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Hardcore Ministry Part II

April 30, 2013

I’ve just spent the weekend with Isabirye David, my former student and current friend who is now a minister in a rural, remote, poverty-stricken backwater parish in the South-East. It is a hard place to visit even for 48 hours. And an even harder place to live, as they do. And it is an even harder place to live and minister in, as David does. I really can’t express this enough: It is a tough place to be. I’ve spent a lot of time in rural Africa in my life, but I’ve rarely seen life lived like this.

There’s so much I’d love to write about, so many stories to tell, so many snapshots about mossies and rats and disease and snakes and poverty and friendship and witchcraft and kindness and death and mangoes and mud and chickens and beauty and ugliness. But it would take to long, and it feels too personal. So I’m going to keep some things for myself.

However I did manage to do some filming. My camera is worth £200. That’s more than the land, possessions, crops, and house that most of these folk own put together. It wasn’t right to go there and get it out (This is where Google Glass might come in handy.) That meant I missed so much, but that’s ok. Sometimes life is better experienced through eyes rather than through a screen. It stays in the memory for longer.  But, as I say, I did actually do a bit of filming. It’s the truth, but not the whole truth. But I hope you enjoy it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioNt3UPkGOg

5 final thoughts from the weekend:

  1. Tough place to sleep: Crickets were so loud and also were inside the bedroom. Rats were everywhere, scraping around (David has lost many of his clothes to rats, but with the house in such poor condition you can’t keep them out). Mossies were so tough. We had no net but I was plastered head-to-toe in repellant. They didn’t care – they were crawling all over me sucking my blood. They even managed to bite me through a sheet I wrapped myself in (which made me overheat). Namugongo mosquitoes are feeble compared to these. I reckon I must have picked up 30 bites at least. At one point my foot felt like it was going to explode with the red-raw, painful, swelling due to all the bites. Grim. Was so, so grateful to get back into my safe, netted, comfortable, rat-less bed. 
  2. I’d love Prof Dawkins and other New Atheists to go there. It’s so easy to be an atheist when your life is so good. Atheism is pointless and senseless there. I’m not saying belief is right because atheism is hopeless. I think belief is right because it’s true. But it’s so easy for the New Atheists to speak about just getting on and enjoying your God-less, future-less, heaven-less, hope-less life when they’re living in Oxford Colleges. Come here and say that to these people. There is nothing in the world more beautiful than true, Christian hope.
  3. Tear-inducing generosity. At one point we visited an elderly widow with no children. We found her sitting alone on a mat in the dust in the yard outside her mud-walled, mud-floored, leaky-roofed house. At the end of our brief visit, she got up, went into her house, and brought me out a chicken. I had a camera in my pocket worth more than her house, and more money in my wallet than she’d probably handled in the past 2 years, And she gave me a chicken (she had 3 in total). I felt like telling her not to be so crazy. But she wasn’t being crazy, she just appreciated having a visitor, a somebody, come and visit a nobody. I look back with regret that I didn’t tell her that, soon, we will be together in Christ in heaven, all equal before the throne. In the end I came home with 4 chickens. The cocks woke us up this morning with their crowing, and my car is full of their poo.
  4. I have the best job in the world: it’s really hard living and working here sometimes, but we help produce people like David, and David goes and preached Christ to people like that. My work is never going to make an impact on world politics, nor fix the environment. It’s not even really going to help this place come out of poverty. But there’s a few in that church who genuinely, through thick and thin, love the Lord Jesus and have committed their lives to him. To contribute a small way to that is a real pleasure.
  5. David is an outstanding man. That parish hasn’t had a minister there for several years. No-one will go. When they are sent by the bishop, they whinge and whine, demands transfers, and refuse to live there (just travelling in on Sunday’s). He wants for nothing more than to stay there for years to come serving these guys. He looks at the conditions they live in and thinks that, because he has a bed, he is really really lucky. He’s humble and hard-working, generous and heavenly-minded, sociable and hospitable, committed and courageous. I learnt a lot about my own feebleness and wimpy-ness.

There’s so much more I could say, but that’ll do for now. Please do watch the video – and please do pray for David and Kasoze parish.

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One Comment
  1. Bethany permalink

    I am praising God for you and David’s ministry and what an amazing God we have! I am almost bought to tiers from the story of the widow and knowing reminded me of Romans 8: 17-18 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” And it is absolutely true that we have the best purpose on earth, and that is to share the gospel with people that don’t know God and need him ‘There s nothing more beautiful than true Christian hope!’ Wow there really isn’t 🙂 Thank you Lord for your amazing truth and who you are! Amen. xxx

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