with World Havest in Uganda
Just before I returned for my second term of ministry in Uganda, I purchased a little tent. Way in the back of my mind I had a wild idea about living in the village of Bundibugyo, getting closer to the people than the confines of my stationary brick house could ever allow me. Upon my arrival back to these equatorial foothills during March 1994, I unpacked all my stuff and found a spot on a shelf in the corner of my storeroom to tuck away my new tent. Somehow in the midst of getting settled, my wild idea also got shelved.
The job of planting a plethora of churches all at the same time obviously called for multiplying my efforts through the use of several indigenous Ugandan church planters. These brothers proved to be faithful friends and zealous co-workers in the gospel, but for numerous reasons the young mission churches never fully embraced their ministries. Growth ground to a halt and many of the village congregations began to stagnate. It was time to stop, cry out to God for wisdom, and reassess what we were doing.
The issues were many and complicated. While reading Paul's first letter to the new church at Thessalonica, I was struck by these words: "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (2:8).
What I heard through the apostolic church planter's pen was that while sharing the gospel with people is good, it's not good enough. There needs to be an intimate sharing of lives with a tangible experience of the reality and wonder of God's liberating gospel love! Maybe that's why "the Word became flesh and dwelt (or tented) among us."
Where did I put that little tent of mine?
A fellow missionary and I began making plans and preparations to share our lives with our dear Babhwisi brothers and sisters in their own villages. We intend to stay at one village fellowship four days per week until each church is mature enough to be left on its own. We sleep in tents, work with the believers in their gardens, eat meals together, pray with and for one another, sit by the fire at night just talking and laughing, and we teach the leaders about God, his Word, his Body, and his passion for people. In the process, we learn a lot about these wonders ourselves!