Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Church Envisioned - Part 1

How do eucalyptus poles and papyrus reeds display the greatness of God?  Let me tell you!
Early in 2012, several people in leadership at GSF (both missionaries and Ugandans) were growing uneasy with things at GSF Chapel.  We had been without a pastor for over a year, people attending from the village were very few and the GSF kids were not getting an accurate picture of what a genuine body of believers looks like.  We wanted something more and we began to pray.
We started hearing advice that GSF should be partnering with a local church – which is actually the model of ministry from the days when GSF was positioned in the town of Wairoka. Yet a review of churches within walking distance of GSF revealed that solid Bible teaching was significantly lacking.  Without a local church partner, we asked God what we should do.  A group of 7 people (David Malisi, Sam Ngole, Claudia Arango, Auntie Juliana, Mark & Amy Gwartney and Robb Warfield) began meeting weekly to pray.
The idea of planting a local church, offsite from GSF,emerged. GSF is not a church-planting ministry, so we had doubts, but the Lord kept confirming this plan.  Withencouragement and counsel from several sources, a weekly Bible study group began meeting in March 2012  near GSF in Kizigo village.   The Bible study began with just 8 people, all of them Ugandan.  This was to be a truly local community of believers trusting in God for his direction and provision.  Meanwhile GSF continued holding Sunday services and the group of 7 continued to meet weekly to pray.
A room was opened for use to the Bible study group.  The initial 8 people rapidly grew to more than 20 meeting twice per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Then it was more than 30 and more than 40.  Even 50 people would sometimes gather, spilling over into an adjacent room and outside.  People were thrilled to be hearing solid teaching of the Word of God.  These people started asking to organize the group into a formal church.  It was already larger in attendance than most rural churches.  The people began to pray.
Worship at the new church.

In November 2012, the step was taken to establish a church.  A group of 5 elders (2 missionaries and 3 Ugandans) was elected.  Sam Ngole, who had been the primary Bible teacher, was appointed as the pastor.  A new location was rented in our own village of Buwundo.  Just as the life inside a womb is genuine, viable and a growing human being, the birth of the child is the celebrated day.  This body of believers was genuine, viable and growing for 9 months before being officially born into a recognized church.

Baby Dedications - New Birth!
Praying for the Children

But the birth was not to be without challenges…

(To be continued)


Christie said...

So thankful for the work you and Amy (& everyone else) are doing over there!!! Thank you for your obedience, diligence and perseverance through all the obstacles. Praying for he new church and know that everything you are doing there is effecting not only those in Uganda, but those of us here who pray for you continuously!

Ed and Jenn said...

This is so exciting! Can't wait to hear the rest of the story....thank you for sharing it :)