Martin's Newsletter from Uganda - November 2008
Hello again from Mbale! Well, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was writing to you about my future plans here, but a lot has already happened over the last month.
I am determined not to allow my life here to be busy, but fruitful, which means trying to spend at least as much time in worship and prayer as in actually serving God. Quite a challenge, particularly when faced every day by so much desperate and heartbreaking need. However, I know that I, myself, can do nothing and only the things that He does through me will make any long-term difference to the people and the situation here.
That may all sound very holy of me but the reality is that God is doing so much and most of the time my role is simply to try and not get in His way and mess it up! A recent visit to a local church illustrates the point that I am trying to make perfectly.
Moses, with whom I am working, had been invited to minister in a village church. Moses and two visitors from the UK, who had agreed to accompany him, were very keen for me to go on the trip with them. However, I was somewhat reluctant as, just a few days before, I had foolishly managed to fall off the back of a motorcycle and, despite the fact that it was only going about 3mph at the time, I was feeling a bit sore and shaken up. The thought of being jolted up and down in the back of a vehicle for several hours as we headed out into the countryside on dirt tracks, followed by a couple of nights sleeping on the floor in a village hut was not exactly an appealing prospect!
I had really decided not to go but, on the evening before the trip and under some pressure from the others, I agreed to at least pray about it again. As I was praying, I felt that God was showing me a picture of a tower that was supposed to have a bright fire burning at the top of it to draw people inside. However, I could see that the fire had completely gone out. I felt that God was encouraging me to go on the trip and that he wanted to use us so that He could relight the fire in the tower. In addition, two of the others felt strongly that we were to go and to bring God’s healing to the people.
So, the following morning, the four of us set off, not really knowing where we were going or what we were going to do, other than to somehow bring God’s fire and healing to the church. After about an hour, and having picked up a guide, the road started to head up the slopes of Mount Elgon and it was with some considerable difficulty that we finally managed to bring the vehicle to our destination.
On arrival, we discovered that the church was built on an outcrop overlooking the valleys below and was clearly visible from miles around. It immediately brought to my mind the picture of the tower that I felt that God had given me. Following a very warm welcome, I took the opportunity of asking the Pastor what he felt was the greatest need for his church. Much to my astonishment, he said that he felt that the people had lost their fire and enthusiasm for God. It seemed that, with the exception of medical services, the local people felt that they had everything they required and that they had no need for God. Looking at the poverty around me, it was hard to believe what I was hearing but I guess that it just goes to show that materialism is not about how much you have, but whether you are putting spiritual or material things first in your life.
Soon after mid-day, people started to arrive at the church and we started with a time of worship. Following our ‘instructions’, we then felt led to pray for the sick. It seemed that almost everyone there wanted to be prayed for and we were encouraged when a small number of people testified to pain disappearing and ease of movement returning to limbs.
We continued with more worship, more prayer and teaching from God’s word. More testimonies of healings followed throughout the afternoon and people’s faith levels started to increase dramatically. After about six hours, and with daylight fading fast, Moses brought the service to an end by inviting everyone to return the following morning with their sick to be healed.
The next day, we started at around 11am and continued with a similar pattern of worship, prayer and teaching without a break until evening. News of the previous day’s events had obviously spread and more people turned up on the second day. As the testimonies of healing continued, people’s faith in God increased and His presence was felt in the building. People were very noticeably ‘fired up’ when a lady who had been blind in one eye received back her full sight.
It had been intended that the event would only last two days, but Moses and I both felt that we should stay for a third day. The two visitors departed in the vehicle as they had an appointment elsewhere and it was just as well that they did as some subsequent fierce and sustained rain would make the track completely impassable to all those not on foot.
Even more people turned up on the third day and the worship was as powerful as I have ever experienced it. Unchurched people were turning up to see what was happening and, much to their astonishment, were having to testify to being healed just by entering the church building.
My faith was also stretched on this third day when I strongly felt that God was asking me to change the teaching that I had intended to give. With only about five minutes to quickly look at my bible, I launched into an hour of very unprepared teaching. Of course, God was faithful and the words that he gave me to say were very clearly just right for the occasion. It was an amazing few days and it was wonderful to be able to leave having seen many people healed and the church now ‘on fire’ for God. To think that I nearly didn’t go! Needless to say, my original reservations were completely unfounded and any aches and pains that I had disappeared!
May God bless you in a new and powerful way,