Following the conference, which took place last Tueday and Wednesday, we took the day on Thursday to travel out to Luwero, Uganda. The Luwero District is where Shannon and Danielle Hurley, missionaries from Grace Community Church who are also supported by our church at Placerita Baptist, are going to be moving to in the next year. Shannon recently purchased property in Luwero, which is about 70 miles from where they currently based in Mukono, so they can better reach and disciple the impoverished people living in the "bush." While we were out there we saw numerous Ugandan homes which were really red brick made from the ground with thached roofs. Income there is non-existent as is education. Agriculture provides the only means to survive.
Shannon shared with us his plans for ministry in Luwero. He had George Crawford read Hebrews 11, the "Hall of Faith chapter", and described how his ministry there will truly be a ministry of faith. The Hurley's will be building a home there from the ground up, as well as a small school and a church. Shannon's plans are to help the poor Ugandans of Luwero by educating them and providing a home for the many orphans there. In turn, he will bring the Gospel to them and train up leaders who will start churches.
Following our time in Luwero we traveled to the west side of Kampala, the capital, where we toured the Watoto Village. Watoto is an orphanage started by Kampala Pentecostal Church. Instead of making the orphanage an institution, Watoto brings in widows and places them over "homes" in the village. These "homes" of course are populated with 8-10 orphans. While nothing is as good as a family setting, this model mirrors a family as close as possible for these widows and orphans. Each "home" is sponsored by a church, usually costing somewhere around $30,000 I believe, so each dorm in the village is sponsored by a church, primarily in the United States. There are also medical facilities, a school, and a church on the Watoto grounds.
While not a day spent in "active" ministry, it was a special time of seeing how the Lord is working in Uganda to bring the gospel and show mercy to widows and orphans.
Friday we spent in the places of government in Kampala. We met with a high court judge who is a believer. He explained how the justice system works in Uganda and he spoke on the types of cases he hears, specifically dealing with financial mismanagement and fraud, especially with government contracts.
We also toured the Parliament building, including the actual floor of Parliament as well as the VIP waiting chambers where visiting heads of state would come when visiting Parliament. During our visit with met with MP (member of Parliament) Otto Odonga (actually in Uganda names are written last then first so I should write MP Odonga Otto.) Otto is a member of the opposition party and is also pursuing his law degree at Uganda Christian University. During our visit he told us how he had brought forth evidence of bribery within Parliament but was forced to go to a committee to prove his allegations or be disciplined by the Parliament. The opposition parties main issue with the governing party is that the constitution keeps getting changed to allow President Museveni to remain in power. Originally it was to be only two terms, but was changed so he could run again recently. Uganda is just in the early stages of a two-party system. In fact, their constitution is only 12 years old so you can imagine the growing pains their democratic government is going through after years of harsh dictators such as Idi Amin and the overall lack of freedom.
Friday night we had the opportunity to attend the opening night of the Passion Conference Kampala. Passion is a ministry by Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin directed toward college-age students. It has been based strictly stateside before, but this year is traveling to many parts of the world. While Christina and I own some of Chris Tomlin's music, neither of us had seen him perform live or Matt Redman, who was also at Passion. Its kind of ironic the first time was in Kampala, Uganda. At the conference our team also met with Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, who was speaking at the conference. Though Francis is a fellow alum of Master's and pastors nearby, I had never met him. Again, kind of ironic. It made for a great night though to sing praises with Chris and Matt and hear Louie Giglio challenge the Ugandan crowd to follow God and believe in the Gospel.
Please check back later and I'll wrap up the wonderful time spent on the Uganda trip.