Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday at Kabuna

This morning I drove out to Kabuna, about 45 minutes of travel time from Mbale town. There is a young church fellowship at Kabuna that invited me in December last year to visit them today. The people there have put up a basic shelter of rough-cut poles covered with papyrus-reed mats (that's the same papyrus that the Egyptians began using to make paper thousands of years ago--Kabuna is not far from an enormous papyrus swamp). The whole structure is not more than 25 feet long by 15 feet wide.

On the way to Kabuna I picked up George Gabiri and Yolam Waswikirye, leaders from two other churches in the same district, who came along to help me find the place and to offer some additional encouragement to this group of believers. We visit a lot of churches that are "off the beaten track"--but there aren't many that require so much twisting and turning on rudimentary village roads as this one. The route was not especially rough or dangerous, just extraordinarily windy and punctuated with junctions of miscellaneous trails every few hundred yards. I was impressed that George remembered the way perfectly and kept us from getting hopelessly lost.

Worship began shortly after we arrived and greeted those who were already there. Typically for churches in this area, there were four languages in frequent use during the service--Lugwere, Luganda, Kiswahili, and English, especially in the singing. One of the songs we sang today, in Luganda, goes something like this: "The name of Jesus brings us together, the name of Jesus is good/precious!" The worship leader interspersed the verses with the names of various tribes that Jesus brings together, such as Bagwere and Iteso, Bagisu and Baganda, etc. I preached from 1 Kings 13, the story of the man of God from Judah who spoke against the idol altar of Jeroboam and who, for his own disobedience, was killed by a lion that same day. While we were together two people, a widow and a young man, came forward to say that they wanted to give their lives to the Lord. We rejoiced to be able to pray for them and to entrust them to the local leaders who will teach them the basics of following Jesus, baptize them and walk alongside them as they start a new life.

There were around 20 adults and 20 children present. One, the widow I already mentioned, lost her husband only recently and has eight children to care for. There was a man there who has served more than ten years in the army, and has seen action in Uganda, Congo, and Sudan. He is from northern Uganda, but has relocated his family to Kabuna village to give them a place to live that is safe from the insecurity that has plagued the north for many years. His wife is originally from Kabuna, so she has the support of relatives when her husband is away with the military. We also had a young man who has finished his training to be an accountant, but cannot find a job. Sitting next to him was a teacher from a local school. And just in front of the two of them was an older woman who for many years practiced traditional medicine as a herbalist/witchdoctor, until she found the Lord.

I'm thankful that I could meet these brothers and sisters today, to try to encourage them in their faith, and certainly to be blessed myself by being with them.

Some of the folks at Kabuna church, relaxing after the main worship time as they wait for lunch (rice, millet bread, beans, chicken & soup)

A view through the open side of the shelter under which we worshipped--a mix of African traditional and Western elements that is typical in rural Uganda these days, with the garden area, banana tree and grass-thatched hut adjacent to a brick, cement and metal-roofed house

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