Tag Archives: Travel

African Spiritual Adventure 2023

One of our members at Harvest Community Chruch has a fledgling relationship with an African pastor who is four years into a church plant in Uganda. Our church sent a five-member team to support this church in July/August, and scout out whether the Spirit might be leading us into an ongoing relationship. This turned into a beautiful, relational adventure.

We were their first team to host, and they did a remarkable job. Our lodging was clean and safe, and their hospitality was exemplary and warm. We felt honored and well cared for — indeed, welcomed into their family.

Buyera Community Church (BCC) is a non-denominational church in an association of about 200 similar churches throughout Uganda. We found Pastor Steven and his wife Judith to be very hard-working, self-sacrificing, genuine Christians who are laying their lives down to further the church and Kingdom of God. They have put together a fledgling church in four years of about 100-150 people in Buyera, a village on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital. While the area is relatively impoverished at the moment, its proximity to the capitol with some recent business and governmental activity promise to bring needed economic resources to their village as well as many new people.

They’ve put together an amazing, well-kept campus, and started an elementary school with about 80 children. That’s Judith’s passion and dream, because she was a Project Compassion child herself who came out of the slums and a bad family situation to get an education and wants to give back or replicate that for others. Teaching children is about the best way to make disciples imaginable. Pastor Stephen is well-educated, with Christian parents who recently celebrated their 47th anniversary — their age being a rarity in Uganda where the average age is 15.5 years.

Steven has a young, energetic leadership team — one quite large for the size of the church. It occurred to us that their real call may be to raise up and train leaders for the church in Uganda and Africa. Steven’s main focus seems to be the church, as it should be, the bride of Christ and a representation of His family. Their local church is bursting at the seams, space wise — meeting in the three-room school each Sunday. They have the foundation built for a church building on the campus, with standing metal beams. They are also ready to pour concrete for the floor and are in the process of making their own concrete blocks — a process in which we participated.

We enjoyed our recreation day at the beginning of the trip (desert first!) instead of at the end as usual, resting Steven and Judith, by going on a safari. This turned out to be perfect for getting to know the couple and their hearts, as we let them know us and gain their trust. We feel like family now.

On that note, a safari is a good option for the recreation and reflection day that most short-term-mission trips build into their schedules. It’s about a 5 hour drive from the BCC to the national park/game preserve. That’s a hike, but it allows the team to recover from jet lag — while experiencing a long, peaceful drive through the countryside getting a feel for the culture and people while resting and chatting.

As a veteran of about 20 short term mission trips, each one a success in its own right, I’d say this trip ranked near the top. BCC is very kingdom minded, and the fields are “ripe unto harvest” in Uganda, which may prove to be a hub in Africa for sending out young preachers and church planters. “Can anything good come out of Buyera?” is a common saying there. 🙂

At a Charles Simpson leadership conference in May of this year I sat at breakfast with two gentlemen who were involved with training young pastors and preachers near Kampala, Uganda. What are the chances? On the flight from Amsterdam to Uganda, I sat by a very lovely Belgian woman, a nurse, who met her husband on a medical mission to the Congo, just west of Uganda. She married her Canadian-pilot husband, and he currently flies for Uganda Air and they live in Entebbe. She told me Uganda is mostly Christian and the gospel is spreading rapidly, but that the depth of the church is somewhat shallow, with a lot of prosperity teaching, etc.

We found Pastor Steven a grounded student and teacher of the Bible. He and his wife met working for Project Compassion, and the church they attended at that time sent them out as church planters. They have established a nice church campus with a building used for a Christian elementary school, a building for church and school offices, a mission building, and the start of a church building. The campus is clean and well laid out in a good location for growth as Kampala spreads south toward Lake Victoria and Entebbe Airport. But it’s the hearts of these two leaders, their four children and their staff that are the treasures. We plan to help them any way we can as the Spirit leads, with funds and sharing lives via visits. It’s beautiful and refreshing to find God’s Spirit in God’s family in many different parts of the planet — and to experience their love is an inexpressible joy!

Photos of African Mission Adventure 2023

Honduras Spring Break 2023

A Prison Break! — Honduras March 20, 2023

[Eight of us experience Prisoners of Light @ Olanchito, Yoro, Honduras Prison ]

There is no way I can describe what happened in there.

As we turned over our passports and walked toward the solid metal door with a peephole, then through that door to the bare, concrete holding area in front of another solid metal door with a small window, prisoners began excitedly whispering and running through the narrow perpendicular passageways beyond.

I’d been inside this prison before, but no one else with me had been except our translator. I hadn’t seen this activity before, so it was a bit unnerving, partly because we had five precious young women with us. But I quickly had inner peace and a spiritual impression that all was well and everything was alright.

We hurried into the hallway, turned left, and followed the narrow passageway lined by some prisoners, until we emerged into the open-air courtyard. It was surrounded by high walls topped with Concertina wire and a guard tower manned by a uniformed guard with a machine gun.

Immediately to our left, seated in many straight rows, were 150+ prisoners who began to clap loudly — applaud thunderously is more like it — our arrival.!?

Totally surprised and humbled by such a warm reception, we waved sheepishly at the clapping inmates. We continued walking to where we were motioned, to our seats at the front left side — very close to the prison worship team.

There was a warm and impassioned welcome to our team by the prison pastor, who is also an inmate. And the inmates echoed his welcome with thunderous applause.

Our Honduran translator Kerlin stood up at the front by the pastor and translated Spanish to English for our team when appropriate or as needed. After their welcoming remarks, Kerlin invited me as the team leader to speak to the prisoners.

I gave them our greetings from the United States, our Arkansas church, and the Covenant Life Fellowship brothers and sisters in Louisiana who had visited before. I had seen enough of their Spirit-filled worship to tell them, “Don’t be surprised if there is more spiritual light in here than out there.” This was followed by loud applause. I told them we experienced a waterfall of the Spirit as they worshiped so freely and passionately, and thanked them for letting us share the experience with them.

I recounted that I had been inside their prison five or six times during the last ten years. We weren’t allowed to visit in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19. They nodded appreciatively their understanding and thanks for trying. I recounted how small the Christian group of prisoners was ten years ago, maybe 15 to 20 inmates meeting against the western wall. Most of the other inmates were milling around the courtyard then, with some of them heckling. Five years later, the number was about 50, and you had a small area set aside for worship and meeting. But now!?! …

Trip Report to the Elders

That’s how I started an after-action report to our elders about the fourteen-member team that Harvest Community Church, Fayetteville, AR, sent to support an indigenous pastor. The trip also provided opportunities for our community to disciple believers in another country and culture, and be discipled by them. It was a beautiful experience and what Jesus commanded His followers to do in Matthew 28:19-20, commonly called “The Great Commission.”

You can click on the whole report below and hear the rest of the prison story as well as read the highlights of the trip, mostly recorded from my journal.

There Is Still Room

I must include one more highlight, because it furnished our direction for the entire trip, “There is still room” [at the King’s table]. But this blog has become long enough so I’ll continue that on the following bog.

Godspeed on your spiritual journey wherever you find yourself. May you be spending time with Him each day, knowing Him better and better for the joy that is, and the joy that lies before you. Shalom in Jesus Christ, the Lord.

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Trip Report to the Elders

Photo Record of Our Honduras Adventure