I just spoke to Isaac. He sounded pretty tired, but had an amazing report!
The majority of the team spent today serving at the Kiburara Youth Camp. Over 600 youth were in attendance. Drew preached in the morning and the rest of the team lead worship and served with drama and skits. After lunch, the youth were broken into discussion groups where they worked through application questions on Drew’s message and continued to build relationally with team members. Later in the afternoon, a few team members had the opportunity to pray for a demon possessed woman. As they were praying for her… the woman went into a fit, fell to the floor, and threw up. Immediately following this violent reaction, she stood up and began praising the Lord. Members of the Kiburara church told our team they believed the demon had been cast out!
Isaac spent the day serving 35 local pastors. They began by sitting in a large circle, where Isaac had the opportunity to spend about 1.5 hours drawing them out about their lives and ministry. Out of the 35 men present, 20 do not own a Bible. In fact, no one in their congregations owns a Bible. These pastors have had no theological training. Many of them have not even completed grade school. They are simply servants, who have been radically saved and called to share God’s love with others!!! Isaac said listening to their stories and experiences was enlightening. He and pastor Moses were able to provide Bibles to all the men. The rest of the day was spent teaching sessions on The Gospel, Justification, and Progressive Sanctification. Each topic was followed by a Q & A time. The Ugandan pastors are hungry for God’s Word and asked a ton of questions!
This evening the team did their first outdoor evangelism. Laverne Jackson and Jason West shared their testimonies and Ian Lotinsky preached the gospel. About 20 people responded and professed Christ as their Savior. Among them were several young men in their 20s and various teenagers.
Jenny James came down with a stomach bug and had to return to the team’s lodgings today. She is doing better and resting comfortable now, but please pray for her complete healing!
Tomorrow the team will repeat the same schedule they had today. Please pray for continued strength and health. As you can imagine, they are all exhausted. Pray also for continued salvation of the lost. Than many more would come to know Christ!
Isaac just called with today’s team update:
First of all, he wanted you to know that both Matt Wahl and Jason West are doing great. They were both feeling weak this morning and experiencing the after-effects of yesterday’s heat exhaustion. In light of this, they decided to stay back and rest. When the team returned to their lodging this evening, they found the guys 100% recovered!!! Thank you for praying. The remainder of the team is in excellent health. God is definitely answering prayers!
This morning was the beginning of the team’s ministry at the Kiburara Youth Conference. It was also the their first experience with monsoon rain. Immediately upon arriving at the conference sight, the skies opened and it began to pour. It rained for over two hours, which necessitated a rearranging of the conference schedule. Instead of preaching, the team used that time to befriend / hang out with the youth. Isaac said that this “hang out” time was a great foundation on which the team can build throughout the conference. Just before lunch, the rains cleared and the conference began. A member of the Ugandan Parliament was there to welcome and thank the US team for the work they were doing. He also honored pastor Moses for his ongoing work in the Kiburara region. It is quite significant for a member of Parliament to speak at this type of event. It appears that the Lord is greatly elevating the influence of pastor Moses in that area.
After lunch, the team was scheduled to play a “US vs Uganda” soccer match. They were expecting a nice friendly game with some of the locals. To their shock, they discovered that pastor Moses had advertised this match on both radio and television. Over 1,000 spectators arrived to watch! Local radio stations showed up to cover the event! And the “local” team from Kiburara trotted onto the field in full uniform!! The players were all extremely tall and athletic and had coaches warming them up. Isaac said it felt like they were about to play in the world cup!!
The first half was played US vs Uganda and the US team held their own (only allowing one goal). During the second half they split the teams to make it more fair. In the end, the “Ugandan” team won 2-1. Not bad! The crowed loved it. Anytime, one of the US players would slip and fall or whiff on a kick, the crowed erupted into laughter. After it was all over, pastor Moses told Isaac that the work they had been doing on the widows homes, along with this soccer match was massively unique to the Ugandan people. The US team’s humility in serving would spark an interest in the local people and potentially open many doors for the gospel throughout the remainder of their trip!!!
Finally, Isaac mentioned that the highlight for him so far has been the multigenerational nature of the team. Watching heroes such as Lavern Jackson, Peter & Sherly Giglio, and Frank and Sue Robb has been his joy. These folks have had a profound impact on the teams effectiveness. They are reaching people groups that CLC teams have never been able to reach before. In addition, their energy and servant’s hearts are putting the rest of the team to shame!!!
Isaac sent this email to the pastors before they left yesterday:
Happy New Year my friends!
Drew & I and 20 of our finest are off for Uganda this afternoon. We would much appreciate your prayers throughout our time away. As before this trip looks to be a great time preaching God’s Word, proclaiming the gospel, and encouraging these new start up churches. The people there are hungry for God and we are blessed with experiencing many conversions every year. May God do this again and more this year!
This trip also promises to be as physically & spiritually taxing as years past. Please pray for me & Drew as we each will be preaching about 2x a day in various contexts. I’ll be meeting with a group of pastors and future pastors & along with Pastor Moses will be teaching them for a 2 day “conference”. My messages for these men will be focused on the book of Titus and specifically: knowing the gospel, gospel-centered sanctification, gospel-centered leadership, and gospel-centered preaching. Can’t wait to serve these guys!
Please pray for all of us…health was a major factor last year (almost all got sick). I’m leaving sick like I did last year and am trusting God’s grace to get me through and even heal me. Also, if you can pray for my wife and boys. I’m leaving a sick family behind as well! Thanks my friends!!!
For the gospel,
This an appreciation from Kiburara (western Uganda) for the bibles you bought for the body of Christ here in Uganda. We are doing the distribution very carefully by those who are able to read and write. Since they gave to only those who are able to read, this has forced most christians to begin a club of learning how to read. This club is going to begin with effect from Sunday even in daughter churches. We are making sure that we do not distribute them any how because our intention is to make sure that who ever come to salvation we give them.
Given this resource is a great tool of evangelism.
It has been very hard for christians to purchase the bible in open market at retail it costs 16,000 to 20,000 shillings.
What amazed me is that i saw a Muslim boy requesting for a bible. This is an opportunity of the gospel.
In whatever way you are investing in His kingdom,you are bringing a great impact in many lives.
God bless you all.
We recently received this email from Pastor Moses in Uganda where we have sent people on short-term missions trips:
Pray with us. This is how far we have gone and we need God to do something. Currently, we are stopping here because we do not have more money, but our trust is in the Lord.
Send our prayer request to those who would like to stand with us both in prayer support and financial support as we build together the worship centre. The church members have done all they could. This week we are hosting a women’s seminar and crusade in the centre every evening Friday through Sunday.
Please pass this on to friends and family who might be led to pray and give.
We sleepily assembled in the main room of the beautiful hotel while Drew and Isaac checked us out, and we climbed onto the last bus ride of the trip (or so we thought). An hour and a half later, we were checked through security at Entebbe airport, wandering through duty-free shops or trying to catch catnaps in the uncomfortable gate chairs. At last, we boarded our flight, but the plane didn’t leave until an hour after its scheduled departure time. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if our transfer in London hadn’t been so tight.
Unfortunately, it was a tight transfer, and as we got closer and closer to London, the captain started making announcements about transfer information. You know it’s never a good sign when your captain starts saying things like: “I realize there are about 22 people trying to catch a flight to Washington today…we’re going to try and get you there in time…”
When we landed, we rushed off the plane and ran through the airport like the family in Home Alone. But when we got to the first checkpoint, we found out that our plane had departed about a half hour beforehand.
Right after we prayed, God gave Isaac some unanticipated favor with British Airways, and he was able to secure a hotel for the evening and the first flight out in the morning for the entire team. Before going to the hotel, we stopped at Krispy Kreme for some much-needed sugar and caffeine. Then, Hye Joon passed out. The three nurses on the team gathered around her, and a medical team arrived to take her to the hospital. It turned out that she had the same cold as many of us, was exhausted and dehydrated, but, fortunately, not in any serious danger. The rest of us, led by Drew, took the shuttle to the hotel. We ate a hot, cafeteria-style meal in the lobby, then most of us headed off to bed. Around midnight, Isaac and Hye Joon returned. The next morning we caught the shuttle, poured through Heathrow security, and boarded the flight that would take us home.
Although each of us took away different experiences and saw God work in unique ways, what may have been the most meaningful part of the trip was the fact that God used us to bring people to salvation, and God used the people of Uganda to draw us closer to himself. We are so humbled to have been able to be a part of this trip, and continue to pray for the churches in Kiburara, Kakinga, and Renewawa, even as they pray for us. We look forward to the day when we will see our brothers and sisters in Uganda again, and they can’t wait to meet you, whether it be on the next e-team or in heaven, when we’re united around the One who gave all of us salvation.
We were up, packed, and on the bus by around 6:30 AM. The ride was bumpy for about two hours, but we got to see the sunrise over the African jungle – and baboons! You would have thought we were a bus full of first graders on a field trip to the zoo the way we were all hanging out of the windows and throwing pieces of protein bars at them.
We arrived in Kampala in the early afternoon, only to find that the 5-star hotel we were supposed to stay at had given our rooms to other people. God displayed His goodness and sovereignty once again, however, in that we got lunch, and dinner at the hotel they were moving us to, all free of charge. Drew tried to get them to give us hotel robes and slippers too, but they weren’t too keen on that idea.
The hotel we got sent to was a “boutique hotel and spa” – and we all unanimously agreed that it was ten times better than the other hotel. In the words of one of the team members (who will remain anonymous): “I feel like I’m on my honeymoon, just without a wife.”
Anyway, the view was beautiful, the showers were hot and very spa-ish, and some of us even enjoyed massages and the pool. The food was also amazing, and we had fun introducing Moses (who was traveling to Kampala with us) to things like pizza, steak, and ice cream. God was so kind to bless us with a relaxing evening in a beautiful place!
We slept in. This was a wonderful and new experience for many of us. We didn’t have to be in Kiburara until after lunch, so we had a chance to catch up on some sleep, have extended times with the Lord, and play a two-table, no-holds-barred game of Scum. We broke out our sunglasses and relaxed; playing cards, talking, joking, teasing Kati Black about her future Ugandan husband, and just generally enjoying being with one another. It was especially great to have Eric McAllister joining in the fun – he was back on his feet and singing benedictions over everything once more (a practice he had taken up after Evensong at Westminster Abbey).
After lunch, we drove down to Kiburara for a community dinner, since it was our last day. A number of the girls walked down the street to Moses’ house to help the ladies in the church prepare a massive meal, while a number of the guys went behind the offices to watch in amazement as the people prepared a cow for the feast.
And by “preparing a cow,” we mean the whole cow.
Which started out mooing.
But we’ll spare you the details.
Once dinner was ready, they asked the “Team from America” to serve themselves first. And sit up on the stage as guests of honor. As we, the team from Tororo, local school and government officials, as well as some other prominent members of the community loaded up our plates, the church served heaping platefuls to the rest of the townspeople. Everyone sat around eating and talking and laughing. Some of the local officials, as well as Pastor Moses, made brief speeches, thanking us for investing in the wells and encouraging us for the work we were doing.
Then it was time to say goodbye. Each team member picked his or her way through the crowd, looking for the most familiar faces from our time there. Endless pictures were taken and hands were shaken, and then the kids followed us up to the bus, with some of them shouting, “tomorrow,” as they always did, expecting we’d be back the next day.
We hugged them and thanked them and gave them high-fives. The older kids asked us to pray for them, and we promised we would. We waved and yelled goodbye and grasped little hands out of the windows until we had to leave.
Sunday! We got up extra-early to be at the different churches on time – we split up into three groups so we could go to Kiburara, Renewawa, and Kakinga. Each group was greatly ministered to at the church they visited.
At the church in Kakinga, after we sang a worship song, we asked if they would sing one of their songs. They nodded and smiled, and then burst into a loud, fast, joyful African song, complete with percussion and native “ai-yi-yi-yi-yi-ing.” Then one of the elders, who had been translating for us, read a letter from Christopher, the pastor of the Kakinga church, which sounded like an epistle from the New Testament, relating how the church was remaining strong, in the face of many challenges. We seriously felt like we in a church from the book of Acts.
We rejoined the rest of the team after the church services, and Pastor Moses drove with us to the beautiful (I’m not being sarcastic) mud hut that is Kiburara Gospel Center. He told us of the vision he has to build a church that will fit many people, and we were all provoked by his faith and trust in the Lord.
Next, the guys headed up to the local prison. We were led to a large room, where more than 100 prisoners were assembled, cross-legged on the floor, looking up at us with patient, receptive faces. We sang songs about how Jesus had set them free, Danny Mays narrated a skit, Dan Calderone shared the gospel, and Brandon Wyzga followed up by telling them the stories of Barabbas and of the thief on the cross who believed in Jesus and then asked which of them would want to be saved. About three quarters of them instantly raised their hands, and we led them in a prayer of repentance. We left amazed by what God had done – realizing that while not every man who had raised his hand necessarily believed, God had still effectively spoken through us about his love to these men.
Meanwhile, the girls were waiting for the wives of the prison workers to show up at an open building down the road from the prison. They didn’t arrive until just a few minutes before the guys returned so instead of going through the testimonies and ice breaker questions that Melanie had prepared, the girls simply went through the gospel, encouraging the wives (many of whom were already believers) and telling them the good news of repentance and faith in Christ.
We were late leaving the prison, and when we drove through a banana grove to the family home where Pastor Christopher’s mother would be buried (she passed away while we were there), Isaac informed us that they had been waiting to start the funeral for us. They ushered us forward to the very front row of seats, directly facing the closed casket. Feeling unworthy, we watched the untranslated proceedings with respect. There were more people there than we had ever seen gathered during our time there. The lady who was being buried was a very important woman, a founding pillar of the church, and Pastor Moses told us that the entire community, both Christian and non, had gathered for her funeral. During the ceremony, they invited Isaac to speak, and he spoke with sober joy about her salvation, her place in heaven, and extended the gospel to those listening, as Pastor Moses had recommended would be good and appropriate. After several more speeches in the local language, they carried the casket into the banana grove behind the house and sung a worship song as they laid her to rest.
Dinnertime back at the guesthouse. At this point, many of us didn’t want to eat another bite of goat and rice for the rest of our lives, and we never wanted to lay eyes on protein bars again. We all pooled our dwindling snacks. Don’t get me wrong, we were very grateful we had food… but we definitely spent a good bit of time talking about how we couldn’t wait to eat Chipotle, Red Robin, Five Guys, and Chick-Fil-A. The conversation would go something like this:
“Oh my gosh… you know what would be so good right now… chicken nuggets… with Chick-fil-a sauce… and a milkshake…”
“STOP talking about food… oh wow, I could really go for a Whiskey River Barbecue Burger…”
“With the crunchy onions? Oh man…”
Because it was the last day of the conference, we spent an extended time, after the normal morning of preaching and worship, of hearing the different church teams present songs.
Eric McAllister was still sick with a fever. That evening, when we got back to the guesthouse, he was feeling well enough to come outside, so Isaac gathered the team around for some time to just worship together. Eric led us in a cappella worship, and we sang all the songs that were too hard to translate or too slow for the Kiburara congregation, but meant and ministered so much to us. We stood as group out in the yard and sang as the sun set, and the workers at the guest home paused in their preparations for dinner to stand and listen to us. It was one of the most meaningful moments on the trip to simply pause after a day of serving God and quietly worship Him. We felt completely refreshed. After singing four or five songs, we gathered around Eric to pray for healing, and then, for the first time in days, he came down and ate dinner with us in the common room.
Most evenings, after dinner, many of us would play cards… and some of us would play pranks. Courtney Ricucci and Casey Somerville had a good time pranking most of the guys, rigging up their mosquito netting and putting hot sauce in their toothpaste. Feel free to ask Isaac what it feels like when you get Vicks Vapor Rub smeared on your deodorant.