This last weekend we visited my third year student Mande Silas in Kalugu near Lake Kyoga. We almost did not go because his wife is in the hospital with a bad case of Malaria. But she improved before the weekend, and Silas really wanted us to come. Silas had to argue against his non-Christians in-laws who wanted his wife to be treated by a witchdoctor rather than to go to the hospital. Based on how serious the situation sounded, she could have died if he had not brought her in. Please pray for her as she is not in her right mind because of the Malaria. Here is a picture of Silas.
Geographically, Kalugu is quite close to us, but because of lack of good roads to go directly there we had to take a long way around to get there. We thought it might take 4 hours this long way around, but the road was very bad and it took us 7 hours. At some points the road had rivers going across it that were a couple feet deep because of so much rain in the area. Here is a video of one of the motorcycle rides we went on.
Silas’ name, “Mande,” actually is a variation of “Monday.” He was born on a Monday so his parents named him that. He became a Christian in 2000 and a pastor in 2004. He was raised Roman Catholic but his parents worshipped spirits of trees and mountains in addition to attending church. As a young child, he rebelled against both the traditional religion and the Catholic Church because of the inconsistency of his parents. Eventually someone preached to him the Gospel, and he realized the truth of it and wanted to change his life and joined the Pentecostal Church. He doesn’t hold ill feelings toward the Catholic Church which was nice to see, but he laments that so many of the Catholics in his area are still spiritists. Here is a picture of where we stayed.
We noticed that his area did not have many churches compared to other areas we have visited. Upon asking him we found out that there are very few Christians in his whole area. There are some Catholics and Anglicans but not as many as in other areas of Uganda. There are many Muslims in his area but especially many of the traditional African Spiritist religions. They worship the spirits of trees and hills and fear them. They offer chickens to them and believe that the taste leaves the chicken over the night, proof that the spirit fed on it. They ask holy men to tell them the future and have to give them offerings in payment. Apparently, some of these holy men have demonic power. Silas claimed that one local holy man sometimes flies on a mat across the water to an island. Here is a video from the worship in church.
A Pentecostal church was planted there in 1984 but basically died out until Ugandan missionaries from Soroti came and evangelized there again near the year 2000. Now there are about 200 PAG Christians in 5 churches in the area, with much evangelistic work left to do. It was interesting to hear Silas talk about the changes in people after conversion. The holy men put charms in front of people’s doors during the night and convince people they need to make offerings to certain gods or they will be cursed. But the holy men also put these charms in front of the houses of known Christians trying to make them fear. But the Christians now know those things have no power and they just throw them out or burn them. Here is a picture of Lake Kyoga.
When we arrived we were very tired, but didn’t get to eat dinner until 11:00. But we had great conversation while we waited. We learned that Silas has not read the whole Bible and in his opinion probably none of the other students at the Pentecostal College have either. Reading is very difficult for them in general, with the added difficulty of reading in English, their 2nd or 3rd language.
Silas used to be a fishermen before becoming a pastor. He brought us down to the lake in the morning before church and showed us some of the local fishermen. It was beautiful scenery. Here is a picture of the fishermen. Also a video of the motorcycle ride to get there.
The church service started with few people because of rains during the night, but more people showed up as time went on. I preached about work, and doing our daily work as service to Christ. Sara then taught about family planning, and they had many questions as usual but we couldn’t stay for very long as we had a long trip back.
Here is a video of the church greeting all of you! They also send a message to you that they need your prayers as they are hurting financially but have many goals in mind such as planting new churches in the surrounding areas, and starting primary schools, because children are going to Muslim schools and converting.
They gave us a gift of a rooster for visiting and then we started the long journey home. Coming home to Mbale we took a different route that supposedly would take 5 hours, but took us close to 8 hours coming back. We had many taxi delays, but God protected us from rain all day. After a 1.5 hour motorcycle ride we made it to a taxi park about 5 seconds before it downpoured. Then by the time we got inside our house at Mbale, it also downpoured. It was also interesting that we rode next to a young man from Germany, the first Mzungu that we have ever been in a taxi or bus with, and we have done a lot of traveling! This was our last visit for a while. We need a rest. This travel and visiting and speaking to churches is exhausting, so there won’t be anymore posts for a long while about visiting places.