Sometimes life is a holy begotten moment.
Like everything around you pauses — all the humdrum of everyday living — and the glory of God drops like a microphone and everything you struggle to believe is not only plausible but the realest thing you could ever know.
This happens in a forest in Jinja, Uganda, on the outskirts of a village next to Lake Victoria, where the tropical air smells like coconuts and bananas.
We see the taxi van drive by. It’s packed full of teen mothers and they’re singing praise songs out the windows. Then another van drives by and Mommy Esther whoops as more teen mothers are packed in side by side along with grandfathers and children and single mothers and pastors and everyone singing Lugandan worship.
They’re on their way to be baptized. We follow in the white Lulu Uganda vehicle, and when we reach the forest we pile out, the dirt ruts too deep to drive in, and we walk amongst tall Eucalytpus trees in the footsteps of the teenage mothers, the elderly jajjas, the single mothers and the children, all of whom have come to be baptized by their pastors.
They’ve all accepted Christ and have undergone baptism classes at the School of Hope. Some are from the prayer clinics which happen monthly, organized by Mommy Esther and the pastors. Others are from the School of Hope dorms. All of them longing to make a public declaration to follow their Lord and Savior.
We reach the edge of Lake Victoria and the pastors wade in while we stand on the bank, and sing, clapping hands and holding babies, the sun heavy on our faces. Cows wade past us into the water and then boys herding the cows chase them out again. Young men make trip after trip up the bank hauling buckets of sand, sweat dripping. Another boy fishes out of a canoe carved from a tree.
Meanwhile, the mothers and children and jajjas begin to wade into the water, the pastors gathered in a circle to pray over them, to immerse them, and we keep singing on the bank, keeping time with our hands, our voices carried across the water like Moses’ basket.
I’m holding someone’s baby, asleep in my arms, and I feel like I’m seeing the fruit of everything hard that’s happened over the past five years — the fruit of bowing low before a heavenly father in the middle of my living room in Canada night after night begging Him to lead, begging Him to provide, begging Him to grow this tree which is the Root of Jesse. And here it is — the fruit is walking out of the water, shining, immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Later we’ll gather to pray over these ones who’ve now changed clothes and stand shining in the middle, us extending hands, the pastors leading the prayers. And we’ll walk back through the forest, quietly now, the afternoon light slanted through the tall Eucalyptus. God’s presence is palpable, something to be reached for, like a mango or plantain.
In this holy begotten moment in Africa.
(to learn more about what God is doing in Uganda, please go here)