It’s been said that “If God’s love is for anybody anywhere, it’s for everybody everywhere.” This is the heart behind Central’s mission outreach efforts. This past summer, teams from Central had the opportunity to take the message of God’s great love to people in other parts of the world.
In late June and early July, Chris Thornton and I led a team of nine people from our church to Uganda to continue an 11-year relationship with pastors, churches and a school in this beautiful country. We visited five churches we have helped build, conducted medical clinics where we treated over 1100 adults and children, as well as treating over 100 with needed dental care, and much more.
Two days especially stand out for me as I reflect on this experience. One was conducting a medical clinic in Gulu-town, in northern Uganda, in a location where they are wanting to establish a new UM congregation. They asked our team to set up a clinic so they could get to know their neighbors and invite them to church. Over 500 people showed up at our make-shift little clinic. They received care and prayers, while the local pastor met hundreds of new friends and invited them to church! We trust God will establish His church on the very ground where we conducted the clinic.
Several days later, we returned to His Mercy School – a school and orphanage our church helped build and establish through gifts and child sponsorships. On our final day at the school, we gave about 60 of the older children at the school gifts that Central’s Middle Schoolers had sent with us. These gifts consisted of a few small toys and school supplies. But more importantly, each gift had a photo and letter from a Central Middle Schooler. His Mercy students were beyond excited as they looked at the faces and read the notes from students their age – kids who live on the other side of the world! God’s Spirit was quite real in those moments.
We were reminded that perhaps the most important thing we do for Uganda as a church is to continue to return there, showing our care and love for these amazing people, and reminding them, and us, of God’s faithfulness. God is doing big things throughout Uganda. We are blessed to be a part it!
In July, Mary and I had the privilege of leading a team from our church to the Amazon River Basin for a medical mission outreach in Chimbote, Peru. Our team of twenty-three met up with others from different places in Colombia. Altogether, there were 116 people working together to share the gospel with nine different villages through medical clinics, children’s ministry, and evening services of music and preaching. God blessed our team with unity that transcended differences in culture and language.
While many people responded to the gospel message – with over 1000 people professing faith in Jesus, the most impactful moment came when a mother brought her infant son to our clinic. When she laid him in the hands of one of our team members, he was not breathing and was turning blue. Our medical team, made up of nurses and doctors from our church and from Colombia, went to work to resuscitate him and give him breathing treatments and an IV. The whole time, we were praying for God’s mercy. Once we got the little boy stabilized, I used church resources to get the mother and her child to the nearest hospital. Before we left the country, we heard the good news that the boy had overcome what was apparently a viral lung infection.
As I have reflected on that experience, the reality has hit me that if our team had not been there, that little boy would have certainly died! We were there because God led us, years ago, to partner with Jaime & Lori Useche, Central members, and missionaries along the Amazon. That partnership keeps calling us back year after year. We can do this because of the church’s ongoing support of this ministry, through donations and prayers. Thank you, Church!
It was the presence of our teams in Uganda and Peru that helped establish a church, provided medical treatment to thousands, restored the life of a young boy, and much more. But it was the ministry of our church that put us in that position. Way to go, Central!