Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ministry Partners,

Good morning from Barara,

Last night was an interesting night and someone’s car alarm kept going off about every 20 to 30 minutes, needless to say no when hotel got much sleep. The when I was asked by the hotel receptionist how my night was in I responded that had not gotten much sleep because of the car alarm. She said, “I think I need to change your room as tonight there will be a lot of noise there close to where your room is due to it being New Year’s and there will be fireworks.” I had a small room $80 room but she said, “At no extra charge I will give you another room with a bathtub but it is actually a suite.” Oh my goodness, how could I refuse? What an amazing suite, not only did have a bath it has a separate room that's a sitting room with furniture and coffee table and there is also a small refrigerator as well as air conditioning. Aaron said he saw that my new room had a cost of $200+, so happy it's at the same $80 cost of my old room to me.
WOW! I feel blessed and pampered.

Today we left at about 8:45 to get to the prison by 9:00. I am so glad we drove here yesterday so we would be close this morning. This is a men’s prison of about 1700 men and I was concerned as I had been here a few years ago but the few who were still here still came to hear me speak. Sometimes it is hard convincing the OC or the Deputy OC of the time we need and this Deputy OC was no different as he told us we only had until 11 o’clock. I am getting good, with the Holy Spirit's help, at clipping my messages here and there yet still being able to get in all the content that is so important. 

We entered and walked here there around corners and around other passages before finally arriving at the large meeting area. There was a sea of yellow uniforms, 1,500 or so, with some seated and some standing. Again, we saw the Holy Spirit move across the hearts of the prisoners as they made good choices for themselves in the area of salvation and forgiveness. And when we got to the part about going to each other and sticking out their hand and apologizing to each other, it was amazing. Hundreds of prisons going to each other and extending their hand and saying, “I’m sorry.” Then laughter and smiles took over the whole area.

There were a couple of prisoners they gave a testimony:

  1. He said he was grateful and thankful for our coming and that he had lived in pain because he could not forgive his family, they had never been to see him since he had been in prison. But today he forgave them. 
  2. He said that today he had received Christ and forgiven himself and those inmates that he had had a clash with. He knelt down and raised his hands in the air saying,” I forgive my family and those that live with me here in this prison.”

So many “Thank you” and handshakes as we packed up to go. We stopped by the Deputy OC’s office and he took us into meet the OC who we had not met when we arrived. He was gracious but very stiff and I was thankful that he agreed that I might take a photo for my report with one of his officers. He said the photo could not be with him as he was not in uniform.

Then it was off to a separate area to minister to the women prisoners of over a 100. Neither the OC or the Deputy OC were available but the third in command greeted us and told us that we only had 1 ½ hours until the women had to be counted and then go to lunch. I tried to tell her how Commissioner Elizabeth wanted us to make sure and complete our program so that the inmates would have the opportunity for the teaching on forgiveness. However, she would not budge on time so I knew that I would have to rely on the Holy Spirit to help me, once again, to clip my message.

The women were sitting under a small white tent and some were sitting along the side of the building initiate. I was positioned outside alongside the tent and trying to grab as much shade from it as I could but was also in the sun.

Salvation decisions, forgiveness decisions, and apologizing to each other was also something we saw these women prisoners do. Watching the apologize and then halfway through seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter can only be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit in such a difficult place to live. My hope is that they will continue to use this tool and live here in peace.

There were 11 women with babies there so once again I was able to distributed the crocheted caps made by Canby Foursquare women and we left a few of the very small ones for the pregnant women would be having babies. I was disappointed that although I have a few more donated scars to distribute I did not have enough for all these women.

In there were two that wanted to give a testimony of how the Holy Spirit were in their hearts today:

  1. She said she accepted Jesus as your Savior today and then she forgave herself because she had been living with guilt for killing her husband. She said today her title changed from murderer to a child of the King, a princess. 
  2. She said she had received God’s free gift of salvation and that because she had attempted to murder her husband due to abuse and she had been serving 10 years in prison. She said from the first day to this he had never come to see her and today she forgave him for that. But God had gotten revenge for her by giving her husband heart problems. She said she believed that when she was released that God would heal her and her husband’s relationship and they would come together again and serve God.

The officer that welcomed us allowed me to have my photo taken with her when I explained that I needed it for a report for Commissioner Elizabeth and Deputy Commissioner Apollo. However, I must say I am so disappointed that Apollo never got the letter to us so that we could take photos inside the prisons this year like we did last year.

I am enjoying my nice room as I write this yet I can already hear loud events happening outside for tonight’s celebration. I guess it will be earplug time again.

Tomorrow will be one crusade at a prison in the area then we will be traveling again. While traveling the other day a rock hit the van windshield that is now cracked. Pastor Aaron said that although we have “insurance” through the owner of the vehicle that we will have to pay for it. 
Please pray that it is not a huge amount.

Continue to pray for us in all areas, you know the list. We appreciate your prayer covering for us.


That none would be lost,

Monday, December 30, 2019

Dec. 30

Ministry Partner,

It is hard to believe that there only two more days for the year 2019. However, I am very pleased that as the year 2020 quickly approaches I am in Africa sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Just two days ago the scorching sun had caused blisters on my neck/back and yesterday evening it was so cold here, in this area, I had to put my jacket on. In a few days we will be back in Kampala where I understand it is once again very warm.

Today, I woke up early at 6:20 and decided I would go ahead and get ready, as we need to load the van with all my things, have breakfast and then proceed to the men’s prison. Pastor Aaron I had agreed to meet at 7:45 but by 7:20, I went to his door and knocked letting him know that I was up and ready.

I had hoped for more of those delicious pancakes for breakfast today but instead we had tea, Chapatti’s, omelets, potatoes and pineapple. Pineapple always makes it a good breakfast for me when I am here.

We got the van loaded quickly and were off on the short drive to Bushenyi Prison. As we arrived I could see that they were also preparing for the day has a few of the prisoners were sweeping the dirt driveway with there hand made brooms. 

After going through the first checkpoint, we were taken to the OC’s office. During our conversation, I told him that at some of the smaller prisons they always bring all the prisoners when we are there to speak with them but at some of the larger prisons, they do not bring everyone. I asked him if it was possible that all the 1,700 prisoners would be allowed to come today and I told him that we felt it was important that everyone feel invited because we were not going to teach church doctrine from any denomination but we were only going to teach biblical precepts. I was thrilled when he said yes and I was very thankful that he allowed Aaron to take a photo of him and me for my report. This OC similar to the Deputy OC yesterday at the women’s side had a very special demeanor, I liked him immediately. I could see that if he needed to be tough he certainly could but he had a kindness about him that was unmistakable.

We were surprised to learn that in a prison of that size they did not have their own sound system. Although ours is working intermittently, Aaron decided to go and set up our speaker, hoping that although we knew the battery portion was not working that by hooking into their electricity we would be able at least touse the handheld mics even though I prefer my headset. I stayed in the OCs office and chatted with him about the variety of things, including what our crusades entailed and at one point I looked him in the eye and asked him if he knew Jesus as his personal Savior. He said he did and I asked him when he did that and he said in 2012 but he did not explain any further and I felt, for whatever the reason, that I should not probe further.

After some time I could hear the drums and the voices of the prisoners loudly singing and as I followed the OC to the area where the men were I told him I much I appreciated their singing.
Even though I have made over 210 entrances into prisons walking up to a large group of them like today almost takes my breath away. What a wonderful opportunity God has given me to be here and to share the truth of his word. And even after doing ministry in that many prisons today was the first, the first time an OC has stayed through our entire crusade. I noticed that when I gave the invitation for those who wanted to receive God’s free gift of salvation and know for sure that they would go to heaven when they died, to stand, that the OC stood and prayed the prayer. 

Although I grew up not even knowing there was a God the people of Africa have a wonderful religious head knowledge concerning religious things but that head knowledge can keep them in bondage. The teaching concerning “head knowledge” not being sufficient for salvation and that it was a gift that had to be received according to Rom. 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9. It is a powerful teaching as they realize they cannot do enough good works to get to heaven and that they must admit they are a sinner, ask Jesus for forgiveness and ask him to come into their heart and life, believing that he rose in the grave and conquered death.

Hundreds and hundreds responded to the invitation as well as to the “Forgiveness Prayer” but as I got to the part where I talked them about how to stick out their hand, say the words,“ I’m sorry” almost everyone there turned to someone else and apologized. I turned and looked at the OC and he nodded at me agreeing that what I told him in his office was so important. I could see that he was thankful, as I was, that he had given me as much time as I needed to share our whole program. Then we asked a few of the prisoners to give us a testimony of how God worked in their heart today:

  • He said he was thankful that we had come and that he wanted to state publicly to every fellow inmate who had wronged him that he forgave them.
  • He said he had learned three things today:
  1. He learned about making choices and their outcome and that he was in prison because he made wrong choices.
  2. He said he had given his life to Christ today
  3. He said he learned the importance of forgiving those who wronged you and the importance of forgiving yourself
  • He said God sent an angel to the prisoners today. Let us get ready to go outside and make a difference. He said he learned how to love his wife and children so that they do not fall victims to what Bishop Arlene went through with her husband.
After each man spoke I stepped forward and gave him a hug but there was an odd stiffness to each one of them that I have not witnessed at other prisons. As I spoke later with Pastor Aaron he said that most of them have probably never been hugged and they just did not know how to react to someone showing them that kind of love to them. Oh my goodness …….. something as simple as a hug.

There was an officer there who was in charge of their welfare and as we were packing up to go he said to the inmate who had who had worn the golden rope for the object lesson that he should not take it lightly that the Holy Spirit had chosen him to speak to him through being chosen to wear the golden robe. He told him to forget what was in the past and to focus on what God is going to be teaching the inmates through him. 

I did not have time to discuss with the Welfare officer but I am sure as he said that the Holy Spirit has something in mind for that young man.

The prisoners all raised their hands and clapped as one stepped forward and said that they all wanted me to come back again. As we were leaving, many prisoners came to shake my hand with two of them putting something in my hand. I only looked down and opened my hand when I got in the van but they were handwritten notes one in English requesting help with funds for his attorney for his upcoming trial and the other one was in Lugandan which Pastor Aaron will have to translate for me.
We loaded up and drove around the man’s area over to the women’s section where we were yesterday. I saw the Deputy OC, this time in her official uniform and not a dress like yesterday. She smiled broadly as soon as she saw me walking towards her. She asked me if I was coming again to share with the women but I told her I was just bringing a few very small crocheted caps for newborn babies that I wanted to leave with her. She thanked me and gave me a big hug.

As we drove away there were some men inmates standing in the road shelling huge piles of beans and  there were also rows of carrots planted alongside the road.

Then it was off to the town of Mbarara where we will visit a men’s and women’s prison, it will be a busy day tomorrow. 

I was happy we found lodging at the same hotel where we stayed a few years ago and this time my room actually has a bathtub where I can soak my aching low back in the evening. This is the first time since I have been here and I have been able to have a bathroom with a bathtub.
After we had the buffet lunch, instead of our regular PP&J, that they served here Aaron was off to get the van washed and buy some AA batteries for the handheld microphones that we use and I am busy writing this blog.

Thank you for praying for me. The blisters on my back are healing, I am sleeping some better every night and the pain in my lower back is no longer constant but comes and goes.
Please continue to pray for:
  • Open hearts for the gospel
  • An outpouring of the Holy Spirit
  • A fresh anointing for the team
  • Health and also safety for the team as we travel
That none would be lost,

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Dec. 29

Ministry Partners,

Hello from Bushenyi, Uganda. It was a beautiful morning here and I was awakened by chirping birds and a crowing rooster, bless his heart.

Today’s breakfast consisted of a Spanish omelet, delicious pancakes and juice. I was disappointed that they did not have pineapple today. I am so glad that Pastor Aaron and I made the decision to drive here yesterday afternoon so that we would be close to the prison this morning. That meant we could take our time with breakfast, loading the van and getting there by 9 o’clock.

I must admit that there are times I just do not have the words to relate to you accurately the impact of what is happening during our crusades. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit as he works in the hearts of the prisoners is an amazing thing to say the least.

Thank you for partnering with his ministry with your prayers and financial support, thank you for sending me here and thank you for allowing me to be your representative to those the world considers, “the least of them.”

When we arrived at the women’s prison today we were greeted by the Deputy OC and by an almost newly born black baby calf. He was so cute and I could tell these women had been spending some time with him as he was so gentle, I could not help patting him on the head. I liked that Deputy OC immediately. I have entered a lots of women’s prisons but this Deputy OC had the most gracious way when she spoke to the prisoners let alone the way she greeted us. By the end of the day I said to myself, “Every women’s prison should have a Deputy OC like this young woman.”

Our battery and electric sound system is failing us and we have found that most of the time it is not working so we had decided not to even take it out of the van but the Deputy OC said the women would appreciate the music. I called to Aaron who was still at the van and told him to bring the sound system and the music stick, which he did. As soon as the music went on the women started dancing and the smiles came out when I started dancing with them.

I presented the same program that we do in every crusade and as I watched the women respond to the invitation to receive Christ, to pray forgiveness over someone else or themselves or gave them the opportunity to extend their hand to one of the other women that they had a disagreement with and say, “Sorry.” I could not have imagined how the Holy Spirit was working in their hearts.

I told the women that Christmas is the time of giving gifts and today they had given me the best gift ever by responding to the Holy Spirit the way they did at each invitation. 

Then I had the opportunity of blessing the women with one of the donated headscarves, they loved them and put them on immediately. Then I had the seven women with babies come forward and gave each one a pair of new socks and one of the crochet caps made by Canby Foursquare women. I was surprised that there were five baby girls and only two baby boys.

There was time for a few of the women to give us a testimony as to how God worked in their hearts while we were there. I stood by each woman as she spoke and it was hard for me not to cry.  
  1.  She said she appreciated me and God for today’s message as she had lived with pain for a long time because she could not forgive her family for the way they had treated her but today she chose to forgive them. 
  2.  She said her husband had tormented and beat her so much that she killed him. She had been living with remorse and guilt but after hearing the message, she said she forgave her husband and herself. She did not want to live life with the “rope” example about unforgiveness that she saw today.
  3. She said her father died when she was young and her mother disappeared. Other people brought her up so she grew up an angry child and because of her anger; she had murdered someone and was then sent to prison. Nevertheless, she was thankful for the message today that was just for her and she wondered what her life would be if Bishop Arlene had not come today. 
  4.   She said she had a grudge against some other inmates because they had gone behind her back and told lies to the OC. Since then, she purposed in her life to never forgive them and because the hurt was so much she thought of throwing herself in the septic hole and killing herself. She said she thanked God because the message today changed her life. Today she said, I heard a woman who has gone through all that I have gone through. At least she is someone I can identify with.
As each women told her story and cried, I watched other prisoners also crying. I did not have to guess that they struggled with the same things.

The Deputy OC stated that she was thankful to God for me bringing such a message to the prison and that they really needed that message. Then she had two of the prisoners read Matthew 25:35 and said we had fulfilled that scripture.

Three of the women wanted to sing us a song as a thank you, which they did, and the harmonizing was absolutely beautiful. The Deputy OC told me that many family members do not come to visit but I had come all the way from America to visit them. She said they do not have gifts to give visitors but I had made it their best Christmas season ever. 

Just then, two women prisoners appeared with a beautiful large green and gold basket and I could not hold back the tears that came to my eyes. Then two more came, this time with a spinach type plant similar to Swiss Chard they had cut from their garden. The Deputy OC took the spinach and stuffed it into the basket making an arrangement. We will have the spinach cooked for our dinner tonight.

It was hard for me to leave the women but another pastor had arrived and before leaving he invited us to come too his church next year if we are in the area.

Everything in the van was a jumble so when we arrived back at the hotel and had finished our lunch we emptied the van and re-positioned everything so we will know exactly where everything is for the remainder of this portion of the trip until we return to Kampala on Jan. 3. 

Thank you for the prayers concerning my sunburned back. It must be getting better as parts are itching. Today I was careful and wore a high-necked top so as to not aggravate it further.

Tonight we had ordered Sweet & Sour Pork with vegetable rice and the spinach but we got Savory Ribs instead.
We appreciate your continued prayers for the prisoners and the comments you make are an encouragement to us.
That none would be lost,