As promised I will continue my journal entry from June 28, 2010 that entails my first day of ministry in the field while in Uganda. On Monday, myself, Scott, Jamie, Dee, and Don went out to the village of Sibanga to share the gospel hut to hut in the morning and to participate in the crusade that afternoon. Words do not do justice to the power and work that God allowed us to experience and be a part of, but I will try to express as clearly as possible what I experienced on this day.
Once we arrived at Sibanga, we all met in the church and had a time of prayer and worship. Then the pastor matched us up with a translator that would take us around the village and be our "mouths". The first miracle I experienced was that God matched me up with the perfect translator, Pastor Ben, who I would get to know better throughout the week and grow an appreciation for the work that the pastor's in the Ogenga ministry perform. After we were paired up, we loaded up in the van and they drove us to the main street where we exited and took off on foot in different directions with nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit, our translator, and our bible.
Pastor Ben walked us to the first hut and after the traditional welcome and the okay to share with the man, I began to share the gospel. After presenting, the man said he wanted to accept Christ. We prayed together and took down his information. (Everyone that prayed to receive Christ, their name and address was written down so that the Pastor of the Sibanga church would know who in his community had become a new believer. This allows the pastor a type of prospect list to invite to church and begin discipleship.)
From there we went to the next hut where two ladies were doing their morning chores. Upon our arrival they quickly stopped their work and brought out a chair for me to sit. (Everyone in Africa is so hospitable. They always quickly run to get sometimes their only chair for the Muzungu (white person) to sit on while they sit on the ground to listen.) After sharing the gospel with them, they too prayed to receive Christ.
Florence and Mary (two ladies who accepted Christ)
This happened over and over as Pastor Ben and I walked from hut to hut through corn fields and Ugandan farms. With my backpack on, I couldn't help but absorb the beautiful countryside and praise God for his creation of nature. I felt like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music when she is on the hill singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music."
The Uganda hills in Sibanga were filled with the sound of music. Angels rejoicing from hut to hut as more and more of God's children gave their lives over to a relationship with him.
One time we were walking down a trail there was a lady and a man doing chores. The man began to walk away as we got closer. The lady upon seeing us began to tell Pastor Ben that she was a believer. She continued to plead with Ben to allow me to share the good news with her husband. Of course I told Ben that I would and she began hollering at her husband to come back and hear what I had to say. He did come back and I shared the gospel message with him. He said that he would wait and go to the crusade. We told him that there were no guarantees that he would make it to the crusade and asked if he had any other obstacles that would keep him from placing his trust in Christ right then. He said no and that he would like to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. We prayed and then she asked us to pray for healing for her back. It was a sweet time as I remembered that faithfulness in prayer for family members to come to know the Lord is part of our responsibility as believers. Just as the friends in the bible lowered their crippled friend on a mat through the roof to see Jesus, so this wife brought her husband to someone who could share the gospel with him and he would listen. (Mark 2:1-5)
Pastor Ben, my translator, on the Right at the Crusade
Another time we were walking along in search for the next hut, a man came walking up the trail and stopped us and told me that
God's spirit told him I would come and share with him some news.
In awe again for the hundredth time in just a few hours, I began to share the good news of the gospel and he too prayed to receive Christ. Oh how true it is when God clearly states: "...Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest...I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor." (John 4:35,38) How cool is it that God was allowing sinful me to take part in the work that God was already doing in the lives of so many of the people in Uganda.
But, it didn't stop there, the last hut I went to was an elder gentleman. After sharing the gospel message with him, he prayed to receive Christ also. Afterward, he asked if he could ask me a question. I said sure. He then asked,
"Why haven't you come sooner. Things would be different here if you had."My heart sank. I had to tell him that I was sometimes disobedient to the Lord. You see, I felt a tug from the Lord to go on the last mission trip to Uganda in October 2009, but talked myself out of it for various reasons. Then, when we didn't have enough support for even one of us to go on this trip, we decided that Scott would be the one to go. I then told him that I wasn't even suppose to be in Uganda this trip, and shared with him how the Lord opened doors for me to be able to be there, right at this specific time.
"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37) especially when the workers are disobedient in their call to accept the job!! May we follow Jesus' instructions to us: "Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:38)
And may we all be willing to be one of those workers when the Lord calls us.
After walking in the work of God for over two hours throughout the village, we headed back to the church for some lunch. The team ate lunch together and shared our various experiences from the morning. We then began to prepare our hearts for the crusade and prayed over the afternoon. Don and I would be giving our testimonies, Scott would be preaching, and Jamie and Dee would be doing the children's ministry. After sharing my testimony I went and helped Dee and Jamie with the children's ministry while Scott was preaching. There were over 150 children in the church. We were having to compete against the loudness of the speakers outside from the crusade, the darkness of the church, and working through a translator. We shared several stories and songs with the children. Several people came forward after Scott's message and gave their lives to Christ.
Jamie and Dee singing with the kids before the crusade
Jamie and Dee inside the church for the Children's Minisry. You can see how dark it was
Scott encouraging men to come forward
Scott praying with a man
After we got back to the hotel, ate, and showered, all I could do was jot down phrases to remind me of the work that God did on that day. As I sit here and remember what happened two weeks ago on this day, I feel like it has been just a dream. And yet, I know that it did actually happen and it happened only because of God. So I close with the verse that I began the day with in Uganda two weeks ago Monday, because it is all about God!!!
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory. Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth." Psalm 115:1