Friends in Christ!
As I mentioned last month I was blessed this summer to take some extended time away from Bethel, T2C2 and Dallas to study, serve and experience some new things. After an amazing almost four weeks in the UK, I left London for the last part of my trip in Uganda. The trip from England to Uganda proved to be a little more challenging than I hoped. My drive back to airports was slowed down by a flat tire, let’s just say I didn’t quite master driving on the other side of the road and all the roundabouts in England. Then due to a delay due to weather in another city, I missed a connecting flight which caused me to be re-routed and arrive in Uganda at 2am Saturday instead of 2pm Friday. It was great to be greeted by Ronald, a friend from my last trip to Uganda five years ago, who stayed up late to pick me up and drive me the hour to capital city Kampala where I stayed for the night.
The next morning Ronald picked me up and after he took care of a few errands we made the trip to Jinja to meet the rest of our mission team. The trip from Kampala to Jinja is only about 60 miles, but the traffic on the overstressed roads caused the trip to last over three hours, however I must admit that I slept through most of it. On the way into Jinja we stopped at the Lutheran Theological College of Uganda, where I would be teaching the following week. On what was a dirt field five years ago stood a handful of buildings in various stages of construction. Crews were busy working and students were arriving from across Uganda as the new semester of classes was to begin on Monday. Pastor Charles, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Uganda greeted me with a big smile as he proudly showed me around the campus. From there we joined the mission team from Texas and Michigan in Jinja for dinner and to go over our plans for our week of mission work.
The next day, Sunday proved to be one of the most impactful of my life. When I first went to Uganda in 2013 I met Michael at one of the villages we visited. Michael was wanting to be trained as a pastor, but the school in Uganda did not yet exist, so this meant traveling to Kenya. I felt led by God to be one of Michael’s sponsors and this was to be the day of his wedding and ordination as a Pastor. I was honored and humbled that Michael scheduled these celebrations around when I could be there. I was further honored with the opportunity to preach the sermon at the ordination portion of the service. The day proved to exceed my wildest expectations. Having a wedding and ordination the same day must have been overwhelming to the families; but it was truly an over the top experience for myself and all who had the privilege of being there. After the services and a lovely reception we began the two hour drive back to Jinja.
For the rest of my time in Uganda I joined Pastor Tim and an old friend Bob from Our Savior Lutheran in Mckinney. I had served Our Savior as a Youth Minster early in my career and had been on many mission trips with Bob. It was great serving with him again and with Pastor Tim for the first time. Our Savior is the church that helped spearhead the building of the school, so I was joining them to help teach a class to the students preparing to become pastors. Bob and I taught a class on the Synoptic Gospels to a group of 2nd year students and it was another amazing experience. Being with, teaching and learning from these men was another experience that I will take with me the rest of my life. The Lutheran Church in Uganda is still a young church and Michael was only the 21st pastor to be ordained by it. These 21 pastors along with a group of evangelists serve over 140 churches and preaching stations. So the over 50 men currently studying to be pastors at the college truly represent the future of the church in Uganda. It meant a lot to be able to share some of what I have learned and the gifts God has given me with these amazing servants. On the last morning in Uganda there was an incredible rainstorm, even some hail came down which is pretty rare. Afterwards as we ate breakfast, a giant rainbow covered the sky coming down on a bridge across the Nile which actually flows out of Lake Victoria there in Jinja. That rainbow was a great reminder to me that after a flood the colors do come out and it was a beautiful day indeed!
I have been back in Dallas over three weeks and am still taking in all I experienced in the U.K. and Uganda. But I carry those experiences with me and am excited to see how they will shape and impact me moving forward in my ministry, personal life and the new Doctor of Ministry program that I recently started. I want to again thank all the people at Bethel for their support. Bethel has even started a fund through which people can support my Doctor of Ministry studies and I am very grateful for those who have already done so. Please contact me directly if you would like more information and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with each of you.
In HIS Service,