If you have wondered where Outwalking has been, it's absence has been due in part to the fact that I was in southwest Uganda from June 16-30, serving as part of a mission to churches in that area with Amazing Grace Adoptions and Orphan Care. It wasn't that I didn't blog, because I did, writing here on the official mission blog. I hope you'll visit the blog to see what we were up to there in the Kisoro District. But just in case you don't, I'll share some excerpts here.
The Kisoro District of Uganda is far from the capital city of Kampala, about a 10-hour bus trip, and thus far from the minds of the government officials there. As a result, government support of the community is lacking. Poised as there are on the border with the Congo, a resource-rich if troubled country, and Rwanda, a comparatively better off and yet still troubled country, they have seen their share of refugees. Add to that a drought that has affected them for nearly a month, and the material poverty is palpable. And yet material poverty is the good soil of spiritual wealth
For eight days we followed Pastor George to eight of the 16 churches he has planted. George and his wife Rubina have no salary, no bank account, and no other stable source of income. Nevertheless, they have several children and have managed to take in orphans to raise as their own. Like nearly all Ugandans in rural areas, they "dig," as they say, providing for themselves by planting and harvesting their own crops from small plots of land.
One day at breakfast, Pastor George says this: “When I walk to visit the churches, I sometimes don't know where I will sleep. Sometimes I sleep outdoors. Sometimes I sleep in a church with no windows or doors. When I lay down, I don't know if I am going to wake up. Then, I find myself moving, and I am up. I do not know how God will provide, but I know that He will.” I do not even know how to think in this way. Like most people from the West, I have multiple safety nets to fall back on should trouble come - savings, insurance, family, and government. Most Ugandans have nothing --- nothing but God, that is. How can God grow the kind of faith in me that I see in this man?
One day we drove to the end of a rutted dirt road, finally disembarking to walk the rest of the way to a church because the bridge was impassable. It was like following the Apostle Paul. The road teemed with people walking. Women carrying baskets of fruit, beans, or rocks on their heads; men pushing bicycles laden with bamboo, mattresses, a bed frame, potatoes; and children staring and waving from doorways and dirt yards shared with goats and chickens. In the fields, women slung hoes, digging at the rich earth, babies strapped to their backs. They flocked around us. They all know Pastor George. That night I recalled the words of Frederick Buechner from The Magnificent Defeat: “Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but… at supper time, or walking along a road.”
Many times I thought surely there are people who can teach Bible study better than me, who know the Bible better than me. And yet I was reminded that those people were not there, and I was. So I just opened my mouth and prayed to God that He would fill it. And something came out. We began and ended our days in weakness. For a devotion after breakfast our first day, we read II Corinthians 12:1-10, and considered Christ's words to Paul, his answer to his plea to have some ailment of mind or body removed from him: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." The words stood up on the page and walked with us for two weeks, taking life in the life we lived.
Rock by rock. That's how it goes there. That's how they live out the gospel. That's how we have to live out the Gospel. That's how the Kingdom gets built.