Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

December 19, 2004

God's Chosen Fast

Sometimes I sit in front of my laptop, pondering just how I can express in some small measure the greatness of my Father God, through the limited medium of mere words, whether they be spoken, written, or electronic. This is one of those times…

Since I returned to Uganda on the 20th of August from a 4 month furlough in the USA, there has been an unending parade of trials in my life. These trials have been so invasive and so disruptive that I have literally been unable to resume my usual life and work.

Four days after my return, I had to seek medical care for a problem that kept me tied to daily trips to the doctor for several weeks (100 miles round trip). After that was a month of more trips to Kampala due to a crook absconding with the log book (title) for my Nissan pickup. I was getting it updated so I could sell the truck, then the man offered (insisted, actually) to "help." But what should have taken 4 days to accomplish drug out for a month as the man refused to return it to me, for all kinds of reasons. He was most likely maneuvering to get bribe money from me. The log book was finally returned to me after I went to the CID (like the FBI), after it proved that the man was bribing the local police to be on his side.

Then a few days before Greg Matthews came to do the wonderful SEVO seminar in November, I began the processes of both selling my old Nissan and buying a newer Toyota pickup. I also went back to my doctor for the same health problem which had not totally resolved. The doctor and I both were surprised by my condition being much more serious than either of us had anticipated, causing him to do a stop-gap surgery in his office, for lack of proper hospital and specialist services in Uganda. This necessitated several weeks more of daily trips to Kampala for more treatment, antibiotics for infection, and ongoing concerns for a possible surgery outside the country.

I was enjoying my new truck and its smoother ride, better fuel mileage, and increased power on our hilly roads. But the sale of my Nissan wasn't going so well, and I had to have the money to pay off my Toyota (we must pay cash for vehicles here). The man who had put a deposit on it had refused to return it to me after he was unable to come up with the full purchase price. About 2 weeks later, a friend saw the truck and confiscated it, but corrupt local police returned it to the thief, drove with him in my truck, into Kampala, where it disappeared from that point!

This began a lengthy and agonizing trial with a real con artist who was insisting on owning my truck without paying for it. The police refused to arrest him, saying because money had been exchanged it was a civil case, not theft. But later when I hired a lawyer, I was told it was criminal, not civil, because no written contract had been violated. Meantime, the thief was trying all kinds of tactics to convince us and everyone else that my asking price was actually 25% less than it was. He used threats and character assassination against my friends who'd been helping me sell the truck. And we kept running into corrupt police…

So I began going up the chain of authority, figuring somehow, somewhere, I would find an honest person who would help me get my truck back. It was still legally mine, but I couldn't convince anyone to get it back to me!

After 4 weeks of this, I was getting very discouraged. Then Pastor Ronald Lubowa, one of the village pastors I work with, came by for a visit. He was appalled when I updated him on the situation and all the obstacles I was encountering. Then he told me that his church was going to start 14 days of prayer and fasting on my behalf! Up until that time, I had been beating my head on a stone wall, no matter where I went or what I tried. But after this little village church began to pray and fast, cracks began to appear in that wall!

This past week resulted in some high level police meetings between me and the thief, that eventually forced him to produce the truck. Until that time, I didn't know if the truck even existed any more. He could have sold it illegally, or dismantled it (Nissan parts are very hard to find in Uganda). He used every possible stall tactic, and at the very end, was even trying to force ME to pay for expenses he'd incurred in parking it (in hiding), driving it, etc, before he would give me the key back! But he didn't know I had a 2nd key, so I was able to walk out of that meeting and drive away with my truck, without his knowledge!

A few newsletters ago, I related how Pastor David and I had driven unscathed through a university riot. Fresh understanding had come to me of Psalm 91:11-12, which says, "For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Within a week of that riot, I understood God had allowed this to happen to give me courage for what was ahead, that I was not to fear…

Today Pastor Ronald came by, 12 days into his church's fast for me. He'd come by several times this past week, but had missed me each time. I was able to share the victory with him! The Nissan truck is being repaired by a mechanic and we have a buyer waiting to take it -- one with cash in hand. As I shared with him the story, and we rejoiced together, I related how although I've lost a lot of money on the sale of my truck through all of this, it wasn't the money that mattered so much to me, as it was the justice of the matter. How could someone just drive off in my vehicle and claim it as his, and me not be able to get any legal assistance whatever? I had been prepared to go as high as I possibly could in Ugandan government to get my truck back, because I craved justice in the matter!

Today I looked up Isaiah 58, knowing that it speaks of God's chosen fast. I knew we could not have won this battle had Ronald's church not been praying and fasting to back us up in these struggles. I nearly shouted when I read verse 6, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" I had felt the oppression of an unjust system, found in too much of today's world, that refuses to assist the poor because they can't afford to pay bribes, and also doesn't help the "rich" if they refuse to pay bribes.

Last Sunday I had appealed to the Lord for a personal touch from Him. I felt so worn, so battered and bruised by these past few months of constant trials. During the sermon, the pastor mentioned in passing the story of the woman who merely touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was healed (Mark 5:24-34). At that point I began to see myself as that woman, crawling across the ground (beaten down by my trials), through the crowd, to get to Jesus' feet. I did not just touch His clothes, I grabbed onto His feet, weeping, pulling the thick, soft hem of His garment around me. I felt strength flow into my body, and I knew I'd been healed. I knew the healing was more than just physical. My physical body still needed healing, even 6 weeks after my office surgery, but even more, my soul needed healing as well.

Isaiah 58, in God's chosen fast, we are told, "Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 58:8-9) Probably due to severe stress, my physical healing had not progressed, and had even regressed, during a full 2 weeks. But since last Sunday, I am completely healed!

As Pastor Ronald was sharing how his church has prayed during their fast for me, he said that Thursday night (the same night I got my Nissan truck back), he had a vision. In it, he saw this thief of my truck boiling some water. He poured the scalding water into a tampeco (a 12 oz. Plastic cup), and then he stood up to throw that boiling water into my face. But in his vision, Ronald said he jumped up, held up his hand in front of the man, and said, "Stop!" I believe his church's prayers saved me from the harm this thief intended by stealing my truck.

In 1 Samuel, God gives us an example of an army function under King David. The King ordered that the forces that stayed behind with the supplies would share the plunder equally with the men who were fighting on the front lines. (Chapter 30) Thus I know that the forces that stay behind, praying and fasting, whether they be in an African village, or in my home church, or in my family, or if they are people who maybe read my newsletter whom I don't even know, all are an equal part of God's army. Any of us can be on the "front lines" at any time, through our own trials, but we win the battle because of the forces of God supporting us from behind.

Thank you for praying.

Margaret Nelson