Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ziiru-Muto Challenge

Have you heard or read the account of Elijah, the man of God, confronting 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah in a contest of the “… God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel…” verse the pagan gods, (I Kings 18:20—39.) As you may recall from this Biblical account, the prophets of the false gods were unable to call down fire on their sacrifices. They called upon their gods from morning until the evening sacrifices. They beat themselves until they were bloody, but there was no response from their gods. Did their gods not care about their plight? Were they asleep or otherwise busy? Were they unwilling or unable to come to their aid, hear their cries or see their efforts? Elijah called upon the God of creation and fire came from heaven and consumed his sacrifice. This is the classic confrontation between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness, God against Satan.

There are still these types of confrontations occurring around the globe when the Gospel of Christ confronts darkness, evil spirits, tribal paganism and unbelief. There was a confrontation between a man of God and a witch doctor on October 23rd in the village of Ziiru-Muto on an island bearing the same name on Lake Victoria, in Uganda. The confrontation did not take place upon a mountain. There were not eight-hundred fifty prophets against a lone man of God. While there was no fire from heaven, there was a confrontation between a young preacher and a false prophet that took place in the midst of a group of villagers.

Pastor Saphen, Kyanja Baptist Church and Pastor John of Gunda Baptist Church arrived in the village of few Christians, days earlier to begin evangelization among the approximately five-hundred people. A few days later, I arrived with other pastors to the excitement of 23 professions of faith and eagerness among villagers for the upcoming Bible study and worship services being held on Sunday. The day prior to this village’s first evangelical worship service, our team went from door-to-door inviting residents to Sunday’s Bible study and worship. Pastor Saphen was approached by the local Witch Doctor who began to declare his authority. He informed Pastor Saphen that he could make a fire, place himself on the fire and not be burned. He boldly proclaimed, before several village witnesses that he possessed great powers and had the ability to perform miracles.

Pastor Saphen challenged the witch doctor to a contest. He told the Witch Doctor to make a fire, sit upon it, and demonstrate his powers and the power of his gods by not being burned. Pastor Saphen stated that he would ask his God, the God of Creation to demonstrate His power and supremacy over the Witch Doctor and his’ gods by allowing the Witch Doctor to be burned from the fire. The crowd of witnesses shouted agreement to the challenge put forth by the Pastor. They wanted to see whose God was more powerful, the god of the Witch Doctor or the God of Creation. The Witch Doctor, under great pressure to perform, refused to accept the Pastor’s challenge. The people then saw that there was no power in the Witch Doctor or his gods. The word of the challenge spread throughout the village and on the following day, many of those who had been witnesses attended worship service.

There are many challenges similar to the one faced by Elijah on Mount Carmel and the one between the young Pastor and the Witch Doctor that takes place throughout the islands of Lake Victoria. Times and places may differ, but the challenge remains the same, good verses evil, light verse darkness. Men of God who confront evil, sin and false prophets throughout Uganda need the same determination demonstrated by Elijah when he faced the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Please pray for our team as we meet darkness head-on by shining the light of Christ to the Basoga and other tribal groups living on the islands of Bavuma.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Dream Comes True - From the Waves

Dispelling Hopelessness and Darkness on the Island
The waves on Lake Victoria looks like those in the Atlantic Ocean on Coco Beach, Florida. As we approached the small village of Lukalu on Bweema Island, a lady, we will call her Stella, directed the boat’s pilot to a small spot near the beginning of the peer. The pilot did a good job in landing the boat in rough water.

The mid-aged lady welcomes us to the village and volunteers to take us to see the LC, the village’s Council Leader. Stella escorted us to the LC’s home and waited with us while others went to seek him. As we waited we talked. Stella tells us that she is tired of living her life the way she has been living and is looking for something better. She also states that she had dreamed that visitors would come and share with her some “good news”. When she saw us approaching she knew within her heart that we were the ones she had dreamed about. Stella is searching for answers to life questions. She shares accounts about her failures and feelings of emptiness. She begins to cry as she reflects on her life and sense of hopelessness. We are able to share with Stella the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. Stella during our visit, receives Christ as her Lord and Savior.

During our meeting with the LC, we were welcomed and granted permission to conduct Bible studies which will lead to a new church plant on Bweema. The LC and several leading members of the village were excited about the possibility of a church being developed in their village. As we left the island, Stella joined others in pushing our boat from the shore and stood there smiling, encouraged and expectant as we struggled through the rough surf. There are many men and women like Stella, waiting for their dreams to come true. Those waiting for us to bring the Good News of salvation that only come through Jesus Christ.

Please pray with us as we minister on the six islands and eleven villages we are attempting to reach with the Gospel. We are endeavoring to begin new Bible Study groups, preaching points and churches in places where none exist. Please pray that the Father provides Resources for:

• Our boat – a used one being repaired

• Boat motor and necessary equipment

• Port space on the mainland and island

• Training needed to safely operate and pilot the boat

• The National co-laborers

• The people yet to be reached

Thank you for your prayerful support.

James and Sonya Herron

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

40/40 Training in Zambia

We are at the end of a month long stay in Zambia where we received intensive training directed at improving our understanding of African culture and sensitivity in working with Nationals.  We witnessed and shared our faith in local communities and stayed 3 nights with a family of 7 in a small village.  We had the opportunity to taste many "delicacies"  such as caterpillars, locust and mice and work side by side with our Zambian family in the field and in their home.  We have loads of great pictures that we will download in a few days.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

“Heaters in Africa?”

When we think of Africa we envision a hot, sweaty, mosquito infested place where you can receive no comfort from the blasting heat. Not true! This is possibly a description of Phoenix Arizona, St. Louis, Missouri or Memphis, Tennessee during late summer. This  was certainly my impression of Africa before my first mission trip in 2003.

Africa is a big continent and there are many different facets to this great continent. In a recent trip to Nairobi, Kenya for medical care, we experienced a new face of Africa. Nairobi is a major center in the continent of Africa. Many African nationals and international agencies have major hubs in Kenya. There are approximately 25,000 Americans residing in Kenya. Nairobi, the capital, is a modern city of over three million people, with many modern conveniences. In Nairobi, there are world class medical facilities which is why we visited for our routine annual physicals.

Just as Kenya is culturally, socially and economically different from other African nations, it also has a different climate. I was surprised to find the need to wear long sleeves or a light jacket. At the Guest House where we stayed, the rooms, to our surprise were furnished with small space heaters for the frequent cool evenings. It is not unusual to see coats and jackets worn by Kenyans during early morning hours.

There are many parts to this great continent with many needs and problems to be solved. The greatest and most important need is for people to hear the Gospel, and have hearts "warmed" to  the message of Christ’s salvation. Continue to pray with us as we share the goodness of Christ’s love to the people of this vast continent.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hot Showers

There were questions following our last post about the shower on the island.  A ladder leads to the top of the shower where water is poured into the black barrel.  The heat from the day's sun warms the water throughout the day.  Prior to taking a shower, heated water is poured into the barrel and the shower head delivers a toasty warm shower.  This is definitely a necessity because there is lots of dust and dirt.  Actually, we've never been as dirty as we've gotten during a day of walking on the island.
Missionary George is an engineer and he has creatively made the island accomodations relatively comfortable.  We have solar power so we have lights and can even use our computers. 
The dirt and dust is everywhere.  To the left is a termite mound.  Termites are everywhere on the island and pose a continuing problem in maintaining the buildings on the compound.  The buildings, unless they are brick,  will need to be replaced after about 4 years because of termite damage.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

“Wusuze Otyanno”

Luganda for “Good morning”, literally means, “How did you spend the night?”

We have been in Uganda for one month. Many things have occurred since our last blog but we are adjusting to our new home, community, culture and country. James has had the opportunity to preach/teach, with the aid of a translator, each Sunday since arriving in Uganda. He has preached within the State Prison twice and has taught several Bible studies for men and youth. Sonya has been involved in teaching women Bible classes and ministering to children. She has worked with the team leader to assist in the organization of the ministry’s medical clinic, planning for upcoming volunteer groups and with other administrative duties. We have seen six people come to faith in Christ.   Pray for two orphans on the Island who are homeless.  One has been a good student, in the past, but might not be able to complete his education because he has no family or support. Both children, about age 13, need to go to boarding school but there is no money for school fees.

We have had to make many adjustments since arriving in Jinja. James had his first auto accident the same day we received the 1998 Toyota RAV. I am happy to say the push mower survived the crash, and the automobile was undamaged. When we first got on the streets of Jinja, James used only the 1st and 2nd gears. He is now able to drive in 3rd and 4th gears but hasn’t driven fast enough to utilize the 5th gear.

It is difficult learning to drive a manual transmission automobile while also learning to drive on the right side of the road with no marked lanes, dividers, few stop signs, or street signs. The biggest challenge with driving here is that automobiles share the roads with, numerous buses (fourteen passengers vans filled with people), boda-bodas (motorcycles with passengers); piki-pikis (bicycles with passengers and crates), along with pedestrians all sharing the same narrow, rutted streets at the same time! A trip from Jinja to Kampala is approximately 97 kilometers (60 miles) and takes over 2½ hours, with an hour of stop-and-go traffic. (While in O’Fallon a trip to Springfield, IL was approximately 90 miles and took about 1½ hours to travel). Any extensive travel is very taxing physically and emotionally. This is why very little travel takes place after dark. There are few street lights and the driving and road conditions are dangerous.

We are learning how to get around in Jinja, our new city. We are now driving to the markets and negotiating prices. Food and other items here are very expensive, comparatively speaking to the states. The local supermarkets are often poorly stocked with foods with extremely long shelf lives and questionable expiration dates. Anything made in the US is especially expensive. Produce purchased at the open air markets are affordable and abundant. Thank God for that, so we can afford to eat!

We have started language lessons. We are “speaking” Luganda as toddlers. “Tuyiga Oluganda mpola mpola”. We are learning Luganda slowly, slowly. God Bless.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Island Ministry

We have had a busy two weeks of ministry here in Uganda. James has been to the Island twice and has taught men in the Bible School and also preached at village churches both weeks. Sonya stayed in Jinja, the first week but went to the Island this past week. This week was pretty grueling on Buvuma Island with lots of teaching and ministry activities. James and missionary George both taught the entire week at the Bible School and then alternated accompanying Sonya and missionary Geraldine to the villages where the women did "hut to hut" evangelism and Bible studies with women and children. Sonya and Geraldine also worked to clean the medical and dental clinic on the island which was a big ordeal.

Much thanks to the Island support team who handle the cooking and other chores necessary for "Westernized" island living. On the island, our days begin early with breakfast around 8 am. Mary, the cook is there at 6 am. (See our island kitchen facility above). Island student workers or men collect water from the well for breakfast. We have morning devotion and prayer and then head out for various tasks, leaving Mary and the other kitchen helpers to start the evening meal. We travel to a nearby village by boat (35-45 minutes) or walk several miles. We conduct Bible studies, and/or evangelism in the villages returning to the mission compound about 4 pm. Mary is still cooking the evening meal which is not ready until about 7:30 or 8pm. This week we had the same foods at every dinner: cabbage, white potatoes, yams, beans, rice and fish (twice) and posha (sp). After dinner, we discuss plans for the next day and then shower. The island shower is great. It is a cube shaped building behind the kitchen. Water is heated and poured into a drum with a shower head. Aside from the occasional bull frog or two, the showers are fantastic! We generally are in bed by 9 pm (Photo of where we live on the island) . This week we were on the Island from Sat.-Thurs. Our schedule will be modified because we begin our language studies soon. We will have a private tutor work with us three days a week.

Please pray for us that we grasp Luganda so that we can speak to the people in their heart language. Also continue to pray for our 3 sons, 2 of whom are in the military and stationed in Iraq and Korea, and our extended family in the States.

As a side note for those of you who are interested in the cats, they are doing well. They initially attempted to get outside to explore the beautiful grounds where we live. After hearing the many wonderous sounds and seeing the amazing sites (such as the Marabou Storks about 4ft tall), the cats seem content to observe the happenings through the many windows and doors of the house. We are screening in a portion of our porch so they will enjoy this when it is completed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We've Arrived!

We reached Africa with our two cats! Our original plan was to check the cats but because of the extremely cold temperatures, we had to travel with the cats as carry-ons. Very special thanks to Skip and Joanie who took us to the airport and our long-time classmates and friends, Randy and Alice who met us at the airport. We could not have made it without their help!We had 11 pieces of checked luggage, 4 carry-ons and 2 cats in separate carriers. It was wild but things went well. The most difficult thing during this travel was managing so many pieces of luggage getting on and off the plane. The cats were perfect. They stayed in these two soft sided bags for about 24 hours. They did not eat (we forgot the food in the rush to change their carriers from the hard ones when we were going to check them). We attempted to give them airline food but they wouldn't eat it. They refused to drink water also. (I did find out that travelling pets often won't eat and this is a natural occurance). We've been spending a lot of time with the other missionaries, who are helping us get the house in order and get us acclaimated to the culture and job. Please continue to pray for us as we immerse ourselves in the work we are here to do.