“Thank you, Pastor. That was very encouraging!” remarked Daniel, concentrating on each word lest his stutter once again get the best of him. The Word of God, unsurprisingly, shows itself to transcend culture, geography, time, and circumstance. The text for that morning was taken from Habakkuk and the sermon was one preached several times before.
Habakkuk was a prophet of God who had heard about the good old days of booming economic success, peace, and tranquility during King Solomon’s rule. But by Habakkuk’s time that prosperity was only a distant memory.
Yes, the living God had delivered Israel from Egypt and—in the days of David and Solomon—given them a mighty earthly kingdom. But in Habakkuk’s days there was a wholesale departure of God’s people from the true worship of God, and God had withdrawn many of His blessings. Habakkuk’s complaints to God in his book indicate his disillusionment and disappointment. But in the end the prophet was strengthened by God’s revelation to him, and stated his faith in these remarkable words: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV).
In other words, “Even if things don’t improve— even if they get worse—I will rejoice, because God is my hope and salvation. He is the source of my trust, strength, confidence, approval, and purpose.”
Like Habakkuk, Daniel is no stranger to adversity. He is from the Iganga area of Uganda. Uganda is a country rich in natural resources, though many of its people remain teetering on the edge of poverty. The country has seldom known peace or stability, enduring genocide and countless civil wars. In his earlier years, Daniel had engaged in illegal methods of earning money in an effort to avoid homelessness and starvation. He has known times of severe lack as well as times of abundance. But our great God and Savior has strengthened him, leading him to rejoice in the God of his salvation.
Daniel had lived with a stutter his entire life. It was only when he entered the public ministry, and began preaching the same Word of God that Habakkuk proclaimed, that his tongue “loosened.”
Daniel has greatly appreciated the fellowship that he shares with his brothers and sisters in the CLC-USA and also those in the CLC-Kenya. He has covered many kilometers traveling throughout Uganda, proclaiming in many cities the good news of Christ crucified for sinners. It has been a true joy to witness his zeal for lost souls, and his love for digging deep into the Scriptures. He and his fledgling congregation have not asked for monetary support. On their own they rented a property for their church meetings; on their own they have now purchased a small plot of land. The Lord has blessed Daniel with a wife in recent years, and a daughter whose name is Peace. He has also taken several orphaned children into his home. Due to the Lord’s work through his servant Daniel, several congregations have been founded in the eastern regions of Uganda. The Mission Helper Program is sending young people to visit these congregations this summer. Together with them, we rejoice in the Lord and take joy in the God of our salvation.
Michael Gurath is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and also serves as a part-time missionary to Africa.