To God go all the praise, honor, and glory… WOW…what a trip! Here is the mission report from Steve and his daughter, Blair.
The Lord’s hand was upon this mission from beginning to end. Our entire trip was funded. Our team of fifteen brought 21 extra fully loaded suitcases with various supplies for children/orphans, women, along with other things for ministry (total 36 bags weighing 50 lbs/piece). Through many of you, the Lord supplied everything we needed to minister in Uganda, plus more…praise Him!!!
Some interesting things that happened on our way…
Three plane flights were required each way. Between flight #1 (Greenville → Atlanta) and #2 (Atlanta →Amsterdam), our team of 15 sat down for dinner in Atlanta at a Friday’s restaurant. We met a family that ended up paying for the entire team’s meal. They were compelled to do so based on our mission. It is amazing how God works when His hand is upon something!
To catch our next flight we needed everything to work out almost perfectly. We had only 45 minutes between flight #2 (Atlanta → Amsterdam) and #3 (Amsterdam → Entebbe). The connection window was very tight; everything needed to be on time. Although flight #2 left the gate on time, we had to abort takeoff and pull back into the gate due to a man whose head was bleeding from a fall he took on the plane. Medics came on the aircraft to take this gentleman off. Then the plane had to be cleaned, refueled, and its paperwork re-filed before leaving the gate for the second time. This took more than 45 minutes. At this point we knew there was a strong possibility we were going to miss our 3rd flight.
They only had flights scheduled between Amsterdam and Entebbe every other day. So we would be stuck in Amsterdam if we missed our flight; hoping 15 seats for the team would be available on a flight 2-days later. This would have cut considerably into the mission. So what happened? When flight #2 landed in Amsterdam, we were basically out of time even before getting off the plane. Praise God, the airline actually held flight #3 from taking off so that our team of 15 (plus an additional 6 people on our flight) made it. We had to move pretty quickly through a very large airport in Amsterdam to make it, but alas, we did! Who would have thought an airline would have held up a plane for us?
Also, during this express transfer, one of our trip leaders lost his extremely important carry-on bag (long story how this happened). But on the way to the next plane it was found. It was truly amazing…no extra steps necessary! When God has ordained a mission, things work out. This all occurred before we even hit the ground in Africa. We confidently knew God was with us even before getting to Uganda.
Once in Africa (from Steve’s perspective)…
I will just hit the high points to keep this update as short as possible; otherwise I could write a book about all God did on this trip. Suffice it to say, the Lord moved powerfully in this mission through willing vessels to be used as His ambassadors. There were so many ministries to be involved with on this trip. No one person could be involved in all of them. Praise God for our team of 15, who could spread out and cover the entire need. In retrospect, the amount of gospel sharing opportunities is too many to count. The various ministries were:
➢ Construction of a shelter for a family
➢ Door-to-door and street evangelism
➢ Jail ministry
➢ Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies (Daily)
➢ Orphanage ministry
➢ Sport’s ministry, including basketball and soccer
➢ Bible School (ran for 5 days…over 200 children in attendance on the final day)
➢ Various African village visitations, including participating in their local church service
Personally, the Lord blessed me to preach at the church we stayed at on the first Sunday we were there. The pastor, Pastor Gordon, was compelled to allow me to do so after hearing my testimony. I praise the Lord for that opportunity. The next day after preaching, we drove over an hour and gathered various pastors from multiple locations. That day we ended up visiting an African village church and I got another opportunity to preach. The experience was surreal; one really hard to put into words. We were greeted at that church like heroes, with African song and dance by 100’s of men, women, and children. At the end of that church service, the celebration resumed once again upon our departure.
They gave us thank you gifts for coming. These consisted of bananas, pineapples, fresh eggs, and a live chicken that we had to drive home with. It was certainly a unique experience. We came to find out, it might be the only time in this specific villages existence that they might see a white person, let alone a couple of Jewish people (me and Blair) who would actually minister to them. They asked if we would come back some day. If it is in the Lord’s will, we certainly would like to go back to that remote village.
The following days I was involved with Bible School, door-to-door and street evangelism, soccer sport’s and orphanage ministries. One evening, I even got to share the gospel on a street corner preaching to taxi cab drivers. I also shared with a local Ugandan soccer team. Going door-to-door, we shared the Gospel with many people, always lifting Jesus Christ up and exalting Him as the one and only Lord and Savior for all mankind. I shared with agnostics, atheists, Catholics, and those who called themselves Christians, but who were truly “Christians” in name only. Ironically, the witnessing field was very similar to what we see in the United States. Some things seemed very different at times, but ultimately they were surprisingly very much the same in many ways.
The accommodations where far from what you would see in a luxury resort in the U.S. We slept in a church on mats that were laid upon a cement floor (with the exception of the first evening in Africa, when we were still in transit to the local church we stayed at). But I must say, the church that graciously hosted our team; they served as such a wonderful blessing to us. The church name was Hoima Baptist Fellowship Church, a God-honoring local church that we praise the Lord for, and will continue to pray for, specifically that God does powerful and amazing through their ministries.
We needed mosquito nets, and some of us fell victim to bed bugs and mosquito attacks. I never once had a drip of warm water in the shower, nor any hot water to hit my body the entire trip. Somehow, none of that seemed to matter, as God carried us along in order that we could minister to the people of Uganda. As far as personal health issues, I suffered from swollen feet/ankles for most of the trip and Blair some side effects from all of the antibiotics. But even this seemed to be more of a nuisance than any type of serious impediment. Our fellow team members had colds, headaches, bloody noses, and a few other health/personal issues to deal with. But the Lord kept everything contained so our overall mission was not negatively affected…praise Him! We really did not want for anything, except for our loved ones back home who we missed so, so much.
The food often times was familiar, but at other times very different then what we eat in the United States. We even went to a “restaurant” one day after a church service. I will say this was quite the experience. I’ll leave it at that! But overall, we were nutritionally sustained, with the help of protein bars and various snacks we brought along. Regular power outages were normal, but it almost seemed like when they occurred, with the help of flashlights at night, it was virtually a non-issue.
As in the United States, I found myself often being called upon as the “Bible Answer Man.” And for those who know me, I loved it in Africa as much as I love it in the U.S. I praise God that people look to me for this reason, with divine wisdom coming from the Holy Spirit and certainly not from me. I was asked if I might consider going back one day to teach in an African Bible College or Seminary by some of my new African friends that I made. I would love to do so some day, of course, Lord willing. Some of the male students I was traveling with from North Greenville University even asked me to share wisdom from Proverbs a few evenings with them, and I was thrilled to do this. I just love preaching and teaching God’s Word and being gifted by the Lord to do so; an unworthy wretch like me made worthy through Christ!
The African nationals we stayed/served with during this mission were amazing. They were priceless brothers and sisters in Christ that we will certainly miss a lot. But who knows, maybe one day Lord willing, we will reunite once again. And there is always Facebook! They all seemed to have access to Facebook…I love it being a Facebook junkie myself! There is one guy I met who I spent the first half of the trip with, who is the closest thing to a clone of me that I have ever met, except for skin color and country of residence of course. We agreed on all things, even the deepest theology and end-times perspectives. It was uncanny, and can only be attributed to having the same mind in Christ. He brought me to meet his mother at her home via motorbike one evening. When she greeted me, she said she was so thankful to God to meet the first Jew ever in her life, and that she probably will never meet another one again before she dies. That honestly blew me away! Blair said I would cry when this brother in Christ left half way through our trip. He had been visiting our location and went home after his child suffering from the flu felt better and it was safe to travel home. When he left, Blair ended up being right!
I made many friends among the Ugandan children, including two specifically: a boy named Pius and a girl named Nakato. I wish I could have brought them home with us. Pius said to me the Friday before we left that he was going to cry when I left. These two children, along with Jessie, Michael and some others, literally followed Blair and me around many of the days that we were there, even carrying our extremely heavy backpacks along the way. And the amount of walking we did was far more than we would ever do in the U.S. These kids were precious! I trained Pius on the Evangacube, and told him if I left it with him that he would have to share it with everyone he knew. He promised he would. I allowed him to share it with many while we were still there so I knew he would share an accurate Gospel message. He did so…brilliantly!
The stories go on and on, but I will stop mine here. If anyone would like to hear more, I would be more than happy to share with you. Just let me know.
Once in Africa (from Blair’s perspective)…
Adding on to what my dad already said…I spent most of our time in Uganda ministering to children, showing them the love of Jesus Christ and sharing the Gospel with them. I served the Lord often as a designated babysitter throughout the trip. For example, 4 to 5-year-old children would come to Vacation Bible School holding their mother’s infant. So I always tried to take the infant for a few hours to allow the 4-5 year-old child to spend time learning about Jesus. Our team provided this learning opportunity as it conducted Bible School every weekday from 9-12. I tried my hardest to release some of the burdens that some of these African kids face at such very young ages. The culture in Africa is very different then the one we experience in America as far as children are concerned. This was one of the many lessons I learned while in Uganda.
When the ladies gathered for Women’s Bible Study, I had the privilege of playing the guitar and leading them in worship. Guitar is a newfound love for me. And using it for Christ’s sake to try to bless others is priceless! When we attended any Bible studies where woman had their children with them, I took their kids to another area to teach them a lesson, read Bible stories, and play games to relieve the mothers. I also helped with leading Children’s Church the last Sunday we were at the church that hosted us. Showing the children/orphans love was probably the most favorite part of this trip for me. Most of these children are quick to run up and hug you when you first arrive. But there were also some who were fearful. Those kids were my God-given goal to minster too. By the end of the trip, I couldn’t get them off of my lap! The culture is very different in Uganda and honestly, some facets of it made me somewhat sad.
I learned a lot from asking a father why his daughter didn’t talk. This man said that some African children are fearful of their parents. He stated that some dad’s do not hug or kiss their daughter’s often, or tell them, “I love you.” I realize culture plays heavily into this behavior, but this really struck me. Totally unrelated to this specific father and conversation I had, but pertinent to this point, a couple of our team members (not me) actually experienced a father brutally beating a child and had to come to the child’s rescue during our mission. It was explained this is not an uncommon occurrence in this culture. The police are largely not involved in these matters, unless you give them a bribe or haul in these brutal parents yourself.
I tried to show the kids I met love the best way God enabled me to. I continued reminding them that Jesus loves them and always will love them more than any human could. I truly believe this was one of the primary reasons the Lord called me to Africa (along with many other secondary reasons), to help and minister to many African children and orphans…praise Him!
And lastly from Blair and I together:
To all who partnered with us in ministry to allow the Lord to work in and through us in powerful ways…THANK YOU!! We could not have done it without God using you to enable us to go on this trip. And to be honest, as much as we ministered to others, it was a two-way street. Blair and I certainly learned much and believe we became more Christ-like due to this amazing experience. We were so blessed you supported us in every way and prayed for us while we there…those prayers were powerful and effective!
May the Lord bless you for your generosity, as well as for all the work that was accomplished in Uganda that you enabled. The divine work accomplished on this mission will be fully realized in the Lord’s upcoming Kingdom on earth, but it has already begun during the time we spent in Uganda.
May God be praised, honored, and glorified through all things…AMEN!!!