We’ve come to an area somewhere in a village on the outskirts of Kampala. It’s a part of our Leaderscape ‘developing world’ work. A dirt floor and a marquee splattered with the typical red dust and mud of the area, holy in places as you look up towards its roof and see spindles of sunlight breaking through the canvas. But the ‘holy – ness’ isn’t just physical.
I find myself now sitting listening to Michael preach with a Ugandan interpreter. The young man doing this job is brilliant – a fresh faced kid with a dream to study theology in Australia one day – headed for the big city of Nairobi in the near future to start his studies. He has a future assured as a speaker and a preacher. No one could doubt his commitment and verve. He imitates Michael’s every move, nuance and tone. We have joined a bunch of enthusiastic young Ugandans, most of whom have ‘graduated’ from the Good Samaritan orphanage and schools which are just up the road – using the term loosely because ‘dirt track’ probably describes it better.
As we’d walked in, past young people of around 18-25, lost in worship and the music, we’d noticed some 20 or so little kids in a corner, emanating the ‘stage’ young people and their every move. Dressed in their ‘Sunday best, ‘ these little ones were not going to be outdone in this intense atmosphere of dance and song! Wide eyed and fresh faced, they imitate, spin and dance with all the passion of their elder ‘brothers and sisters’. It’s a festive and spiritually invigorating place. The African beat and moves are mingled with Western praise music and instruments.
My gaze swaps to the stage boys and girls, all late teens and ‘twenty somethings’. They worship like so many Michael Jacksons, with so much passion and heart, stopping to drop to their knees often so that many of the boys have red mud colouring the knees of their trousers. The girls are often lost in the worship of their King and demonstrate a purity of praise I’ve rarely seen.
Earlier today, we’ve visited the Good Samaritan project, a school for over 2,500 orphans from all over Uganda. Most of them have lost both parents, killed by the last war or by aids. The young people who have planted this church, Christ the King Church, were rescued from the streets of Uganda and its countryside, brought to an institution whose heart is to restore and release these kids. And there’s plenty of need for that.
A couple of hours prior to our visit to the fledgling church, I’d been so unprepared for our entrance to the hall where we spoke to over 1,000 little primary kids, aged 13 down. We had navigated our way in the four wheel drive over terrain rivalling an outback adventure. We’d walked up the steep, uneven pathways towards the sound of the singing and joyous atmosphere from the main hall of the school.
And as we’d turned the corner into the building, we were completely taken aback. Walking into a space which was dimly lit but overflowing with beautiful Ugandan children, the crowd all stood and cheered and stamped their little feet to welcome us for a few minutes!! We are the only white people and a curiosity! Now I couldn’t walk anywhere as I’d misted up my glasses by this time and found a couple of stray tears invading and tracking down my face.
Not. Prepared. At. All.
The congregation here is a new church plant made up of ex Good Samaritan orphans and is their own project. There’s a half-finished church building started on the land adjoining this marquee. The ‘roads’ to get here cut through villages of mud houses and slum and squalor that, even after years of working in Asia, sets me back….good job, we had 4wheel drives to get here. This is no Fraser Island sand!!
Michael and I are welcomed with much enthusiastic hand clapping and cheering. And I wonder – how much are we bringing them, in contrast to how much they are teaching us?
My husband steps up to the front to bring a message to the little church, and its congregation leans forward as one, eager to hear, eager to move on what they hear. He’s ministering now to those plagued by fear. Imagine. Many of these young adults have seen the horrors of African war and present day terrorism, child soldiers and the destruction of a life of abject poverty and misery. There are thousands upon thousands of them, yet still wandering out there in Kampala and other cities and the countryside. This church is just one that needs to influence this next committed and enthusiastic young generation of Christians!
Meanwhile, tonight Michael will be speaking to pastors. The leadership of this movement (it’s totally indigenous- little overseas money or influence here) is growing older. The baton needs to be passed. And soon. Unfortunately, some of the well-meaning influences from by-gone times have left traits and habits of ‘religion’ and the revering of ‘authority’ and ‘position’. And it shows. The need for a freedom of worship and the disciples of the future to be released to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to this generation is paramount.
Uganda. Just one of the many places where God is doing His thing among a people who are willing to welcome Him into their lives. Leaderscape hopes to partner with many more of the organisations, such as those I’ve described today.
Perhaps we can help them.
I know they can help us.