Friday, September 11, 2009

Report from Uganda--Part 1

Lwakhakha, UG

Participants at Tororo conference

Jonathan teaching at N. Mbale

I have just returned from 3 1/2 weeks in Uganda. The following is from an email sent to friends and supporters while I was there. (If you would like to be on my email list, please email me at, and I will include you):

The rainy season has begun here in Uganda. Our first conference, on Stewardship, was held in North Mbale, for the North Mbale Diocese of the Church of Uganda (COU). I had been there for the first time 2 years ago. It is a beautiful and mountainous part of the country. The pastors were amazed at the information we presented. We gave one a ride back after the conference ended, and I heard him saying to Martin Odi in the back seat that he had never heard about stewardship of the environment from a Christian perspective before, and all the possibilities for the church's making a difference in that area.

One of the things I stress is bringing leaders of different denominations together. I emphasized that in my last session of the conference. The bishop is a good, born again believer and also favors this. Coincidentally enough, he brought in two others (a Ugandan and a Briton now living in Mbale) who are working to facilitate inter-church cooperation. I am hoping that next year our work in North Mbale will be to an interdenominational group of church leaders.

I have found that the men and women of Uganda are very dear and very polite. That--and the peace that only Jesus Christ can supernaturally bring in very hard circumstances to those who are very close to him--was epitomised in an extraordinary way on the second day of our conference. As we were arriving at the venue, we saw one of the pastors walking the other way. He said that he had "a little problem at home," and so had to leave. When asked what it was he said, "I just lost my son." We prayed with and for him and his family. I am happy to say that he returned later that afternoon. He said that his 18 year old son had been badly beaten and was in the hospital. The boy had not died, and the doctors believed he would pull through. We thank God for that.

We then had a conference on 1 Timothy at the Bukedi Diocese of the COU in Tororo, UG. This conference seemed to work powerfully in the over 100 priests who attended. Moses Isabirye of the Archbishop's office, who had arranged and taught at the conference, was visibly moved, with tears in his eyes. He said, "I do not take this for granted." He was referring to the fact that, although this is an influential diocese, he had heard that it was a very hard and somewhat spiritually dry place. No other "outside" organization like EPI had previously been allowed into the diocese to conduct a seminar. Nevertheless, the bishop had agreed to allow us, although the conference almost was cancelled at the last minute for financial reasons. Fortuantely, the conference went ahead, and all of the diocese's archdeacons, the diocesan secretary, the bishop's chaplain, as well as almost all of the diocese's priests, attended. At the conclusion of the conference, the diocesan secretary acknowledged on behalf of all the participants that something great had occurred. They all heartily requested that we return next year. By God's grace, we will.

Martin Odi and I are now in Jinja. Tomorrow we begin our 4th conference, in Kamuli (which is rather "deep in the bush"). We have just returned from a 1 Timothy conference in Lwakhakha--which is in the Mount Elgon region of eastern Uganda, right on the border with Kenya. It is a small village with no electricity. The number of participants grew over the course of the conference (we ended up with 77). Only one of them had ever studied an entire book of the Bible before. I always stress reading the passages in context, looking for the logical flow of the author's thought and his main point, and thinking "paragraphs," not "verses." That seemed to have a particular impact on the participants, as did my emphasizing that the churches have to start working more closely together, and demonstrating greater unity and cooperation. I think that message got through. In fact, one pastor told me that, on the second day, he had had a funeral he was supposed to have attended, but he had to come to the conference instead, because the teaching was so significant. Needless to say, comments like that are very humbling to me.

My wife, Nancy, also was in Africa for the first time. I didn't see her after the first day, however. She is a specialist concerning dyslexia, and spent a week in Kampala working with Rev. Paul Njuki and Deborah Mutumba who have started the Uganda Dyslexia Association. From the text messages she sent me, it sounds like she had a very worthwhile trip, intoducing many Ugandan teachers to dyslexia, and teaching certain dyslexia reading therapies (that may not be the correct term) which the Ugandans had not previously been trained in. It never ceases to amaze me that God has called both Nancy and me to these important ministries after we both had spent our entire professional lives doing other things. We are both eternally grateful. For more information about dyslexia, go to Nancy's website:

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