By Mommy Emily
He brings us a cake.
We’re lined up in our Sunday best, like colorful crayons arranged on plastic chairs in a small square room. It’s someone’s home in the slum of Kasuli, lent for use by the church.
A warm breeze drifts in through the open window. It smells of charcoal from a nearby fire – someone no doubt boiling water for tea or laundry. We’re in one of many rooms lining this long, clay-path in Kampala, Uganda.
A passerby would hardly guess this is a cathedral.
Pastor Kenneth Deliverance Mukisa is his name – a big name for a humble man dressed smart in a navy suit. He’s young. So is his wife, a slender woman clothed in a royal blue dress, who hands her baby to someone else, steps to the mic in the middle of the crowded room, and begins to sing.
She’s a bit off-key, but it doesn’t matter. Worship flows like pure water, filling the room and spilling over dirt walls onto plastic chairs outside the door, where the children have all gathered, a speaker system sharing with them and anyone who passes. We’re all standing and swaying and bumping into each other and clapping, and I can’t stop smiling.
I’ve been to many churches in Africa – many humble, village churches, and a few in city slums – but this one is the smallest, and most powerful.
Pastor Kenneth’s eyes are downcast in shy praise, his hands lifted quietly, his wife raising hers high, her face shining like some kind of jewel. A man only a few feet away from me holds nothing back, dancing and whooping, and all of us are caught up in the presence of a God whose throne is right here, in this tiny room.
We’ve given nothing financially to this pastor and his wife. We’ve only provided Harvestime, a two-year Biblical Ministries curriculum comprised of 21 courses. Pastor Kenneth completed it in three months, often falling asleep while studying, waking up and studying some more, every minute, studying. His wife laughs and says she didn’t see him for three months, but she also says she’s so proud of him, and she wishes she could have gotten him a graduation gown.
To which he quietly replies, “The Holy Spirit is my gown, my darling.”
He’s a new kind of pastor, a rare kind we’ve hardly met in spite of all the good men we’ve been privileged to partner with. He’ll tell me later, in his home – also one room – that he’s the son of a witchdoctor, but he met Jesus in his youth and fled to the city to escape his family’s disappointment.
He hasn’t been able to stop thanking us, and when his wife’s song is finished, he takes the mic and gives glory to God for Harvestime, for letting him learn, for helping him to understand the Scriptures.
I stand and present him with a diploma – it’s not even in a frame – yet he looks at me with moist eyes and holds it to his heart.
This simple piece of paper will keep his church from being shut down, as many churches are, when the government comes by to check if the pastor has proof of training.
Then he opens the cake box. The icing is smudged, no doubt from him carrying it on a boda boda, because they don’t have a vehicle. His face winces in pain, like he wanted to give us the very best. But then he straightens up, and asks his mentor, Apostle Baptist, to pray.
Following the prayer, we sing “This is the Day,” and I feel like I’m going to explode with happiness. We join hands over the knife and cut the cake after counting down to the name of “Jesus.”
Sodas are passed, the children laugh, and it feels like Communion – like some kind of holy supper, here in a hallowed and hidden room. It’s just a simple cake, but I’m pretty sure I tasted a slice of heaven in this humble cathedral in the slums of Kampala.
Friends, I still consider it one of the greatest honors of my life to have met Pastor Kenneth. He is now being equipped, as are all of our pastors, to train others in Harvestime.
Now that each of the African countries we currently work in is sustainable to a degree, we have sensed it is time to strengthen the core of the church spiritually. So our concentration for 2022 is Harvestime. We would appreciate your prayers regarding this, as we seek to keep many pure-hearted churches from being closed.
I want to personally thank my brother Steve James who’s joined our team as financial advisor, and who, together with his team at A Thousand Ships, is equipping each of our pastors in financial management, administration, and general stewardship, as they oversee the running of the Harvestime program.
Steve traveled with me on my latest trip to Africa, and is himself from Africa – having grown up in Burundi and fled to Kenya during the Burundi Civil War. He now lives and works in Asia alongside his soon-to-be-wife Alicia. We’re grateful for his expertise, love and friendship, as we collaborate to equip the church in Africa and Asia during these dark days.
If you have any questions concerning this refined focus, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love, e.
Beautiful ministry! Powerful story!
Aw thank you dear Katherine! Thank you for all the ways you support Lulu. Love you!