Hope all is well. A lot has happened over the last few months; as I share I hope it will provide encouragement in hearing about how God has been working in the lives and hearts of people here, and answering prayer. If you remember previously I was not sure what the longer-term picture looked like for Uganda. I’m relieved to say that I am still here with everything sorted for the next three months after all the hullabaloo. To sort out my vias for staying it required a trip to Kenya, during which God worked in both the big and small things there and back, and I’m excited to share.
THE TRIP TO KENYA
After some time on the road, our bus arrived at 2 am and emptied us at the Uganda-Kenya border. Everyone had to run to the border office to get our visa’s into Kenya so the bus did not leave us behind as it completed its journey. Being the only white person (‘mzungu’) there, and a girl, seemed to turn me into a walking target. People were constantly grabbing, yelling and trying to pull me from the line to sell things or exchange money. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop inside the immigration office.
The queue seemed to take an age, as one by one we made our way down to the counter. Then it was my turn, I wish I could say that it was plain sailing, however as I have learned about travelling in Africa nothing is ever simple: The border official I was dealing with was extremely difficult and suggested that on my return to Uganda he would make it difficult. After trying to talk him it simply lead to more frustration, all I could do was let it go and leave it to the lord. Refusing the proposal, I walked away praying, with a passport granting me one month in Kenya and no idea what was to follow.
Sam, a Ugandan friend who I was travelling with, was next in line. We had only briefly been introduced at a conference, but he had told me about the buses that travel to Kenya which he took monthly. Without Sam, I would have flown to Kenya via Addis Ababa instead.
God answers prayer: when Sam came to meet me outside, he had somehow talked the official out of writing against me, meaning I was able to make it back to Uganda for the last three months.
Kenya itself was a well-needed break, allowing me to rest. I stayed with two missionary linked to UFM (United For Mission) over the eight days. Joining them in their work: Bible Studies and local training. I also travelled to a school located in a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi to help out for the day and learn about the work being done. Their goal was to provide high-quality education to the children from the poorest of backgrounds, as they do within the school they ran for ‘rich children’ in another part of the city.
RETURNING TO UGANDA
It was soon time to make the return trip, we took the bus overnight again. I was more on edge knowing that if I didn’t get back to Uganda, I would be left alone in a dusty, isolated, and unsafe area at 2AM; with no proper transport or place to go until morning. The only reasonably safe thing I could do was probably sleep/wait in/near the immigration office where there was security. For some reason, despite my nerves I still felt God’s presence and protection and that He still intended to use me in Uganda. I just wasn’t ready to leave. However, I needed to trust that whatever happened, was for a purpose greater than I could see.
The immigration official studied my passport, looked at me and said: “I don’t think I can give you this visa.” My heart sank, he didn’t understand the situation, or why I had been having so many complications, thus, he didn’t trust me or what I told him. All the complications began because of corruption in the immigration offices, and though I had done nothing wrong, it wasn’t getting across. I reached a point where he seemed to have made up his mind that I wouldn’t be getting back into Uganda. Sam intervened, and tried to persuade him otherwise but was initially getting nowhere.
Then Sam changed his approach.
“What is your name?”
“My name is also Sam.”
“Your second name?”
His second name happened to be the same too.
Immediately, the two men started talking in a different language. I stood there in complete confusion as my passport was handed back to me. I had no idea if I had been given the visa or not.
“Stand outside with my bag to make sure the bus doesn’t leave,” Sam told me, so I picked up our things and waited. Outside, I flipped open my passport to see the man had for some reason granted me the visa. After a short time, Sam came out and explained to me that the man in the office had happened to grow up in the same village as him. In Ugandan culture relationships and connections are vitally important, because of that he then granted me the visa. What’s more, this man was only filling in for two weeks within the office, as the usual worker was on sick leave. God works in ways we can’t even imagine.
BACK IN UGANDA
Aside from that, I feel God Is currently working in Kiwoko Hospital in big ways. People are becoming empowered to go deeper in their faith and share further. A man even stood up during a talk this week and gently challenged the speaker, who was teaching something out of line with the Gospel. Suubi (Hope) Children’s Club is growing in leaders which had been a point of prayer for several months.
Recently, I gave a talk which I will admit, I had been reluctant to do. The children were between 3 and 13 years, the talk had to be 30 minutes long and they would struggle to understand English. I didn’t know how I would be able to keep their attention, and I didn’t believe I would be any use. I had massively neglected the fact that it is God who works, even in the most unexpected situations. As I began to speak, a friend, Waswa came up and translated for me. As I continued, I felt strongly reminded that we should serve God with expectancy. It’s just so easy for us to do the work we feel God calls us to, and hope we (or God through us) made a change. It hit me strongly that God was there, with me and with those children and he was working in their lives and stirring hearts. In the end, over ten children prayed and gave their lives to Christ.
I’ve been reading about Paul for a few months now, and I’m in awe of how God used him and people around him. This is the very same God that works in us and can use us. We are broken, empty vessels that can be filled up with the Holy Spirit. With him living in us, there really is nothing impossible. It’s easy to read that, and regurgitate it to others but does it blow us away in the way that it should? Do we live every day acknowledging the power of God working in us and those around us? Understanding that how God uses us cannot be limited because God’s power and love are limitless?
LOOKING TO THE NEXT FEW MONTHS
After a recent end-of-term meeting, the Suubi club has asked me to train and mentor a group of people to become the club’s game co-ordinators. I’m not entirely sure if two of the volunteers are saved, which is a point for prayer. After training these folks to carry on the role after I leave, I will teach all the leader’s new games and activities to help them engage and interact with the children.
I was also asked if I would be interested in helping to lead small groups with hospital students in their second year of studies. (There is a school attached to the hospital.) That was a bandwagon I was keen to jump on. I love one-to-one and groups like these. In preparation, all the leaders came together to look at the material we would use, which is Discipleship Explored, going through Philippians. We did one study together to get an idea of the layout. The next week we all met, the leaders decided they wanted to do the entire study together before sharing it with the students.
One problem we have here is people evangelising who aren’t rooted in Christ themselves. There are many stories I have heard here of people who have evangelised for years and pointed people to Christ but were never actually saved themselves until years later. Because of this, the leaders Shadrack and Frank thought it would be best to ensure that all the leaders are properly equipped first. Frank and Shadrack are Ugandans with a solid foundation in Christ, an understanding of the town's needs and a passion to serve. They are creating waves in this community.
After completing the study, it had massively encouraged everyone. We didn’t want it to end, and then the group came to the conclusion that the student bible study would be pushed back a few months to allow them to complete exams first. In the meantime, Frank and Shadrack decided to re-do the bible study, opening it up to all hospital staff, and believers in Kiwoko. Many people in Kiwoko have turned to Christ, or believe in God however they have a very limited understanding of the gospel.
Now, this little group, inspired by Paul’s encouragement to the church in Philippi, are rallying together those both new in the faith and mature, to pass on the same message. There is a fire being ignited to spread the Gospel in Kiwoko. Paul suffered massively for Christ, which makes it a significant topic for teaching, as it counteracts the prosperity teaching that is so deeply ingrained in society here. Not only that but with many participants being hospital staff, they interact with patients from all over Uganda on a daily basis. I feel strongly like God is starting something through this and I would encourage you all to pray for a good number of people to join who are willing to commit and engage in this study.
Coming up to Easter, there are plans for various mission events in different local villages. The men on the team will be sleeping outside on the ground, and the women sleeping within mud-hut church buildings. There may not be mosquito nets, and in the last mission, a member of the team got malaria. Furthermore, the budget is tight for feeding the people that will be preached to, so please pray for God’s provision. The area in which we are going is deeply involved in witchcraft; in past missions, people have been saved and brought out their things to burn. Additionally, some people can become violent knowing that their business is in jeopardy when more people are being saved. Safety for the team is a big point for prayer. Planning is just beginning so I am unsure as to what areas I will be involved in. It ranges from children’s ministry, door to door work and talks. I am not sure at this point what else will be happening. In May, we plan to head back to Karamoja Orphanage and Reconciliation Centre.
In terms of teaching, it has been going well. There is a small building being constructed for the boys to work in currently, as I have been moving around a lot where I am living in the compound based on new visitors coming and going. This means the boys haven’t had a consistent learning environment which makes it hard to settle into work at times. The two of them are little lights, shining for God and a whole lot of fun. Currently, I’m preparing tests in their work to see how they are getting on.
For the mission teams here from Kiwoko hospital as they go out over the next while. For their safety, for strength and for God to use them.
Pray for small groups and their leaders as we move forward in this.
For open hearts and minds in the community. That they are prepared to listen and accept to the truth of the Gospel.
For the leadership in Uganda.
For the boys I teach, Oliver and Joel as well as the rest of the Park family in their mission.
For God to constantly guide, teach and use me here.
That he would provide me with strength and energy while working. The average day can be filled very last minute with a lot to do, and it is hard to sleep in the heat.
Thanks for keeping up to date, and God has been responding very clearly to prayer, so I would just ask for you to pray particularly for the outreach currently going on.