Worship in the inner city

Sunday services Uganda style are hard to describe.  People here love singing and dancing before the Lord.   I went to Passtor Steve’s church,, which I can only describe as turning right past the third cow and left where the ruts in the red clay road are 8 inches deeep.  I was thrilled as we got close and the music filled the market place nearby.  We arrived about 9:45, and Rita, Steeve’s wife was leading a choir of singers and dancers.  The building is a wood frame covered with corrugated tin sheets.  There are no windows, so this American felt a bit like I was being oven baked.  About 11 we stood up, andd I was seeing stars.  There are no reestrooms in the slums, so I hadd intentionally stopped drinking around 7:00.  It was a dilemma.  Should I ddrink the water in front of me, or see if the dizziness passed?  I had an energy fizz stick in my back pack, so I poured an inch of water,, added the fizz stick and gulped it down.  In two or three minutes, I was back in the spirit of joy and worship, andd enjoyed it immensely.  Steve introduced me to speak around 12:30.  I use a lot of scripture when I speak, and it is a problem for interpretation.  But a couple of times, I stopped and waited for the interpreter to find the scripture in a Lugandan translation.  People struggle to read, and Bibles are scarce andd precious.  I quit worryig about a smooth presentation, because I could tell from the peoples’ reponses that the truth was clearer whenn I stopped to listen, explain and to read.  The Word is powerful and alive, in eveery language.

I finished about 1:30, and it is tradition for someone to stand annd summarize the message when you are finished.  That’s always very enlighteninig, as you find out what they truly understood, and what did not connect.  I was so happy with their responnse.  They came to me after kneeling ddown to thank mee for coming..  The honor is almost embarrassing, but I loved hearing their responses and greeting the children.

I bought another sewing machine for Pastors Stevee and Gordon,, and I hadd asked about it.  Sometimes it hard to know if the gifts are relevant.  Steve drove me to a shop and I recognized the proprieter.  She had been at the service.  She makes dresses and teaches the young women at the church to sew.  The clothing was beautiful.  I ordered two dresses.  She sells them for $3 each.  I gave her $5, and Pastor Steve will bring them to me on Thursday.

We got to Pastor Steve’s house around 3 and had matoke and rice.  I was still very dehydrated, but they had bought Fanta Orange soda, probably something speecial for me.  I begged to decline.  Matoke sits heavy on the stomach.  I was grateful to get back to the hotel around 4:30, and had some bottled water.

David and Sumalie Matovu, the orphanage directors came around 8:15, and we went over the water purification, the P7 exams that will happen next week for the oldest students,, and the two buildings in progress, as well as the cistern we buit last year, and making it available to the community.  We will return to the orphanage on Saturday to finalize ways we can help the children this year.  The need is great.  I don’t know how they manage to feed everyone, let alone all of the other overhead.  It is truly God’s work.  It was after 11 when we prayed for one another aand gave hugs.  I am sleeping so well in spite of the noise.

We are up early this morning to pounding on the doors and barking dogs, and scrubbing the parking lot with stiff brooms.  At 5:30 a.m.?  Yes, it wwas 5:30.  We have a meeting this morning at a neighboring orphanage, so I will rush this.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Judy is feeling very well after several days of struggle, and I know God has provided His strength for His miraculous plans in these ayss.

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Seeking Wisdom and God’s Ways

Our Saturday was full of meetings to help us make ddecisions on how to invest here to make the greatest lasting impact for the kinigdom with the funds God has provided.  I am so thankful for Bishop Grivas who has provided us with a van and driver for the entire time we are here.  His heart is for the nation, so even though our work this week is with inner city churches with almosst no resources, we still have the infrastructure to work.

The Bishop met us for breakfast, and we went over many issues that need to be resolved at Life Mercy Orphanage.  Grivas has an orphanage and school of more than 600 children, so he has the years of expertise we need to understand how the government is involved, how to set up clean water systems, curriculum needs, etc. His school is about 2 hours away andd we have been there in years past.   He collects rain water into tanks from the downspouts, and also has a “bowl hole” at the primary school and other at the seconddary school.  We drilled a bowl hole at Life Mercy three years ago, but it is not producing enough water.

Dixon and Willie are water experts, and we met with them in the afternoon.  They have spent many days at our orphanage, and last year, we were able to hire their organization to build a cistern at the spring nearby.  The problem came with the man who owns land betweeen the spring and our 8 acre campus.  Most people in Uganda just fill up 20 gallon jugs from the dirty rivers and streams and carry it many miles.  Getting water can consume a good portion of life.  Getting clean water is a high priority for us this year, so we talked about different ways we can use the tanks and purifiers we have aleady purchased, solar electric vs. hand pumps at the cistern, etc.  The spring is massive, and a hand pump at the cistern would provide clean water for the entire village.  We decided to install the hand pump, and after we meet with David Matovu tomorrow, we will decide the most cost effective way to get water up to the orphanage property.

We also went with Louis to a property in an impoverished Muslim neighborhood where he has found a piece of land about 50 ft by 65 ft, that can bee purchased for $2,000.  If he owns the land rather than renting it, no one will be able to take his church.  He can build a worship building and pit latrine on the property for about $500 if he uses handmade bricks.  Can you imagine planting an entire church for $2,500???  He has been saving money for about a year, and has $300.  We want to help him get enrolled in Grivas’s ministry school, and we are praying about further help for him to minister in this community.  He brought his 6 year old daughter with him, and she was delightful.  He also has younger twins.  Louis has an accounting degree, and works at Lindsay.  We were drawn to his heart for ministry since the first year we began coming heere.  Thee needs are so great!

This morning we are going to the inner city churches with the Antioch Alliance.  I will be speaking at Pastor Steve’s church, and Judy will speak at Gideon’s church.  Then we will hold a region conference at Gideon’s church for pastors and leaders from the area next week.  Gideon just bought his land last year.  We were so thrilled for him, because he had faced tremendous opposition, and now the land and church are permanent.  His church is made of pieces of tin on rough wood frame  It is so hot in there, but it is where we have held our inner city conferences each year.  I understand more each year of the faithfulness and sacrifice of the Antioch pastors.  How they love the Lord!!

There is terrible witchcraft and darkness in the inner city.  Please pray for us this week as we encourage these precious believers to take their territory for God.  We will see great miracles here.  Every year the deliverance and healinig is just beyond words.    I want to tell you more, but the intenet is working, so I will send this quickly.

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The work is mmoving forward

Too much has happened since my last post, but our internet has been mostly down.  Yesterday we had a great day at the orphanage visiting classrooms, seeing the new buildings, and seeing the childdren hard at work in school.  The orphanage is surrounded by small mountain peaks, and the land is planted with banana groves, sweet potatoes, and beans.  The paths have been lined with stones, and David has built huge ovens that cure around 5,000 homemade bricks.  Two ovens are finished, and he is building 3 more to have bricks to build a wall around the perimeter of the property.  8 acres–that’s a lot of handmade bricks!!  We are meeting with the man who is directing the water project on Saturday.

Bishop Grivas arranged for Judy and I to ride out to the orphanage in a police truck, and Art and Eric followed.  The young policemen were delightful.  Everyone wants to talk about American politics, how much it costs to come to America, and what it is like there.

We spent today at Prayer Palace.  It was so God ordained.  We have befriended a young and passionate minister named Louis, who has been struggling for five years to establish a church.  The Muslims burned down his building a few years ago, and he continues to preach on the street.  He has an incredible heart for people.  We asked him to come to Prayer Palace and talk to Grivas.  Prayer Palace has a certificate, diploma, and degree program for pastors.  The Bishop offered to get Louis into the program and encouraged him to strengthen his relationships with his pastor and church.  His wisdom and counsel were so wonderful and encouraging.  This is an incredible opportunity for Louis.

We then met with Bishop Grivas and his leadership who will be managing the television station..  Art presented a few alternatives for developing a marketing plan to get operating revenue quickly as soon as the license is issued.  Grivas was very excited and he and his staff were able to take Art’s “American” ideas and brainstorm.  It was just supernatural.  We were all so excited about what God  is going to do with the television station.  You can always count on Grivas to have a God-sized vision.  What an incredible day!!

We then walked around the new construction at Prayer Palace and prayed for provision and glory in every place.   They are expanding their sanctuary to seat 10,000.  They need a roof before December rains come.  Walls are optional.  The metal beams are up and the roof is framed.  You can see where it is going.  We will worship there our final Sunday.  It is indescribable to worship at Prayer Palace.  It is like the temple where Isaiah saw the Lord.  Angelic hosts, the presence of God filling every space, and the place shakes with glory and praise–the whole city block shakes.  I LOVE worship at Prayer Palace!!

There is a wedding at our hotel, and the noise is deafening.  I am going to post while the internet is up!

 

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Back in Kampala, praise God!!!

We are back in the capitol city after a long travel day, and are waiting for Pastor David Matovu to pick us up and take us to the orphanage.  I am sitting outside on the balcony, no more huddling in one corner looking for the elusive internet connection!  The hotel courtyard is paved with cobblestones and surrounded by exotic tropical trees and plants.  I am particularly fascinated by a large banana tree by the outdoor restaurant.  They have cut all the branches[fraunds?] from both sides, so the tree appears to be a giant fan, perhaps 40 feet tall.  Red and white flowers are colorful foilage that bespeak the gardeners who must do nothing but preserve God’s beauty day and night.

I have thought alot about Mubende and our battles with witchcraft there.  When we get into the Kwere district at Gideon’s church, we will find much more.  You can recognize the witch doctors because they decorate goat’s bladders and wear them.  Bishop Grivas prayed more than once against child sacrifice in Mubende.  The horrors of wickedness and spiritual battle are in your face.

God in His great mercy gave me a promise this morning and all of my uneasiness disappeared.  Art is working on building and water issues at the orphanage today, so I decided to read Nehemiah this morning.  I read this verse:

…they met not the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.”  Nehemiah 13:2

I have read the talking donkey story many times, but this was brand new.  All of these curses that have left people in such terror and hopelessness have an answer.  My God will turn the curses into blessing.  He is mighty to deliver!!  The internet failed and this post has been a day in getting through.  I will report on our day at the orphanage in the morning.

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Resting and planning

Sunday evening was our final night of the crusade, and the crowds stretched far beyond the lights.  Hundreds responded to be saved, and while the workers counseled and recorded for follow-up, we had a genuine Ugandan praise session.  Bishop is not only a dynamic evangelist, an incredible singer, he can also dance, and the pastors and choir danced together as if it were rehearsed for months.  They just dance with such joy and I am mesmerized by it.  It looks a bit like 70’s dancing–the twist and the mashed potato and such–I don’t know, I’ve never managed a dance step in my life, but here, it is truly worship along with heavenly harmony.  After the praise session, Grivas had a healing service, and clearly many were healed.  A beautiful young woman was at my feet, and vividly tortured in her spirit.  It was disturbing to me, not so experienced in deliverance.  I was watching someone being physically tortured as she was crying out “born again, born again.”  I turned away a few times, it was so gut wrenching.  I spoke the name of Jesus and stomped my feet, and called on Jesus to crush satan as He promised.  The pastor from Mubende held her and prayed.  About 15 minutes, and suddenly she was calm,, and beautiful, with a completely different face.   It was incredible.  Many supernatural healings and ddeliverances were happening all around, but I was focused on her.  I could feel peace flowing from her body.

We were sad to leave Mubende, but Bishop Grivas’s son, Elisha has taken us to the West coast of Uganda for a much needed day of rest and rejuvination.  We are staying on a beautiful lake that is swimming with hippos.  God must have laughed when he made them.  An incredible day in the Ugandan equatorial sun, and then early tomorrow we will drive back to Kampala to start working on the needs at the orphanage in earnest.  Please pray that God will direct Art especially as he makes the business decisions needed for the water and building and government negotiations.  We are looking forward to an evening with the pastors from the Antioch Alliance, which included David Matovu, the orphange director.

I am losing power.  Must hit send or lose!

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Sunday in Mubende

Greetings from sunny MMubende, Uganda.  It rained for about an hour early this morning, but then cleared and it has been a gorgeous sunny day.  When you say “sunny day” in Uganda, they hear, “sanide” which is a Lugandan word meaning Worthy is the Lamb.  He is surely worthy of our praise in thiss place..  After a wonderful hour of singing and dancing this morning, Bshop Grivas called me to the pulpit to speak.  I had handwritten some hurried notes and had a moment of panic when I realized this was a different pulpit.  It was so tall it came up almost to my neck which meant my notes were too close to my farsighted eyes to see.  I looked around to see if there was anything I could stand on..  NNothing.  So I grabbed my Bible, stepped away from the pulpit, and gave the message that hadd been stirring in me all night..  Since the services last all day, you have greater freedom, not tied to a clock, and you can focus on how God is moving and how people are responding.  I spoke on the authority of Jesus, and I couldn’t tell you what I said, but it was from the scripture and from my heart.  Judy followed [they call her “Jude”  I think that’s funny] with a message on the power of the Holy Spirit.  The group that  had gathered were new convertts from the week’s meetings.  Grivas had encouraged all the others to go to their home churches.  It was a unique crowd.  You could sense the hunger for God, the excitement of New Birth, and the desire to learn and experience His Presence.  It was a holy tent and holy red clay mud, and holy oil that we used to bless and anoint each one who was there.  We prayed individuallly for each one, from the babies to the oldest.  I losst my voice after a while, as did Grivas.  Judy’s stomach is not so good but here voice is holding out!!

Grivas had arranged with the place that had prepared the formal dinnner for the city officials on Thursday night to prepare a dinner or us.  I was so grateful we did not have to go back to the restaurant.  I ate curry and a mash of some sort.  It had peppers and okra in it, and perhaps some onions.  It was a great mix of good food.

We have had a couple hours to rest, andd will return to services shortly.  We drove past the field after lunch and it was already filling up with people.  The electricity and internet has been very iffy so I decided to write while it is available.  It went pich dark when I was in the shower this morning.  I felt sorry for Judy because I knew she was next door with a curling iron, and that is just a little too American for this place!  The joy of the Lord is everywhere.  I love Mubende!

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Supernatural day in Uganda

The conference days are long, but today was so incredible, I am going to try to capture it before trying to sleep.  Today I spoke about God’s seven divine appointments.  There was such a wonderful response.  Judy asked me to speak first because she was so sick.  But God gave her energy to give a powerful message on Deborah and Esther.  There were about 30 in the day services who came forward declaring they wanted to be born again.

We went for our daily meal, and the resetaurant was particularly awful today, but there is only one restaurant in Mubende so you get what they have.  They had no fish and the meat was too tough to eat, but I had a wonderful cole slaw with a vinegar dressing, and a small potato.  I will be glad when the food choices are better on Monday.  But we are in a heavenly place, so I am enjoying God’s supernatural presence, and praying for health and the anointing to preach and pray.

Tonight there was no rain!!!!!!  The field at the crusade was jammed, the music wonderful beyond description, and the smiling faces were as far as you could see, and beyond in the dark.  Grivas brought a powerful salvation message, and over a hundred responded.  It took a while after prayers for them to fill out cards with contact info so the local pastors can follow up.  A team from Prayer Palace is staying here for a week after we leave to coordinate all that.  The presence of God was heavy on the meeting.  Grivas began praying for healing.  A man who was completely paralyzed on one side of his body was instantly delivered.  Many others came forward and declared they had been healed.  We got back to the hotel around 10, and Art and Judy and I met to pray for the Sunday meetings.  Grivas asked me to speak in the morning about the authority of Jesus.  Hey!  I’m not a regular preacher.  I don’t do spontaneous messages!!  I take it back.  I have been very free here to speak, and I knew immediately the scriptures I needed to read to prepare.  He will open my mouth.  Judy will speak in early afternoon, and then we will have an extended time for prayer for the many who have accepted Christ this week.  Then the grand finale at our last evening crusade.  It has been a whirlwind week.  The schedule next week is less intense, and hopefullly we will be in a place where we can buy some necessities.

I just want to praise God for His faithful care for us this trip.  It is such a blessing and privilege to be with these visionaries who have given everything for the gospel.  We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.  Love and blessing to New Life Church as you worship tomorrow.  We carry your prayers and gifts with us!

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