Are You Going To Calvary?
“ARE YOU GOING TO CALVARY?” the man asked me as I climbed the steep, cement stairway. Since I was on my way to the Kampala Calvary Chapel, located up about 5 stories up in a building overlooking downtown Kampala, I replied yes, I was. I thought a lot about that question the rest of the day. “Are you going to Calvary?” I originally went to Calvary and knelt at the foot of the Cross of Jesus when I was 21 years old, and it changed my life, leading me down a long, winding trail of life, eventually many years later to East Africa. Sunday I found myself climbing a different sort of hill to Calvary again, Calvary Chapel in Uganda.
“Are you going to Calvary?” I thought of this after I greeted the beggar sitting in front of the bakery where I like to have breakfast when I’m in Kampala. Joseph is a man who has never walked; he scoots, or if he has far to go, he travels on his sandaled hands and callused knees, his toothpick legs and feet waving the air above his back. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, so I asked him if things were well. He’d been home to his village and his wife had born him their 6th child, a boy, he told me proudly. Joseph has been to Calvary. He prays at a church just up the hill, and frequently sits on the sidewalk, in the shade, reading a tiny New Testament.
This week was the climax of at least a year of preparation for a huge Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that Uganda has had the honor of hosting. Over 4000 dignitaries are flooding into Kampala, filling newly constructed hotels and older remodeled ones. Thursday and Friday were public holidays to honor the dignitaries, which included even the Queen of England. Security of course has been intense, with police and military being pulled in from all over Uganda to help, and the city was virtually shut down for the week. The past few weeks have experienced the traffic jams caused by drills of the police moving practice convoys through Kampala’s twisted streets. Thousands of people have been pouring into the city, hoping to catch glimpses of famous government leaders from around the world.
The theme on posters, billboards, and in people’s mouths, for weeks has been, “Are you ready for CHOGM?” Churches all over the nation have been holding special prayer meetings to cover this time with safety and the presence of God. The theme in the churches has become, “Are you ready for Jesus?”
“Are you going to Calvary?”
One Sunday morning recently I was climbing those same steep cement steps up to Calvary Chapel Kampala when I encountered 3 wild, dirty, noisy little boys racing up and down the stairs. My first thought was that someone needed to get ahold of these kids; then I realized they were street kids and wondered what they were doing inside this building. Next thing, I noticed about 10 or 15 more of them pouring down the stairs in their brownish rags, many of them happily greeting me, and then I saw, barely recognizable under the dirt, one of the shirts had the Calvary Chapel logo on it! I wondered how he got that shirt, and then I finally realized that I was seeing the fruits of the new Calvary Chapel ministry to street kids. I felt joy in my heart then, rather than my initial mild annoyance. These boys were being given Jesus, probably along with a bit of food and drink, in contrast to the drugs and other bad things they encounter on the streets.
“Are you going to Calvary?” Jesus ministered on earth to the lame, the poor, the downtrodden, the dying. After kneeling at His feet on Calvary, doing the same on earth is a great way to get to know Him better, to feel His presence, to share His love.