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Rooted in MORE of Jesus
...rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness... Colossians 2:7
Pastor Michael, from Uganda, shares his praises for God's hand in Rooted in MORE of Jesus. Please enjoy this video below:
Enjoy these personal testimonies from the people of Uganda:
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. Uganda is a predominantly Christian country with a very significant Muslim minority. The Northern and West Nile regions are dominated by Roman Catholics, while the Iganga District in the east of the country has the highest percentage of Muslims. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Uganda Constitution. However, some of these religions are considered cults and there is still a lot of witchcraft.
The Elders of the Evangelical Fellowship, representing the major Protestant church denominations in Uganda, invited AnGeL Ministries to hold a series of meetings under the banner, Rooted in MORE of Jesus. The purpose was not only to give messages from the Word of God, but to instruct pastors and leaders in how to read and study the Word for themselves, in order to impart it effectively to others. The Elders have been alarmed as they have observed the church slipping away from God's Word as pastors have followed the example of some Western "evangelists" who emphasize emotionalism and prosperity. Our purpose in accepting their invitation, was to do what we could to bring Light into the darkness and to strengthen that which remains (Revelation 3:2).
MORE of Jesus in Gulu
And all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple...Luke 21:38
The first day of teaching in Uganda was held in Gulu, the second largest city in Uganda. Located in the north, it is only two hours from the Sudanese border. It is considered a dangerous city, where witchcraft and demonism have dominated. For years it was ruled by the Lord's Resistance Army, a brutal, evil group that abducts children and uses them as killers. (The LRA is now "exiled" to the Congo but its effects are still felt in Gulu).
On Tuesday, October 16th at the Acholi Inn in the heart of Gulu, attendees showed up as early as 2am to insure their seating. They came from south Sudan as well as the surrounding region, arriving in trucks with chickens and goats, or walking barefooted down jungle trails. Each of the almost 2000 attendees received a prayed-over bag containing a Bible, a bottle of water, a lesson notebook and a pen. The majority were men, but there were also enough women scattered throughout the audience to make a significant statement...that women are valued by Jesus, and have the privilege of serving Him, too. All were eager to hear a Word from the Lord. Natasha Chilikina, from Kenya, accompanied herself on the guitar as she led those gathered in heartfelt worship. The sounds of their voices, singing in harmony and different musical parts, will be with us always. The anticipation was electric by the time Anne stepped up on the platform. Her first message was one of Hope for the Future, and the audience listened with rapt attention.
The long hours of travel along with the oppressive heat weakened Anne towards the end of the first message, requiring her to take a brief break while the worship leader led in a chorus that still rings in our ears...It's all about You, Jesus. Anne returned to the podium and finished her message with a challenge to surrender their lives to the One who is Lord.
Following a break for lunch, where everyone was served a hot meal, Anne led a workshop that instructed those present how to hear the voice of God as they read the Bible. And they got it! When microphones were sent through the audience for their responses and insights, it became obvious that God had come down and truly opened their minds to understand the Scripture. One small group was observed discussing the Scripture, and gaining incredible insight, even though none of them could write in English. They handed their worksheets to a young American woman, and asked her to write down their answers for them. She did...then they read from their papers very carefully when the microphone came their way. Their insights were truly Spirit-inspired.
In a land where immorality and spousal abuse is common...within Christian homes...the day concluded with Anne giving a strong message calling for repentance from the leaders of the churches in northern Uganda. With military jets skimming the hotel with ear-splitting, screaming engines; with dozens of vultures gathering over the buildings; with birds hitting the windows, Anne kept her focus and grew stronger with each word. When the invitation was given to repent of sin, almost every person stood. The sound of weeping could be heard throughout the venue. We left the Acholi Inn praying with renewed passion for an outpouring of the HOLY Spirit to root His church in more of Jesus and His Word.
Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation... Joel 1:3
The following day, we were invited to Sanctuary of Grace Christian School, that has approximately 400 students enrolled. In the midst of extreme poverty and suffering, the school is an oasis of God's peace and love.
We received a warm, moving greeting from the children who lined the drive and applauded as we walked down to the pavilion. As we sat on the platform, the children sang a song of heartfelt welcome, then performed the national Acholi dance. The dance was once reserved only for kings, but on this day was performed for the King of kings.
As the children then took their seats, Anne's daughter, Rachel-Ruth Wright (pictured to the left), led them in an interactive Bible study on Heaven. Sunday school teachers, school staff, and missionaries also observed her teaching. One missionary parent said later with tears that she had been unable to interest her children in reading their Bibles. So she had been astounded to observe her young son raising his hand at every opportunity as he interacted with Rachel-Ruth. The mother testified that now she knew how to share God's Word with her children.
AnGeL Ministries gave each child a Bible, along with crafts and various gifts that had been donated by those in the States. Later, the head of the school said the children came to classes the next day telling their teachers that they wanted to have "the Jesus Rachel-Ruth told us about." The teachers then had the thrill of leading child after child to faith in Jesus!
One week later, the teachers observed the children bringing their own Bibles to school. When told they didn't have to bring such a heavy book, as the Bible was in the school library, the children said, "But this one is our very own!" Praise God! He was faithful to give the children MORE of Jesus! And one day, because we were at Sanctuary of Grace, we will see them in Our Father's House!
MORE of Jesus in Kampala
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked...Luke 12:48
Mission Aviation Fellowship, using a plane loaned to us by Far Reaching Ministries, flew us from Kampala to Gulu, then from Gulu back to Kampala, enabling Anne to speak to a dinner group on the same day we were at Sanctuary of Grace. Hosted by AnGeL Ministries, the Evangelical Fellowship, and Far Reaching Ministries, the dinner was held at the Imperial Royale Hotel and was attended by approximately 300 national leaders that included members of Parliament and the business community. Anne gave a very clear message emphasizing that God was not inviting them into a church, a religion, a denomination, or an organization, but into a relationship with Himself. When she gave the invitation, hands were lifted throughout the audience indicating their decision to receive Jesus Christ by faith as Savior and Lord and therefore enter into a relationship with God.
Later, we were thrilled to learn that dozens of the hotel workers who had "overheard" the message filled out response cards indicating that they, too, had prayed to receive Christ as Savior.
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD...Deuteronomy 8:3
Within 36 hours of the dinner, Anne was back on her feet, this time at the Watoto Church for Rooted in MORE of Jesus /Kampala. Her first message challenged them to listen to their Shepherd's voice by reading, applying, and obeying His Word daily. She then followed with a workshop that explained how to listen to God's voice. Once again, our entire team was amazed at the spiritual insight of those who gathered and participated.
After being served a hot meal, the attendees reconvened for the second workshop. This one was more complex as it explained how to break down a passage of Scripture in order to preach from it. She introduced it by referring to the gold mines that Africa is famous for...that a person could be walking across the surface of the countryside, and be totally unaware that there was buried treasure beneath the surface. Likewise, she explained, we can read our Bibles, yet be unaware that right underneath the surface of the words lies the hidden treasure of an organizational structure that holds deeper truth and meaning. It was the privilege of AnGeL Ministries, once again, to give the attendees their own "gold mine" as we gave them each a Bible.
Because of the complexity of the instructions, and the built-in barriers of language, culture, gender, etc., Anne had been apprehensive about conducting this second workshop. She did not want to discourage the pastors if they could not "get it", nor take away from the first workshop that they had seemed to understand. All of us were not only surprised, but thrilled to hear the responses of the leaders when she asked for interaction! We are still amazed and awed by the display of the supernatural Spirit of God to open their minds to understand what they had been reading. She concluded by saying that in all the 36 years she has taught that workshop, those gathered at the Watoto Church in downtown Kampala on October 19th had grasped it with the most clarity and excellence. To applause, she then stated it was very obvious to her, that in a nation that was materially impoverished, God had made them spiritually rich. Praise God! We believe they are even richer today than before we came because now they have the tools to "mine" the treasure!
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks...Proverbs 31:17
The day after Rooted in MORE of Jesus at Watoto Church, we held an entire day of teaching exclusively for women at the Imperial Royale Hotel. Aware of the suffering and abuse that the women in Uganda face on a daily basis, Anne's first session presented a very moving message on the Cross. But the emphasis was that while it may be "Friday" in our lives, there is Hope because "Sunday" is coming! She then challenged them to go, like Mary Magdelene after she had encountered the risen Lord, and tell others that Jesus is alive! There is Hope for tomorrow!
Each woman was given a voucher to have a hot meal in one of the hotel restaurants. Then she returned for a workshop as Anne gave instructions on how to listen to God's voice speaking personally through His Word. When microphones were sent throughout the audience, once again, the AnGeL Ministries team was thrilled to hear the insight into the Scriptures that the ladies shared. Their enthusiasm was evident in the sea of hands lifted by those who wanted to interact, as though they couldn't quite believe someone wanted to hear what they had to say!
At the conclusion of the workshop, Anne asked Rachel-Ruth to take about 15 minutes and explain to the women not only how to teach their children God's Word, but how to lead their children to receive Jesus by faith as their own personal Savior. The women hung on her words as we prayed that the baton of Truth would be effectively passed to the next generation in Uganda.
With children running around, a few babies crying, and mothers nursing infants, Anne's last message focused on Heaven. She encouraged the women to persevere because Jesus was preparing a place for them, and one day would take them to live with Him forever where there would be no more kidnapping or rape or abuse or machetes or guns...nothing would ever hurt them again, and He would wipe the tears from their faces. One day, they would go Home!
As the ladies left, each was given her own Bible. From the chatter, excitement, and almost "full-court-press" to obtain their own copies, it was evident that they viewed the gift as the treasure that it is.
"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?'" Mathew 21:16
The day following the Women's Meeting at the Imperial Royale Hotel, on our last afternoon in Kampala, we went to Agape Baptist Church, which is pastored by our Rooted in MORE of Jesus Chairman, Dr. Michael Okwakol. Rachel-Ruth, on her 38th birthday, taught about Heaven from John 14:1-6 to the 300 children gathered in the sanctuary. With the adult teachers and some parents observing, the interaction with the children was full, enthusiastic and at times heart-wrenching. Referring to John 14:1, she asked what troubled them. "Guilt," "When someone kills someone," "When someone puts you in a hole," were some of the troubles these little children said they are burdened by.
Rachel-Ruth was able to explain to them what it means to trust in Jesus. When she asked, based on John 14:6, what the way to Heaven is, some said "when you do good things," "when you go to church," etc. So Rachel-Ruth clearly, simply, and very compellingly presented the Gospel. When she asked for hands to be raised by those who wanted to invite Jesus into their hearts, the room was filled with raised hands. When she told them to pray the sinner's prayer after her, the room swelled with what sounded like hundreds of voices in unison confessing their sin and asking Jesus to be their Savior.
Each child was then given a Bible, a piece of birthday cake, and some crafts and gifts. And we left with a song in our hearts, tears in our eyes, and warm hugs from Pastor Michael and other committee members.
"The Lord's will be done..." Acts 21:14
With all of our hearts we believe God's will was accomplished concerning our time in Uganda with this initiative. Our prayer was to revive the hearts of God's people in Uganda by rooting the church leadership, women and children, deeper in the Word of God. That was done. In addition, we have trained leaders to be facilitators of follow-up Bible studies that will be spread throughout the country in the coming weeks. But we also are deeply convinced that in many ways, the work has just begun. The roots of faith have been planted deeply into God's Word...now we pray for real growth and fruit that remains.
To God alone be the glory...
Please, dear Jesus, as we exalt Your name above all others, send down the fire! Captivate those in Uganda by Your love! Rend their hearts with deep conviction and sorrow for sin! Revive Your church, filling it with abundant life! Ignite the hearts of Ugandan believers with a pure and holy passion to love You and to live for You and Your glory alone! Root Uganda deeper in MORE of Jesus! Then dear God, use Uganda to impact the rest of Africa - for Your glory!