In this series, thoseinvolved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
Before boarding the bus to Busia, you had better be sure for which Busia you are bound. Busia is a bustling border city split in half by the countries of Kenya and Uganda, and it is home to one of the first CLC congregations in Uganda. North of this bastion of boda bodas (the nickname given to bicyclists and motorcycle drivers who constantly pass from border—“boda”—to border) is the small village of Bulondani. It was the trek from Busia to Bulondani that made one mission helper remark, “Now this is the Africa I had in mind!” Lush jungle foliage, wild animals, and throwback thatched-roof housing are common sights in this area.
In mid-November, while some minor effects of El Niño were being felt here in the United States, hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes as floodwaters ravaged several parts of Uganda. Pastor Tanas Wangira lives in the rural Ugandan village of Bulondani with his wife, children, and mother. The flooding washed away not only their thatched-roof, mud-walled home, but also their crops. We are thankful, however, for the fellowship that we share, so that we are able to bear one another’s burdens in such a time of need.
Tanas, like many others with whom we have the privilege of partnering in kingdom work, has many responsibilities apart from serving his congregation. His family has offered a part of their land to establish a church building; the building is still under construction but coming along quite well. It served as the site for our Mission Helper Program’s first-ever stop in Uganda. Tanas serves as a community leader, in essence filling the role as the city council secretary, in addition to teaching at a local school and advocating for area children who have lost their parents/guardians. Tanas has taken it upon himself to reach out to the many orphaned children of his area, in order to help them find some clothing for their backs and also to share with them the news that they do indeed have a Heavenly Father who has clothed them with the sparkling robes of the righteousness of Christ. As we spent time with him, Tanas’s humble appreciation for the Word of God became obvious to us through his manner and conversation. Recently he remarked, “What I have learned most from you people (the CLC mission helpers) is that everything comes back to Jesus. Formerly in my preaching I would give people directions, points to carry out in their lives, but now I think that will change. We must point people back to Christ, Who has done these things perfectly. He is where we get our strength.”
Tanas and his family have begun rebuilding his homestead, as many have been forced to do. They will have to purchase food until the next planting and harvesting cycle. In the Spirit-created fellowship we share, we can be encouraged by his example, and by his zeal for bringing the message of Christ crucified for sinners to many. We now have the opportunity to encourage and support our brothers and sisters with the comfort by which we ourselves have been comforted.
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior’ ” (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Michael Gurath is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and a part-time missionary to Africa.