The trouble began when our sound system burnt up some internal wiring a week ago. The sound board was sent to town on Monday so that it would be repaired by the time of our Good Friday outreach to the village of Buvunia. On Friday, we were given the bad news that the system would not be ready for a few more days, so we prayed about an alternate solution. With a 15-person youth team in country, we were planning to show the Passion of The Christ movie in Luganda to this village in the evening and it wouldn’t be possible without the sound board. I sent a text message to a few friends in Jinja at 2 p.m. to see if anyone had a system we could borrow. Some fellow Global Outreach missionaries responded and our visiting team picked it up from them after finishing some other outreach events in town.
Departure plans were delayed by various circumstances, so we left GSF at 7:15 p.m. when it was already getting dark. It has been raining hard in recent days and, knowing the road to Buvunia is already rough, I was fearful of driving our open-air truck loaded with 20 people and all the sound equipment in the back. Prayers and praises were offered up before departure and as we rocked and rolled along the dark path to the village. At one point everyone in the back got out and walked because we were near the village and they felt safer on the ground compared to being thrown around in the back due to the severely rutted road.
Once on site in Buvunia the setup began in earnest. A sheet is hung on the side of the truck to produce a screen. The generator is hauled out back so the roar doesn’t disrupt the movie too much. Rustic wires are plugged in all around. Prayers were offered up asking God to hold off the rains as it was already starting to sprinkle. Then we discovered that something was jammed into the 220-volt power outlet for our converter/regulator box. We couldn’t go on without it. Someone proceeded to open the voltage box, and rig up a way to plug in the cord inside the box (don’t ask me how this worked – and I’m sure the whole contraption violated several safety regulations in the USA to say the least). Then the microphone cords were shorting out, but we managed a quick announcement of the movie and proceeded to start it at 8:30 p.m.
Though there are many distractions in such a setting, the film went on well and maybe 200-300 people gathered, gripped by the intensity of the show, which is a novelty itself in the first place. The flogging and crucifixion scenes are extremely intense. The stars above are brilliant when there is no other electricity around to drown them out – it makes for an awesome movie house. At the end we invited people to Jesus, recognizing the price He paid for our sins, and routed them to local pastors/churches in their village area.
Afterward we loaded up the truck and van once again to head home at about 10:45 p.m. Putting on the headlights, I noticed they were very dim. Sure enough, the truck battery was dead and not giving the slightest hint of starting. Our GSF teens knew what to do, but I think the American youth were confused about push-starting a vehicle. The dirt path is fairly level, but there was nowhere to slope down to get good enough speed to start the truck. Forward once; everyone turn around and try it in reverse. People from the village joined in the fun, but it was nerve-wracking for me as the driver because there were so many people around; it was very dark and everyone is right on the vehicle trying to push. I cringed at the thought of running over someone in the scene. All forward once again and the push start finally worked! Everyone loaded up and we headed back up the muddy road toward home. About half way our van, following me, began filling with smoke from the engine. Not knowing the problem, all the girls loaded into the truck and a few guys remained with the van. We went on home to GSF, planning to return for the van and the rest of the group. Fortunately, the van started and they met us at home before we went back. The dashboard lights wouldn’t go off and we had to unhook the battery to get it to shut off completely. About 30 minutes later, nearing midnight, we were deluged by another wonderful African thunderstorm.
Weakness. Dilapidated vehicles. Failing sound equipment. Poor roads. Rainy weather. I told the team today, “Our best efforts were absolutely pathetic.” In our weakness…
Strength. We arrived safely. The video went on. The crowd gathered and watched intensely. The rains held off. God’s effort overrides ours. …He is strong!
The whole program and the results are entirely, utterly, absolutely dependent upon the Lord, The Almighty Everlasting God.