I have wanted to give a report of my trip to Uganda. I had preached for Jim Raderstorf in Phoenix. He had been the last missionary for our fellowship in Uganda. We never had more than one missionary there at one time. Each one was the pastor of the leadership church. He explained that it was difficult to get guys to go into Uganda since there would be no American there to facilitate their visit. I didn’t think it would be a problem for me so I volunteered to go with Pastor Mitchell’s blessing.
It was a great experience for me. I stayed in the Baptist Guest House there in Kampala. Many of them knew our friends from Zambia, Wes and Laurie Wilcox. The accommodations were great and very reasonable. I did some cooking there in the kitchen. One of the small bonuses of life in Zambia was the beef. It was usually freshly butchered and the low prices allowed us to buy the fillets for extremely low prices compared to America. So I went down the hill to a group of stores. I used the internet café, bought some things from the Indian merchant, (already had gotten my Ugandan coffee downtown), and some fillet from the Italian butchery for the same low prices in Zambia. Life was good.
The church services were great. Pastor Richard Twaanda is the leader of the Ugandan fellowship churches and he had organized my meetings. They wanted to spread me out to as many churches possible in my 10 days of preaching. I started in the original church in a Muslim section of town. The first service went Ok, but the second service was filled with visitors so there was excitement and anticipation in the air. It was a great service. I wish I could have kept preaching there and build on what was happening but it was time to switch to Richard’s church for a proper revival.
Richard’s church is healthy and ready for some good things to happen. They have just bought land and set there tent up in the middle of a compound. The church has some good couples and everyone was pulling with me during the services. The revival went very well. I followed the 4 day revival with a single night at their latest baby church. A baby church full of new converts, who could ask for anything more. It was only a single service but it was a great time.
I want to insert a comment about the pastoral couples that I met in Uganda. These couples are the best of the best. Their demeanor and confidence in running the services were very impressive. Their friendliness and cordiality made my visit pleasant and rewarding. I was able to take four of the couples out for dinner while I was there. The restaurant of choice was “Sam’s”. A place they were all familiar with through the Radersdorf’s.
It was that Friday that I was taken by my personal taxi and driver David to the city of Iganda about 2 hours East of Kampala. Richard and I attended a mini-conference for the village pastors (reminds me of Spurgeon’s advise in his Psalms commentary) in this part of the country. We crossed the Nile just after it leaves Lake Victoria to begin the journey to the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria, Egypt. Kampala comes across as a bustling, happening city. The country side is green. The drive out to Iganda took us through forests, sugar fields and the manicured look of the tea fields. The drive took us into an area of the country with heavy Muslim influence.
So there I was preaching two sermons divided by a delicious goat curry (sorry, just can’t help expressing my enjoyment of the meals). Once again I am very impressed with the stature of these couples who have sacrificed in leaving the capital city to minister in the countryside. Iganda is half Muslim. The makeshift tent was set up in an old Muslim market place. I will probably put two photos below of the Iganda pastor and the location within the Muslim marketplace.
I finished the trip with 3 services at one last church in Kampala. It was at this church that my first sermon on Saturday night was followed with a film. The next morning I asked how the film went. What I was told really surprised me. I am use to setting up a film anywhere in Zambia and gathering 100’s to hear an altar call. The pastor was pleased to get 10 visitors to the film. So what is different?
Idi Amin had a part in setting the spiritual atmosphere in Uganda. Under his regime, only Anglican, Catholic and Muslim (also possibly Seventh Day Adventists) were allowed to openly have services. Pentecostals who went public found themselves in jail. According to Richard only recently have “born agains” found acceptance in the larger Ugandan society. Idi Amin was a terrible leader, but still maintains levels of appreciation from Ugandans because of his rhetoric about self-sufficiency in business and industry. Idi Amin had expelled all of the Indian merchants. This was the first time I had heard this event footnoted with the fact that they could stay in Uganda and do business if they became Ugandan citizens. Amin was a Muslim who was forced to retire to Saudi Arabia. His reaction to the dramatic rescue of the Jewish travelers at Entebbe airport is the perfect illustration of the man. All of the people were rescued except one woman who had a medical condition and was taken to a hospital. There the doctors did their best to protect her from the security officers who came and took her and secretly executed her on Amin’s instructions. His religion of preference was Muslim.
The Muslim influence is much more prevalent in Uganda than Zambia. I have to admit that I was under the influence of one of my favorite writers, Mark Steyn. I had read “America Alone” on the flight over to Uganda. Mark does a great job in describing the Muslim demographics and its future effect in the world. One thought that he voiced that I found replaying in my mind during my trip to Uganda was about Saudi Arabia. The thought is what exactly does Saudi Arabia do with all of its oil royalties? Mark points out that those royalties haven’t been reinvested in infrastructure for Saudi Arabia but those billions upon billions have been invested in spreading the Saudi version of Islam. So how does this translate out in Africa. Money moves into Africa through the Mosques and schools. Money is made available to the faithful for housing and business. This is what David and the Uganda pastors all believed. Is it true? I don’t know. The pastors described most Ugandan Muslims as non-practicing Muslims taking advantage of the benefits of allying themselves with the local Mosque. They said that the target was not the first generation of hirelings but the second generation of indoctrinated believers. I was told that the nicest highway in Uganda was built by the Saudis coming from the Sudan south through the Muslim areas, stopping short of connecting to the main East-West highway. It would be interesting to see if money really is being used to gain Muslim converts in Africa.
Uganda, as all of Africa, is still fighting the fight for honesty and integrity. While I was in Uganda the two main news stories illustrated the greater African problem. The judiciary had released on bail the opposition leaders who had been arrested on treason charges. The government then went in and began to re-arrest them. I actually was at an internet café listening to a man talk on the phone who was one of the released men describing his predicament. The judiciary then went on strike because the government was not respecting their decisions. I don’t know how this has played out. The other story was about a minister who was a close personal friend of the president who was accused by a major medical donor to Uganda of stealing millions of dollars. No action was taken against him and so the donor decided to end their commitment of contributing major amounts of money into programs run by the government. The fight goes on.
Once again I came out of Uganda with optimism for Uganda and Africa. I am very aware of all of the difficulties that are faced in Africa but believe that the gospel will continue to prosper in the continent and even have impact in the rest of the world.