Monday, July 26, 2010

In Arringa, a Muslim area

A few days ago we went to Arringa, which is in the far Northwestern part of Uganda and has a very large Muslim population. We learned how a few missionaries had been killed in little while ago there, and others shot at. It was crazy to be in an area where there is real persecution of the church. One of the leaders of the church there really impressed me as he talked of what was happening there. He fully understood the cost of doing ministry there, but was still just as determined to spread the gospel knowing that it could cost him his life. In a place where people have been killed for ministry, he (and a team of others) are translating the Bible into the local language and doing all sorts of ministries. He said that there biggest need was leadership though, as the church, as small as it is, is weak and not educated well on the Bible. I wish we could have gone there to do ministry, but we were only there for a couple hours and had to depart. I am glad though that some of the people who we are working with here will be going back there for over a week to help strengthen the church there.

This is the sort of ministry my heart goes out to, and maybe the Lord will have me do one day. These Muslims are perishing every day without knowing the gospel, without understanding the message of Jesus, and then standing before their Creator fully accountable for all of their sin and going to an eternal Hell. That’s not good. Now I think Arringa can be ministered to be the native Ugandans nearby, so I don’t think I would return there. But what about Afghanistan, or North Africa, or Egypt, or other places where there are people who have never heard the gospel? What an honor it would be to go to a place like that. I know I’d be terrified, and I need the Lord to give me more faith for that sort of task. I mean at times it is hard for me even being here and they treat us really well and we don’t face persecution. Yet in light of eternity, it totally makes sense to go to those places. So I’ll pray that the Lord would prepare me for whatever He wants, especially because that wouldn’t happen until much later, after Los Angeles which seems to be next. And if I’m going to LA, it’s going to be for a while to really see that ministry through.

We are faced with just one week left. It’s crazy to think about. We’ve been in Africa for almost 6 weeks! Well I’ve definitely learned that people are people, sin is sin, and Jesus is king. There is nothing new underneath the sun. The culture is different in a lot of ways, but many of the temptations and challenges for the church are similar. A huge difference is obviously the wealth and poverty issue, but that’s one of the few major ones. Other than that these people are beautiful and not as different as we might like to think. I’ve become friends with Africans, and that shifts things. We don’t commonly like to become friends with people who are poor, because then we will feel bad for what we have and that we should live on less for their sake. We tend to either not go to poor areas or if we do we will isolate ourselves from meaningful relationships with poor people so as to not get too immersed in it. We have met missionaries here who live behind big walls with barbed wire and they have few meaningful relationships with Ugandans. How are we supposed to do ministry like that? It is honestly uncomfortable at times though, because as we get to know poor people here, they know that I have money just as much as I do, and it creates a barrier in relationship through distrust. But this is not something to run from, but rather something to deal with and work through. I’m not sure yet what to do, but I think it starts pouring out our lives for those who are poor (spiritually and physically, and it has to be both to be holistic ministry).

I'm also learning about my own sin, and how I can often be so focused on "mission" that I actually neglect loving the closest people around me. I know this doesn't please Jesus, because such a big part of the mission is being the church together who love each other. If we are called to be reconciled to Jesus, we are also called to be reconciled to our brother and sister. So please pray for me to have love in all things.

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