Today was our Sabbath day.
We split up into three groups.
- Group #1: Bruce, Heather, Nuper, Maggie, Tony.
- Group #2: Aaron, Dawn, William.
- Group #3: Derek, Anna, Dennis, Noah, Josephat.
We went well off the roads into a remote part of the Mukono District near Lake Victoria. Group #1 was dropped off—luckily by bus, the roads were iffy and it was discussed that the group may have to ride in on bota botas. Group #2 was dropped off and the bus landed with group #3.
Dawn and I were dropped with William at a church. There was nothing special about the building or anything that would even identify it as a church. The building was about the size of 6′ x 20′. It was brick structure with a couple of doors and windows. We had about 40–50 people in attendance for the service. I was excited to preach my message on John 7:36-53. I had prepared this message for a teaching at my home church last month. I fell ill the week I was supposed to preach, so I never got the opportunity to preach the message I had prepared. I was so excited to deliver it because I knew God had me prepare the message, and now I knew it was for the people at this church. The pastor gave a very brief message about idolatry and turned over the floor to me and my translator, William.
None of you probably know William, so let me try to describe him to you. He is a pastor. He works for Golden Heart Foundation. He is a medium height, very skinny, Ugandan man. When he talks, he speaks very loudly, he moves his arms a lot when he speaks, he is passionate, and he has a heart for Jesus. And he is deaf in one ear. As I prepared to say my first words it began to rain. This hut of a church we are in has a metal roof. Heavy rain on a metal roof is very loud. Just to remind you, William is deaf in one ear. I ask him to read John 7 verses 36-53 to the congregation in his native language. He says, “Okay, John Chapter 5.” I could go on for another five minutes explaining how this all transpired, but let’s just say it took us a while to get going. Just like an old diesel engine on a cold winter morning, we needed to heat up the engine block, and let her run for a bit, but once we got going it was powerful.
The congregation in Africa is very different than the ones in America. After almost every statement I made regarding the scripture I would get a clap, or a cheer, or an amen. They were very enthusiastic and very engaged with what I had to say. We talked about rivers of living water flowing from our hearts, the importance of filling ourselves with Christ so we can allow the Holy Spirit to move with power. We talked about the blessings that Mission Uganda brought to the region, and the only reason we were there doing that is because we filled ourselves with Jesus and let him flow out of our hearts. After I was done with the message, Dawn got up and gave a powerful message on the power of Jesus’ name. She did a great job. We had an amazing worship that followed the message. I was told about the power of worship in third world countries before I came. It was powerful. The singing was amazing. There were two types of bongo drums used and there was a lot of dancing and cheering. It was pretty amazing. I feel personal conviction of how I worship at my church in America. Too often I put a lid on my worship, afraid of what others might think of me. Too many people do this in the American church. It’s either a pride issue, or an issue of not understanding who Jesus is and what he did for us on the cross. My hope is that when I go home and worship I will do it with more enthusiasm. I hope I will be able to worship my Lord and Savior without hesitation or reservation. How about you?
After worship, we took offering, the pastor spoke a little more, some other members of the congregation spoke, and William disappeared. But not before he told us that the people were bringing us some gifts. Fast forward about five minutes, and William reappears and sits next to me. A young man brought us sodas in a glass bottle with straws and some bread wrapped in plastic. Dawn and I kind of look at each other like, “what now?” William opens the bread, takes a bite, drinks his soda and sets it down. So I do the same, except I keep eating and drinking and so does Dawn. The church pastor is saying some things, and I see William break off some bread and give it to a child, he breaks off another piece and gives it to another child, he then gives them his Coke to drink out of. I see him motion to the children and say something, giving them the rest of his bread. I take a few more bites of bread, drink some more soda, and I thought, well I should really share this, as there wasn’t much left. I break off about half of what’s left and give it to a little boy. I then take the rest of the bread and soda and give it to some kids in the back of the congregation. Dawn followed suit and did the same. I was thinking, I sure hope we blessed some kids, I felt kind of like a pig eating up in front of everyone while they watched.
We were informed by William that the church we were in was a temporary church. They were evicted from their old church building because the government came in and are building a new building on the public land. The church has their eye on some property and is trying to come up with $1,000 to purchase the church land. At the end of the service, they sold fruit and the money was going to be used to buy the new land. One woman bought a bunch of bananas and gave them to Dawn as a gift. We were picked up the bus and many of us sat there in silence, soaking in what we just experienced. One thing to note: this area of Uganda had been praying for rain. They had not received rain in over a month, they were desperate for it. God poured out his blessing on the community, and we were there to enjoy it with them.
Nuper was kind enough to take us all out to lunch at a place called Fang Fang in Kampala. It was a very nice Chinese Restaurant in a large Chinese hotel protected by security guards. We walked into a big room with a large round table. The table had chairs around it with a large glass turntable in the middle of the table. They brought out hot towels for everyone to wash themselves with. Poor Bruce was the first one to be handed the towel, he grabbed it, looked around, and he was clearly confused. He blurted out, “Now what am I supposed to do with this?” Everyone laughed at him. Truth is, I had no idea either! Apparently, it was used for washing our hands and face, ha! The food was amazing, my belly was full. Dawn shared with us that this moment had been prophesied over her during a trip to IHOP in Kansas City, how awesome is that!
After lunch we shopped at a tourist market. All of us picked up gifts for our families back home. For me, it was hard to spend any money on gifts that I know will be appreciated by my family, but will be forgotten about after they play with it for a week. And I would rather leave my money with Golden Heart to change lives. Maggie bought Nuper a pretty sweet hat that made him resemble Greg Norman, aka, The Shark.
We rode back home for dinner and had some wonderful stir fry with scalloped potatoes. As we were sitting and eating with Margaret and Dennis, we talked about the day. We talked about our amazing worship and church experiences. Dawn and I talked about how hard it was for William to hear. We talked about the bread and soda we were given as a gift. Dennis asked if the bread was in plastic and if we were given a straw with the soda. Well yes we did, but how did Dennis know? He knew because that’s how they serve communion, and they serve communion at every church service. But, Dawn and I didn’t take communion. Apparently, without knowing it, we ate and drank a whole lot of communion that morning. Our translator disappeared during the instruction time and failed to inform us of how we were to serve it. I wonder what they thought in the congregation. I can only picture, “wow they need a whole lot of Jesus” or “in America maybe only the ones serving communion eat it” or for the people in the back who couldn’t see, “what happened to the communion?” Dennis and Maggie couldn’t stop laughing at Dawn and I. We were all laughing to the point of tears. Making memories.