The crusade itself seemed to add multiple flowers to our growing bouquet. Monday, Godfrey and the children were busy taking care of multiple details. It helped them for me to stay at the hotel. It gave me opportunity for the first time to work and get caught up on updates & prepare for the week of teaching.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I join the staff and workers of Paradise Hotel in their morning devotions. This is a precious time for me. They will begin the day in praise & devotion to God. I have never been a part of anything else quite like this. When I am home there, they have me share the devotion to bring a word of encouragement for the day they are about to begin.
Throughout this week my devotional word was taken from what I was teaching at the conference and turn it into a 15 minute version! It always ended with signing a song together! The first Monday I signed the song, “Rise” from Danny Gokey. THEY LOVED IT! The gentleman who is in charge of the new renovations for the restaurant was very taken by the words to the song. Looks like when I return on my next trip I will have many copies of Danny’s new CD to purchase!
Another song that I signed for both the children and Paradise Hotel was “Spirit of the Living God” by Meredith Andrews. https://youtu.be/rYq0S7BLNNk There is something special about signing this song with the Nile as your backdrop hearing the words first thing in the morning,
“Spirit of the Living God - Spirit of the Living God
We wanna know you more and more - We’re hanging on every word. Speak to us
We're leaning in to all you are - Everything else can wait
Come now and breathe upon our hearts - Come now and have your way
Cause when you speak, when you move - When you do what only you can do
It changes us, it changes what we see and what we seek.”
This trip was different. It changed me. It changed what I see & what I seek. It changed everything. I spent much of the time being still and knowing that He is God. As a family, we hung on His every Word. We leaned in to hear from only Him. He did what only He could do.
The place I sat to be still was at a small table at the restaurant, overlooking the Nile. The weather was PERFECT, in the mid 70’s, slight breeze with the smell of jasmine in the air, birds singing and … sounds of construction with skill saws and nail guns! At one point, someone asked me how I could sit and work up there with all that noise! I said to me it was the sound of God blessing the hotel with business enough that they could do the construction. It signified to me the future of a FULL restaurant and more people who will experience the beauty of the Nile & the Presence of the One who provides! Amen!
So among the peace of the Nile and the hammering of nails, I began preparing for the week. Godfrey would be the main preacher for our evangelistic crusade. He wanted me to sign music that would be evangelistic in nature that went with our theme of “Christ in You - Hope of Glory.” It has taken me a few days to write this. As I began to reflect on all God did during those three days, I realized just how much actually happened at the crusade. I don’t want to loose any of you as a cup of coffee only lasts so long! So I made a decision to divide this into three segments. The next update will include all the music I used at the crusade and how each song had its own message and was a unique bloom in our bouquet. The third segment of the crusade will include testimonies from our Raining Hope family from our debriefing on the last night after we were done.
One of the basic rules of any team I lead is to be flexible, trust me and go with the flow. Through the years I have come to trust this process and not worry about schedules. Yet even these three days would have been a huge test for A type personalities. Our crusade was suppose to go from 4:00 pm-7:00 pm each night. I learned that the first hour is really a “setup” time. In local language it means show up after 5 pm! But the first day was a challenge even by Ugandan standards! To see Godfrey a little tested by circumstances is very rare. He updated me throughout the day saying the major problem was the stage. We paid to have a very professional stage built in the village. When I came with a team in 2014 to Kakira, the stage was very unstable and small. Whenever the praise team danced and moved, the stage moved as if it were going to lift off into space (or fully collapse on the ground)! But to my surprise, this stage was at least four times the size of the little rickety one we had before. It was a picture of being built on a strong foundation! Problem was, something of this magnitude can not be built in 30 minutes. And yet, the man who we rented from showed up about 30 minutes before we were to start and discovered the men he hired to set it up had not been there all day. This man took it upon himself to jump in and build it and enlist others to help…even our kids. Another picture of the body of Christ working together to accomplish Kingdom work.
I quietly kept working at the hotel unaware of the absolute chaos that was happening in the market! They also were having to transport all of our new equipment from the house to the market. This meant trying to understand and set up all the new wires and buttons. I looked at the sea of wires and wished it could all be wireless! I kept working to get updates done, practice songs and prepare my notes for the upcoming conference. By time Godfrey actually came to pick me up it was close to 6:30 pm! (Remember, we were suppose to be done at 7:00 pm!)
No worries. We knew it was Ugandan time. Godfrey said many people were gathering at the market. The beauty of the location of our home is it is only a short 5 minute drive from the hotel. The market is just past the round-a-bout off the main road to the bridge. As we approached the market, the beautiful sounds of our children singing filled the air. The van pulled up to the market and I saw the MASSIVE stage with the Raining Hope choir in their purple uniforms singing for the Lord. We were in the moment and the three hour delay didn’t matter. People in the market were all engaged in the worship. Even at this late hour, Godfrey still had to run to the home to change his clothes. He had been one of those that helped to build the stage.
As I got out of the van and began walking through the crowd, the presence of Christ was evident. I got closer to the stage and saw the faces of the children deeply in love with their Savior. I looked at all of our new “machines” as they call the sound equipment. Godfrey’s friends were on the drums and guitars. Henry was on the keyboards. The shop in Kampala was correct about our needing the guitars. Without them we would not have had a complete sound. I looked over at Brian, and he was wearing a SF Giants shirt! I knew I liked him! Ha! Later when I talked to him he said the Giants were his favorite baseball team1 So funny to see how a MLB team can influence someone half way across the world!
One of the concerns I had because of the delay, was what were we going to do when it got dark? We did not purchase the beam lights and without them no one would be able to see. I wondered if we would have to finish as soon as we lost the light of day. But Godfrey had thought of everything! They took the light from our porch and hooked it up to a LONGGG piece of timber. This served as our homemade flood light and worked perfectly! I was actually pretty impressed.
I stood back and marveled at the way our children were ministering. They sang and danced with absolute joy. They proclaimed the Word with power!
Even with the late start on the first night, everything moved forward beautifully! More people actually showed up because of the late hour. The average time people are off work can be anywhere from 5:00-6:00 pm. We discovered some people at the hotel don’t change shifts until 6:00 pm. So timing was perfect.
Something that really struck me in a powerful way at this crusade was Godfrey. After signing the songs, I sat quietly behind one of the “machines.” I marveled at the way that Godfrey connects with the villagers. I watched as people engaged in all that Godfrey was speaking. I saw people connect with him as a Ugandan in ways that impacted me in an important way. When we gave an invitation, it was like nothing I had seen before. He was very aware that his voice was not only reaching those we could see, but into the market booths and surrounding homes that line our area. As he gave an evangelistic invitation, he had people stay where they were and recognized even those in their homes and booths. Not only did he give an invitation to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but he also directed the prayer to those who are already believers. It was a time for people to rededicate their lives. It was a time for people who were struggling to stand up for Christ. Throughout the three days, I watched as hand after hand went up when Godfrey called them to prayer. Hands in the air, hands on their hearts. I watched one by one people give their lives to Christ for the first time or rededicate themselves back to him.
After each service, Godfrey asked those who made that decision for the first time to meet him over on the side of the stage to help them begin their journey with Christ. Irene, Godfrey’s wife immediately would join him to take down the names of those who came forward after Godfrey prayed with them. The Raining Hope choir went on stage during this time of decision and began ministering to the crowd. I continued to stand back and marvel at all that God was doing. I realized in this moment that the Raining Hope family ARE ministers of the gospel. They can do this crusade without outside help. In all reality, it is better to have a Ugandan preaching because they automatically can connect with the people.
One of the most beautiful moments happened on the first night. As I was observing, I saw Hillary and Joan individually praying for two children that had come forward. They each had their hands on the children’s heads fervently praying over them. This is what it is all about. In the testimony update you will hear directly from our kids what the crusade meant to them.
On the second night, we completely lost power when Godfrey got up to preach. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. Even our new generator wasn’t working properly. But Godfrey put aside the mic and began speaking with such power as if he had the microphone! Joan was interpreting for him and her voice was booming the message of Christ just as loud! The children learned when they were about to postpone the crusade because of the lack of sound equipment, that we really could carry on with or without it.
Then, what to do without the lights became the question. Godfrey was preaching but no one could see him. I realized that we had bought a new portable light for one of our cameras. I had not used it yet, but thought it might work. When I turned it on in my bag, I almost fell back on the ground because it almost blinded me!
I sat in front of the stage on the ground and turned it on. IT LIT UP THE WHOLE STAGE! Another kind young man who has been coming to Raining Hope on Fridays for Bible study came up to me and said, “Let me help.” He sat there the whole time and held up the little light for the duration of Godfrey’s preaching.
As soon as Godfrey finished and as the invitation had been given, he rushed down to the generator and discovered the problem. The lights came back up and the sound equipment could be used again. But at this point, people were already responding to the Word.
During the three days, we had people come to Christ, we had people come back to Christ. But something else happened. It pointed the way to a simple house and Raining Hope Ministries that proclaims the name of Jesus every Sunday. It helped to make Raining Hope known to the area that Jesus is the Lord of our lives everyday. “Christ in Us - The Hope of Glory” was loudly proclaimed. He was glorified and continues to be made known in a little market in a little town called Jinja in Uganda, Africa.
Remaining Speechless, Mama Eydie Kisakye