Rashard Reports on Uganda
First of all, thank you again for your prayers and support for this trip! My time in Uganda was remarkable. The training sessions were very well-received, and I believe we were able to sow the seeds of worship renewal for the 13 churches that were represented.
What I Did.
I conducted two worship conferences, in Mukono (Central) and in Rukungiri (Western). Each conference was kicked off by a solo concert where I shared African-American sacred music, both Spirituals and Gospel. The next two days consisted of sessions on the biblical and theological foundations of Christian worship. They learned about worship as a “Holy Conversation” between us and God: God’s self-revelation and our response to God. We discussed the different ways in which God speaks to us and how, in turn, we respond to God. We also discussed the four-part pattern of worship: Gathering, Word, Response, and Sending. Later we talked about how to apply these concepts to their own worship services.
They also learned how to write their own original songs using the Psalms as their text. The songs they wrote in both conferences were amazing! They will be able to use most of those songs in their churches immediately. Finally, we applying the principles we learned in the conference, along with the original songs they had just written, to create a culminating worship service that was done at the end of the last day.
I also had the great blessing of preaching at Ntale Mennonite Church in Mukono, and the following Sunday at Kichirago Mennonite Church in a remote village of the Rukungiri District.
What I saw.
- Uganda is a beautiful country! It has rightfully been given the moniker of the “Pearl of Africa”.
- Much of Uganda also has little infrastructure, and what they do have is crumbling in many places. Transportation is a major challenge there, which makes holding a conference with people coming from many areas a monumental task.
- The people who have responded to the gospel in the Mennonite context mostly live in the more rural villages, and as such, are poor even by Ugandan standards. Therefore, the churches have almost no money to work with and rely mostly upon the pastors (almost all of whom have full time jobs on top of pastoring and are not paid by their churches)
- There is a high level of talent and competency within the leadership of the Mennonite Churches in Uganda.
- There were a large number of youth and even children who participated in the conferences, and they were very active throughout and eager to learn.
What I Learned.
- When doing cross-cultural ministry, you have to be ready for anything at any time. I was asked to do things I had never done before, like pray an impromptu prayer of consecration over the land of a new church they were starting in the Rukungiri area. Nothing started or ended at the time that was planned. Transportation and technology difficulties caused us to have to adjust the schedule constantly. There were things I had planned on the second day that the Bishop told them (at the concert) would happen on the first day, and I could not make a liar out of the Bishop, so I adjusted on the fly.
- The church members and leaders I encountered were highly intelligent, thoughtful, intuitive, talented, and on fire for Jesus Christ. In spite of many challenges, they enthusiastically worship and serve God.
- To be a pastor or leader in the Mennonite Church of Uganda is truly a calling, as they are not paid and often support the work of the church through their own finances.
- I need to continue to work on becoming more physically fit in order to do more of this work. By God’s grace, I was able to do it, but it is hard on my body.
- I want to do more of this work, and I believe I am capable, by God’s grace, of doing it well.
How to Pray.
- Pray that God will provide for the structural and spiritual needs of the Mennonite Churches in Uganda.
- Pray that God will continue the work of worship renewal in the Mennonite Church of Uganda.
- Pray as to whether or not God may be calling you to support future Global Worship Training events that I may be participating in. If you do feel that you would like to support future trips, please let me know.
Rashard Allen, Director of Music and Worship