Our suitcases are packed and we will be packing the van in a couple of hours to head for Entebbe airport. I want to express the emotion behind my tears today. I love the believers of Uganda with a longing that will only be satisfied in heaven where our worship and fellowship will never end.
The Antioch team of pastors came over this morning at 8:00 and each one of them thanked us in their quiet African way. Gideon is the pastor of the church where we have had the conference. The muslims own the land, and keep raising the rent. It is in the worst slum area of Kampala, called the Kwere district, and he wants to stay in that place. It was full of alcohol, drugs, witchcraft, prostitution, and AIDS when they opened their church. All of that is gone now, and the building of rough tin sheets resounds with praise to the Savior. We prayed that God would give him land. Gordon pastors in Jinja in the north. He asked us to pray that God would send food for the orphanage. The children are not getting daily meals. Gordon was our main interpreter at the conference. God’s power rushes out of him like a geyser. He is amazing. Steve is the only pastor with a car. Pray for his church and his people. John asked us to pray that God will give them another church location. He has been through so much this year with a wife and child who almost died; then he came home from the hospital to find a letter saying the church has to be out of their rented property by the end of the year. Pray that they will find a new location, and that God would provide the funds to buy the land. Pastor Victor is the quiet one, and I completely misjudged him. He just sits, and doesn’t communicate, and the rest of them are like long lost sons–we are hugging and laughing and praying and worshiping, and Victor is quietly observing. So when it came time to hear his request for prayer, I was astounded. He is in a rural area, and oversees eight churches that are established, and 12 more that are being planted. He has learned how to build fish farms, and raises tilapia and poultry, and is teaching the other pastors how to do it so they can support their churches and have more resources. David said he was so creative. Lord forgive me for judging him. You can sense the strong team spirit and support these men have for each other. They need that to survive in the poorest and most hopeless poverty areas. Their ministries are expanding every day, running on the pure power of God. I am so privileged to know them and to have a tiny part in encouraging and building up this body of Christ. Thank you God for introducing me to these great men of God.
Then we went to the church where the people began shouting when they saw us. We sat while young men wheeled in the 20 bicycles. Gordon gets them direct from the manufacturer, and they are the extremely heavy frames that will haul goods like a truck. The churches use them to create opportunities for their people to buy and sell basic food, firewood, and they are also the community ambulance and hearse. It’s unbelievable how these bicycles make a difference. Gideon and the team prayed together and chose the 20 pastors who would receive a bicycle, sending them to the remotest areas, and the churches that have orphanages and work programs first. It really is like “The Price is Right” as they call out the pastor’s name and he/she comes running down waving his arms and shouting praise to God, hugging, and some tears.
Then the grand finale–we had a hundred Bibles to give away. 90 were in Luganda, but that is the tribal language of Kampala and the immediate region, so we also had a box of English Bibles for those who speak another tribal language, and the pastors from Kenya and the Congo. Again the Antioch pastors had carefully chosen 100 names, and Pastor Gideon read the list, and we presented the Bible to each one. They hugged us, and waved the Bible in the air and jumped up and down and yelled this African “yahoo” kind of noise. I can’t tell you what it is because it’s not translatable, and I’m sure I couldn’t spell it if it was! The excitement was immense, and we were overwhelmed with gratitude for each person in the US who ate barbeque, and bought an auction item, and made a small donation, that translated into a Bible. Last night we had mentioned to our young waiter here at the hotel that we were giving away Bibles, and he asked if we might have a Bible for him in English. We saved one for him, and when he brought us coffee tonight, we gave it to him. He said it was the most precious gift he had ever received. He had never had a Bible before, and he hugged it and thanked us at least 20 times. Art explained to him how it is divided up, and that he might want to read the gospels first. He promised to read it every day, and just kept hugging it and saying, this will change my life! We had a few English Bibles left when we were giving them away at the church, and Pastor Gideon said we should go ahead and give them away to anyone who did not have a Bible. About 30 people rushed to the front with their hands out, looking at Judy like she was giving away new cars. I couldn’t watch. People would go home this year without a Bible. I will never forget the longing in their eyes as they hoped that last Bible might be for them. Gideon asked us to say good-bye, but I was too overcome to say much. I didn’t have my Bible with me today, or I would have come home without it. I just told them they are in my heart, and we will be together again by God’s great mercy.
We ate lunch and stopped at the Prayer Palace to sit in front of the microphones in the new radio studio. I can’t wait to tell this story with pictures. How I love this man of God whose vision is going to reach all of Uganda with the gospel. He is walking with a dance step and grinning nonstop as we walk through the station once again. It is truly an act of God Who has spoken this work into fruitful existence. Grivas gave us sweet gifts from Pastor Grace, and we prayed one more time for each other.
It will take me weeks to think through and understand the miraculous work of the Lord that I have witnessed. Blessing and honor and glory and power to the One who has made it all possible. May God’s hand protect and provide for the believers of Uganda!