May 26, 2008

Visiting Missionaries in Uganda

[Video - Missionary Doug Wicks on Cults and Challenges in Uganda]

What must my family do to move half way around the world to start the Africa Center for Apologetics Research? And how should we prepare to make this transition? One of the main priorities on our trip to Uganda last month was to explore what it will take to live and serve our Lord in East Africa. To work through the details, my wife and I visited four very different American missionary families with young children who have transitioned to serving in Uganda. Not only did we have a wonderful time of Christian fellowship, but we learned a great deal from these families as well.

Doug Wicks is a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Uganda, and his family graciously invited us over for dinner. During our time in their home, we asked them a lot of questions about ministry expenses and living in Uganda. Doug was also very helpful in telling us more about local life in rural areas and villages. The Wicks family has an incredible zeal to bring God's Word to Ugandans in their own languages.

Brian Kelly, John Divito, and Paul CardenWe also met with the Kelly family, who was both friendly and flexible. Pastor Brian Kelly leads Calvary Chapel Kampala, where I was able to speak on biblical discernment during their Wednesday evening service. After the church meeting, he took us out to eat at a nice Indian restaurant. He told us a lot about ministry in Uganda, especially church life. Later in the week, we met in the Kelly's home to talk about living expenses and gained some great practical advice for when we move over. After spending time with them, I can see why God has richly blessed their work.

Divitos and SchimkesAdditionally, we spent a couple of evenings with the Schimke family. Kurt Schimke is a Presbyterian who serves at African Bible University. He stays busy, teaching church history, ethics, several New Testament courses, and direct evangelism outreach. Interestingly, our families are very similar, with children in the same order and almost the same age (well, at least before our youngest came along)! The Schimkes were an invaluable resource in understanding family expenses, reassessing our budget and financial goals, as well as what to expect when living in Kampala. They understand the need to develop African church leaders and are working toward fostering biblical knowledge and spiritual growth among students. I thank God that He has brought the Schimke family to Uganda.

SheltonsAt the same time, the Shelton family stood out in their hospitality and encouragement. The Sheltons are Southern Baptist missionaries with the International Missionary Board. They allowed us to stay in their home throughout our time in Uganda. They helped to coordinate our trip, keeping everything as productive as possible. They always kept themselves available if we needed them for anything. What else can I say? We would not have accomplished half of what we did without the Shelton family (and their two cute daughters made sure that we did not miss home too much!).

These missionary families truly made our recent trip to Uganda memorable. They also allowed us to more fully understand the specifics of what it will take to move our family to East Africa. As a result, we now have concrete plans and are able to move ahead to the final stages of preparation. While we have had to make some changes since returning (the weak value of the dollar globally and rising costs have forced us to modify our budget), we are much better equipped to begin serving Christ in Uganda. Lord willing, we will start soon!

(Previous posts on our recent mission trip: Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda, The Challenge of Islam in Uganda, Developing the Center in Uganda, Cults Targeting College Students in Uganda)