Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

January 30, 2004

Foundation building

In Kampala Foursquare Gospel Church, every year we teach an institute we call Life Ministries, originally called Foundations for Christian Service, written by Jim and Jean Stevens of Bend, Oregon. In a year of weekly classes, people are scripturally grounded in their faith and learn more about their place in their church by identifying their spiritual giftings.

Three weeks ago, I started Life Ministries Institute in 2 village churches in the Luweero area, Nakazzi and Kabanyi. Doing any kind of ministry in a village is different than doing it in the city. The people are more scattered and there is no communication other than word of mouth. Also there is a high level of illiteracy, and therefore, less English is spoken. So it was no surprise when the first class at Nakazzi had only 3 people show up for the class. So we postponed the start until the following week, knowing the word would travel around and more people would come now that I had been seen at the church awaiting them.

Two days later, the class at Kabanyi had enough people show up for the class, but I didn't make it! My truck was undergoing some very needed mechanic work, and it didn't get finished in time for me to make the trip out to the village. So I paid for my interpreter to rent a motorbike and meet the people at the church, giving them a word of encouragement. Otherwise, attendance would drop the following week after I didn't show up. I wanted to go with him, but the bike he'd rented was a real junker, so he was afraid to risk me riding on the back of it! Again, this is part of village ministry. The people know road conditions are bad, sometimes weather interferes with travel, sometimes there is a funeral, so sometimes people just don't show up.

So the next week we started out again. This time 6 people came to the church at Nakazzi, so we started the teachings. And 12 came to Kabanyi. The Institute had officially started, and the classes would grow. In Nakazzi most of the people are able to take notes, but an interpreter is needed. At Kabanyi, about half of the people are illiterate, and only 1 or 2 speak a limited English. Even the local language of Luganda is not their first language, but rather their 3rd or 4th language, as many of these people are either from Congo or Rwanda. So if Luganda isn't conveying the words clear enough, the interpreter can switch to Swahili, and the local pastor can take that into Lingala if needed. Scriptures are read in both Luganda and Lingala. So obviously, this class will go slower, and "exams" will be oral.

Word continues to travel around the villages, so it was no surprise this week when we had 16 people show up for class at Nakazzi. I taught on the meaning of repentance and the faith that goes hand in glove with repentance. I spoke for 3 solid hours, as the people sat on backless wooden benches and followed the shade around the outdoor meeting place in 95 weather. We were all sweating profusely, but no one left and no one fell asleep.

Because of the topics, I suggested we close in prayer and that it was a good time to repent if anyone was feeling convicted in the areas of sin we had discussed and read in the scriptures. Africans are never in a rush to leave church anyway, so we sang for awhile, interspersing the singing with times of communal prayer. A spirit of repentance fell upon the people and I saw an old white haired man fall to his knees with his head in his hands. About 75% of the group was obviously touched to repent of their sins, and they took time in prayer, then sang with a new rejoicing. Afterwards, a pastor who was present for the class came to me and declared that as the class was being taught, revival was springing forth in his heart! He told the pastor of the church the following day that he'd been up all night, going over the scriptures I'd given them, and also told him how his heart was being revived.

Afterwards, I took several people home. One of them was the daughter of Nakamiya, one of my workers, so she came to my house to meet her mom. It was getting dark, but before they left the girl said we needed to pray. She was still in the afterglow of what had transpired at the church. We all took hands and she led us in a song of thanksgiving and then said a heartfelt prayer in Luganda. Then the family walked home in the growing dusk.

Then on Thursday at Kabanyi, the attendance jumped to nearly 20 people, and to my surprise, most of them were men. Most of the churches are mostly women. I taught the same lessons on repentance and faith, and afterwards, most of the MEN came forward for prayer in repentance, many of them with tears pouring down their faces. One little girl, about 10 years old, also was repenting, with tears coming out of her eyes. Again, we finished the class with great and happy singing.

The Life Ministries class starts out in week one by discussing the story Jesus told of the two houses being built, one upon the sand, the other upon the rock. We talk about how those two houses represent our lives and that even though they may look the same outwardly, there is a very important difference in them, which is foundation. If a house has a good foundation, it will withstand the storms of life. If there are cracks or flaws in a foundation, or if the foundation is non-existent, the house will collapse in the storm. It is obvious that God is doing some deep digging in the lives of the people in these classes, as repentance is one of the foundation stones of our spiritual lives. (See Hebrews 6:1-3) Please continue to pray for us, and particularly for these 2 classes, which meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Margaret Nelson