Monday, February 13, 2006
Sunday- The plan was to go to Church for a 10:00 am service but I think it was noonish when we finally arrived. It is a good thing the Americans were the only ones who really seem bothered by lack of punctuality. I have been wondering for a while now why we don’t just use terms such as, “around 10 or 11” or “somewhere in the vicinity of late afternoon,” or perhaps “sometime tomorrow”. If I were to do it over I would have left my watch in Illinois and just started taking in some deep breaths of contentment. Really, what is the big hurry for? Well, except for the number of daylight hours, what is our big rush?
The people at the Sign of the Dove Uganda are beautiful with hearts that are ready to worship in Spirit and in Truth and minds that hunger to be filled with the Word. There is joy and gladness in the midst of struggle and survival. God is just so awesome!! The ground and building were dedicated and the preaching was what our ears needed to hear. (as usual) I don’t think I could ever get tired of hearing the pastors on our team preach or teach and that includes those from Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. They are all so anointed.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Wednesday was the first day for the team from America to join the crusade that had started on Monday. The day started at 5:00 am for me with my workout and prayer. I was able to jog around the courtyard where we were staying and also use my resistance band and jump rope. I got my heart rate up for a good hour before the day really got started. After breakfast and loading our bags, we started the trip to Hoima which included a long, dry, bumpy ride over some very rough road and some wonderful scenery. There were women, men and children walking along the road carrying bundles and water jugs on their heads that were often larger than the people themselves. We passed many little ‘villages’ consisting of a couple of living structures scattered here or there. Some were just poles with grass coverings others were mud huts and grass roofs, and others were brick buildings with or without roofs. There seemed to be nothing for miles and then you would see a woman walking along with a bundle of coal on her head and nothing but empty road for miles.
We arrived late-morning and got ourselves settled into the guest house where we would be staying and then we had lunch before heading to the Church and crusade grounds. Hoima is a smaller town than the capital, Kampala, but bigger than a village. There seems to be a good deal of governmental offices and departments there in a relatively tight circle. There is a stronghold of witchcraft in the district of Hoima and we were to come face to face with it that first night. We arrived at the crusade after the teaching sessions were over and joined them outside in the field. There was a platform set up with a sound system to amplify the message for those who were within the reaches of the speakers. (Yes, it was loud) The music was mostly in local Lugandan and some English but the spirit of praise and worship is the same in any language and so it was beautiful for me. The minute I stepped off the van I was surrounded by children many who looked like they were from a “Feed the Children” commercial. I didn’t understand a word they said but one little boy knelt down in front of me and bowed his head and held up a coin of some sort. The other children gestured that I should take it but I knelt down to the boy and looked him in the eye and said “no thank you, keep your money.” I wasn’t prepared for that at all.
I spent the first couple of hours praying and really didn’t have an opportunity to ‘see’ too much but the worship and messages were powerful. I could sense the fire in the heart of Evangelist Chris who was preaching first and getting the people ready for the main message. Pastor Harry preached about being light in the darkness and that was definitely the theme for the week.
There was an incredible moment when after the alter call the Pastor whose Church we were assembled at announced that one of the men who had come forward was a witch doctor who was over 127 other witch doctors. He was called up onto the platform and asked why he was giving his life to Christ. His testimony was short and simple. His wife was healed from cancer and it wasn’t his witchcraft it was prayer in the name of Jesus that healed her. He had accepted Christ before but had backslid when he needed money and realized how much he was losing by giving up his witchcraft. Now however, he was ready to give it all up because he knew it didn’t work and he was just stealing from the people. He was unable to have any peace and so he wanted to recommit his life and also get rid of all of his witchcraft paraphernalia. After all those that needed prayer were prayed over, the former witch doctor brought all of his things to be burned.
There was much prayer and binding of the spirits as he denounced all of his former tools of bondage.
The next morning was early for me as I was up at 5:15 and we hadn’t gotten to bed until after 11:30 the night before. I was up praying on the front steps when I noticed that there were others out in the yard in front of the house that were also praying and worshipping. It was beautiful to enter into His presence together with others so early in the morning as the sun rose in the east. The sky changed from night to early dawn and the praises of His people filled the air. Awesome! My spirit so needed that fresh anointing. By 6:30 almost the whole team (Ugandan, Tanzanian, American, and Rwandan) was out in the yard praying and singing. We had corporate prayer and worship before getting ready for the day and breakfast. This was also the time for me to get my ‘workout’ in by running in circles around the yard and doing lunges up and down the driveway. This was the pattern to follow for every morning we were in Hoima.
Side note: The women who were cooking the meals did all preparation and cooking outside on small coal stoves without any of the modern conveniences (not even a vegetable peeler) or an oven.
Thursday was a full day at the church where there were teaching sessions in the morning followed by the crusade around 4:00 in the afternoon. The church was constructed with poles and aluminum roofing and dirt floor with benches and mats for seating. They had brought plastic chairs for the guests to sit in. : ) I felt right at home for those of you who have ever been to my house. Same plastic patio chairs there in Uganda as I have in my dining room.
Pastor Brian preached first and was as fervent and zealous as any evangelist I have ever seen which was so refreshing coming from the U.S. Then Pastor Dan, who founded the Sign of the Dove Church Uganda, taught on the Potter’s House and it was an awesome word from the Lord and his heart for Jesus was so evident in every word he said. He is so much like Pastor Harry that if I didn’t know better I would say he must be his son. They are so alike in spirit, heart and vision and definitely anointed for the teaching and preaching of the Gospel.
That evening there were many who were delivered from various spiritual bondages, people were healed and several dedicated their lives back to the Lord. It was a powerful time and the gospel was preached loud and clear. At the conclusion of the services during the crusade a Christian movie was shown each night and it seemed to draw a good number of people. We didn’t stay for the movie but headed back to the guest house each night to prepare for the next day.
Friday was the last day of the crusade and it was very busy with many sessions and times of prayer. Pastor Deborah ministered to the women, Pastor Harry ministered to the Pastors, Pastor Cory and Desiree ministered to the youth, and Pastor Brian ministered to the men. I was with Pastor Deborah and after her message we prayed for about 70 women along with Pastor Dan’s wife, Erica. I cannot really describe how powerful the move of the Holy Spirit was and do it justice. God Moved. Lives were touched by the Holy Spirit.
On the way back to the house for lunch we were surprised by an infestation of roaches that were in too great a number to be anything but a direct attack against us. We suspect that it was caused by our direct attack against witchcraft and praise God that it was nothing a can of Raid couldn’t handle. It was sort of gross having roaches crawl up my skirt though.
That evening at the last night of the crusade Pastor Harry preached again and then there was a call for prayer and again the Spirit moved as people came to the alter. The most incredible testimonies are still back in Hoima where they will be sharing with families and friends about how Jesus healed them, how they were delivered from curses and how they had wanted to die but now they have hope. The most powerful example was when Pastor Brian and Chris were praying for a child who couldn’t move his tongue and was crippled in the limbs. The tongue was moving and the limbs were flexing after praying for the child. There was a sincere desire for the people of Hoima to step out of the darkness of witch craft and sin. To God be the Glory!!
Prayer on Saturday morning was a sweet communion and a time of thanksgiving for all that God had done and what He is going to do in Hoima. We packed up and cleaned the area for Ms. Gertrude Nseka whose house we had been staying at. There were so many people I met in Hoima that I was unable to see again before I left that my heart is saddened that I didn’t get to say goodbye properly. Apostle Moses Asiimwe, Evangelist Chris Isabirye, Susan, Faith and the others from the Christian college. I pray that God will continue to bless their ministries and use them mightily for His service.
My trip started a little sooner than the rest of the team traveling from The Sign of the Dove, Waukegan as I had treasures (Jennifer and Jordan) to deposit in Idaho before leaving the country.
I left Chicago with Jennifer and Jordan on Friday the 20th of January to take them out to Idaho. They would be spending time with Papa and Grandma JoJo for the duration of my trip. We arrived late on Friday and then I was able to visit and rest on Saturday before heading back to Chicago on Sunday morning. My flight arrived in Chicago late in the afternoon Sunday where I promptly got busy packing and baking banana bread. (Long story- but suffice it to say, the rescue ministry never got their loaves but my neighbors can't wait for me to leave again.) I took Pastor Cory seriously when he said pack light. I had one duffle bag and my carry on pack. : )
Monday at noon we met at the Christian school where the van took us to the airport. There were six of us on the van and we met the seventh and final member of the team at the airport. We flew to Amsterdam where we had a 4 1/2 hour layover before boarding the plane for Entebbe. It was good to get to talk and share and relax a bit before the last leg of the journey. Both flights were roughly 7 1/2 hours each and so it was good to break it up.
We arrived late in the evening local time at Entebbe and the mosquitos were the first to greet us. The mosquito spray was packed in my bags and finally after almost an hour of standing in swarms while waiting for customs and our visas I asked if anyone had thought to leave bug spray in their carry-on. PRAISE GOD for Pastor Brian!! His wife had put some in his carry-on bag and he saved the day. We finally got through customs and met our hosts from Kampala, Pastor Dan and his wife Erica, and what seemed like the whole church from Sign of the Dove Uganda. The warmth and sincerity of there greeting was foreign to most of the team. It reminded me of flying into the Kenai airport with the whole McGahan clan there to meet me. The airport is about the same size too! Smiles, welcomes, and so much love from our brothers and sisters in Christ!
We loaded onto a 15 passenger van and made the drive to Kampala where we would spend the first night before heading out on a 4 hour drive to Hoima in the morning. The sights and sounds were different but mostly because of how late it was and how many people were out walking, shopping, and working. I asked someone finally why so many people were out at midnight and the answer was something to the effect that people there work late so they are out late getting things done that they can't do while they are at work. Hmmm, real mystery there eh? I guess the thought I had was that it wasn't safe because street lights, sidewalks, neighborhood watch were not evident. : ) Anyway, the roads are similar to Alaska during the spring thaw without a grader to smooth them out for a few years. Ruts are the norm and smooth road is the exception. I am not complaining mind you just observing. I saw too many people walking to ever complain about a rough road. I was blessed to see that we were staying in a house and not a tent and was even more blessed to see the toilet and sink. God is so caring and loving that He meets each of us right where we need Him to. : ) I think tents would have been fun though!
Well, we left on Monday and arrived on Tuesday evening and I will tell all about Wednesday later! I am tired just thinking about all that traveling. : )
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