First day at ABU2
Friday arrived earlier than I expected. I had set my alarm for 6:30am, but I had a little more trouble than I thought I would have getting up. I don't think it was jet lag, but instead is was the fact that because Kampala is at so high an elevation, I was having difficulty adjusting. It was hard to breathe deeply.
After a delicious breakfast prepared by Cheri Hoke, together very welcome coffee made by Tim, we started our day. Since this was a built in "adjust from jet lag" day, I had no real duties. Tim and I went down to the chapel, where the students gathered and greeted me. One of the men of African Bible University was a friend from seminary, Bentry Mhango. Bentry was the same as I remembered him - big booming laugh, warm and friendly. We talked about what The Lord had been doing in his life: how he had gotten married, and how he was ministering to refugees from Malawi here in Uganda.
This brings me to my first prayer request (particularly, Christ Church folk!) The blessing is that Uganda is a relatively stable country in East Africa. The bad news is that the surrounding nations are not so stable. Civil war is a fact of life here in Africa, with families being broken up, or fleeing for their lives to neighboring lands. There are several groups of such in Kampala. There is a Congolese church, a Malawian church, and believers from Rwanda. All are feeling the pain that is described in all too sad a detail in the latter part of the history of Israel. One of the things that the Lord is already teaching me is that while circumstances can be annoying for me in America, I have nothing like what God's people experience in other parts of the world. I would encourage you, as you get angry with the news, or politics, that you give some thought about what it would be like to be persecuted, tortured, or even just displaced from your home.
Young people -- you may dislike exams and chores, but would you really want to have the trials of your fellow young people in Africa? Many do not get to eat three square meals a day. You may not like it when Dad or Mom tells you to urn off the computer game or smartphone; would you like it if the power just went out 5 or 6 times a day as it did while we were eating dinner? I am more and more aware at how blessed I am to have the comforts of home. That reminds me that I did not do anything to deserve them (who chooses where to be born?). It is only by God's grace that I have been so blessed. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians:
"For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If you then received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Cor. 4:17)
That verse says a great deal, but Paul's main point is that we have the blessings we have not because we deserve them (how American an assessment!), but because they come from a good and gracious God. The most important of those blessings is salvation in Christ Jesus. Far too often we are tempted to think that is because of what we have done that God loves us - the prayers we pray, the aisle we walked, the books we read, the service we perform. But in reality the Bible teaches that we are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1); we are not drowning with a fading hope, but we are dead and dry bones (Ezekiel 37) without any hope in the world but for the Lord (Ephesians 2:12). God stoops down into the lives of His people, people that a completely unable, completely unwilling, and completely helpless. He comes in the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. That is where life begins - it begins with God, and then comes to us. Have you trusted the Lord with everything you have today? He is able, and He has sent His Son to die a death we deserved, so that we might be reconciled with Him for all eternity. The time to think about that is NOW.
I am very much looking forward to preaching this week - it looks like at least 9 times, and maybe more. I have only been here a day or so, and already I have been asked to give my testimony for the Lord twice. There is also something in the African cultures (yes, there are many more than one!) that loves marriage and courting stories. That in itself is very Biblical (think of the stories of Genesis, for example), and I told how Deb and I met and married at least three times today. Once was over delicious pizza across the street from ABU.
Tomorrow, Lord willing (a good phrase for me to make a habit of using more), Tim and I will head to the Rafiki village to see the children we prayed for at VBS, and to bring greetings from the saints at Katy. Until then, may the Lord keep you in perfect peace.