Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saying Goodbye...for now.

Our last Sunday here, we all split up and went to different churches to preach this morning. It was a blessed time and all of us came back with wonderful and interesting stories. That's the way it is here in Uganda...wonderful and, well, interesting. What took me by surprise, though, was how difficult it was to say goodbye to some. I realized that I have really connected with many of the pastors here, but there are a few that I built a very special relationship with...not because our living situations are similar, but because of how much we have taught each other through conversations and visitations. There are three that stick out to me...two of them I'll talk about here:
Pastor Gerald (top picture) is serving as associate pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Kakira, where we have been holding the conference. I had heard about him before I came, but getting to know him personally, well, we just hit it off. The first time I met him, I realized how he was tall, skinny, with Kenyan features, and he kind of resembled Snoop Dogg. But his heart...oh his heart. He is so Biblically centered, devoted, warm and full of love. His story is intriguing. He lives with his wife and twin boys, who just turned one year old last March, in a rented room on the YWAM base just outside of Kakira city limits. He has a job as the basic maintenance man on campus. When I say it's a rented room...I mean that. That's the way most people live here, an entire family living in one room. All cooking is done outdoors, unless you have real money. His wife, Ruth, hasn't been to church since the twins were born and she says she probably won't until the boys are about three. Not that she doesn't want to go...on the contrary! But it's that there's no safe way to transport two baby boys over the distance to Kakira. Their only option is boda boda (rented motorcycle), and I don't have to tell you how dangerous that is. Or they can walk the hour long walk with two baby boys to the church and then an hour back. I already explained the dangers of being a pedestrian on those dirt roads. We asked about a stroller. But as we asked, I think we all realized that we haven't seen a single stroller since we've been in this country! Again...that's a luxury reserved for the top 3%. Yet she releases her husband to do what she knows he must, pastor and preach the Word with integrity. He has given up a lot to live for Christ. His father already disowned him and left him on his own when He accepted Christ. His is a faith that is truly day by day and so purified. I wish you could hear him talk and see how his true concerns rest on his family and others around him. He talks very little about his needs. One last thing: There's a funny tradition here at church services. Whenever someone is up singing a song, if people like it or are blessed by it, they will come up, dancing, and slip a little money into the performer's hand or pocket. (I'm thinking about starting this tradition at CBC...kidding.) I was watching him this morning as he led in a song about God's provision. And I was blessed, as everytime someone slipped him some money as a loving gesture, he would smile and slyly slip the money into the pocket of another pastor behind him, as a loving gesture. Because the other pastor, pastor Godfrey, is struggling to keep his family afloat as well. That is love. That is a pastor. Gerald is one I have to keep in touch with! Maybe I can find a way to slip them a double stroller, or a motorcycle, or a car. We'll see...
Pastor Moses grew up an orphan at the Psalm Ten house that we visited earlier and that Pastor Paul helps run. I have been blessed to come to call him brother and friend. He is currently serving as a children's pastor here in Jinja, and he does a great job. He is so full of scripture and looks for any opportunity to preach the Gospel. He also works at our hotel, which has been fun. Oh...did I mention that our hotel is owned and operated by devoted Bible believing Christians? Every morning, I sip my coffee and check email as I listen to the staff in their morning worship sessions. It's beautiful. We've really bonded with the staff of this hotel. He told us the other day that the hotel has a soccer team and they play the other hotels every Sunday, and he really wanted us to show up. I told him I wouldn't miss it. So we went this afternoon to cheer on Moses as he played goalie for the hotel's soccer team. It was cool to see the other team ready to play, but waiting on our hotel to finish praying so they could start the game. Praise God! I underestimated our influence. As soon as Moses saw us in the grass with the audience (we kind of stick out here like a sore thumb) he got his big smile and waved big with both hands, kind of like a five year old waving at his parents on the sidelines. And I many times has someone come to just cheer for him? He was blessed, we were blessed, and eventually when the hotel staff saw us there, they invited us to cheer with their group. It was so much fun! We got to intereact with all the staff that had been serving us all week and talk about the conference and laugh and joke and cheer like mad! The family of God is truly big. Of everyone...Moses has had the biggest impact on me. And our connection will last, I'm sure, as I pray for him and as he prays for me. Again...they pray for us more than we pray for them. There's a lesson for you.

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