Anglican Youth Fellowship Band – Mission Trip to Bukedea

Anglican Youth Fellowship Band – Mission Trip to Bukedea

Last weekend, I had the honor of being part of an Anglican Youth Fellowship Band mission trip to Bukedea District in eastern Uganda. AYF Band is a group over 30 years old with a passion for proclaiming the Gospel and bringing people to Christ through music ministry.

We left Mukono on Thursday afternoon, stopping about an hour down the road for chicken on a stick! As we stopped, 3 or 4 men with 15 skewers of chicken ran alongside our costa (bus) hoping to sell to us. Cue Joke #1 of many!: “See it’s fast food, it chases after you!” Two of our team members did a great job of finding fresh pieces that had more time on the fire to ensure they did not make us sick. It was delicious!

About 7 hours later down a long dirt road with maize growing on each side, we arrived at our destination in a village in the Bukedea District. We were blessed to stay at an AYF member’s home, close to 25 of us!

After taking some tea and dinner of traditional food, we all turned in for the night to be ready for an early start the next morning.

Friday, we began our mission at Bukedea Primary School. The children were very excited to see the costa pull up and even more excited to see the instruments and sound equipment be unloaded! The team set up the “stage” area under a tree in the middle of the school, while children poured out of every building, carrying wooden desks to sit in to watch the performance. The Band is full of so much musical talent which the kids and adults very much enjoyed. Between songs, the team members shared powerful testimonies and the gospel. Later in the program, one member told the story of the prodigal son while the rest of the team acted out different roles for the kids. My favorite part was watching the kids enthusiastically take on the role of pigs in the part of the story when the prodigal son has to take a job keeping pigs. At the end of each program, there is an explanation of the gospel and a team member will lead those who want to accept Christ in a prayer to do so.

The day continued with a Kyondong Primary School then Seed Secondary School. At the Secondary Schools, the program is adjusted to suit their age group and includes an altar call at the end. How encouraging to see so many students come forward wanting to accept Christ! The group of new Christians is then brought outside and given a booklet called “Welcome to God’s Family” which explains the gospel and next steps for new Christians. Each student also completes a contact information card that is passed on to a school chaplain or other appropriate local person so that they can follow up in discipling these new Christians.

Saturday was spent visiting Bukedea Boarding Secondary School, the Kidongole Health Centre, and Bukedea Local Government Prison. Our team of 15 doctors saw 540 patients in 2 days at the Kidongole Health Centre while AYF performed in the various locations. Then on Sunday, we were invited to a village church and enjoyed being in that community as we ended our trip.

 

Overall, I was so blessed to get to know some amazing people with bold faith and powerful testimonies of the ways that Jesus has transformed their lives. We will continue to pray that the seeds sown last weekend will continue to grow and flourish in Bukedea District!

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11

Adventures in Kampala

Adventures in Kampala

Over the last few weeks, I’ve made more trips into Kampala. Although it’s just about 14 miles from Mukono (where Uganda Christian University is located) to Kampala, because of the large amount of traffic on few main roads between the two places, it takes at least an hour, if not more, to get there. For those who don’t have a car, the standard transportation method is by taxi.

Taxis are 14 person vans that work a little like a bus route (point A to point B and back with ability to get off at a few places along the way). There is a driver and usually a conductor who manages the sliding door on one side and collects the fee from passengers as they get off, as well as, calling for more passengers whenever there is room (and at times, when there is not room!)

My first trip to Kampala other than just passing through, I was accompanied by a UCU friend, another lecturer at UCU. About 15 minutes into our ride after setting off from Mukono, we were pulled over by the traffic police who do random stops on major roads to check for brake lights, licenses, etc. Our driver handed his license to the police woman who had him get out, look at the tires…then we notice that as she turns to talk to another officer, our driver walks across the road and keeps walking away from our taxi! Apparently, he did not have the right credentials for that taxi so to avoid getting arrested, just walked away! All 14 passengers piled out and hopped in other taxis within a few minutes. That’s one way to do it!

 

Once in Kampala and along the way, there is often “jam” (or traffic), but while you putt along in the taxi, there are many people selling snacks and drinks along the road. The one I have enjoyed are the bunches of small bananas. They are sweeter than the larger bananas and a delicious snack for the journey. A more exotic option is cooked grasshoppers sold in large plastic buckets. I asked my friend if she liked them. She said, “Yes, but it’s better if you cook them yourself.” Who knows? Maybe one day I will try…

The “point B” of the journey to Kampala on the trips I have taken has been the old taxi park. It is an overwhelming place, but the system works! (I am borrowing the photos of the traffic and the old taxi park because having your phone out in town is not advisable.)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…

Mornings here during the week usually begin with greeting Paul who takes care of the garden outside our house. He is a joyful person who is always wearing a big smile. We prepare our coffee and sit down for a small breakfast of jam and toast (though Paul highly prefers his bread untoasted) and morning bible study (currently the book of Galatians). During our discussions, Paul often shares cultural insights that give me a better understanding of the Ugandan culture but also often sheds new light on part of scripture. For example, as we studied Galatians 5:1, Paul was able to share with us his experiences of training oxen with a yoke in his village.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

He shared that early in the training, the ox goes this way and that and has to be trained to go straight in order to plow the fields. At times, the yoke is left on its neck overnight so that the ox can get used to it. When they finally submit to the yoke and the training, plowing with these 2 giant animals can be done with just one person quietly instructing, back and forth down the rows of the field. As he shared, Matthew 11:28-30 came to my mind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Let us not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery, but by the grace of God through the cross, let us submit each day to His leadership in our lives, knowing it is an easy yoke and much lighter burden than we carry when we choose to go it alone!

P.s. The picture above is from a Friday morning when we treat ourselves to mandazi (a Ugandan doughnut).

(Photo of oxen borrowed from http://blog.peaceharvest.org/2009/10/third-post.html)

Pigs and Beans

Pigs and Beans

While I haven’t been able to meet with students yet to review business plans, our gardener, Paul, is a jack of many trades and took me up enthusiastically on my offer to put his business plans into spreadsheet form to help him make decisions about how best to grow them, etc. He is currently selling beans and also has plans to open a piggery. We spent a few days the other week discussing the inputs to the model for these businesses, building the models and reviewing them together. It was a fun experience to learn about new industries I had NO previous exposure to and to see Paul giggle at what seemed like silly questions I was asking – like “does 1 pig eat a kilo of feed each week or each day? – A week? No, a day!” “How much does a piglet cost?”

Seeing the excitement on his face as he took printouts of the different financial models we built with him to discuss with his brother and father in his village the next weekend made my week. It reminded me that God’s economy doesn’t work like our human economy. Blessing one person is just as important and valuable as blessing a multitude because our God is a personal God who loves each of us individually out of his glorious riches. I’m excited and hopeful to see where Paul’s business plans take him!

Remembering Malcolm Alexander

Remembering Malcolm Alexander

Our brother in the Lord and missionary Malcolm Alexander passed away on May 18.  Malcolm faithfully served for two decades in Honduras, first as a charter member of our Tegucigalpa Church-Planting Team where he gave wholeheartedly of himself to the building up of Iglesia Cristo Redentor, especially through his administrative skills and Biblical teaching.  In response to the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Malcolm began an outreach ministry to youth in a community for displaced survivors of the hurricane. Eventually, a community center was built and an ongoing program of Christian education, vocational training and recreation were established.  Malcolm continued this vital ministry as an Associate Missionary encouraging U.S. churches to send short-term mission teams and remain involved in this ministry.  Malcolm was a blessing as he brought the hope of the Gospel in both word and deed.  We give thanks to the Lord for his personal sacrifices for the sake of furthering Christ’s work in this broken world.  We await with hope in Jesus our heavenly reunion.

Malcolm teaching at the community center:

We are engaged in a great work…

We are engaged in a great work…

“I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” These words of Nehemiah, addressed to those who were opposing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, have encouraged us more than once in our Kingdom work.

The enemy is so determined to defeat the work of God’s people that he will use any tactic possible. He will use people, often even God’s own people, to discourage us. He will use situations and stories to incite fear to make us reluctant to go somewhere or to speak to someone or to do something risky and yet important. This should not surprise as, as the enemy used the very same tactics with our Lord Jesus. We are also warned in the Scriptures that we are at war, not with people, but with powers and principalities of darkness in the heavenly places. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour. So, we are not ignorant of his efforts.

We find our courage and determination to press on by focussing on Jesus who who was made a little lower than the angels, who took on the form of a slave and came in the likeness of humanity, who was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin, who endured shame, humiliation, betrayal, desertion, and crucifixion…all for the joy that was set before Him…the joy of knowing that His labour was not in vain. That through His sacrificial suffering and death, many would be reconciled to God the Father through faith in Him.

 

This past week, Louise and I trained a number of potential disciple makers in the Diocese of Natal. The first two days was focussed on the first of the four modules in the LEAD Program training, Strategy. The attendees were mostly clergy and lay leaders. We were so encouraged to hear this group say that, while they have heard about discipleship for years and have even attended various courses on the subject, this was the first time they felt we had given them the tool they needed to do the work!

They were so excited about the material that they decided they want to translate it into their own language, Zulu, so that they can teach many more people how to make disciples! We will be sending them the Xhosa and English versions this week so that they can strike while the iron is still hot!

The second group was mostly made up of lay leaders. For this training we teamed up with Trevor and Estelle, our team members from Growing the Church, as it was the first time we would be teaching this material. We had heard quite a bit about Rooted in Jesus and it is used in many African countries, but we have never been trained to teach it. Estelle worked out a three day program and gave us a few sections to teach and to lead. The training is divided up into teaching sessions, workshops, and practical sessions and everyone participates. It was a lot of fun and the group really enjoyed it. At the end, each participant had an opportunity to say how the course had touched them personally and what they were going to do about it! Watch out Natal!

Once again we were reminded that we are engaged in a great work…that in spite of the many distractions, disappointments, and discouragements that the enemy hurls at us ever so often, we must be determined to press on…because we really do live for Christ and for Christ alone. Jesus faced what He faced because of the joy that was set before Him…the joy of knowing that many would come to the Father because of His labour. By His grace and His aid, we can do the same.

We are engaged in a a great work…we cannot come down.