Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

February 28, 2006

Ugandan Elections

As I sit here at my computer, the heavens are rumbling with thunder as the gray skies begin to plop big drops of water. My village also is thundering here on the ground. The drums are beating joyfully and the people are running, shouting, and ululating. The announcement has just come across the radio that incumbent President Museveni has won reelection, and the people are joyously celebrating.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the passion of Africa. The passion I see in the politics and that I see in the churches. A passion I donít see in the country of my birth. People in my country seem to fear passion. It can lead to fanaticism or to riots and death. But without passion, there is also death, a slow, boring death from lack of interest, lack of life, either religiously or politically. People fear the passion in Africa, but in Africa, there is life.

  Let your spirit fall, let your people call,  
  Let the world know, awesome is your power,  
  Like chariots of fire, rushing mighty wind!  
  The heavens will tremble, your kingdom will not end.  
  Lord of heaven rains, his armyís marching strong!  
  Rain in the world, rain in the nations, rain in your people as we come together.  
  Rain in my heart, rain in my soul, rain in me, your holy fire.  
  Rain in me!  
  Let the church rejoice, proclaiming the cross,  
  Denying ourselves, saving the lost,  
  Never looking back, til the coming day, hands to the plow, going all the way!  
  Lord of heaven rains, his armyís marching strong  
  Rain in the world, rain in the nations, rain in your people as we come together.  
  Rain in my heart, rain in my soul, rain in me, your holy fire.  
  Rain in me!  

As the rain began to fall, I listened to this song by Joe Sabolick. I heard it as Iíve written it, but later on I realized that the word "rain" was actually "reign" in the song! In Uganda the rain is viewed as a sign of Godís blessings, understandable in an agricultural society where life depends upon the rain. Life also depends upon whether God is allowed to rain /reign in our lives. Do we have life? No? maybe we need more rain!

It rained on election day and thousands of people stood in the cold, wind and wet to be able to cast their votes. A friend from the Seattle area recently wrote me that in a recent school bond vote, only 14 people had showed up to vote at one precinct she knew of. People in my part of Uganda experienced the killing fields of the Ugandan civil war, from 1980 to 1986 when possibly half of the population was slaughtered. When initial votes being counted indicated the opposition party ahead, people here were weeping, fearing another war was on the horizon. Children slept with parents, fearing to sleep alone, fearing this thing called ďwar.Ē Even though I cannot vote in Uganda, I felt my blood singing in my veins as the village people danced and shouted their joy. Passion is contagious.

The same friend wrote of riots and deaths in Haiti during an election. That possibility was in Uganda as well, but compared to the election 5 years ago, I could see that the government learned a lot towards keeping the peace. Passion is good, but it must be monitored and sometimes controlled. Vehicles filled with soldiers or police patrolled villages and streets. Where violence was brewing, the presence of authority quickly quelled it.

In some places in Uganda, it has not rained. People do not feel blessed and are not celebrating. There is anger and frustration, the desire to be violent and vengeful is there. Democracy comes hard to Africa. When the vote doesnít go the way some want, democratic process can easily be tossed aside and the old ways of tribal war preferred. Some would rather fight than vote. Democracy is slower and results sometimes less than gratifying. More education is needed.

Please continue to pray for peace in Ugand a, as there are still pockets of violence. There are ongoing elections over the next couple of months but the Presidential/parliamentary vote of last week was the most critical.

Related to the prayer requests of my last newsletter, in the bus accident, I learned later that the victims were seriously robbed before any help came for them. Ultimately more than 20 people died. We saw a local clinic doing an excellent job of managing the disaster, but the one local ambulance was merely shuttling victims. With our SEVO project in mind, I could only wonder how many of those 20 deaths couldíve been prevented had there been first aid and stabilizing of injuries done on site. Part of SEVOís purpose is also to prevent robbery of accident victims. We are in the process of establishing 5 SEVO pilot projects up and down this dangerous highway.

As for my pickup truck being repaired, the news has been disa strous. I had been led to believe it was nearly finished, and then I saw with my own eyes that very little had been done on it in months. It seems the mechanic had spent some of my repair money on other things and has been unable to buy what he needed to finish repairing my truck. I have been to see a lawyer about taking the man to court, but now it seems heís obtained money and weíve seen with our eyes that heís actually working on it now.

So please continue to pray about this matter. The mechanic has been known to be reputable when it comes to mechanics, but is lousy in business management (obviously!). So Iím praying that heís doing a proper job on the repairs and that Iíll have a truck in good condition with the same parts (repaired, if need be) as before. Corruption is a terrible problem in Uganda, and indeed in all of Africa, and is largely what keeps people in dire poverty. Please pray that Godís people here will be m oved to lives of serving Him with integrity!

Margaret Nelson