Today concludes another chapter in our long and winding story into the heart of God. Jesus is very much alive and working on the continent of Africa. The blind can see, the deaf can hear and the lame can walk. Thousands have been impacted with the message of the Gospel. God works in so many ways and He has moved on the hearts of men.
As this chapter closes, Amethyst and I are walking head strong into our next chapter. There is new ink yet to be jotted, new stories to unfold. When I return to the US I start my last year of my Masters in Church Planting and Evangelism. In addition to this we are getting down to business to raise funds for a 4x4 vehicle, the construction of a small compound and other ministry expenses for long-term ministry in the DR Congo. Also, we must learn Swahili to be semi-fluent before returning next summer. But, it is absolutely imperative for us to raise the necessary funds for long-term ministry.
This has been a fruitful and beneficial time in Congo and Uganda. The valuable lessons learned from this summer are of such great value. We are yet another step closer to fulfilling the call of God on our lives.
Pray for me as I return to America. Pray for us as we step into the next chapter of our mission journey.
Last week from Monday morning to Saturday afternoon, I was on crusade to Pallisa/Buseta in eastern Uganda. Dean Niforatos and his assistant Shannon and her husband Joseph came for the first two days and then left with Pastor Steve Mayanja as they needed to fly out back to America. But another team of all African Americans from New Orleans came in for the remainder of the week. Because of the logistics of the two groups it was easier for me to stay and camp with the Ugandans.
This was a great experience for everyone… Some were skeptical thinking, “How will this musungu stay with us?” Others were excited that someone would even consider living exactly like them. I ate with them, joked with them, worked with them, fetched water with them, ministered beside them, they all enjoyed it so much. Even while talking with them mid-week, one of the Ugandans commented, “What kind of musungu are you? You are very well informed. You are a true missionary because your skin is white but your heart is definitely black! You are Ugandan…” Then I commented back, “Nope I am better, I am Congolese, you know they are used to suffering more than the Ugandans… “ This was followed by streams of laughter!
But you know, hearing a comment like that was very humbling and touching. This is the hope and dream of all missionaries to gain the respect of the nationals and be considered an equal partner in the harvest. In fact, I became very close with a group of Ugandans where we always laughed about everything. They enjoyed my witty comments about living in the bush. I told them methodologies for using the long-drop, how to take the best bush bath, how to negotiate with locals and a variety of other daily living things. They laughed so hard but after hearing, they concluded, “You must not even be Ugandan, I am too informed.” (This statement was followed with more laughter but comments on how they’ll utilize some of these methodologies.) Smiles are a universal method to create a friendship.
Living like the locals is exciting and it preaches a strong Gospel message in addition to the actual Word of God. Ministering next to the Ugandans made my heart leap! I arrived with them, helped them set up and then had the opportunity to preach right next to them. I was blessed with the opportunity to preach in the equipping seminars during the day before the nightly crusade. This was where teaching and discipleship occurred. At one occasion there where over 250 people crammed into the tiny bush church and I asked if everyone was saved and everyone nodded and shouted yes! I don’t think I’ve ever been to a service where everyone present was a born again believer!
In the evening was the crusade. Every night from Monday through Friday the speaker preached a strong Gospel message! Each night anywhere between 100-300 people came forward to receive salvation, just as many got filled with the Holy Spirit and just as many were prayed over for healing. Many people came forward to testify about Jesus setting them free from sin, how the Holy Spirit was working in their lives and/or how they were healed of a sickness or disease. Also, many were set free from evil spirits and demonic attacks.
One story stood out to me in particular. There was an older Muslim man who came every night and finally on Friday (which so happened to be the day they broke fast from Ramadan) he decided to turn from Islam and put his full faith in Jesus. He also had back and respiratory pain. We prayed over him and he was so happy! He danced around like a little kid and was so relieved to be a Christian. You could see the look in his eye and his whole demeanor changed. He was dancing and moving around as if he received a full healing. When it was time to testify of what the Lord has done, he went up and was so assertive in explaining his past and what Jesus did to his heart. Let’s continue to pray that there is no relapse both physically and spiritually!
Another aspect of this past weeks’ crusade included a free medical clinic during the day before the nightly crusade meeting. Over 1,200 people received treatment for simple things such as stomach deworming and infected wounds to malaria and typhoid fever. Moreover, on two occasions some of the patients were so sick that we needed to send them with one of our drivers to the nearest hospital for treatment. Some of the New Orleans team members were doctors. Lead by Rozena Erbs, a former operation room nurse turned missionary and director of Hannah’s House Ministry here in Uganda (which takes care of neglected or abused women), the New Orleans team worked very well alongside our handpicked team of Ugandan medical nurses and doctors.
Jesus showed up in a mighty way. Buseta and the surrounding area will never be the same as a result of the ministry God did. It is always a humbling experience to be a part of what God is doing around the world. When we can be the mouth, hands and feet of Jesus there is no greater satisfaction. When someone asks, “What kind of musungu is this?” it brings a great joy because I want everyone to see Jesus when they see me. Lord uses us more, let us decrease and you increase!
This past week WOMF had their 17th annual pastor’s conference which took place just outside of Kampala at their Uganda headquarters. Most pastors come from Uganda where WOMF has their biggest presence but WOMF has pastors in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania who also attend. Each year several pastors from America come to impart the Word alongside some of the Ugandan leaders.
God was at work moving on the hearts and minds of each pastor and church leader. The Spirit of God came alive and touched every attendee. I enjoyed ministering the Word but I think may have enjoyed listening to the word even more! When I wasn’t he document the events of the conference both on photo and video… These pictures and video will be used for future promotional materials and the annual video.
But this conference was particularly special to me… Pastor Paul and Pastor Euclide had the opportunity to come from the DR Congo to get fed the word of God. In another post, I will talk about the cultural differences and surprises they encountered but for this post, I’ll detail about their time at the conference. Pastor Paul and Pastor Euclide could hardly believe that a muzungu could care for an African the way I/we cared for him while he was here. Really I didn’t do anything different than anyone else… but show just a simple act of love.
Pastor Paul said, “Huh, how can a poor Congolese like me stay at the WOMF Guest House with the rest of muzungus, eating with them, talking with them while yet all the other pastors are staying in other places. Who are we to boast in anything but through your kindness it is as if we are VIP’s.”
I said that it is nothing, I am just providing a way for them to experience God’s sovereignty and to be fed the word of God. They both thought it was some kind of special gospel that I was sharing with them through the actions I showed. In all honesty all I did was provided a way for them to stay at the Guest House, sharing a room with me, THAT’S IT! But somehow, it was as if I gave them a million dollars. But how can you put a price on the Word of God?
Both pastors got to know the speakers very well as we sat late night discussing ministry, theological issues and many great important things of God that would be too much detail in just one post. It was like an incubator where ideas, questions, problems and possible solutions where proposed, hashed out and suggested.
In the words of Pastor Euclide, “Wow, wow, wow, wow, Andrew this is something special that we got to experience, we will take the message of this conference back to Congo and put it into practice.”
Nobody will know the results other than God. One special moment occurred the last day of the conference. The Congo brothers were recognized by one of the speakers and a short prayer came. The Spirit of God fell on the room and out came a prophecy of the laborers and the harvest to take place in the Congo through the pastors from the DRC.
The theme of the conference was, “Where are the laborers?” with the theme coming from Matt 9:35-38 talking about the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.
God moved on the hearts of everyone and God did a great work. From this conference, one will never know how many lives were impacted and how many people will go into the field and reap a great harvest.
Seguku Worship Center - general session
Papa Ron preaching to the pastors
Pastor Derek praying for Congo pastors
Prayer for Congo pastors