Our focus for our village outreaches in Uganda this year has primarily been on teaching and training our current pastors, leaders, and church members. We have over 200 churches in very rural areas throughout the country (and Kenya, South Sudan, and Rwanda). Many of our pastors lack necessary education, and we’ve been working hard to bring relevant training to all of our churches.
However, as we were planning and preparing for last month’s outreach, Pastor Samuel, our Zonal Leader in Luuka Zone, made us aware of the fact that there was an area in his zone that has no church (of any kind) for over 20 kilometers. In a village setting where everyone walks everywhere, this is an impossibly long distance. This means the Gospel has had very little penetration in that area. “Please,” Pastor Samuel said, “these people need to know Jesus.” After receiving his report, it was clear that we needed to plant a new church in Luuka Zone.
We decided on an area about 12 kilometers from our nearest church. We arrived in Luuka Zone on a Monday morning and began setting up camp. A US pastor friend of mine, Daryl, and his wife, Leslie, joined us as well. Daryl and Leslie did training with our pastors and their wives in that zone. As usual, we also held youth programs, small business workshops, health & hygiene workshops, nightly showings of the Jesus film and other videos, and my kids led the children’s program. But before we could pack up and head to the next village, we knew that we had to tell the people of that village about Jesus. Toward the end of the last day, as people began gathering for the free food and “film show,” we shared the good news with these people. That evening, we saw over 40 people find hope in Jesus! That first Sunday, our new church (which meets under a tree) had over 50 people in attendance.
Pastor Samuel called me recently to give me an update. The church is now running almost 80 people (a typical village church normally has about 20-50 people). Many people are walking for several miles to be at church on Sunday. “Pastor Smooth,” Samuel said “these people are coming from very far. Please, we need more churches in this area!”
Will you please pray for this new church plant, that it will continue to grow and become strong? Will you please pray that God will enable us to plant more churches in that area? Also, will you please pray for the pastor of that new church? Until he is able to raise up a new pastor from within that church (a process that can take 1-2 years), he is pastoring two churches, and he is traveling 24 kilometers on foot every Sunday!
It’s pretty awesome to get to be a part of what God is doing here in Uganda. God is actively speaking, moving, and working, and we are just trying to keep up!