nakaale church

Faith Comes By Hearing »

The pews were full. I was a few minutes later than usual. Maybe the children were particularly cantankerous while getting ready, maybe I woke up late, or early and lost track of gained time, maybe it was simply another morning. I don’t remember now. Carmel had gone ahead with Christopher, extra chairs and the pulpit. Zion was tied to my back, eagerly peeking around my shoulder. We made a space at the end of one of the concrete backless benches, squeezing in beside Christopher and Carmel. It was a few months back. Last year’s severe dry season was still inflicting hunger, even more so as the rains had started and anything that could be spared had been sown in the field. Four pews were packed with ngakimat (old women), another three with ngikaskou (old men). It’s a title of respect here. You call someone old man or old woman and they smile, flattered. By the end of the service, not only were the pews full, but the back step and empty concrete slab. Children sat on the step or the floor, men brought their own wooden stools (akin to a Karimojong wallet with how attached they are to carrying it), women chose to sit in the grass on either side. Our church of ten pews simply wasn’t cutting it.

Since we’ve worshiped in Karamoja, we’ve had many interesting guests in the service. Everything from a snake stalling the sermon for its beheading, herds of goats or cows, dog fights and even a herd of donkeys who were exemplary listeners. They stood peacefully behind the pulpit resting their heads on each other’s backs with their sleet grey hides and striking black stripes, periodically swishing away the flies. We parents began to tell our children, see how the donkeys are listening? Be like them! One Palm Sunday there was a flock of white storks that circled the church and then landed in a nearby marsh. More recently, bats have taken up residence in our rafters. I love worshipping in nature. It had also become a shelter for shepherd boys and their herds during rain storms. Every week, we scraped cow dung off the floor, even benches and looked up hoping that the excrement the bored boys had thrown on the ceiling wouldn’t fall during the service.

Over the summer we were blessed to add an additional eight pews, still concrete and backless, a latrine and a fence around the structure. It is still open air. It is still on a thoroughfare where those who know the word and those who don’t pass by. There are still bats in the rafters, but no more cow dung pervading the floor, and more fixed seating that doesn’t have to be transported every Sunday.

The church isn’t full every week. The harvest has come. Many of the old women and marginalized are now satisfied. It isn’t as hard to find a seat. But those days will come again. Whether it is Hurricane Harvey, Irma or a starving dry season, suffering reminds us of our need for the Savior. We are encouraged that the scriptures say, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Is 55:11). We pray that the needy will continue to flock to the church, for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” Rom 10:17. Let your church be filled, O Lord!

The Church Responds »

In my last blog, I wrote about a family of three generations of women. They’re kind, faithful, gracious and entirely destitute. They’ve lived in a state of hunger for who knows how long. The extremity of their situation was recently brought to light by a case of malaria that brought the eight-year old to tears in the middle of church. They were rushed to the clinic to find that the grandmother also had malaria. This is not the first time that we as a mission have ached to know how to help someone and done what we can, but this time the church was called upon.

In Karamoja there are few men who qualify for church leadership. Between young believers and rampant polygamy, most men are ineligible. Therefore, our church is still seeking mature, monogamous men to be trained as elders and deacons. However, upon the suggestion of a faithful attender and dynamic believer, the church formed what we call a Mercy Committee. It collects gifts for widows at Christmas, encourages donations for villages when they’ve flooded and disperses resources given to the church. It is comprised of men and women with good standing in both the church and the community. Lucia, Takan and Nait’s case was brought to them. They decided it was time to act. Now the indigenous church of Nakaale is regularly providing food and health care to the women. Praise be to the Lord!

Area ayong Toto a Moru! I’m Carmel’s mom! I declare as I greet blind Lucia every Sunday at church. She smiles wide and vigorously shakes my hand. She can’t see that I’m also holding my right elbow, which is a cultural sign of respect. She doesn’t care either. She is brilliantly thankful for all the church has done and I’m delighted to say that it isn’t me who is helping, but the brothers and sisters sitting around her. She laughs playfully and asks for soap. I can’t help, but laugh in return saying, “karukwa”, perhaps.

Acia Nicholas »

“To be serious about your faith, you have to join the church.” This is what Acia told us over lunch when asked what made him want to join. (more…)

Opio Joseph »

When asked in the fourth membership vow if he believed Jesus is Lord and if he promised to serve him faithfully, Opio, not content with a short ‘Yes,’ struck out on his own and said ‘Yes I do and with God helping me I do promise.’  (more…)

Loupe Vicky »

Loupe Vicky walks further than most of our members to get to church on Sunday, but she is nevertheless very faithful to come.  (more…)

Longok Martha »

Loŋok Martha has been a faithful attender of Nakaale Presbyterian Church for almost two years, and recently expressed interest in professing her faith. (more…)

Anyakun Zechariah »

We’ve written before about Anyakun’s refusal to cast in his lot with witch doctors. His reply when they’ve come around saying he has to give them a goat to take curses off of his children is that he’s a Christian now and has rejected those practices. His four children have been baptized at our church and he is a faithful attender, always bringing his Bible in its plastic sleeve. (more…)

Lokeris Simon Peter »

Lokeris, 17 (or so), is the only professing Christian in his family. As sunny as they come, he wears a bright fuchsia ski jacket to work on cold days. He is a slasher for the Mission and is leading some of the educational outreaches for our new school program, KEO.  (more…)

Those of Cosmas »

In this classic family photo, we have Kokoi Cosmas, his wife Anna, and his children Sagal David and Asio Sharon. Cosmas has been a worker on the mission and a church member for many years. He was encouraged to attend our church by his uncle, a previous translator for our pastors. Pray that he would be a faithful and loving husband to Anna, pray that he would encourage and lead his family in worship. Pray that he would raise his children to love Christ. Pray that his faith would not fail.