We left early for Masaka which is about 90 miles southwest of Kampala. The town was destroyed in the 1979 war with Tanzania and again in the Ugandan civil war in the early eighties. You would never know it today. It is beautiful, quiet and peaceful. It has a couple of hundred thousand people in the district and perhaps 75,000 people in the town.
We crossed the equator as we neared Masaka. It was our first time to cross into the southern hemisphere (although technically that was true in Nairobi on our way here, we were far too busy getting to our next flight to notice). We took the obligatory picture but did not pay for the hoax to see water go down a drain clockwise a few meters north, counter clockwise a few meters south and straight right on the equator. We did buy some things from the aidchild.org market and enjoyed African tea to refresh us for the remaining drive.
Bosco, our driver for the trip, is a most interesting fellow. He was telling me of some of the tensions with his wifeâ€™s Muslim family. They donâ€™t like him since he has no religion. Although he is Christian, he is nothing since he is not Muslim. We talked further about religious relations in Uganda. He said there is no problem here â€“ yet. There are Muslims with a plan to make Uganda an Islamic country though 70% of the population is Christian at least in name. I sure hope not in light of Sudanâ€™s official decision to hang a pregnant woman who married a Christian and converted in the process (story here). She was shown great charity in that she was not executed immediately but given until Thursday to return to Islam.
I taught spiritual warfare to the staff and mentors of Hope Alive Africa (www.hopealiveafrica.org) gathered in their meeting room at Masaka Baptist Church. They were eager students with many questions. We started with a very fun time of singing. You can hear two songs here. See if you can get the message of the second song which starts about 2:30 into the recording.
One challenge for my teaching is that the electricity in Masaka has been out for three weeks or so reportedly because of a transformer failure. Doing things directly from Bible, which I much prefer, is impossible with a variety of translations. Fortunately the nearby Compassion office has solar power, a generous spirit, and long extension chords so we were able to work a shared text projected onto the wall.
Another challenge is that they had a very difficult case with a demonized woman and that dominated their thinking. They were very appreciative for the more widely useful scriptural teaching but things go exciting when it was time to talk about that case. Unfortunately there are not simple answers to difficult cases so we did more sharing of ideas and experiences, which I enjoyed immensely. I was able to bring into questions some common and dangerous practices like interviewing the demon.
We started about an hour later than announced. Hardly unexpected. So after a couple of hours of teaching, they said lunch was ready so I adjourned the session at 1:00. It was 2:00 when the lunch actually arrived from the local restaurant. The Ugandan fare was delicious and the portions HUGE. Despite my pleas for relief my plate was heaping.
[time to head back to Kampala â€“ to be continued]