Friday, October 20, 2006

Second post about Uganda

Waaaay back in May and June I went to Uganda, and around the end of June I did a blog post summarizing my trip. Now here's one story from the trip:

In 1971 a man named Idi Amin led a military coup in Uganda. While he was in charge, most religious groups were illegal, but some, including Catholics, Anglicans, and Muslims, were still allowed. In 1979 Idi Amin was defeated, and religious freedom began to improve.

In southwest Uganda, there was a man named Ignatius who had grown up in a nominally Christian church. In his church, and in any other churches in this area, Christianity had been reduced to mere ritual. Then he met a man who had recently returned from Kampala, the capital. This man had met a Canadian missionary named Stan Hoffman. This missionary had told him that these rituals weren'’t enough to please God, that he actually had to turn away from his sinful life and follow Jesus. Ignatius thought about this message, and in time he decided to follow Jesus.

This form of Christianity was quite new in this area so Ignatius quickly became a leader among the "“born again"” Christians in the area. They had no church building, so they met under a tree. Other people in the area got suspicious of this group, thinking they might be a revolutionary group. Soon, Ignatius was arrested and spent time in jail for his faith. The Canadian missionary, Stan Hoffman, heard about this and helped Ignatius get his name cleared. The authorities heard about how Ignatius's life had changed and if anything, he was less likely to be violent than he was before. They realized he wasn'’t a revolutionary leader and so they let him go.

As a pastor, Ignatius found a lot of success in starting churches in the surrounding region. His wife Mary, also a pastor, became the head evangelist for the Church of God in that region of Uganda.

I met Ignatius in Kampala where we were building the dorm at the Church of God headquarters. He had come to Kampala with many of the teenagers from his church. They had all come to Kampala for a national youth convention. Ignatius was always eager to help with the building project and to talk with us. It was inspiring to hear about his faithfulness in getting the church going in southwest Uganda even with all that opposition.

Later, our whole group went to visit a small village called Kasaroza where Ignatius lives. We visited his church and met many people whose lives had been changed through their work. We saw how they are also helping educate the kids through a nursery school, and how theyƂ’re helping people with AIDS. We met some of the orphans that Ignatius and his wife care for (some of them are provided for through child sponsorships from overseas).

Kasaroza was probably the most unique place I have ever visited, in comparison to Edmonton. It'’s a beautiful place (check out this picture) and the people were quite hospitable. But we saw a darker side too. At one point two teenage boys stole a couple of small things from our group, and when they were caught, they were beaten for it. Definitely different from home.

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