Our trip West to Mbarara was a great success! Pastor Naboth and his wife Alice welcomed us into their home set in the beautiful countryside surrounding the town. We ate mountains of local food (got a little sick, but it was so worth it!), and in between large meals, preached the Word of God. People were bussed in from the surrounding area, and in all, there was about 500-600 people packed into the small church, most of them leaders of small village churches. We had the opportunity to impact all of these churches in a few short days. Pastor Naboth had a vision a few months ago about fish falling from heaven with birth fluids all over them (you know, like a newborn?). He got up from where he was outside under a tree, and went into the church. Two pastors were behind the pulpit scratching their heads, confused. They didn't know what to do to reach people, when all the while they were falling right from the sky. The Lord said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few..." These laborers were confused, and so the theme of the conference was "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel." Pastor Naboth was out to train pastors to reach their communities.
We took a long bumpy taxi ride (waited a couple hours for the taxi to fill up) and were too exhausted to preach the first night, but spoke on prerequisites to fulfilling the Great Commission, and the 5-fold ministry the first morning. Worship was wonderful, and many local "artists" came and sang and danced for the group. Virginia preached on Saturday on the Value of the Kingdom, and Brent on Sowing and Reaping. Afterwards, a pastor came up saying, "I have a confession to make: when I first saw you two, I thought, 'these two are so new...what will they teach us?' but we have been blessed by your ministry!" Praise the Lord that it doesn't matter how old you are - His Word is still the same!
7 people were saved on Friday, and everyone at the conference committed themselves to reaching lost people in their communities. A young girl even gave us a papaya as an offering. It was a great success.
We're out to Bussi Island on Tuesday...no internet for a couple weeks. We'll update when we get back!
The last two weekends, we've been travelling to larger villages and preaching in "Redeemed" Churches. These smaller churches are part of the mother church "The Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church Makerere" in Kampala. Last weekend was a place called Kikiri (pronounced "Ki-ch'-ir-ee"). This small church has around 400 members and has been meeting in their unfinished building with a makeshift roof. This week, they got the needed funds and put a new roof on their building to keep the rain out.
The presence of the Lord was sweet in this church. We couldn't understand most of what was being sung (they do have a few songs in English, but even those are a little hard to understand!), but we could sense that the Lord was pleased and had come to inhabit the praises of His people.
Brent preached about the purpose that Jesus has called us for as His disciples: to be with Him, and to go out and preach. He talked about the need for both prayer and work, not one or the other, and that we can't get stuck in the prayer closet without acting on what we learn there, and we have no power to minister on the street without the secret place.
This week, we travelled to Buwenge (2.5 hours East of Kampala) to a relatively new church with a couple hundred people. The two services melded into one 4 hour meeting where Virginia (African name = Gini) preached a fabulous message about being established in the Lord, and Brent (Matthew) taught on having our foundation firmly laid on Jesus alone. The people didn't understand our altar call, so almost the entire congregation came forward for prayer. We forgot that everyone here seems to have some sort of ailment or need, especially in the villages. We prayed for maybe an hour for every need we could think of - salvation, healing, barrenness, marriages, new business ventures, financial miracles, and on and on.
At the end of the prayer time, Pastor James had another altar call for those who wanted to be saved. About 7 people came forward and testified that they had been saved! In talking to the pastor afterward, he mentioned that this was not normal for his church and that he wants to have a new focus on evangelism.
The service felt like the early church. New believers being born, the Church rejoicing, sharing in all things (we saw some eggs, bananas, and "jack fruit" in the offering baskets). We didn't have any requests for the baptism of the Holy Spirit...we'll have to teach on that soon.
We made some new minister friends as well - last week, our man Solomon and his wife Colette drove us to Kikiri, and this week, Enoch and Peter chattered away about all their questions about US culture, instructing us in Ugandan ways (we aren't supposed to look people in the eye when we talk to them! This is a hard one, even when we make conscious effort - try it out yourself!). We're blessed to be with these humble, faithful ministers who have been going to the bush to teach for awhile now. It seems the encouragement in the Lord is mutual, so we're grateful for that.
That's all for now. We're headed to Mbarara on Thursday for a 4 day conference where we'll be preaching/teaching each day. We didn't have much notice on this one, so pray for the grace of God to enable us to do His will.