Sometimes we get surprised…really on a daily basis it’s something new. But around Christmas time, we received a phone call from churches in a certain area that we had been told were no longer there or no longer working with us. These churches are about 2 hours away from Mbale, so they aren’t nearby. But there had been a connection…someone standing in the gap between the Mission in Mbale and the churches in this area. Through that person, we came to believe over the past ten years (in fact, we knew) that those churches were no longer working with us. And, while we were disheartened by this, we understood that this sort of thing happens. Transport costs are high, visiting is difficult, the distance is far…all these things are reasons why it can happen.
So when we received a phone call from one of these church leaders in December, we were surprised that they were asking to meet with us. But our door is always open, so we planned for them to come to Mbale with a few of their leaders for a visit in early January. When the day arrived, we were not sure what to expect. In the phone calls, they had told us a small part of the story, but we were eager to fully understand why these churches had reached out to us after 10 years of silence.
The group of leaders from the three different churches all came together. We spent hours with them, reconnecting and listening. They explained that they had put all their trust in a certain person; that he would remain connected to the ministry in Mbale and keep the three churches in their area connected. But then that person began telling them different things…things that at first confused them, and then eventually discouraged them greatly. The church leaders became so discouraged over the decade of hearing these stories that they had given up. That is until truth began to come out about the personal life of this person they had been trusting.
All of us are given to weakness and sin. All of us are vulnerable in different areas. These church leaders discovered that the man they trusted to keep them connected to the ministry in Mbale had been misleading, lying, and manipulating them. They even learned that he had fallen into a life of sin in another area, which caused them to question everything he had been telling them. When they learned of this deception and false guidance, they were desperate to reconnect with the ministry. And that is why they began calling on us…to reconnect and rebuild relationships.
We scheduled a visit to these churches at the end of February. When it came time for the visits, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation, for all parties. We visited the three churches, met with their leaders, and enjoyed a meal (one meal at each location because hospitality is so important in Ugandan culture). We were pleasantly surprised at the way these churches had been handling their issues, challenges, construction, and worship times. These churches had continued to pour their energies into preaching the Word of God, growing in their faith, putting their faith into action, and pursuing the Lord. It was a very encouraging trip for us.
We were also able to encourage them with the Word of God in each place we visited. We were able to rebuild broken bridges of relationship and communication. We were able to open new bonds through the Spirit of God. And we were able to cast a vision for a way forward in working directly with each church.
We ask that you continue praying for the churches in this new (old) area…and praying that we can continue building healthy partnerships with them!