Uganda Travel Log: Day 5 – Worship and Community

Location: Mbale, Uganda, including the Namatala slums
Sunday, May 21, 2017


Today is the Lord’s day, so we rose early to travel to our assigned churches. Four of us had volunteered to preach, so we broke into four teams, each preacher with one Ugandan (from UCU) and 2-3 members of the American team. Two teams went to mountain churches, and two went to slum churches.

I was assigned to the House of Prayer Church in the Namatala slums, the largest slum in Eastern Uganda. Kaylyn, Amanda (from UCU) and Donnie went with me. After having stayed up late and getting up early obsessing over the sermon I had written for Revelation 19:11-21, when we got there, I just didn’t feel like that’s what God wanted me to say. So, literally minutes before I got up to preach, I switched to Colossians 1:15-23. I don’t even really know why. I just felt like that was God’s direction. So, for the first time in my life, I preached 100% extemporaneously, using the passage itself (on my mobile phone) as my notes. Kaylyn videotaped me, and a wonderful friend from the church translated. Here are a few minutes of the video of the message…

Church at House of Prayer was pretty amazing. The service started at 9. We were told it was 9:30, so we showed up at 9:20 or so, so they were already going gangbusters when we got there. A woman (a local) was preaching when we came in. We were ushered to the front, and literally people were displaced from their white plastic yard chairs so we could sit in them. The four of us sat with the pastor and his wife, with his beautiful children running around. They were immediately gracious, and stayed that way the whole time we were there. After the first woman’s message, we sang and prayed, and they gave announcements, and sang and prayed some more. We had been there for about 90 minutes when I was finally up to preach. I preached for about 35-40 minutes, then Donnie gave a testimony for another 15 minutes. After that, Kaylyn and Amanda introduced themselves, and we had the offering. They laid baskets out and people came to the front of the church during worship, and afterwards there was some more rockus worship. The service closed at about noon. But even after we left, they were staying to watch testimonies on a TV, and were being called upon to return to the church that night at 4, and for a week-long fast … no food until dinner and dinner together with prayer at the church each night. I was awestruck.

The pastor and his wife, along with a couple other leaders, escorted us out. They were very gracious, and even asked to exchange contact information. I would love to keep in touch with their church … maybe even develop a relationship between them and our church here in the States. As we were saying our goodbyes in front of the church, I asked the pastor if we could get a picture together. He agreed, so I turned to beckon the team to gather up. But when I turned back around, he was already back inside the church, stopping what was happening, and rallying the whole body to come outside for a picture. Nooo!!! I felt so bad. No way was it my intention to disrupt and inconvenience everyone. But the Baganda are such a gracious and welcoming people. It’s truly remarkable. And at the end of the day, I wound up with this great picture…

House of Prayer Church

After church, we met at a resort near the JENGA office. Don’t remember the name. But it was beautiful there, and the weather was gorgeous. The food was really good too, with a much greater variety on the menu than we’d experienced at UCU. I had a fish curry with grilled vegetables and rice, and it was out of this world. There was the opportunity to go swimming too, but I declined. Instead, we walked back to the guest house, while some swam and others got manicures. I enjoyed just kicking back at the house and journaling.

Here are a few pictures of us at the resort…

Uganda Team at Resort 1 Uganda Team at Resort 2 Uganda Team at Resort 3

The guy to the right praising the Lord for his steak, that’s Robbie King, one of the two founding directors of JENGA. And here’s a couple pictures of the resort itself. So beautiful here…

Uganda Team at Resort 4 Uganda Team at Resort 5 Uganda Team at Resort 6

That evening, we broke up into groups and went to visit the homes of various members of the JENGA staff. Donnie and I and Amanda (from UCU) teamed up with Bex, Ruth and Rhonda (all three are longer term missionaries from the UK) and visited a women named Grace, who is the leader of children’s ministry at JENGA. She’s also one of their worship leaders. We met her children, ate a wonderful dinner, sang songs, prayed, and enjoyed some wonderful fellowship, all of us together. It was fascinating to hear everyones’ stories, and a joy to just be together in such a foreign context.

Dinner with Grace's family

Although there weren’t that many activities today, it was still a long day. So, I was happy to finally be home in bed at the end of the day. Tonight is my third night taking sleeping pills, and I seem to be sleeping much better now. Thank you for all your prayers.

Looking forward to a week of ministry and new experiences, I’ll sign off. Good night, friends.

Photo credit:
All mine, except the title image, which is from First Presbyterian in Allen

About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Jesus, the long awaited King. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long, difficult, joyful adventure, learning to swim with the current of God's sovereign love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Uganda Travel Log: Day 5 – Worship and Community

  1. Pingback: Uganda Travel Log: Day 7 – Soccer and Prison Ministry | Breaking Away: Jeff Block's Blog

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s