As I write this, I am sitting in Café Javas…Entebbe, Uganda. We are about eight hours from our departure from this incredible country and wonderful people.
I am sure I will get asked when I return home, “what did you do in Uganda?”
Well, here’s the simple answer…
We hosted a Christmas party for 2,000 kids in Kamonkoli and another 1,100 in Soroti. Each child was fed a full meal of rice, beans, cabbage and beef. For dessert, a piece of cake. And when they left the hours-long event, they got a small toy. In between, there was a Bible story, dancing, singing, crafts and there may have been a raucous, crowd-pleasing Roll Tide Roll or two.
We entertained 350 women for their own Christmas party. They got a terrific Bible lesson from my new friend Kathy, a craft, cake and a new pair of flip flops. The last of which is a true luxury, that will be treasured for several years.
We led 1,600 kids in a Saturday Awana program, complete with Bible teaching, games, singing and crafts.
And we worshipped with 1,000 of our fellow believers at Kamonkoli Presbyterian Church.
Then there were the 28 men in a local Bible study, the 200 villagers to whom we distributed food and clothing and the many, many personal interactions each of us will treasure forever.
These numbers would be remarkable for any mega-church in a metropolitan city. What is even more amazing is the fact that Kamonkoli is home to only 3,500 people…the surrounding village home to another 14,000 more. Just imagine if our local churches in America saw that kind of reach!
But, you must be thinking, what kind of difference can you make after only one week?
Pastor Charles Magale, senior pastor at Kamonkoli Presbyterian Church, said this about our visit. “We are encouraged and strengthened by visitors. When muzunguz come, they smile with us, they laugh with us and they pass out small gifts. And it’s all done in the name of Jesus. So, when those who do not believe see this, they get curious. Then they show up at church. One week. Two weeks. Three weeks. Four weeks. And their eternity is changed forever.”
Still not sure?
Consider what Brother Andrew, a Cold War evangelist in Communist eastern Europe was told by a local pastor after a visit to Poland, “We want to thank you for being here. Even if you had not said a word, just seeing you would have meant so much. We feel at times as if we are all alone in our struggle.”
Nothing in Uganda is easy. More than half the country has no nearby water source. There is no stable power supply. Malaria is common. It is hot, dry and dusty. Food shortages are common. And good jobs, with good wages, are few and far between.
So…what could we have possibly done to make a difference in Uganda?
Apparently, all that it takes…warm smiles and friendly greetings, all offered in Christ’s name. And we let God do the rest!