A group of 23 people were fervently praying together. Twenty of them were trainers for Samaritan Emergency Volunteer Organization (SEVO) who were being trained by Greg Matthews, EMT, from Everett, Washington. They were praying for the success, unity, and provision for SEVO, and also interceding for me and a health problem that was keeping me from joining them in our 4 day seminar out on a remote ranch called Ekitangaala ("Light").
What was so unusual about this group praying together with one heart and mind? It was a combination of Christians and Muslims, and it was the last week of the Muslim holiday, Ramadan, a month of fasting and seeking God. During these 4 days of training for SEVO, the Muslims had gone aside to do their 5 prayers a day facing Mecca, and they had prepared their meals before and after daylight as practiced during the Ramadan daytime fasting. And in the evenings everyone prayed together, for SEVO and for me. My heart was so touched. I didn't know if such a thing had ever transpired before. But my heart was also broken, longing to share more with my Muslim friends than just prayer. I longed for them to share also an assurance of salvation through knowing Jesus Christ as Saviorů
During 4 days, Greg taught a 40 hour First Responders course, the 20 students learning how to do more in depth emergency first aid and rescue than what they'd previously known. The 20 had been carefully selected from among SEVO classes, all English speakers, so that the training could move quickly. Then they will go out and train the rest of the SEVO students, using the native languages. Even on Monday, the 15th, as Greg was flying to London, on his return to the USA, some of these trainers were already meeting with their SEVO classes to discuss what they'd learned and how to proceed with further training of the classes.
These 20 trainers are very dedicated students. Many of them traveled far to get to the SEVO seminar, 4 of them as far as from beyond Jinja, to the east of Kampala. This was at least a 4 or 5 hour taxi trip from where we now were at Ekitangaala, in a country where finding transport money for such trips can be very difficult. They had spent Monday night sleeping on the floor of Pastor David Kasule's church so that on Tuesday we could have everyone present in order to transport them in 2 pickup trucks the 30 km out to the isolated ranch, where we would not be invaded by potentially hundreds of others, longing to get SEVO training or just to hear the muzungu from America. The nature of the training required it to be a small, closed group. Even at the ranch, some of the students were required to sleep on the floor of the cottages in which they were housed. The first night there, being past midnight, after late teaching, Greg was locked out of the guest house by the ranch security gate, and he spent the night, also sleeping on the floor with Pastor David, Hannington and the students.
By the end of the seminar, there were students who were practicing interventions on a fellow student who was made up with fake wounds, bruising and blood. She had "bone" protruding from a leg fracture, "intestines" hanging out of her belly, "arterial blood" pumping from a laceration, and she was "not breathing." It was fun to watch a group of novice rescuers learning to function together as a team, trying to quickly assess and intervene in the medical problems, and do vital signs. Greg was running around, even shouting at them at times, such as when a student would come up with a "pulse of 6" making him know that he wasn't quite on board with part of his training skills!
Wednesday night Greg showed the Jesus film. To our surprise and delight, the students focused on the story of the Good Samaritan, which SEVO is named after. They critiqued the "first aid" the victim was given by the Samaritan, making suggestions how it could've been done better!
The following night, Greg showed The Passion of the Christ, which he'd brought per my request, on DVD. This had not been planned as part of our program. He'd brought it because I'd been unable to see the movie yet, and I wanted to. He had his laptop and LCD projector hooked up to my small generator, and showed the film at the Ekitangaala Cornerstone school, per request of the ranch owner. So over 200 people viewed the Passion. People and children were weeping, medical assessments forgotten. At the end, 12 people said they want to follow Christ with their lives. This included 2 of our SEVO people, including one Muslim man.
As an example of what God is doing with our ministries here in Luweero, that night, Hannington (7th Day Adventist) came to Greg (a Pentecostal) to tell him a Muslim had gotten saved! Later on, after the new converts had been advised to seek out a Bible believing church, to read their Bibles and pray daily, the Muslim approached the Adventist, asking which church he should go to. Interestingly, Hannington advised him to attend Pastor David's church (Pentecostal) because of his observations that a new person would be loved as a brother and well discipled in the Word of God.
On Saturday, after breakfast, video interviews, and a wrap up of the week, we transported everyone back to Luweero, where they hopped on taxies and went cheerfully back to their homes, and on to do further SEVO training in the various communities. Everyone was so happy! Greg loved the students, and they loved him!
On Sunday night, Greg and Pastor David showed the Passion in Luweero, again to hundreds of people. At that showing, 2 more people openly professed their desire to know Jesus as Savior.
At 5:00 AM on Monday, I got up from my bed, to go pick up Hannington, Pastor David and Greg at his hotel, to take Greg to the airport. It had been a full week, full to overflowing. There had been little sleep. Greg, David and I had all suffered physical illnesses, but we had persevered. Our hearts were full, knowing we'd seen God working throughout our labors. Hannington was up and waiting for me at 5:30, ready for our 2 hour trip to the airport. As we went to Greg's hotel, the security gates were locked, and the security guard sleeping, as there was no response to my horn. So we went on to get David, who awoke at the sound of my horn. We then returned to the hotel to find both Greg and the sleepy guard awaiting us at the gate.
We raced our way through back streets of Kampala to avoid morning traffic congestion, on our way to Entebbe, 30 miles south of Kampala, to the airport. We made it on time for Greg to board without problem. David, Hannington and I went upstairs to the viewing lounge as it was Hannington's very first trip to the airport. He'd never seen a plane take off before, so to see the huge British Air plane taking off made his eyes big and bright with the wonder of it all.
Our many thanks to Greg Matthews and his family, and to New Life Center Foursquare Church, for sending him to us for such a wonderful week of training and ministry. Lives have literally been transformed, and more lives in the future will be saved, as a result of Greg's teaching.
Please continue praying for this outreach!