MISSION: Uganda Blog Update 02-19-2018

Greetings one all! I can report that all construction at Ngarama Baptist Church was completed. Enough money came in to build a baptistry also. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this needed project. As you can see, it is much improved. I have also put a small library in there, since we can keep the books dry and secure now.

As planned, we had a big “Meet and Greet” day last weekend. Around 350 showed up from the community, including our local chairman, and people from Pentecostal, Anglican, and Catholic backgrounds. I preached on baptism, and Baptist distinctives. Then we went outside and I baptized 5 people. Among them was a 105 year old lady. She had never been able to make the trip to Sangano in the past for baptism. Now, because of your generosity, I was able to baptize her. We will do all the baptisms for this church here now, as it should be. Every church needs renovation and its own baptistry. In the case of Sangano and Isanja, we need expansion to accommodate the significant growth we have experienced. God is blessing greatly.

Yesterday, we had the Lord’s Supper at both Ngarama and Isanja. So I did both ordinances of the New Testament church, back to back. What a great weekend!

Pray for us. Next week we are heading to Kampala to renew passports. The road is much improved since we first entered Uganda back in 2010, but it is still a very dangerous drive. Pray for our health and safety, and that our appointments at the US Embassy will go smoothly.

Please pray about our other church buildings. Isanja’s building is not long for this world. I fear that it might not survive the rainy season, which has at last returned. Isanja, Sangano, and Kabazana all three need improvements, renovations, and expansions to accommodate all the recent growth. I need baptistries at Kabazana and Isanja. Anything you give will be put to work, and I have an extremely skilled, honest, and competent contractor ready to turn your money into beautiful, well-constructed church buildings. Investing in the community in this way is an enormous boost to moral, and shows love better than almost anything else we do. It gives, as you have seen, an awesome opportunity for community outreach to preach the Gospel to people who normally do not come to our services. Plus, once these are finished, I can put church libraries in each new building, and add to the learning and literacy of our congregations.

Thank you for praying!

MISSION: Uganda Blog Post 12-11-2017

Merry Christmas, y’all! It’s been a good year for us. God is blessing our ministry here in Uganda. The churches are growing with people getting saved and baptized. Our NGO has been renewed for five years. We are now entirely legal as missionaries with Grace Baptist Missions of Uganda, which is a marvelous achievement.

Thanksgiving Turkey

This year’s Thanksgiving turkey. He was delicious.

In a couple weeks, we are having a joint baptism/wedding/Christmas service. I will be marrying a young couple who have chosen to not live together or commit fornication before marriage. In this culture, that’s huge. I have married a lot of couples who were either already married, but needed the documentation for emigration purposes, or were living together, and decided to properly wed. This is the first of a group of younger Christians growing up in the church who are repudiating their culture and choosing instead to live their lives and marry Biblically. It is so encouraging as a Pastor to know that people are internalizing Biblical truth and making it their own.

To all of you who contributed to the Ngarama Church Reconstruction Project – behold what your money has accomplished! I thank God that His people have been obedient to His will and supported this work. This is a substantial improvement, and is a great encouragement to Ngarama Independent Baptist Church. They are putting the finishing touches on the structure this week. We will be painting the interior once the cement has cured. I am also getting some additional benches made, and a new pulpit. I still need money for a baptistry here. It will be about $1500 to construct. Once we have that, I would like to have a church building dedication in February, and invite the community to come and see the new building. It will be an opportunity to preach the Gospel, and do some community outreach. There are still several urgent building projects. Anything you give will be put to work, and will have direct bearing on the refugees of Nakivale, Uganda.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Finished Church Building

Our Ngarama church folks, in front of the new building.

Interior

A view of the interior. I made sure all doors are tall enough for me. 🙂

Prayers Don’t Fix Buildings

My friend Chrispus came with the report today. In order to repair our Ngarama Baptist Church building, it will require 5,644,000/= Ugandan shillings, approximately (variations in the dollar) $1570. That will repair the whole structure, including the walls and the floors, put a new roof on, metal doors and windows, and restore it like new. We have another need at Sangano. The parsonage at Sangano Baptist is near to falling down, and will fall down without intervention. This structure is where Pastor Zizi lives with his family. The parsonage will need 19,058,000/= Ugandan shillings, approximately $5301. Every time it rains, the water does more damage, it infiltrates the house, and the roof does nothing to hold it back. If we don’t do something soon, it will fall in. They already cannot use one room in there because they are afraid the roof and walls are going to collapse and kill them. Our other buildings also need major repairs and expansions. I am of the school of thought that you see problems and deal with them while they are small, before they become catastrophic. It is already catastrophic at Ngarama, and is about to be at our other churches. I can’t do anything without money. Please consider helping us.

The Parsonage

This is the parsonage, where Pastor Zizi lives with his wife and six children.

Leaks Like a Sieve

As you can see, the partial tin roof (the rest is tarps and plastic sheeting) is riddled with holes.

Unstable Wall

This wall is ready to go, and will take half the structure down when it does.

MISSION: Uganda Blog Post 09-18-2017

Greetings, one and all! July and August were just plain busy. We hit the ground running. You see, the problem with being gone  from the field for a year is you have a year’s worth of stuff to deal with when you get back.

I had a backlog of believers needing baptism, so we had a corporate service and I baptized the lot of them (35, although some were out sick on the day). I will need to do another, probably closer to Christmas. The churches are growing, which is a great blessing.

Our camp, and the surrounding district of Isingiro, was badly affected by drought and famine while we were in America. We had to make multiple emergency trips out to the camp to deliver food and medicine. All told, we spent $2000 of donations on relief supplies. We’ve taken 300 adult doses and 150 children’s doses of malaria medication, over 600 pounds of beans, 1,800 pounds of posho flour, and 500 pounds of soap, along with countless other medications.

We are finally getting rain now, but it was an unusually long dry season that lasted for 5 months. Many people in Isingiro starved, and the matoke (banana) crops and other staple foods were decimated. The people are having to rebuild their plantations.

At the end of August, our good friend, missionary Tom Tracht came from America to teach a class in Ruti on the Book of Romans. I transported 55 of our folks from the four churches to Mbarara to attend. It was a good class, and dovetails very well with my own preaching through Romans. I am trying to ground our people in systematic theology, so when the cults come around, they can give a reason for the hope that lies within them. Thanks to the preaching of God’s word, and the simple fact that we love our people, I am seeing numerous people leaving the Pentecostal and Catholic organizations to attend our services. We’ve even had Muslims attend services.

My pastor at Ngarama Baptist Church developed appendicitis, and had to be brought to Mbarara for surgery. He has had a very difficult recovery. The surgery was successful, but he has developed an infection, and it may have produced pneumonia. I went to see him after church yesterday, heard him coughing, and told him to get in the car, I’m taking you to the hospital – it sounded that bad. The torrential rains this past week washed away the beans he had planted. Those will have to be replaced.

We have several people who are in need of seeds to plant now that the rains have come. People ate their seed because they were starving. If we don’t get them seeds to plant, we will be right back where we started when the dry season comes again. In any case, I have to help Theogene. I am waiting to hear from the doctor on his condition today. I can’t spare this man. He is faithful, and trustworthy. He has nine children to support. It would be catastrophic if anything happened to him.

On top of all this, the church Theogene pastors had its building destroyed by the same rains. I have an engineer checking it today to get me a cost estimate on the repairs. Here are the pictures of what happened:

Roof 01

Our Ngarama Baptist Church building.

Roof 02

A bad rain storm tore off half the roof.

Roof 03

The rest of the building is near to collapse from termites and rain.

As I mentioned in my last blog post from June, we need to repair our buildings. Otherwise, this will be repeated at all the other churches. I have money set aside for wells and buying a motorcycle to assist our ministries within the camp, but I have no money for building repairs. You can refer to my last email for the cost breakdown. This is not an idle request. Please consider helping us repair our buildings.

I have completed the process of getting our various passes and permits approved by the Ugandan government so we can continue living here legally. Last step, we have to all go to Kampala to be fingerprinted. Pray for our travels. It is incredibly dangerous to drive there. I can do it capably, but it’s not pleasant.

God bless you. Thank you for praying!

Good News and Bad News

Good News

The refugee camp has been getting rain! Loads of rain! Gallons of rain! God has heard your prayer and sent it in full force. In fact, it was so much that it seemed like the weather was trying to make up for being a month late with the rain by catching up all in one week. 

IMG 4289

The road goes right through this field. Usually it’s just that, a field. People graze cattle and goats there. Today it was a swamp. The water will gradually soak into the ground and improve the groundwater conditions. Meanwhile kids use it as a swimming hole and cars and people avoid it so they don’t get stuck.

The road was sloppy and almost impassible in places because of all the rain. The days of us being able to drive out to the churches on relatively smooth road are gone until they grade the road again. It’s a challenge, but one I don’t mind because it means they’ve been getting rain.

Bad News

Part of the rain fell in a torrential downpour Thursday night, into Friday morning. We got news Friday afternoon that the roof had blown off the church at Ngarama for the third time. Sadly, the “engineer” we hired to construct it was not a good one. 🙁 The building has had one problem after another for the last five years. 

This might be the final straw for that building, but we won’t know until tomorrow when a reputable engineer looks at it. We’re hoping to reconstruct the roof enough to use the building until a new one can be constructed. This was not in our plan time wise or financially, but God has known about it since before the foundation of the world and He has it under control. I can’t right now, but God can.

IMG 4301

IMG 4302

Another bit of bad news we got was that one of our national pastors is very sick. A few weeks ago he developed appendicitis and they did emergency surgery on him at the hospital here in town. He hasn’t healed well and the last couple weeks the incision grew red and hot to the touch. He called James about it late one night and James told him to get to the hospital. He went to his local hospital for treatment. They gave him aspirin and sent him home. 🙁

Today we heard he’d developed a bad cough in addition to the red incision which was now causing his entire stomach to feel hot to the touch. We drove to his house, picked him up, and brought him to the town hospital. We still haven’t heard what they found, but it’s Sunday and they have minimal staff on Sunday.

Please be praying for Theogene. He has been a faithful man in his community. He has a wife and at least 9 children. A good portion of the beans he had planted washed away in the rain storm on Thursday — another hit from which their family will have to recover. He is frustrated with being sick right now when his family needs him so much.