Martin's Newsletter from Uganda - May 2009
Hello again! Whatever is going on in your lives at the moment, I hope that this newsletter finds you feeling encouraged, challenged or comforted, whichever you currently need, by our wonderful God whose heart and hand I continue to so clearly see here in Uganda.
The last few weeks have continued to see me moving around preaching and teaching at various churches, prisons and schools. I mentioned in a previous newsletter the different schools that I have had the opportunity to visit here. In addition, I have also been very privileged to receive invitations to visit a number of tertiary institutions here in eastern Uganda and to speak at their Christian Unions. I recently had a great time at the School of Hygiene where hundreds of students are studying to be Environmental Health Officers and other similar occupations.
All the Christian Unions at the various colleges and universities have recently had elections for new leaders and a training day was recently organised for them by FOCUS (the ‘Fellowship of Christian Unions’). I was invited to attend the day and asked to give a talk to around fifty new CU leaders on the subject of ‘Servant Leadership’. It was a great privilege to meet and to chat with so many young people who are on fire for God and eager to see more of their fellow students come to know Jesus.
I have been very aware that I have a big responsibility to ensure that all this teaching that I am now doing is absolutely accurate and completely truthful. Although I would consider myself fairly well read, have received a great deal of good teaching in the UK over the years and have had the benefit of the lay pastor’s course that I did last summer, I have recently been feeling that it would be good to have something a bit more to hand when I am preparing my sermons and teaching notes.
Whilst perusing through a number of books on one of my recent visits to the retreat centre in Jinja, I noticed a number of references to a highly recommended textbook on Systematic Theology. However, it seemed unlikely that I would be able to buy such a book in Mbale and the cost of purchasing the book in England and then shipping it to Uganda was likely to be very prohibitive.
However, God promises to meet all of our needs and I was both amazed and excited when, just a few days later, I went into a local shop and saw a copy of this weighty tome improbably sandwiched between a whole series of children’s paperbacks and a number of copies of the Good News Bible. It’s the first and the last time that I have ever seen such a book in Mbale and I immediately snapped it up and have been finding it both fascinating (yes, really!) and just what I need. God is so good.
I do find it fascinating to think about our faith. For example, how do we square the fact that God promises that the Bible contains absolutely everything that we need to know to be able to complete all of the good works that He has prepared for us to do with the daily promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit? I am happy to say that the new book provided the definitive answer, however, my experiences over the last six months have also demonstrated that when God speaks to me it is often to tell me what He wants to do in a situation rather than to tell me what to do!!
My role is often just to announce or introduce God into the situation. In practice, I find the example of John the Baptist very helpful as it provides me with a measuring stick as to whether I have succeeding in my role. In other words, when it gets to the end of a service or meeting and someone stands up at the front of the church and starts praising me and thanking me for all that I’ve done then I know I’ve failed. However, if everyone is so busy praising and worshipping God that nobody notices when I slip out then it strongly suggests that I’ve probably succeeded.
Anyway, a recent visit out to a village community provided a good example of when, despite a very unpromising beginning, God fittingly and rightly got all the praise and glory that He fully deserves. Moses and I had been invited to visit a church to do some teaching and ministering. It was quite a rural location and unreachable by car so we needed to finish the journey on the back of motorbikes. When we finally arrived, we discovered that the small event had somehow turned into a major conference involving a number of churches with announcements going out on the local radio about the imminent arrival of the two ‘Men of God’ who would apparently be preaching, teaching and administering God’s blessings into the lives of the local people!! Talk about embarrassing and, after that build-up, it was unsurprising that many of the people were looking at us with great expectation.
In the end, that expectation was actually helpful and it just needed to be directed away from us and towards God and the people’s faith was richly rewarded with a wonderful outpouring of God’s love and power over the three days. I have tried to adequately sum up all that God did but have found it difficult to improve on the report that Moses wrote afterwards and I have therefore decided, with his permission, to reproduce it. So my apologies if you have already read his report: -
“Something is happening in our life time, especially in the church of Jesus Christ, that no generation has seen before. God is outpouring his Holy Spirit in our day in a powerful way and this moving is causing the gates of hell to tremble and satan’s kingdom is being destroyed. Our outreach to Bumumali gave us evidence of this ... it was an extraordinary time. There was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and as a result we witnessed all sorts of healings taking place including recreation miracles.
We were privileged to be invited by Rev. Yesakani, the Anglican priest at Bumumali parish). He is born again with a heart to see revival in his community and congregation.
Every day Martin and I were meeting about 120 to 160 people, many more with children included. The people came from all over the parish and some of them carried the sick with them.
During every session we had an extended time of anointed worship and we felt this was key to the move of God. Some of the people testified that they received their healing during these worship times without anyone actively praying for them.
For example: Agnes testified that she had been totally blind in her right eye for nearly 2 years. As she attended our meetings and joined in with the worship, she suddenly realised that she was able to see perfectly through her previously blind eye! She was overjoyed as she explained her healing and gave thanks, praising God.
Beatrice was brought to the first meeting on a mat - she was bed ridden suffering from a fever for a week. At the end of the meeting we laid hands on her and instantly she got better. She was able to walk home by herself without anybody supporting her. That night she slept well and the next day, she and her husband invited us to her home for lunch.
* One lady came to the meeting with tumours in both hands and during worship they all vanished.
* Another lady was totally deaf in both ears for over a year. After prayer she was able to hear perfectly well.
* Many people came struggling under demonic oppression of various sorts and experienced deliverance and freedom through prayer.
* There were many testimonies of healing from headaches, chest pain, back problems, leg problems etc.
* Lots of people testified of experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit as they worshipped and some of them spoke in tongues for the first time.
Vote of thanks
Thank you for standing with us in prayer. Everything that happened during this outreach is as a result of your prayers and support. Please join with us in glorifying God for His wonderful presence and miracle-working power. May the Lord bless you and smile upon you.
I hope that his report encourages you as much as it was encouraging for me to be there in person. I am happy to say that the people’s experience of God was so great that we were able to leave at the end of the week without any of the fanfare of the arrival, which is as it should be. People were just too excited by what they had experienced and seen of God, which is wonderful. Praise Him!
Of course, the physical needs in such a community, which has no modern medical facilities at all, are absolutely enormous and, sadly, not everyone was healed. However, although I might not always understand, it was impossible to be in God’s presence for the three days and to ultimately doubt that we have an all powerful and ever loving God. My prayer is that, whatever your current circumstances, you will also know and be able to hold onto that fact.
May God bless you,