Sunday, November 5, 2017
It’s 7:50 pm Gulu time. We are closing the door on Sunday. It’s been a good day.
I left our condo in Minneapolis, 6:30 am Wednesday morning for the first leg of the journey to Northern Uganda. I had to fly through Washington DC, to Amsterdam, Rwanda, then Entebbe Uganda. We caught a few hours before the six hour drive from Entebbe to Gulu. With a few sprinkled layovers, if my math is correct it was almost exactly 48 hours from departure to arrival at our hotel in Gulu. In days like this the gift of sleep is precious and I’ve had a couple very good nights sleep since we’ve arrived.
It was a year ago that I was last with the leaders we are working with in the Gulu area. At the conclusion of that trip I had to tell our students that because of my transition out of the Lead Pastor role at Faith Community Church of New Richmond, it was likely that I would never be back. The men greeted me with tears and the sweet pain of relationship on hold until glory became evident.
By God’s providence the St Croix Valley LEAD Team that I was part of as pastor of Faith, had been working with leaders in Northern Gulu and had locked arms with Training Leaders International (TLI) for their expertise as well as the curriculum they had developed. When God opened the door for me to become an International Trainer with TLI, the door was once again open to return to Gulu. That reunion happened this evening as we had a pre-session with about half of the leaders. Sweet is the best word I can find.
It was last November that we cast vision for a church planting movement in Northern Uganda. We don’t have a full picture of what has taken place this year. I’m not sure anyone on earth does, or maybe even needs to. We know these leaders have started somewhere around 14 new worship gatherings in surrounding villages. These leaders humble me with their devotion to Jesus and desire to see His church strengthened and multiplied.
This morning our team of three had the joy of worshipping in three of those new churches. I’d like to relay a story that has already made this journey more than worthwhile. Pastor Joe’s church started last January. Pastor Sampson’s church started a few weeks later. They had both been sent out from Pastor Tony’s church to plant new works in two specific villages. The villages were chosen because of the need for a gospel witness, but also because there had been fighting between the tribes that make up the two villages because of land disputes.
Following worship I went into Pastor Joe’s home for some pop and crackers. Pastor Sampson joined us. I listened with a lump in my throat as Pastor Joe told me how God used our time together in November to move him to plant the church. Then Pastor Sampson told us of a miracle God was working through their churches. In spite of the tribal conflict disciples of Jesus from Pastor Joe’s church are sitting down with disciples of Jesus from Pastor Sampson’s church and the villages are noticing. They see that it is only the believers who will work through differences to find unity in the gospel. These men believe God has many from these villages and beyond who will reveal the beauty of the wisdom of God as they love each other in His name.
Our training starts tomorrow morning and my soul is already full. It is such an honor that I have been given by followers of Jesus to serve the church family here. I look forward to eternity to make many precious introductions.