10 Days goes to Africa

10 Days goes to Africa

Noon Prayer Meeting in the House of Prayer in Gulu

Report on 10 Days Uganda Trip, March 21-31 2017
 

I couldn’t sleep because of the jet lag, so I woke up at 3:30am.  With little electricity in our solar only, four building compound, and a few mosquitoes buzzing inside the mosquito nets, getting out of bed seemed like the best option.  There was no running water, but much more importantly, there was coffee.  And there was nothing to do but pray and sit and listen to the Lord.  As I adjusted to my new surroundings, I was initially discouraged: why did I come here again?  But as I prayed, God reminded me that the whole thing was His idea, to trust Him, to listen and learn from the people that I met.
 
It was my first morning in Gulu, Northern Uganda.   Just a little north of the equator, the sun rises at 7am and sets at 7pm every single day of the year, so I sat for a while on the porch in the dark.  The guard dogs sniffed at me.  Roosters were crowing.  It was the beginning of an amazing week of ministry with my friends at Favor of God ministries. 
 
The plan for my week was to grow in relationship with the team in Gulu, who had done the first African 10 days last year.  My hope was that God would open doors to share the vision of 10 Days in other cities as well, but at the time of my arrival, no doors had opened.

 

The House of Prayer: It’s the two story building to the right.

A Basic Day: Prayer, Preaching, Fellowship, and the Poor
 
My favorite part of the trip was doing ministry with the team from Favor.  Their lives are built around prayer, ministering the word, and doing good works for the poor, much like the early church in the book of Acts.  Weekdays, we were in the House of Prayer from 8am-noon with the ministry staff.  Then, there was a noon hour prayer and worship meeting with many of the people of Gulu coming to worship on their lunch breaks.  In the afternoons, we’d go on mission somewhere, to a refugee camp, or a prison, or a school.  In the evenings, there was another meeting of prayer, worship, and preaching.  We ate very simply, usually rice or “posho” (ground corn) and beans, sometimes accompanied by a few vegetables or eggs, but from before dawn to after dusk, we were about the business of the Kingdom.
 
So, we arrive somewhere (I don’t know where), and I’m asking “where are we and what are we doing?”  Typically, the answer comes back “You’re preaching.”  “Okay, for how long?”  “30-40 minutes.”  And that is what we did just about every day.  Of course, as we went along I started to figure out the pattern a bit more.
 
I loved that I was asked to preach 2-3 times a day.  The first time, I was thinking “I hope this turns out okay with no preparation.”  After that, I resolved to just stick close to the Scriptures and trust the Spirit even though there was no time to prepare. It was an incredible blessing to get to share the word so often in such a short period of time.
 
Just about every day, we did something for children, the prisoners, the poor, or the refugee.  We twice visited the Adjumani refugee camp for South Sudanese fleeing the violence in their homeland just north of Uganda.  Favor does evangelistic crusades in the camps, which are among the largest in the world, and also discipleship schools there for new converts.  On another day, we visited a group of 50 juvenile offenders at their prison.  They had no food, so we brought them food and preached Jesus Christ to them as well.
 
There was an incredible simplicity about what we were doing, living every day entirely built around Kingdom priorities and in community from start to finish.  It felt like the clutter of life had been stripped away, leaving only the most important things behind.
 

Carole Ward, founder of Favor, in worship

Julius Odyek praying in the House of Prayer

And then this happened…
 
Sometimes we enter into moments where God begins to do things all of a sudden and very quickly. While that’s not the way most people tend to prefer things (especially if they’re in the middle of the action) God enjoys operating this way, and since he’s not going to change, it’s best if we make the adjustment.  That means letting go of the twin illusions of certainty and control and embracing a life of depending on a God who moves “like the wind”.  Say “yes” to living this way, and I can promise, you’ll never be bored.
 
I had hoped to be able to visit Africa Prayer Mountain near Kampala and to make contact with other leaders in Uganda about 10 Days.  Coming into the country, I had no meetings on the books.  By Monday morning (Thursday was my last day in country) I had nothing on the books.  By Tuesday evening, everything had changed, and I was just hoping I could keep all my appointments.
 
All of a sudden, Wednesday morning, I was travelling 6 hours to Kampala and I had 6 different meetings including the opportunity to stay the night at Prayer Mountain.  Carole Ward (the Founder of Favor) had a sense that it was really important for me to go to Prayer Mountain, and she set-up a number of meetings for me with national prayer ministries in the city.  So, all of a sudden, I was on my way to Prayer Mountain and Kampala to share about 10 Days.

From one mountain to another: A 20 year old prayer and a surprising fulfillment
 
One of the most amazing things about visiting the Africa Prayer Mountain was the connection in the Spirit that it has to my current home on 150 wooded acres in western, Mas-sachusetts, also called “Prayer Mountain” (Yes, my home is called “Prayer Mountain”.  No, I didn’t name it).
 
In 1998, John Mulinde, a man of God from Uganda who had seen extraordinary transformation in his nation through prayer, visited Massachusetts and travelled with a small group to the summit the mountain on Pastor David McCahon’s 150 acre property.   They prayed and dedicated the mountain, now my home, as a Prayer Mountain. John already had a vision to establish a prayer mountain for Africa near Kampala, Uganda.  As he prayed, dedicating the land in Massachusetts, he asked God that there would always be a special connection between the prayer mountain in Massachusetts and the prayer mountain in Uganda.  In 1999, one year later, he established the Prayer Mountain in Uganda.

 
On Wednesday, March 29, I shared with new friend Peter Serukera and a small group at Africa Prayer Mountain about this amazing connection.
 
I shared that while God was not bringing pilgrims or seekers to our mountain for 24/7 prayer as in Africa, the mountain has become home base for the 10 Days movement.  God was bringing prayer movements out of both mountains, in Africa, and in Massachusetts. Could it be that this was the time for John Mulinde’s prayer to be answered, that the two mountains would be connected?

 

Postscript: Malaria, Easter, and a Vision
 
After another full day of meetings on Thursday, we travelled to the airport, stopping at a hospital to visit one of the Favor staff who had surgery.  After a long wait at the Entebbe airport for a 3:40am flight, I returned home to a late March snowstorm.  I laughed, because the whole time I was there I was teasing my equatorial friends that I was praying for it to snow in Uganda.  It was so good to be back home with my family.  At the same time, I was so incredibly grateful for my time with the family of God in Uganda. 
 
About a week later, I started coming down with the flu, except instead of going away after a few days, it kept getting worse and worse.  After four days of being sick, I was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a very severe form of malaria.  I guess those mosquitoes got to me after all.  About 25% of my blood was infected (4% is considered very severe).  God had mercy, and I was able to rise and leave the hospital on Easter Sunday.  However, the effects lingered for several weeks. 
 
During one of my early morning prayer times in Uganda, I had this vision that really impacted my heart. 
 
In the vision, Jesus was pushing this plow all by himself.  It was the plow of suffering.  I saw him pushing it all alone, and he invited me to come over and push it with him.  While I didn’t want to suffer, I just couldn’t let him push that alone, not after all He had done for me.  I couldn’t stay away and was happy to partner with him in that lonely work. 
 
I was going over my notes from the trip, and couldn’t help but include this piece.  When we walk with Him, we share in everything that is His.  His Forgiveness, His Joy, His Peace, His Miracles but also in His Sorrow, His Suffering, His Death.  And once we die, we get to participate in His Resurrection. 
 
It’s an incredible road of highs and lows, but it’s a privilege to walk it, because walking it means being side-by-side with Jesus.  Fellowship with Him is what makes the entire journey worth it.
 
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Acknowledgements: Thank you to Carole, Julius, and the entire Favor team for their hospitality, and for teaching me more about how to follow Jesus.  You all are really an incredible team, and I learned so much watching you minister. Thanks to Janice and Jared for introducing me to Carole and for being great housemates in Uganda.  Thanks to Peter, Paul, Jon, Julius, Francis, Dr. Jjumba, and those who I was privileged to meet at Prayer Mountain and in Kampala.
 

 Discussing 10 Days with Paul Katuramu from Kasese, Western Uganda

 Jonathan and David (from Favor) on Prayer Mountain overlooking Lake Victoria

Moses, a South Sudanese refugee and pastor

Worship at the local High School on Sunday morning

Huts and Shacks in the Adjumani Refugee camp

Rain deluges the makeshift shelters in the Refugee camp