The time in Uganda was awesome—a very encouraging start to the new ministry!
We ministered to over 1000 pastors and their wives, along with Tex and Sammy Tippit. They came from 9 countries throughout Africa and represented 40 Protestant denominations. Sammy and I each spoke 11 times and had several question and answer sessions that gave the men an opportunity to target their specific needs. Sammy gave messages about personal revival and spoke to 7000 university students.
I spoke on the supremacy of Christ in all the Bible, which was very well received. I also gave two Sunday morning messages to the Gaba Community Church, which Peter Kasirivu pastors. We were also honored to spend an afternoon with a close member of the President of Uganda’s family who attends another evangelical church in the area. She expressed appreciation for all that we are doing there. They genuinely appreciate and welcome the American people.
The needs in that area of the world are overwhelming. We were approached by a leading pastor from Kenya, who assured us that the President of Kenya would want to meet with us, should we have a conference there. Delegates from the Congo also asked Sammy and me to have a conference in their country, which is experiencing a lot of unrest right now. We’re considering 2008 as a possibility but need to continue to pray about it. When the representatives from Burundi found out that Connie and I would be in Rwanda next September, they asked if they could join us. They told us that they could have 3000 pastors there from their country, alone. Amongst other invitations, a group from Tanzania submitted a proposal for us to host a conference there.
On the last night of the conference, Peter Kasirivu sent me these words:
What a blessing we had to have you here in Uganda. We were so much inspired and encouraged by your messages both in the church and during the conference. I personally loved your openness in sharing the challenges and the victories that you have gone through as you have served as a pastor for the last 40 years. The Supremacy of Christ theme was greatly expounded, to us and I love the way you introduced the theme by showing Christ through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
A poignant and crystalizing moment took place en route back to the airport. David, a participant in the conference, wanted to escort us back to ensure that we were adequately protected. As we neared the airport, I told him, “David, you know how much we love you and your people, don’t you?”. His response was a surprisingly emphatic, “Yes!”, which prompted me to ask, “How do you know that?”. I fully expected him to tell us how the money we sent made a big difference in their lives or that helping build churches or orphanages had a tremendous impact on many of them. But his answer totally caught me off guard. He simply, but powerfully stated, “ We know you love us because you came to us. You didn’t have to come. You live in nice houses and have it easier over there. It is a long way over here, but you gave this up to come to us.” I was speechless! David had summarized the heart of the gospel (John 1:14 and John 3:16) in his response–God gave us so many wonderful things through creation, but the real proof of His love was that He came to us. In this age of the electronic church, there is no substitute for being there in person. What a confirming experience for us as we completed our first trip through Shepherds’ Support.
Partnering with the Tippits was a real blessing and made for a well coordinated team. While Sammy and I addressed the men, Tex and Connie ministered to the women and shared their testimonies with them. Sammy had this to say, “I believe that many of those men and women’s lives were impacted and the ministry gave them strength to face difficulties far into the future. We will look forward to traveling together to India for meetings there.”
We want to thank each one of you foremost, for your prayer support. Keep fighting the good fight.
Pastor Steve and Connie