(photo gallery below)
Returning to Ibaare, Uganda
In 2010 and 2012 Church of the Rock had sent teams into Ibaare and helped to build a large church. The large church was to be more than a church but also to be a training centre for the pastors of the area to gather to grow and be encouraged. Now returning to Ibaare in May of 2013, our primary focus was not to build a physical church but to help establish and encourage the spiritual church, the leaders, pastors and people of God. We are exhorted by Jesus that we are to go into all the world and makes disciples, not just get them saved but help them to walk out the Christian faith.
Most of these rural pastors, when they first heard the gospel in one village area, went back to their own village and shared the good news with others in their village. Soon they had a church but no significant biblical training—they just shared what they had. As a consequence, the largest portion of this trip’s ministry was to gather these remote pastors into a central village where they could be encouraged, discipled, trained in the Word of God and strengthened in the fellowship of the other Christians.
There were around 30 pastors present for the full course of 8 days of conference; another 10 came for shorter periods of time as they were able. Christians from the neighbouring communities came as well. In total there were 727 adults that were registered, plus over 300 children that were present as well. Pastor Keith taught the majority of the sessions.
Many of these pastors and people walked close to a day to attend the sessions. If they walked that far then those people did not go home but stayed in the church for the night and stayed as long as they could to get as much as possible from the conference. Church of the Rock paid for the food of all these people at the conference, as that, on top of being away from their work, would have been too much for the people to afford. The food was cooked by local Christians over wood fires. It was simple food that was common to the people of that area. The conference would run from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. with singing and worship between sessions.
Investing in the Mission
This was ministry time and was not a holiday experience; we ate the local foods, used squat hole latrines, slept on the side of a hill in tents. Each team member used their own holiday time to be on the team, which for most meant that they took time off from work without pay. They also had to contribute their own money for flights, in-country travel, meals, etc., or do significant fundraising to try to cover the costs. The community of Ibaare has no electricity and the only water was from a spring in the valley (about ¾ mile walk one way), which needed to be carried to where we were and then boiled before cooking or drinking. We rented sound equipment, a generator and projector for the conference.
We did have a construction component where we helped to construct a leaders’ residence/lodging facility to accommodate the pastors when they gather from the farther outpost areas for regular training.
Ministering in the Community
In the evenings many non-Christian people from the nearby community would attend. In the evenings we spend much time praying for needs of people. As well, we showed Christian videos like the “Jesus Video” and “Moses”, breaking the videos into sections and stopping often to help the people understand what was happening and inviting them respond to the work of the Lord Jesus. At times out team worked on the construction during the day, did regular children’s sessions or went door to door praying with every person in the village and then into the surrounding area.
Much more happened than can be reported here, but here is one day’s report to serve as a glimpse into what the Lord was doing:
Friday night. Tonight we prayed again for people. This was supposed to be for “non health” issues. But how can you tell people, “No we won’t pray for your sicknesses because it’s not the time.” So the team went from person to person. One mute person had demons cast out and started singing. Another lady had fallen off of the back of a truck and cracked her head open. After many surgeries she still could not move her head. We prayed and she easily moved her head back and forth. Many headaches and such stomachs were healed. Then there was much need for wisdom, restored marriages, educational wisdom, etc. After praying for over 45, our 10 groups still had people to minister over. Lots of needs but a great God who ministered. It was a good night.
During the time in Ibaare many people were also encouraged by the ministry that took place individually as the team went into the community.