Uganda Blog #3: The Power of His Word
When I am ministering abroad I prefer to minister on something related to Israel. I feel that this is my call and that there are others who are more capable than myself to minister on additional topics. However, Kampala Pentecostal Church asked me specifically to preach on ‘God in the Family.’ Despite the need of such a message I wondered why God was sending me to Uganda to preach on it. I felt the Lord put on my heart that if I would teach on what they wanted, the door would open to return to teach on Israel. (Indeed I already knew we would be returning in May to teach in a citywide meeting for Israel’s 60th Birthday, but I felt that He would also open the door to teach on Israel in this 17,000-member congregation specifically.)
After I began to prepare for this message my heart began to hurt with the burden of broken Ugandan families. Before I ever even got to Uganda I had the message prepared. I was to challenge these parents to be like Yeshua so their young children who are too young to understand the concepts of God, Salvation, etc., could see Yeshua in them. On the Saturday morning after I arrived, I sat in my hotel room reading nearly the entire local newspaper, seeking to absorb something of the culture. I found a letter to the editor that addressed the nationwide problem of insect and defilement. I read the letter in each service, challenging the believers to expose this sin wherever they find it. Sometimes you have uncles who are paying for a child’s education expenses and expect ‘privileges.’ In other cases, fathers are molesting their daughters.
I told them that the greatest tragedy of this sin is that the young child is robbed of his or her opportunity to see the real Yeshua in their parents. A child is supposed to find his or her self-worth from his or her parents. I spoke about Lot, who was willing to allow his own daughters to be raped for the sake of cultural sensitivities. Because he thought it would be improper to allow the mob to molest his guests, he offered his daughters instead! It is no wonder that these girls had such little self-respect that they were willing to seduce their own father into incestuous relations later on.
The associate pastor told me that several men came to him and said it was the first time that they understood that they are the image of Yeshua to their children.
At the end of each service we prayed for emotional healing for those who had poor godly examples as fathers, and then sang the Hebrew blessing from Numbers 6. Then we blew the shofar and the thousands gathered, shouted to the Lord. It was so powerful to hear all these Africans shout to the Lord! It was as if a tangible force was released from them. I was told later by one of the pastors that many Africans associate the cow’s horn with witchcraft. He felt that the shofar being used for God’s purposes brought healing to the way that Ugandan’s see the shofar.
I preached once on Saturday evening and four times in a row on Sunday. During each service roughly 2,500 people come and they are told not to stay for the next service so they do not take the seat of someone else. I preached at KPC Central, but there are also KPC South, North, East, West and KPC Gula. Each local pastor heard me preach on Saturday night and then took my notes to their churches to preach the same message on Sunday morning—in all 17,000 people heard the message.
KPC Gula is located in the war-torn northern Gula region. The rebel leader there, General Kony (who is now exiled in Sudan) leads the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) where they regularly kidnap children and rape the girls and turn the young boys into drug (heroin) induced, brainwashed killers. Now there is a life house there! Thankfully the LRA is no longer active in northern Uganda, but they could return.
On Saturday night, the associate pastor, Chris Kumogam, interviewed me on “Power FM,” on his one-hour show, “Ask the Pastor.” Ugandans called up asking questions about Israel, both political and biblical. It went so well that when the hour was over we just keep going! Since the church owns the station, no one complained. After the radio show, Pastor Chris told me that they would like to have me back just to teach on Israel—just as I felt the Lord had spoken to me.
One girl sent an SMS to the radio station: “I have AIDS. Can God heal me? I don’t want to die.” Wow! This was a reality for which I was not quite ready. AIDS is rampant in Africa. People from all walks of life suddenly find themselves infected. For many of them it is the result of decadent living (drugs and promiscuous sex), but for others, like this young girl, it could have been passed down from parents, received through a blood transfusion or some other way. My heart was hurting as Pastor Chris and I passionately prayed for her healing. Pastor Chris encouraged her to continue “taking your ARVs,” (again, language that I am not used it) and to plug into a local church.
It is estimated that roughly 30% of Uganda is truly born again, while another 50% are nominal believers. KPC, the second largest church in the Uganda, has far reaching influence. While in the lounge, waiting for my plane to Ethiopia, a man came up to me—a Major General in the Ugandan Army and an official in the African Union. He told me that he saw me preach at KPC. He had with him an airport worker, Ian. Ian was an alcoholic and seemed to be drunk even as we spoke with them. He said he wanted to be free. The Major General asked me if I would pray for him and we did, and then led him in a prayer to receive Yeshua!
After that, another man asked if I spoke at KPC that weekend. He overheard my conversation with the General. He told me that while he usually goes he was not able to that weekend, but had heard about the services.
On my last evening in Uganda I meet with a group of Ugandan pastors and business leaders. These are the ones who originally invited me to Uganda, but I got the dates mixed up. It was clearly a divinely inspire ‘mistake’ as my time in Uganda this weekend has been amazing. They have invited and Daniel Yahav, an Israeli pastor from the Galilee, to come for two days of teaching, commemorating Israel’s sixtieth birthday. They have since informed me that they would like Elana to minister as well and are preparing meetings for her.
When I arrived in Ethiopia I was informed that my plane to Tel Aviv had been delayed. Since it was scheduled to leave at 1:30 AM to begin with, that meant staying at the Queen Sheba hotel. I was directed through a maze of bureaucracy in order to get a temporary visa to enter Ethiopia. In line I saw an old man arguing with the lady giving instructions. I could see that he spoke little English and was confused. It was a thrill for me to interpret for him. It sometimes amazes me that I really can speak Hebrew, even if not perfect.
He was very grateful and we quickly developed a friendship. He was eighty-three and originally from Egypt. I filled out his visa application and when he told me that he was born in 1926 I must of made some sort expression of amazement (at how old he was) and he burst out in mock offense. He was a real comedian, embracing the true nature of an Israeli, which demands that in all situations, that you find something funny. And we did, laughing out load over and over again as our African onlookers looked on in amazement at the two of us.
Next we had to wait in a ridiculously long line to get our passports stamped and enter the country. I enjoyed the company of Mohammed, who is 30, works for the African Union and is getting ready to get married. He asked me about marriage and I told him that he needed to learn to be a servant. He disagreed. Despite his handsome appearance and western clothing, he felt that men were made stronger physically so they could rule. I rebuffed him sharing that Jesus said that he who wants to be great in the kingdom must become the servant of all. I told him that this is problem with so many African leaders. They lead because they love power, not because they love the people. They will not let go of power, which exposes the fact that they are not in fact public servants. We exchanged emails and I hope to not only convince him concerning the way a man should treat his wife, but to forsake Mohammed and embrace Yeshua. Please pray for him.
I am sure the Queen of Sheba from Solomon’s day was far more enamoring than the hotel bearing her name. I was told that a meal was on the house, so I ordered the filet. The waiter informed me that they were out. Also my next choice was not available (what’s the point of a menu?). Then he simply pointed to the four items that were available.
Before I went to sleep the man at the front desk assured me that the bus would not pick us up at 5:30 am as were told. “It will be more like 6:30 am.” Why should I not believe him? My phone rang at 5:45 am, “Sir, your bus is here and ready to leave!”
Mordechai, my eighty-three year old friend was already on the bus. Once again I helped him fill out his form—this time to leave the country. After we got into the terminal he told me he was going for a smoke. The night before I chided him when he offered me a cigarette that it was not healthy, only to realize how stupid it was telling a man who has already lived a good decade past the average age that something wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t lost him, as he said, “I am eighty-three—I am going to stop now?” We laughed.
I was gone for a few days, but it seemed like an eternity. It was as if I left one world, entered another and then returned. It seems so strange that I woke up in Ethiopia and in the late afternoon I could be riding my mountain bike through the orchards of Ra’anana.
In closing, it was an amazing trip. Wonderful people, a wonderful spirit amongst, joy inexpressible!