Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stunned!

civ-i-li-za-tion:
a type of culture or society
developed at a particular time and place

Thirteen of us were in Uganda in 2001 ... for the first time.

And, while we were there, 9-11 happened.  We were far from our culture.  We were far from the panic that resulted from the realization that our nation was suseptible to terrorist attacks at a massive level.

But, we were experiencing our own culture shock.  A guitar, complete with new strings and hard case, had been brought to Africa with the intention of giving it to a church or organization.  We were confident that we would know who and when we were to present it to as a gift.

Only one problem ... we discovered that there were few if any guitars in this impoverished nation and no one even knew how to play one!

The last day ... the VERY LAST DAY ... without ever seeing a single guitar in any venue in which we served  ... and deep in the village ... we found a guy playing an old, beat up, with parts missing, guitar!  God couldn't have made it easier for us to know THIS was where He wanted that guitar to stay.

But, we were not prepared for the chaos of gratitude that poured out from the congregation when my son, Dawson, announced that this guitar was a gift to these people.  All bedlam broke out ... shouting, clapping, hooping and hollering ... dancing ... and a massive rush to the stage to embrace everyone on the team who would allow it.  It was a "civilized" expression of gratitude. Imagining that sort of response happening in the West is ... well, just that ... an imagination.

We were stunned.  Simply stunned by the exuberant expressions of gratitude that day.  Only during some lunchtime conversation with the musicians did we get a hint of an explanation for that expression.  The congregation had been praying for 8 long years for a guitar!

I haven't seen anything like it since.  Until last Sunday!

Pastor David & his church worshiping God with gratitude!
NGM was hosting a short term mission team from Fairview, Oklahoma.  Last Sunday we took the team to a small church pastored by David Waisana and his wife, Sarah.  Earlier in the week, the team had given the church a significant amount of money toward the purchase of land for their church building. Their previous location was surrounded by bars and the landlord had threatened many times to push them off the property.

Pastor David, after the team had greeted the church and shared with them, announced that the Lord had provided funds to attempt to purchase land for the church.  None of us were prepared for the ten minute celebration that broke our spontaneously.  Singing, dancing, shouting, clapping, praying ... it was all there ... everywhere! Many individuals wound up on their knees.  Many had faces wet from tears.  Heads were bowed low and lifted high toward Heaven.  Hands were raised in worship of God the Giver.

Paul, the Apostle of the New Testament, wrote about just such an experience in 2 Corinthians:
Overcome with a heart of gratitude
And, when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.  So, two good things will result from this ministry of giving --- the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.  As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.  For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.  And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given you. Thank God for this wonderful gift too wonderful for words!  (2 Corinthians 9:11-15 NLT)
Why did this small congregation of Africans have such a demonstrative expression without concern about who saw it or what they thought of it?  They had prayed for resources for land for TWELVE YEARS!  And, after having their prayers answered, they just had to worship God ... their way ... the civilized way ... the only way they knew how.

Oklahoma Team with Pam Hunter, Peter & Assina Bukenya
When Jay's Sunday School class back in Fairview decided to gather money and gift it to David's church ... from one civilization to another civilization ... they may have had no idea that their gift would result in immediate and aggressive gratitude to God.  Jay and his team carried the gift from their congregation, but David's church received it from God. They had asked Him for it and 12 years later He had responded.  Pastor David told the people that "God's delay is not God's denial." So ... they gave glory to God!

And, many of us also ended up with wet cheeks as we experienced God given gratitude and His glory.  Stunned!  It was an experience none of us shall forget.


9 comments:

  1. Glory to God!...i can imagine the joy!..God bless the NGM!

    Doris.H Bukenya

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  2. I can see Sarah uvulating and dancing in a circle with the biggest smile in East Africa

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  3. Wonderful story. I love the words “aggressive gratitude". Thanks for sharing that, Paul.

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  4. I can only imagine what the celebration in Heaven looked like, at the same time!!!
    DK

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    1. Someday we will get a real look at it and our imagination will fade away! I'm looking forward to that. C. S. Lewis said, "Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither."

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  5. Praising God along with Pastor David and Sarah and their congregation. I'm also dancing with them in spirit.:) I dearly love that Oklahoma team and hope to meet each of them one day either here or in Heaven.. Hallelujah !!! No one more deserving than Pastor David , Sarah and their church. Thanks Paul for connecting the dots. Love you all, Jaja Jeannie & Duke

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  6. Paul, you give so much to the folks of Uganda. I praise God for pastor David's church. I love him like a brother!

    I fear my hospital will die. I have done everything I can do, Some of it has been cast aside, but, I can say, I have done my best. I don't know what else to do.

    I did my best. I see a time that I will drive a truck in the US and be a "doc in Uganda". It is OK because I really did spend about 14 years learning to be a doc. I love the people of Uganda while my own people are serving me up. I am really upset I can't be there in July. I will be there in Feburary, one way or another!!!

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  7. We are all happy with you beloved of God in Bugembe. Glory be to God for that gift. God's blessings to all that gave towards the purchase of that land.

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