Two Different Africas: A Story From Our First International Mission Trip
This morning our second international mission trip team is leaving for Uganda. Please pray for protection, boldness, and Jesus to save many through their work. Here is a story from Justin Pearson and the first team that went to South Africa recently.
TWO DIFFERENT AFRICAS
In the span of a four hour flight I have traveled between two different Africas. I spent almost two weeks in South Africa with all the Western amenities to which I am accustomed, and now I will be in Uganda for the next two and a half weeks. Uganda, while developing, still lacks some of the comforts that we are used to in Fort Worth and that I experienced in South Africa.
The First Africa
The director of Gospel Outreach picked me and Michael Barnes up from the airport in Johannesburg on a Wednesday and we began working on Thursday morning. We went to what is called a “squatter camp” named Kliptown in Soweto (South Western Townships) in Johannesburg. Soweto itself is estimated to have 75% unemployment, and yet Kliptown is a much poorer area. We went from house to house or person to person handing out newspapers with stories about people who have been saved by Jesus hoping to open up conversations with the people and for opportunities to share the Gospel.
The next day we did the same thing in another squatter camp near an area of Johannesburg called Germiston. Germiston is a nice area, but the squatter camps are just down the road. After losing its building downtown, Gospel Outreach has been given a church building in Germiston (see Paradox, it can happen—let’s keep praying for our own building) where they can base their work. Both Soweto and Germiston are fairly new areas for Gospel Outreach, but God is already working in the people there. Both of these areas are plagued with poverty, joblessness, alcohol/drug addiction, different cults and ancestral religions, and many other things that keep them from true hope—but God is working.
We were only in Soweto and Germiston for two days each, but in that time over 60 people committed their lives to Jesus Christ! God is showing His strength. Only He can judge the hearts of these people, but if they are genuine then they will have the opportunity to grow. Gospel Outreach is committed to follow-up and discipleship with the people they speak to, so they will not be left by the wayside.
The Man Who Couldn’t Talk:
On our first day in the Germiston squatter camp, Shelby, an American missionary who is working with Gospel Outreach, was sharing the Gospel with a young man. Praise God: the young man wanted to respond in faith to the Gospel message, so Shelby began to lead him in a prayer. The young man, however, could not speak when he tried to pray. Shelby again tried to lead him, and the same thing happened. It came out the young man had practiced “muti,” which is a local form of witchcraft prominent in South Africa. This man had opened himself up to demonic oppression and was still tied to it. Shelby prayed for the man and counseled him to get rid of muti in his home so that he could be free from the oppression.
We heard many stories of demonic oppression and possession in South Africa. Trevor, the director of Gospel Outreach, has much experience with and has extensively researched demonism in South Africa. The people, through their local ancestral worship, have opened themselves up to so much evil and oppression. Witch doctors are everywhere. Only the power of God through the Gospel of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit will set them free. Pray for the people of South Africa, specifically that God would break their bondage, that they would experience new life in Jesus, and that He would send and equip workers to spread the good news.
The Second Africa
On Friday I left Michael and the people of Gospel Outreach and flew to Uganda. I was a little wary because I had received an email from the U.S. Embassy notifying me that there was information about a specific attack on the airport the day before I was to go, but nothing happened and I arrived safely. I landed and was picked up by my host, Saturo, and we made the 45 minute drive from Entebbe to Kampala. Familiar sights, sounds, and smells came rushing back to me as we made our way through the craziness that is the Uganda road system. We made it to Saturo’s home (where I will be staying until the team arrives this Friday), and I was able to sleep shortly after our arrival.
This week begins a time of rest and preparation for the upcoming work we will do when the team arrives, but I believe it will be heavier on the preparation than on the rest. I have already spoken to a church youth group this past Sunday night and I am slated for two more opportunities to speak before the team arrives, one of which I was only told about yesterday. Pray for God’s strength and renewal for me in this time. Pray for the team as they finish their preparations and board a plane on Thursday. Pray for the practical preparations here and for the Holy Spirit to work in the people going and in the people we will be working with as we go.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” –1 Peter 1:13
I am excited for the coming weeks and for what God has in store for us here in Uganda. I am praying for you all at home and I am thankful that you are praying for me!