor Steve preached a full sermon on hearing from God, then Tammie sang and the worship choir followed her lead.  It was very blessed.  Then I spoke for about 35 minutes.  The service would continue another hour, but we were supposed to meet Art and Judy by one.

We pulled up to Gideon’s church about 1:30, and I could hear Art speaking.  The church was packed again.  We waited for an usher to come and take our backpacks and bibles and escort us into the church.  As Tammie and I took as seat in the front, ushers rushed to bring us bottled water.  They are so honoring.  Then to my total shock, Pastor Gideon announced they would take up an offering for us.  I couldn’t believe it.  They have never done that, and this is the poorest slum area in Kampala.  A 2,000 shilling note, though only about fifty cents, still represented food for their children.  Everyone came forward with an offering.  I was overwhelmed as the usher handed Art a tall stack of bills.  Tammie and I were able to greet the people and say our good byes, and many came up to thank us for coming and for praying for them.  This place is so other worldly.  I can’t capture it in words.  Every homemade brick and piece of tarp on the floor, and plastic chair and rough hewn pulpit represents years of prayer and sacrifice and work and blessing.  We lingered until most of the people had left.

Pastor Gordon invited us to his house for dinner.  It was a three story house surrounded by gardens and banana groves.  The third floor was unfinished with holes metal grates and rebar and wood poles sticking out.  I was a little nervous about walking up there, but once you got up there it felt very secure.  The first floor, I would estimate about 700 square feet had a small living room and dining area, a bathroom with running water (Praise God!!!!!) and a kitchen the size of a small american closet.  The entrance was a double metal door similar to our security screen doors, but with no glass, and a curtain over it.  Gordon has built the house himself over three years, and it is still under construction.  The third floor housed chickens and ducks, so the floor was rough cement.  He had one day old ducks, and the chicken he proudly served at lunch lived its life on the third floor!  We enjoyed delicious Ugandan food, pumpkin, matoke, potatoes, peas, lima beans, rice, and a bit of boiled chicken.  The children sat onthe floor, and we enjoyed the fellowship so much.

Eric went to the market and got us bananas, water melon, avocados, pineapple, onions, peppers, and tomatoes.  We are cooking breakfast in our hotel suite to save money.  The fresh food is so good, but I am the only one who has not gotten sick.  Praise God for a missionary stomach!

We are going to the orphanage this morning, and will teach the children scripture and do the rock painting project.  Tammie still has a bit of work to finish the wall mural she has created on the nursery building.  It will be a full day.  We are taking protein bars and “digestive aid cookies” a popular commodity in Africa, so we can work through lunch.  It is hard to get a days work done because the roads are so poor, and travel time is limited.  We have to leave in the afternoon in time to miss the Kampala jam, or we would sit in traffic for hours.

Tonight we will go to Prayer Palace.  Tammie is singing in their evening service.

Our ride is here.  I’m off to another day of blessing and adventure!

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