|Posted on April 7, 2014 at 3:25 PM|
Deep in the village, there are two places that residents congregate…either church or the local pub. Since these communities are so small and poor, there are not the typical social hang-out spots, like beauty shops, restaurants, or shopping centers.
In Kisozi, there are a couple of small churches of different dominations. I had the pleasure of visiting Kisozi Healing Tabernacle (International) Church, where Kwagala Reuben (my good friend) and Kakazi Jovia are pastors. This church has become a central hub within this small community. The physical site of the church has recently relocated to land that the congregation is in process of purchasing. The church structure is primitive with wood frame enclosed with orange cloth tarplings. The alter is raised upon a mound of packed soil. Until recently church members worshipped while sitting upon straw mats arranged on the hard, dusty soil. (Last month thanks to a donation of trees, church members were able to build benches.) But despite the rustic environment, the presence and spirit of the Lord is palpable!
Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church
Congregation members have become extended family members. Within the small community, they both offer tremendous support and accountability to one another. Sundays are a full day of worship and fellowship with one another. Church members leave their homes very early in the morning to walk to church. Some of them walk several kilometers dressed in their very best clothing. (Often the same outfit they will wear every Sunday.) For those cattle keepers, work continues, so usually spouses alternate weeks attending services, or one of the older children of the family is responsible for the herd while the rest of the family attends service. After services, congregation members will sit on straw mats under the shade of nearby trees and enjoy their afternoon milk or other prepared food. Babies crawl about and children play with their friends with happy merriment. Laughter fills the air, and no one is a stranger.
Pastor Jovia is a respected community member. Her cell phone rings constantly with issues and prayer requests from church members. She is often one of the first responders in a crisis. While financial provisions are usually impossible to provide, prayers are readily offered. And members support one another with the little they have.
Time is relative once church service has begun. There is no clock visible. No one checks their watch. The Choir will continue with Praise and Worship until the Pastor feels compelled to begin her sermon. That sermon will last for as long as the Spirt is flowing through her. Some Sundays service could last 2 hours. Other Sundays service could last 4 hours. No one complains. They are just happy for the fellowship.
Pastor Jovia and KHTC Choir
Church resources are scarce. The majority of the congregation members are illiterate, so bible verses and passages are read to them. Most members know bible stories and biblical characters from years of hearing these stories within services. For those that can read, many members don’t own a bible due to the expense. Surprisingly, bibles written in native languages are especially costly. Children’s church is taught through drama, verbal story-telling, or bible trivia. When I visited, I brought an illustrated children’s bible, as the church did not own one. There were over 50 children in a small enclosed space, and the silence was remarkable. They were riveted by the pictures of the story and very thoughtful about the life lessons within the bible story. Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church takes particular interest in the youth of their church and nurturing their biblical teachings.
Melissa and her new friends at KHTC Children's Church
All small villages here in Uganda have local council members. These are officials elected by their community peers like a local government official or mayor of sorts. However, in smaller villages, like Kisozi, most of the community projects or needs are first brought up through the church. Pairing the local council with pastors is instrumental in any project success.
During my next few blogs, I am going to share the Top 3 community needs that the Pastors of Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church and Kisozi Local Council official have identified. As a congregation they are placing their support, resources, and prayers towards needs. First, my intention in sharing each community need separately is that each one really touched me on a personal level. I had many conflicting emotions during this short trip ranging from joy, appreciation/ gratitude, sorrow, guilt, amazement/shock, and conviction. Secondly, my own conviction has compelled me to make attempts to open the door for others. Perhaps there is someone reading this blog that will have the interest or resources to extend a helping hand to assist this community.
Pastor Jovia, Melissa, and Pastor Reuben.
Melissa is wearing a Mushanana, a traditional dress for Bulalo woman.
It was a cherished gift from Pastor Jovia.
I have the utmost respect for Pastor Reuben and Pastor Jovia. They are servants of the Lord in every aspect of their lives, and the ministry they have created is inspirational. The congregation of Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church are amongst the most genuine, generous, and spirit-filled that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. And they are hungry for improvement and development within their community.
If you are interested in learning more about projects in Kisozi or how you can help, please contact me ([email protected]). I will put you in touch with Pastor Reuben and Pastor Jovia.
Categories: Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church