“…and pastor will teach us now on women’s ministry…”
Twenty Ugandan women got all excited and cheered, yelled, and clapped. I have never been more terrified in my life! I have been more comfortable sharing the gospel in a prison full of Muslim anti-government terrorists than I was walking up to talk to these twenty women!
Here’s the backstory.
My wife couldn’t make the trip. On the day we were leaving she was sick, couldn’t get a doctor or prescription in time to make the flight, and couldn’t do 24 hours on planes and then travel on African roads as she was. So, at the last minute she stayed home and I left. She had been preparing for five hours of time with the women for teaching, sharing, interaction, discussion, and all that stuff circling around the various stages of Mary’s (Jesus’ mother) life. When I landed, I told my host the change of plans. “No problem. You can lead the women’s time…” Let’s just say my outward nonchalance didn’t exactly match the tsunami in my stomach.
In a panicked text I wrote my wife “HELP!” She emailed her notes and I put them into something that resembled a 30,000’ view looking over the journey of Mary’s life. I don’t think I have ever been more “OK God, what do I say next?…”
Much of the week in Uganda was like this. It became the daily norm for my hosts to let me know there were last-minute changes in the topics I would be teaching on, usually as I was being introduced to teach. Then, as I’m teaching, monsoon rains would literally blow our tent away. At the same time, there were local church leadership powerplays that I was not aware of going on (yup, even in remote Uganda).
But I got to teach 30 pastors and leaders, using stories to talk about Jesus’ ministry focus. And I was able to do some one-on-one coaching with a few pastors I had met on previous trips. Most nights, my host and I talked about ways to distance-mentor pastors in different regions of the country as his ministry is growing. All of this was done using stories. Conversations. Exploring together.
One young pastor came to me in the early morning, grinning. “How do you do that?” Do what? “Yesterday you wouldn’t let us open our Bibles during your teaching but told us to just listen to the stories. It didn’t make sense! You must have a Bible open to teach! So, I stayed up last night reading the stories myself and I saw the things we talked about are really there but I have never seen them! How did you do that?”
And, lest we forget, I was able to talk to women about women’s ministry. A couple hours after the women’s time, I was on the way to the airport, majorly relieved that was done! After I was back in the US, I got this text…
Very relieved and thankful, but next time I’m dragging my wife on the plane no matter how sick she is!