Saturday, December 8, 2007

John the Baptizer in 2007

I haven't posted in a while, due to a case of carpal tunnel - ouch - but this is the latter part of a sermon I'm preaching tomorrow - a great story from a new young pastor who took his youth group to Uganda -

Modern Day John the Baptist

Robert and Maria’s godparents are missionaries in Uganda. They heard about a group pf pygmies called the Batwa pygmies who had been ordered to leave their home in a particular forest, called the Deep Impenetrable Forest, so that the country could better service tourists who were coming to look at a certain type of gorilla.

The pygmies presence interfered with tourist trade. This had ben their home ever since they appeared on this planet and when they left, and scattered to various places, they were dying of things like the common cold. They had no resistance to diseases that others had built up immunities to. So Dr. Scott Kellerman and his wife Carol set off to build communities for pygmies to live in together, and began bringing in vaccinations, refrigeration for medicine, etc.

This is an email I got from Scott a few months ago -

Dear Rob and Debra, Greetings from the Bwindi.

We recently had a visit from Seth, (their son) who is now an Episcopal pastor in Dallas. He brought a youth team of 14 with him. They built two houses for the Batwa, participated at a mobile medical clinic, played with the kids at the schools and did dramatizations of the parable "the Good Samaritan".

Saturday we worked at a Batwa settlement atop a steep hill. All were exhausted after the climb and weather threatened to terminate the home building efforts early. Little progress was being made, the mobile clinic proceeded slowly and the clouds continued to gather. The kids volunteered that they needed to do some ministry before the rain chased us off the mountain. After several worship songs they performed the "Good Samaritan", they substituted a Mutwa (pygmy) for the Samaritan and then asked for questions. The Batwa became very animated and vocal and talked about the demons that they worshiped when they lived in the forest but over the last few years they had found out about a Ruhanga (God) who loved them.

Seth told them that Ruhanga loved them so much that He sent His Son to die for them. This produced another series of questions and then one Mutwa asked what was necessary to accept Jesus Christ. Seth told him that it was a free gift and he just needed to open his heart in prayer. The man immediately ran off and Seth was a bit chagrined… but… he shortly retuned with his son so that he also could have Jesus. A large portion of the village of Mpungu became Christians that day and after the last person was prayed for, rolling thunder began, and everyone praised God as all descended from the mountain top.

The following day I had arranged for Seth to preach in church. The local pastor was unavailable but I assured Seth that they could communicate prior to the service. The usual crowd of around 500 turned up but the pastor was strangely absent. The choir began lively worship songs and after a half hour the pastor appeared, gave a hand shake to Seth and sat down a distance away. Seth felt a bit nervous as the youth group introduced themselves in the local language and then several gave testimonies about their lives. They then performed a dramatization of the Good Samaritan which was very well received. Seth did have a brief discussion with the pastor during the singing prior to his sermon and mentioned that he might ask for folks to come forward, the pastor seemed confused but agreed. Seth gave an inspired sermon focusing on how we are all called to be like the Good Samaritan but in reality the Good Samaritan is Jesus bidding us to physical and spiritual health. Seth then asked if there was anyone in the congregation who wanted to give their life to Jesus or needed to be healed of spiritual or physical afflictions. There was a long pause after the request was translated but eventually a few folks stood up. Suddenly there was an explosive response as a crowd of 200+ surged to the altar. The pastor asked Seth what they were to do next. Seth said he wasn’t sure as he had never done this before but that these people needed to be prayed for. The pastor suggested that perhaps a group prayer would be expeditious but Seth thought that individual prayer would be more appropriate. “That would take a long time” responded the pastor but he agreed. There ensued over two hours of prayers with three teams praying with individuals for physical or spiritual healing while the congregation sang worship songs. The service continued for almost 5 hours eventuating with multiple offertories and a lively auction where the youth group bought a goat and many other items. The youth group agreed that it was the most inspirational service that they had ever attended and suggested that the US Episcopal churches should replicate it but considered that it would take the average pew sitter a while to get used to.

Wish that you were here!!

Love, Scott

1 comment:

Singing Owl said...

First, welcome to the Rev Gals! Second, this email is FABULOUS! Praise God! Third, I am praying right now for your friend who lost her Marine son. And for you, because you have your plate full, it seems. Blessings!