Sunday, April 24, 2005

Uganda ... and wow my world is small.

Believe it or not, the highlight of my week was not reading the Song of Songs over and over; nor was it watching Bend it Like Beckham; nor was it the annual WTS talent show (way to go, Christian - true talent!).

It was having dinner with Wednesday's chapel speaker, the Reverend Peterson Sozi of Uganda, and his wife, Sarah.

Long story: several weeks ago in chapel, a professor read several excerpts from the book A Distant Grief, by Kefa Sempangi. I thought to myself, "You must buy and read this book." I did. And now I tell you, "You must buy and read this book." Kefa was a pastor of a large church during the reign of terror of Idi Amin in Uganda. The way God works in and through this man will blow your mind. Maybe later this week I'll post some excerpts from the book, just to whet your appetite.

Reverend Sozi mentioned Kefa as a friend and coworker of his; while Kefa fled the country as a political refugee, Rev. Sozi remained in Uganda during that time. He founded Presbyterian churches in Uganda and has an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. testimony of how God used him during and subsequent to that time. Some of his chapel stories included how God had silenced protestors of crusades that he was leading (yeah, reformed people outside of the U.S. believe that God can actually work through mass evangelism!), how he commanded rain to stop at one crusade - and it DID, how God delivered him from death time and time again, and how God has used his ministry and prayers to heal people, including from AIDS.

Yeah, pause: AIDS, the incurable - scarier to catch than cancer... and there are people walking around Uganda calling themselves "Lazarus," because they have been delivered from this death. My reaction to this display of God's power is similar to that of the disciples after Christ calmed the storm: "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (Mark 4:41).

Rev. Sozi mentioned that he was staying in a guest room in our dorm, so T.L. invited him to eat with us (and she and S.K. cooked a fabulous meal!). So he and his wife sat for several hours and shared their lives with us. I realized partway through our meal that I was sitting across the table from a great man of God. It was immensely humbling. For one thing, he is the African representative for the World Reformed Fellowship, so he is truly an international figure. But more than that, his view of God and his experience of God are so far beyond what I functionally give God credit for being. God is with this man in a powerful way. And what a great lesson in practical theology for this seminary student!

It was even more of a privilege because Rev. Sozi told us while we were eating that yesterday was his birthday. So we sang him 'Happy Birthday' and wished we had a cake for him.

I pray that we were even a tiny bit of an encouragement and a blessing to him. He certainly was to us. I am challenged to learn more about God's mighty work in Uganda, and on a broader level just to have a passion for African Christians and for Christians around the world. I get chills thinking about what a mighty God we serve - and we all serve him together!


Amanda said...

What a great experience getting to meet this pastor - it sounds like God has used him in some awesome ways! It's so cool to hear a little bit more about how God has been building his church in Uganda for decades - I tend to only look at how the gospel is spreading in certain parts of the country and in slightly more recent times. :)

Anonymous said...

Rev. Kefa Sempangi's book Distant Grief was powerful for me reading it and l have also come to know that Kefa started an orphanage and street children ministry called africa foundation please visit the orphanage website

Thanks and please pray for this ministy