Saturday, November 1, 2014


The six of us from the west coast (Pastor Frank, Jim & Renee, Pastor Johnny & Rebecca, and myself) met up with our friends from the east coast (Pastor Bob, Emily, Heather, Julie, Sue, Tiani and Zach) in London.  Our flight from London was delayed by 3 hours when British Airways discovered that our plane had a tire with too little tread and an engine with too little power.  We finally arrived in Entebbe at about 3 AM on Saturday (October 18th) and spent the night in Kampala.  Later that day we were pleasantly surprised on our arrival in the village to discover that Paul had upgraded our living quarters by constructing a new dining room and adding another room to the guest house.

Our team was tasked with several different ministry efforts.  Pastor Bob, Pastor Frank and I were sometimes joined by Jim in conducting five separate pastor conferences.  Others focused their efforts on ministry to children in three separate schools with Bible lessons, songs, and crafts.  This work ultimately ministered to over 1500 children.  The children especially loved the puppet shows.  Home visits were made to about 25 different homes.  Food staples, clothing, gospel tracts, and basic medical care were provided.  Sue held sewing lessons using pedal-powered sewing machines.  Her students learned how to sew dresses and repair school uniforms.  A “youth conference” ministered to about 60 attentive teens/young adults.  All received a copy of the First Steps with Jesus booklet and many expressed the desire to have a Bible.  We’ve taken steps to provide for this need.  In the two Sundays five of us preached in nine different churches. 

The five pastor conferences were all well attended and ultimately ministered to about 130 pastors.  The conferences all followed a similar format.  Pastor Frank shared from 1 Peter 5:1-4 on Biblical Shepherding.  His messages were especially relevant to the pastors and led to some great questions regarding issues related to servant-minded leadership.  Pastor Bob shared several messages—from Ezra 1 and Judges 6--having to do with the need to respond to God’s call and rely on God’s strength.  I spoke from 1 Timothy 3:16-4:2 on the need for pastors to respond to God’s call to preach His inspired Word.  I also distributed copies of the First Steps with Jesus book and spoke of the need for discipleship of new believers.  We had originally published the book with the intent of it being used in the churches for this purpose, but it became apparent early-on in the conferences that the books should be used in a much broader fashion.  We urged the pastors to go through the book with their leaders and then with all their members so that all can be uniformly instructed and equipped in disciple-making.  Over the course of the two weeks we distributed 750 copies of First Steps. 

We heard reports of how the pastors are working together in their alliances to support and encourage one another in their ministries.  The ministry through the alliances has expanded in an amazing way.  A couple of years ago there was only one newly-begun alliance of about 25 pastors, but now there are five alliances and a group interested in starting a sixth.  The pastors are trusting God, overcoming obstacles, and working together to share the gospel in the villages.  They are encouraged by what God is doing and are very thankful for our assistance.  We heard testimony from one pastor of how thankful they are for the work of Hope and Mercy Mission.  He explained how the pastors had needed help, but speakers from the city would only come if they paid a fee (which the pastors could not pay).  He expressed his gratitude inasmuch as we have come not asking for anything in return.  In his words, God had “jumped over” the big city pastors, and brought us to the region “bringing hope back” to the pastors.

We provided each alliance with some particular gifts/assistance—Bibles, tarps, money for the piggery project (enough for each alliance to purchase 6 pigs), tarps, solar powered flashlights, First Steps with Jesus booklets, gospel tracts, funds to help pay for self-organized conferences, funds to help start a pastor benevolence fund, etc.  They were incredibly thankful—as they always are--for the gifts that were provided.  At the conclusion of one of the conferences someone asked if the pastors could come give us hugs.  So we were all hugged by every person in attendance!

We were able to provide some other assistance over the course of our visit.  On a couple of occasions we provided funds to pay for the medical care of someone with a serious medical problem.  Tuition for orphaned children was also provided by several members of our team.  As Administrator over all the pastor alliances Pastor Henry serves in an important and strategic role.  He has not had his own means of transportation, so we decided to buy him a new motorcycle (~$1300 US) to help him in fulfilling his role.  We called him to the village and surprised him with it one evening.  Pastor Henry and his wife, Katherine, were overwhelmed with gratitude.  We also provided funds to help with the construction of the new People of the Way church building (the church were Pastor Henry serves).  They have needed a new building for some time and have managed to lay the foundation for it.  Pray for them as they have more funds to raise and more bricks to make.  Pray also for Pastor Henry as he serves in his various roles as he desires above all else to be a faithful shepherd in the work that God has called him to.

We experienced some challenges on the trip.  Pastor Bob, Zach, and Pastor Johnny all got sick, but fortunately in each case it was relatively short lived.  We got stuck in the ditch on a muddy road on the way to the conference at the People of the Way Church.  We pushed the van out of the ditch, only to see it slide into the ditch on the other side of the road.  We pushed the van out again but I fell to the ground when my leg ran into a stump I didn’t see.  Though I got little sympathy from either of my two uncles (they just laughed), Nurse Heather cared for my wounds.  On the way home from another conference the van got a flat tire.  While Paul and Bob changed it, Frank worked to entertain the crowd of gathering children.   My rationed-supply of miniature candy bars was down to four on Tuesday, so we cut them into 12 tiny pieces to satisfy our craving for chocolate.  One of my main jobs on the trip was mediating between my two uncles.  It was a difficult task, beyond my own abilities, but God managed it somehow and their ongoing banter actually provided some entertainment for the rest of us.  All kidding aside—it was a joy to minister together with Bob and Frank.  The entire team experienced great camaraderie throughout the trip!

Heather, Zach and I received some gifts—a goat, a limb of bananas, and some eggs--after our visit to Bilongo Miracle Center last Sunday.   The pastor and wife would have preferred to host us for a meal, but since we didn’t have the time to stay, they gave us the food “to go”.  At McDonald’s you get a hamburger and French fries, in Uganda you get a goat and some bananasJ.  Heather and I considered some names for our new goat friend and finally decided to call him “To Go.”  Paul has promised to let “To Go” live on in the village—despite Frank and Bob’s protests (I think they are envious)—so we’ve now got a pet goat in the village.  We left him behind along with a lot of memories.  It was a great trip!  Thank you for your prayers for us.  We’ve all made some new friends and have been privileged together with you to have a part in the great work God is doing in the region.  Praise the Lord for the opportunity to go!

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