We’ve driven through miles of dusty, rugged road, past fields where women work the rusty soil, their babies sleeping on their backs while the equatorial sun shines warm around them in the thick, humid air.
We pass a cluster of brick kilns, great beehive-like structures belching forth flames as men bake and stack bricks the same color as the deep red dirt they stand on.
Baptist tells us that there were human sacrifices made here before the kilns were built. We ride in silence through the valley, an oppressive place that feels as heavy as our hearts.
What many people don’t understand, is that the Good News in Africa is not about bringing religion or a western way of life to the people. It’s about showing them that they matter. That God loves them so deeply that He gave His only son for them, the ultimate and final sacrifice, so that they would have joy and life and know the infinite value of every human soul.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. -John 10:10
But deep in the emerald mountain-land of Uganda there is a miracle growing, and the heaviness begins to lift as we near the village of Lugazi.
Here, some 68 pastors have gathered in the brick church, where there are no windows or doors and the back wall consists of cheerful bedsheets billowing in the breeze.
There is something special happening here, something sacred.
The pastor of this church has had a vision for years, one that’s grown and blossomed with the Harvestime ministry training they’ve been doing for several months.
His heart is for missions, and he’s got a dream to send many missionaries out from this very place… from here to the ends of the earth.
These pastors, who have been meeting here each week to take classes and to fellowship, say that they have been changed. They are no longer a few small flames flickering in distant villages, toiling alone to light the fire of the Spirit in the hearts of their people.
Now, they’ve caught the vision. They have become, together, a blazing bonfire preparing to send out missionaries to far-flung places they’ve never seen before…
Across borders. Maybe even across the ocean.
They’ve become much more than the sum of their parts.
“Thank you for coming all the way to this place,” says one of the pastors.
“Not just to Uganda, but here… out in the middle of nowhere, so far from everything. Thank you for loving us this much.”
They’ve got a joy and a purpose that’s contagious and as we listen to their stories, hear their vision, join with them in prayer… I feel a monumental shift in my heart. A paradigm shift that almost pulls the earth from beneath my feet.
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. -Matthew 24:14
Jesus told his disciples that the Good News must be preached to the ends of the earth, and I’ve always pictured the Word heading out from where I usually find myself… in North America, what I think of as the “center.”
The ends of the earth have always meant here, in distant villages so far from anywhere that they’re all but forgotten.
But here on my knees, the rust-red soil staining my feet as I worship with my brothers and sisters and the rain drums down onto the tin roof, I realize:
This is the center of it all.
It’s from this place and a hundred others like it that the Word will flow, down the dirt roads to places I’ve never heard of and will never see, and yes… even into the hearts of those in the West whose love has grown cold.
It’s not only up to us to send missionaries out to the thirsty world. If it were, would the ends of the earth ever be reached?
No, Africa will evangelize Africa.
We only need to come beside them and stand in unity.
The Gospel will flow from villages like this one, like a stream flows out of a bubbling spring. It will meet up with other streams, which will form rivers, growing and picking up speed until it floods the earth…
And then, Jesus will come.
Please join us in prayer and partnership as we equip churches in unreached places to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth! Currently, almost 400 students throughout Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are studying through the Harvestime curriculum, along with hundreds more in Asia. When they have gone through the program, they will graduate with a certificate that is the same as an Associate’s Degree in the US. They will be prepared to be salt and light as pastors, ministers, missionaries, leaders, and followers of Christ… wherever the Lord calls them to go.