2012 Mission Trip To England/Uganda, Part 6

We all had a great sense of fulfillment following our 2012 mission trip to Uganda, yet we did not yet feel closure.  Jessica and I felt burdened to invite Daniel Lugumya to our area of service.  We arranged for Pastor Daniel to come the following spring.  Daniel and his family lived in Boston during this time, and Daniel flew to our area in the spring of 2013.  Jessica’s church had a mission fest emphasis during the time that Daniel came, and they had a booth set up for him in order to promote his home country of Uganda, and his ministries in Kampala!  Daniel lacked entrepreneur skills in promoting the needs of his home country.  This was due to absolutely no fault of his own, and is best understood as a cultural divide and lack of understanding.  Some mission funds were nonetheless collected and given to Pastor Daniel for the needs in Uganda.  I took Daniel to a lunch meeting with my fellow pastors in our local association and he really enjoyed the fellowship.  Daniel was well received by all, and shared his personal testimony of salvation.  Arrangements were made for him to visit three more churches, including the one where I served as pastor.  Pastor Daniel spoke at all three churches about Uganda and their needs.  He showed us a brief film that displayed the ministries of their church (Jesus Commissioned Ministries) and school (Mercy School).  Daniel shared with us all about the importance of the Great Commission.   Together, the three churches collected a great amount of offerings, and Daniel was able to use the mission funds to build better and more extensive roofs over Jesus Commissioned Ministries and the Mercy School in Kampala, Uganda.  I will forever be grateful to the pastors and their respective churches who gave so generously.  Southern Baptist Churches are often not receptive in giving to causes outside of our denomination, yet the pastors told me that they trusted my judgment.  I was humbled and grateful.  Later on, Pastor Daniel sent us e-mail photographs of the new roofs that were placed on the aforementioned buildings.

Uganda is very poor.  I call it the Haiti of Africa.  Daniel Lugumya represents a non charismatic Protestant church deep within Africa.  It is one of the few churches in the entire nation that is absolutely square with the Bible.  If you feel a burden to help these saints who live in a country stricken with poverty, I would encourage you to contact Pastor Daniel Lugumya.  Daniel is now based in Houston, seeking contacts and assistance for his people in Uganda.  He can be easily reached through Google, and the following references:

Daniel Lugumya

Daniel and Lydia Lugumya (they have three children)

Houston, Texas

Jesus Commissioned Ministries

Mercy School

Uganda

Kampala, Uganda

 

**********************

 

Blessings, Pastor Steve

 

2012 Mission Trip To England/Uganda, Part 5

The remainder of our week featured many evangelistic opportunities.  Jessica and I taught at the Mercy School a few times, and I was absolutely dumbfounded by the incredible fear of God in the children.  This was a result of the Biblical instruction they received.  They were very kind, respectful, obedient and orderly.  The Ugandan gifts given to us throughout the week by the children and adults, were musical performances and singing.  They truly represented our Lord Jesus Christ and humbled us.  I will never forget them.

I preached the gospel in evening services throughout the week, as well as Sunday morning and Sunday night.  The Sunday evening service had several Ugandan pastors in attendance from other churches.  These people love the Word of God in all of its clarity, truth and power.

We took tours of the city of Kampala, and the neighborhood surrounding the church.  The people eke out a mere existence, and continually search for the staples in life (food, water, clothing).  They are content with these alone, just like our Lord Jesus told us to be.  They are not aware of their poverty, and display great joy and kindness in their countenance.  Pastor Daniel loves his people, and desires to use western “know how,” missions and entrepreneurship to improve their ministries.  Daniel Lugumya lacks the ability to fully establish connections himself, and needs catalysts to assist him in building up their ministries.  A little money and labor in Uganda goes a long way.  Pastor Daniel has moved from Boston, Massachusetts to Texas, as his base of operations in the United States of America.   If you would like to help him as a missionary and ambassador for Uganda, you can find him on line easily.  Simply Google the following:

Pastor Daniel Lugumya     Kampala, Uganda

Jesus Commissioned Ministries

Mercy School

We took a tour of a museum that gave us a detailed history of this nation.  Interestingly, only Uganda and Russia take a stand as countries against the abomination of sodomy/homosexuality and lesbianism!  Their history is that of an English colony.  Pastor Daniel jokingly told me that Americans slaughter the English language.  They speak excellant English in comparison to our slang.  Uganda eventually received their independence, yet the English culture is replete throughout the country.  We observed a detailed history of Ugandans who were martyred for their Christian faith.  We took Daniel, some of his family, friends and church associates out to eat a few times during the week.  Eating out is a luxury for these folks.  It is probably the equivalent of you and I purchasing a car or a new expensive appliance of some sort.

Before departing from Uganda, we were taken to souvenir shops.  We boarded our flight the following morning, and were able to enjoy the breathtaking topography of Africa.  After crossing the Mediterranean Sea, we saw the Alps in the distance.  Without close observation, the snow capped  Alps could have been mistaken for clouds.  We landed in London and stayed overnight in Heathrow, and then flew to Dallas, Texas the following morning.  Before getting off of our flight in Dallas, I realized we would probably not be able to board our connecting flight because of the expanse of Dallas’ large airport, and our limited time.  We ended up in extremely long lines, and some kind folks allowed us to cut in front of them all, much to the chagrin of the Arabic employees.  We had to go through customs, check passports, personal items and luggage, as well as take a shuttle to another terminal in order to meet our connection for home.  During this entire time, a gentleman named Mike helped us get through all the confusion.  I will never forget him.  He was like a guardian angel, seeing us to the end of our journey so we did not need to rent hotel rooms that night.  He vanished as quickly as he appeared, helping us in our time of need.  I now call him Michael the archangel.  [I have often wondered since our trip, if Mike made HIS flight.  But then again, if he was an angel, he would have had his own custom transportation].  We finally hopped on the shuttle and entered our terminal just as the passengers were boarding.  Thank you Jesus.  We arrived home at our local airport late in the evening, exhausted yet fulfilled.  Our journey does not end here however.  We spoke with Daniel Lugumya, and already explored the possibility of hosting him in our area.  Stay tuned for Part 6.

Because of Him, Pastor Steve

 

2012 Mission Trip To England/Uganda, Part 4

Uganda

We left the airport at Entebbe, drove to Kampala, and checked into our hotel in the section of the capitol city where westerners stay.  This is the area where Americans and Europeans typically dwell while in Uganda.  We then went to the money changers and thanks to Daniel Lugumya’s financial savvy, we negotiated an excellent rate of exchange.  There is one decent road in the entire country, and that is the main route that connects Entebbe with Kampala.  The rest of the streets are dirt, sand and potholes.  Daniel described the traffic as “organized chaos.”  There are no street lights or stop signs, and everyone just “goes for it.”  The traffic is always bumper to bumper and I never saw as much as a fender bender all week long!  There is a unique connectivity among the Ugandan populace, and in a way that is difficult to even explain, they have an incredible sense for one another.  A “oneness” if you will.

The homes and businesses are not much more than slums.  There is a shortage of utilities everywhere, and plumbing is nonexistent in all of the neighborhoods we entered.  The infamous Middle Eastern “hole in the ground” was observed within small outhouses, and very little if any privacy was afforded.  Rain pushes sewage straight through neighborhoods.  After Daniel left us at our hotel, he stayed with his sister in one of the innumerable third world cinder block homes that dot the landscape throughout Kampala.  I felt awkward, yet Ugandans want to treat westerners better than themselves because they know we are use to it.  I was amazed at observing the Ugandans’ attire, and how they dressed for church services.  They are all very poor, yet they manage to obtain fine looking clothes to wear when they go to worship.  Why is this?  Simply because it is a priority with them.

Why go on short term mission trips?  For one thing, one can see what the Lord is doing around the world, and a mission trip affords the opportunity to have a hand in it.  I have never been on such a trip without observing and participating in professions of faith and people being won to Christ.  People respect Americans who leave our comfort zones and lives of relative ease, cross salt water and share the Gospel with folks who lack our understanding and education.  I am glad I went on this trip three years ago when I had more energy than even today!  When the Lord is through with me, I do not want to say: “Could have, would have, should have.”  Do you know what I mean?  Thank you Jesus for helping us to obey You.

After resting briefly in our hotel rooms, we had dinner together, and then went to Jesus Commissioned Ministry Church for an evening service.  We had services nightly in a revival atmosphere.  I spoke a message to start with, and felt great chemistry with Daniel Lugumya who translated my English into Ugandan (Swahili).  I was tired, spent and satisfied when I completed the well received message.  After all, we traveled from Chicago to London to Uganda, acclimated ourselves into the city of Kampala, and then the Lord lifted me up to preach a message at the end of the day.  Game over, right?  Wrong.  Daniel suggested for me to preach another message following the singing of a few hymns and special music.  My flesh did not want to but I wanted to because I never did this before and I wanted to put God to the test.  The Bible (Paul) says:  “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  God gave me strength that I did not have.  I know our daughter Jessica sensed my weakness and prayed for the message.  I am so glad that I was given this opportunity and challenge.  The Ugandans love the Word of God.  I was humbled to preach to several pastors that evening who came to our service.  Ugandan church services last until whenever.  Whenever the Holy Spirit closes them.  This service lasted well over two hours and the wonderful people thought nothing of it.  THIS is why I like mission trips.  They are a spiritual reality check.

The close of this service and return to our hotel, brought us to the end of a very long and productive day.

2012 Mission Trip To England/Uganda, Part 3

London, England/Kampala, Uganda    ~    September 24- October 3, 2012

 

Drama Upon Departure  

We gathered up our luggage and were ready to go, with a buffer time for takeoff much less than my liking.  On the way to the airport, our vehicle broke down at least twenty times within six to eight miles on the interstate, because of a vacuum problem with the carburetor.  Humanly speaking, it did not look good.  It was the middle of the day when no one is handy for assistance, and calling a tow truck would not help at all.  We would obviously miss our flight.  God always has a way however; the question is would we find it?  But of course.  Our son Paul was at home because of a unique change in his schedule.  He came to our rescue at a gas station/food mart, took care of the broken down vehicle, and we used his car to get to the airport.  We prayed and carefully planned for this trip several weeks in advance, yet moments like this really tax our faith.  We made the flight with a bit of time to spare, and took off for our connecting flight at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  We departed from Chicago in the late evening, arriving at the Heathrow Airport, London the following morning.

London, England

We took London’s airport railway to famous Paddington Station, and took a double decker bus from there.  In a blitz we saw decorative soldiers on guard dressed in old world garb, the Tower Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly, Hyde Park, and many other sights.  My thrill was having my picture taken underneath a statue of my hero, Winston Churchill.  Yes, “this was my finest hour.”  London is an international city, full of people from India, the Middle East, Asians and even a few native British folks.  One could sense that the religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism were all represented in this city.  We returned to the airport in the late afternoon, prior to our departure for Uganda.  Our flight was a long “red eye,” and we had ample room on the airplane to stretch out and rest.  The flight went well and arrived on time.

Arrival In Uganda

I am a history buff, and I know something about Entebbe Airport where we just landed.  Decades ago, hostages were taken there under the rule of the wicked Ugandan President Idi Amin.  An airplane was hijacked and flown into the airport.  The Israelis arranged for an incredible rescue attempt to free the hostages, mostly who were Jewish and Israelis.  The brother of the current prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu), Yoni Netanyahu, was the leader of this crack commando squad.  They landed at the other end of the vast airport late at night with their lights off, after flying over Lake Victoria.  They drove vehicles out of their cargo plane with false flags and insignias, and approached the hostage sight.  Gunfire erupted and those holding the hostages were all killed, all the hostages survived, and the only fatality with the Israeli commando unit was their leader, Yoni Netanyahu himself!  My plan was to search the walls of the airport buildings, and see if I could find bullet holes from the gunfire.  I never had the chance.  We stepped out of the airplane and proceeded down steps, and I immediately observed airport police outside, dressed in military fatigues and equipped with AK-47s!  I looked at them and not for bullet holes.  Welcome to third world country Uganda.  We showed our passports and purchased visas without incident….and yes, our luggage all arrived safely.

There is nothing quite like meeting a familiar face when you travel around the world.  Especially when you know absolutely no one else in the entire nation!  Daniel Lugumya and a couple of his associates were at Entebbe Airport to meet us.  It was surreal to finally arrive at the goal of our trip.  We were thrilled and grateful.  Thank you Jesus and bless our week…

 

2012 Mission Trip To England/Uganda, Part 2

Confirmation & Preparation

Daniel Lugumya and I corresponded on a regular basis following the convention.  The possibility of a short term mission trip gradually became a probability.  During this time our daughter Jessica was extremely busy, wall to wall, working in her nursing job as well as on her doctorate degree in the nursing program, yet she desired to go on this trip as well, in order to hone experience in the medical mission field.  She was on again, off again for ninety days, not sure if she could come or not until a few weeks before departure.  Eventually she was able to commit, yet she had zero extra time in her busy schedule, working right up until the mission trip and picking up immediately again after arriving back home.

When I shared the news of this trip with the leaders of the church I was serving in, they were skeptical to say the least.  The terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya just occurred, and many Americans perceived there to be unrest throughout the Middle East and all of Africa, although this was not the case.  Furthermore, some researched pastor Daniel Lugumya and could find neither good nor bad information about him.  There was also concern that this particular mission trip was not part of our denomination.  I greatly appreciated the caution displayed, yet the Lord already confirmed with me that everything was copacetic.  I am forever thankful for the prayer circle formed around me on the night prior to our departure.  I felt empowered, protected and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

I spent around $300.00 on immunization shots.  A “Yellow Fever” shot was mandatory, and represented by a special card that was kept with ones’ passport.  Other shots were for typhus, malaria, hepatitis A and B, and others.  After spending that kind of money on shots, I was as good as on the airplane.  A visa is also required for entry into Uganda, yet it amounts to a mere rubber stamp formality at the Ugandan airport, as the mission worker/tourist pays another fee for the nation.  Uganda is a very poor country and we surely had no problem paying the additional fee and we were glad to.  Upon arrival at the Ugandan airport, we had no concerns with administration, passports or logistics whatsoever.  That too, is an answer to prayer.

Our trip had a layover scheduled in London for sightseeing and enjoying some of the trademark tourist sights in England.  Prior to departure, Daniel Lugumya sent us an excellent itinerary that had us busy everyday.  I was scheduled to preach at least once or twice a day in evening services as well as on Sunday morning.  Jessica and I both were to teach the children at the Mercy School.  Daniel scheduled a tour of a museum that had information about Christian martyrs in Uganda and the nation’s prior history as a British colony.  We were also scheduled to tour several neighborhoods of the Ugandan people.

The time of arrival was late September and the weather forecast was in the 80’s with little if any rain.  Daniel and his associates were scheduled to meet us at the airport.  Needless to say, we were anxious to meet new Christian friends in the heart of Africa.

 

2012 Mission Trip To England/Uganda, Part 1

Southern Baptist Convention, June 19-20, 2012.  Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, 900 Convention Center Blvd.  New Orleans, LA.  70130

A Divine Appointment

Our son Paul Jedidiah and I were at the aforementioned Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, LA.  We left our hotel in the morning and were preparing to take a shuttle bus to the convention center.  I needed a highlighter and writing pad, so prior to hopping on the bus, I went into a drug store right next to the bus stop.  I purchased my items needed, and Paul and I then waited for the bus.  A distinct looking black gentleman was waiting for the bus with us.  I already had a yen to go on a mission trip to Africa, and my gut told me this man was from Africa.  I asked him if he was from Africa and he said in impeccable English:  “Yes, I am from Uganda.”  This immediately peaked my interest and I thought that this convention just may lead to a mission trip.  His name was Daniel Lugumya.  We chatted all the way to the convention center and exchanged e-mail addresses prior to parting company.  Daniel forgot his cell phone and Paul retrieved it and returned it to him.  [Please note the nature of this divine appointment.  Had I not ducked into the drug store to purchase needed items, we never would have met Daniel Lugumya at the bus stop.  God always works this way!]

I e-mailed Daniel Lugumya later.  He is pastor of Jesus Commissioned Ministries in Kampala, Uganda.  They also have a Christian School appropriately named the Mercy School for orphan children whose parents died of AIDES.  Daniel is the visionary pastor and the liaison for this Ugandan church and school in the United States of America, residing in Boston, Massachusetts.  Daniel has a wife and children.  (If you Google his name, home country and church, you will find a lot of information about him).  A good percentage of Uganda is Christian, but very few are Protestants as we are.  Only about 3% of Uganda believes like we do, and pastor Daniel is within this group.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord placed us together.  I am the type of person who would MUCH RATHER go on a mission trip than to a convention.  God was setting the table.  Little did I realize at this time that I would be setting foot in Uganda along with our daughter Jessica in a mere ninety days.