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.

Baptism in Uganda

One of my favorite services here in Uganda is our baptism/wedding service. We have a huge gathering of all four churches together. There are usually over 200 adults and around that many children. We sing all the best Swahili songs. The church choirs sing specials. We have preaching, then the baptisms, then the weddings. We finish with a meal, complete with cake.

This last week, I made 19 recipes of my favorite white cake. Most of that was in the form of cupcakes for the kids. Of the 190 cupcakes we took with us, we had 6 leftover! My kids were impressed that I’d guessed so well. 😉

IMG 4004

Twenty-two people were baptized today. One of them was the man who got saved a couple weeks ago. He was obviously nervous as he entered the water. He gripped the side, every step deliberate. 

IMG 4082

James baptized him, but the man clung to the side with one hand the whole time. Everyone noticed. The church leaders standing nearby started calling to him that his hand hadn’t gotten wet. He looked up at them, puzzled. So Zizi said it again, “Your hand didn’t get wet.”

IMG 4083

So the man dunked his hand under the water. Problem solved. Everyone cheered and laughed.

IMG 4084

I guess they were worried it would only count if all the parts got wet.

IMG 3980

We took food and medicine out to the church folks this last week (over a half-ton of it! We carried as much as our vehicle could safely hold.). We weren’t able to get all the doses of malaria medicine we needed so we had to take more today. Many of the adults were visibly ailing from malaria. Several were so sick they missed the service. We’ve taken 170 adult doses and 80 children’s. Given how many are sick, it feels like a drop in the bucket in the face of all that is needed.

Visiting the Afflicted

IMG 3939

I found my quiet seat prizes as promised and gave them out today. Hands down, the very favoritest are the matchbox cars we give to the boys. Today, the big brother that got the prize shared it with his little brother. The boy played with it and entertained younger children with it for almost the whole church service.

Church attendance was down today. Many people were home sick with flu (head colds from the dry season) or malaria. The harvest was poor last month. Many are suffering from sickness brought on by malnutrition. These are issues we deal with here on a regular basis. 

When Jesus ministered here on earth, he met people’s physical needs as well as their spiritual needs. Sometimes, in order for people to hear the message we are seeking to share with them, we have to remove the obstacles that are preventing them from hearing. If they are hungry, they need food. If they are sick, they need medicine. 

IMG 3940

We asked for a show of hands in the service at Isanja for how many were sick. Every adult there raised their hand. These people live with deprivation on a daily basis, but for the last year, it’s been much worse. The rains didn’t come as they should have and people in the district died of starvation from the famine that ensued. Christians around the world and the entire country of Uganda were moved to help. They brought food to the people in the districts that needed it most.

The rain came for the rainy season earlier this year but it ended too early. The crops didn’t yield as they normally do. The people in the district are facing famine and starvation for the second time in a year.

We have been getting a list of needed medication to take out to them this next week. We’re also going to be taking food and soap out on a regular basis for a while. If we don’t meet the physical needs, they won’t even be around for us to meet the spiritual ones.

IMG 3945

As for meeting spiritual needs, James was able to sit with a man from Isanja, lead him to the Lord, and give encouragement to all the men in the church! They were all listening intently to everything that was said, not only by James, but also by some of the other church leaders. One man is from another village where we’ve wanted to start a church for a long time. Some from that village have walked to either Ngarama or Isanja for church but it’s a long walk to either place. With four churches already, we’ve struggled to know how to take on something else. It appears God is opening doors for us!