Martin's Newsletter from Uganda - February 2009
Hello again from Eastern Uganda! It’s time once more to bring you up to date with what has been happened here. It has certainly been another interesting month and, once again, I have had the amazing privilege of seeing God working in the lives of many people.
As I mentioned last time, I have been getting involved a little bit with the youth whilst they are on their holidays. I felt very much that I wanted to do something with the youth from Mooni Church of Uganda before they went back to school. These teenagers feel that they are too old for Sunday School but they don’t feel comfortable in the main service either. As a result, there is an obvious danger that they could just drift away from the church. I have been giving some thought and prayer as to the way ahead but, in the meantime, I decided to try and get them altogether for an afternoon.
I therefore sent out invitations for a get-together to all those in the church aged 12 to 16. I was a little bit nervous as I had to make all the preparations for a proper event, including hiring a tent and arranging food, without knowing whether anyone was actually going to turn up! On the day, over sixty young people came along, which was fantastic and included nearly everyone that I had invited.
After an icebreaker game, we had some worship together, followed by a plate of food and a soda. Later on, we played sports, including football, netball and badminton, and other games, including snakes and ladders and card games. We also asked everyone to write down, anonymously, a question that they would like an adult to answer. The questions that emerged were very varied and some were quite bizarre! The topics covered issues relating to health, relationships, religion, studies and other general life issues. The questions then had to be answered somehow!!
All in all and judging by the feedback, the day was a great success and I felt that it achieved its main aims, which were for everyone to get to know each other a bit better, to assure these young people of the church’s love and concern for them and to help them understand that Jesus is the answer to all the issues that they are facing in life.
Also in Mooni, you may remember that, towards the end of last year, some of us from the church went out and moved around the local community sharing the gospel and that, as a result, sixty-four people gave their lives to Jesus. I have also been part of the follow-up team, visiting these new believers in their homes and giving them some support and encouragement and pointing them in the direction of one of the local churches.
Three of us recently visited Upper Mooni, which I like as the air up there is considerably cooler and fresher than further down. We visited the homes of four of the new converts and were able to share and pray with them. Before descending again, we felt that the Holy Spirit was leading us to visit another house that we had not been to before. Inside, we found a lady and her young child. Upon explaining what we were doing in Upper Mooni, the lady was somewhat taken aback. She explained that she had heard the gospel for the first time a couple of months ago, and after some considerable thought, had decided that she wanted to respond. However, she wasn’t sure quite what to do or how to go about it. Then we turned up. It’s very nice being part of an answer to prayer sometimes!
I have also been continuing to do quite a bit of preaching and teaching in various churches around Mbale, including in a church in Namatala where I haven’t previously been invited. At Mooni Church of Uganda, I have also been doing a lot more teaching, particularly in the fellowship on Sunday afternoons, focusing in on our identity as human beings created in the image of God, who we now are as new creations in Christ and our role in God’s Kingdom.
You will recall that I feel strongly that my role in Uganda is not to start up new projects of my own but very much to be a servant to the local people and to bless, encourage and support all that God is already doing through local Christians. As you’re aware, I have been hugely privileged to have seen God do some wonderful things in the prisons here and I have been very keen to continue to support the work of Prison Fellowship Uganda. I have therefore spent a bit more time with Mary Eteu, the local co-ordinator, over the last month trying to help her to put things on a firmer foundation, organisationally, administratively and financially. I believe that this will help this ministry flourish further and I hope to have more to share with you on ministry in the prisons over the coming months.
Moving further afield, Moses and I have continued to be invited to minister at various places in eastern Uganda and we recently accepted an invitation to an event that was being held in a church in Manafwa District. The event was a coming together of five local churches for a joint service followed by a meal together or ‘swallowship’, as they call it here.
Although I know that God has been using my preaching over the last year to touch and change the lives of people, I had been feeling a little bit challenged recently and I know that God can always do more. Although I always pray before preaching, this time, I prayed and fasted for two days before delivering the message that God had given me from Luke 13 on the healing of the crippled woman.
I have to say that I didn’t feel or notice anything significantly different when I preached, until near the end of the service, when a very old lady made her way with some difficulty and with the help of a walking cane to the front of the church, where she knelt down. This raised some excitement as it seemed that this woman had not been able to kneel down for some years. It seems that God had used the sermon to start to loosen up and heal her body.
Realising that God was doing something here, we decided to lay hands on and pray for her, upon which she completely straightened up, disposed of her walking cane and danced around the church building! Later on, a second lady also testified that God had used the sermon to enable her to stand upright again. And another that her crippled knee had been healed.
I found this hugely exciting and whilst I know that all the work was done by God and that He will heal when and where he chooses, it has certainly encouraged me to pray and fast more before preaching in the future.
God bless you,