Called “The Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill in 1909, Uganda is a beautiful, landlocked country in east Africa that is home to snowcapped mountains, the Nile River, Lake Victoria, endangered wildlife, lush rainforests, and – most importantly – some of the most wonderful children of God that could ever be met. From November 14-16, 2014, The Church of God in Uganda met for National Convention in the capital city, Kampala, under the leadership of Bishop Makoha Francis Agati. The Church greatly rejoiced in the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, and the Convention was blessed to have a pastor from an independent organization and many from her congregation to visit. Brother Agati stated that they are interested in joining the Church, and he is in the process of teaching them the doctrine and operation of The Church of God.
It was a blessing to have Bishop Agati’s wife, Topsider, present during the Convention and to see the faithful saints we have known for so many years. The saints hoped to be visited by some contacts from the newly formed country of Southern Sudan; however, due to some civil warring in that country, the brethren were not able to be there. Brother Agati is confident that we will be able to visit and minister to our brothers and sisters in Southern Sudan soon with the aim of organizing a work. When Sudan was under one government, the minority Christian south suffered horrific tragedies at the hands of the ruling Muslim north. This made the country very difficult to enter. Now, with Southern Sudan’s recent independence, it has made it easier and safer to enter. Please remember this in your prayers. What a great blessing and victory for Christ and His Church this would be!
From Uganda, Bishops Agati, Hawkins, and Dupre flew through Nairobi, Kenya and through Kigali, Rwanda to get to the capital of Burundi – Bujumbura – to meet with the brethren for the first time and to conduct several days of Bible Training Institute’s Leadership Pastoral Development Course. The Church of God was organized in the country of Burundi in 2001, but due to heavy civil warring between tribal factions, it was not possible for General Headquarters representatives to visit nor for our National Overseer to travel there. With recent positive developments, Brother Agati has been able to visit, organize several churches with a few hundred members, and encourage the brethren. Although a very beautiful country, Burundi is one of the five poorest in the world. It is one of the least globalized, and according to the 2014 Global Hunger Index, it is the hungriest. Although the U.S. State Department warns its citizens against and non-essential travel to this country, citing terrorist activity and various dangers in the capital city, the Lord let us know it was time for a visit. What a wonderful visit it was!
Our lead pastor, Leonidas Ndayizeye, aptly organized fifty of our pastors, ministers, and leaders to meet in Bujumbura for BTI. He coordinated transportation,meals, finding a good venue for the school and suitable accommodations for the visitors. Fifty very dedicated and worshipful students from all over Burundi met with our brethren from General Headquarters and learned Bible doctrine, church business and administration, the auxiliaries, and the purpose of The Church of God in the world. It was a blessing to have Brother Agati as one of the teachers, and he did a fine job conveying the importance of operating the auxilaries in the Church. The students were especially excited to see the auxiliaries in action when Brother Dupre projected pictures of the Church Foundation Memorial Marker is Israel.
All of the students would like to convey a heartfelt thanks to Brother Hays and the VLBs all over the world for providing Bibles in their native language – Kirundi – through the Outreach Literature Fund. How proud these students were to have their very own Bible! Brother Agati stated that some pastors and members in his region are so poor that they don’t even own a Bible, and the chances are that some may never own one. Yet, with God’s help, that will be a thing of the past! In addition, the school was happy to have two sisters in the Lord, from the neighboring country of Rwanda, who were friends of Brother Leonidas to visit the school. They have invited us to come to Rwanda to minister in their local churches which would be another first for General Headquarters.
Due to the security situation in Burundi, the saints have specifically asked for your prayers. They face many annoyances, hindrances, and dangers, but they have a heart that is burning to share the Gospel and spread the truth all over their country – any beyond!