A lot has happened since I last wrote. I have been in Iganga, Uganda for the past three days and have conducted a pastors conference for the past two. I gave a simple introduction to the methods and principles we use in training pastors to study the Word. It had a powerful impact on the pastors. Let me give you one example. I was teaching them the idea of doing good observation of a passage before we try to understand it. I broke them into groups and assigned passages and asked them to find 10 observations in the passage. One of the passages was Romans 12:1-2. My translator worked on that passage. He came up to me and said that he had been preaching for 18 years and had never realized that he needed to study like this. He was so excited with what he was seeing just by taking time to observe carefully these two verses. He said he felt like crying that he had not learned to do this earlier. I was reminded in my heart that this is exactly why I do this ministry, for men like Robert. What a joy to see them begin the discovery of the scriptures.
I rode from Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to Iganga with a famous bishop here in Uganda. He had been invited to come and preach in the evenings for the open air crusade they were having. As I conversed with him I was unsure about the man. What he said was all good but I felt uneasy. That first night at the crusade I realized that what he had told me privately and how he preached were two different things. It was pretty close to the health and wealth gospel, calling people to come to Jesus for all the good things he would do for them. There was no mention of sin, forgiveness, etc. None of the other pastors said anything to me that night. The next day we started the conference and I began teaching them the beginning steps to studying the Word and challenging them to preach the Word to their churches. That night we had more of the same in the preaching at the crusade. But that night all the pastors realized the difference between what this man preaching and what I was teaching them. They were very disappointed that he was not preaching the gospel or using the Word accurately. Several said the Bishop should have been at my training and he would have done better.
Tonight the bishop had to go home and they asked me to preach at the crusade. It was an open air affair in a vacant lot near the center of town. I would not say this is my area of giftedness, but the Lord calls. The men all wanted to hear how I would preach the gospel differently so there was a little pressure on me to do well. I had very little time to prepare and had no idea what to preach. The Lord gave me the idea to preach from Luke 5 and the story of the man let down through the roof. It worked perfectly. The former preacher talked only about coming to Christ to get your problems solved, receive health, financial blessings, etc. In the passage I used, the man was paralyzed so had a very apparent need. But Jesus did not heal him immediately, first he forgave his sins. I used that to teach that we have a bigger problem than health, wealth, etc. We have a problem with sin and the judgment of God. I was able then to present the gospel clearly. It appeared later that a few people responded and gave their lives to Jesus. The pastors all really appreciated the model. God is good.
The pastors are all excited about organizing for future training. I think within a year we will start the 3 year training cycle here, perhaps in at least two locations. One large disappointment came today as I was supposed to meet with an important potential partner for training in another part of Uganda tomorrow. I did a conference at his church last year and I had hoped to begin discussing setting up the training program with him on this visit. Unfortunately, his son came down with a life threatening condition so the man cannot come and meet with me. I am not sure what the Lord is doing with regard to that but I choose to trust Him.
Thanks again for your prayers, and for following along with my adventures with the Lord!