This article originally appeared in the August 2017 Renewal Ministries’ newsletter, which you can view here.
By Nancy Greenhaw, Country Coordinator
This trip was very powerful. We facilitated a discipleship school with 145 leaders from most of Uganda. Some of our most interesting conversations occurred during meals, as our Ugandan brothers and sisters shared their experiences. One example is this story from Robert Tumuhimbise, the National Coordinator of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Uganda. It demonstrates the unique obstacles encountered in Uganda.
Robert’s team was doing a Life in the Spirit (LIS) seminar for young men who had been captured by and then rescued from the Kony Rebels. As they began the talk on God’s love, a young man jumped up and shouted, “SHUT UP!” In the shocked silence that followed, the young man screamed out, “I was taught by my mother to pray, and we daily prayed the rosary. My family and I were captured by the Kony Rebels, and my father, who was injured, couldn’t keep up, so they clubbed him to death. When my mother cried out, they gang raped her, and after all the soldiers had finished, they cut her throat, and she bled to death. Where was your God of love then?”
The young man and two of his friends left, and the team stopped for the day. They invited people to come by their quarters for tea and cookies. They were surprised when the three young men who had stormed out came by just to chat. They actually came back for cookies twice! One team member finally told them that she didn’t understand the ways of God and why He permitted such horrible things, but that the same God had also rescued them, and they shouldn’t forget that. That word was the bridge that helped them begin to dialogue. They eventually went through the LIS, forgave, and asked God into their hearts to heal the hurt and give them a new life. Only God can heal a wound that deep.
This mirrored an experience we had a couple of years ago. One young woman told us that the Kony rebels had come into her village and brutally murdered many people, including her mother and father. They also committed other unspeakable atrocities.
She asked if she must forgive. I still do not know of an adequate answer, but I told her that when she forgave, she did not give up her right to justice. She only gave up her right to judgment and gave that to Jesus, to whom it rightly belonged. I told her she would see justice with her own eyes at the Final Judgment, and that justice would be more terrible than anything she could ever imagine. We pray God’s truth will set her free.
This is our sixteenth year at the Emmaus Center. They always say, “Welcome home!”—and it is like coming home. The people are loving and welcoming—it’s a little piece of heaven. This major force for good has influenced not only Uganda, but countries all around Africa. Most of the CCR leaders we have encountered in Uganda were formed by Emmaus’ programs.
While we were there, we spoke with Frances Auno, who lost her young adult daughter last July. It is still a gaping wound. The healing is quiet and hidden, but God is lighting the path one long day and one excruciating step at a time. I am awed by the faith of Frances and her husband. It was a blessing to sit with her and to hear her story. It is always difficult for a community leader to share deeply with those around her, and she felt safe. Thank You, Jesus!
Praise and Thanksgiving
At the beginning of one of our presentations, it began to rain, and it got louder and louder, until it was almost deafening. The rain was a tremendous blessing, as there had been a severe drought for months. In some areas, the people were so hungry, they were boiling leaves from trees to stay alive.
Therefore, we decided to praise the Lord in thanksgiving until the rain stopped. The praises of God rose over the leaders. The dancing quickly exploded, with the line of people dancing all through the church. And the rain didn’t stop until the hour was over! Everyone was happy, and many said the praise of God and the much-needed rain was the testimony and the answer from God. We then went to Adoration and Mass.
One excellent talk came from Rose Keifer, a CCR interpreter, international speaker, and bestselling author who lives on faith. She is single, but adopted her late sister’s children and other orphans. She is a remarkable woman—an example of the fruit Renewal Ministries has borne in Uganda and throughout the world. She spoke on the universal call to holiness, reminding us that being in the CCR is not about conferences, missions, or saving souls; it is about holiness. She quoted often from Ralph Martin’s book The Fulfillment of all Desire: “Holiness is not an option!” “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice and all these things shall be added to you as well” (Mat 6:33).
Holiness does not come from saying rosaries or participating in Jericho marches. Holiness is aligning our will with God’s will and accepting the circumstances He chooses for us. When we focus on anything other than Christ, we become like Martha and start to complain. We try to become God by telling God what to do. We see this in Luke 10:40: “But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” She was ordering God around! Too often, we do our will in God’s name, not God’s will for us.
I also spoke on practical steps to holiness: repentance, faith, and forgiveness. Repentance is a change in our minds that leads to a change in our actions, not just feeling sorry for something. Sin has two components, rebellion and deception. We can repent of the rebellion, but if we still believe the lie, we will repeat the sin. When we sin again and again and cannot control it, we tend to justify it.
Also, forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. It is a gift we give ourselves; holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison while hoping the other person gets sick!
Touching Jesus’ Cloak
Before one of our healing services, Lloyd described when Bishop Sam Jacobs set the monstrance on a small table at the foot of the altar; put candles on the table; knelt behind the table, holding the monstrance; and invited the people to kneel before the Lord and tell Him their needs.
Just like the woman in Scripture who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed, he had people touch the cloth around base of the monstrance and then go to the side of the room for prayer. It was extremely powerful.
Fr. David Byaruhanga, the national CCR spiritual director and an exorcist, wanted to lead his people in prayer that way as well. Fr. David held the monstrance, and they were permitted to touch the cloth around it as they told Jesus their needs. He stood for over an hour, holding Jesus in front of the altar, and people came to speak to Jesus about their problems, touch the hem of His garment, and go to the sides of the church for prayer. Sometime during the service, Fr. David began to tremble, as power went out of him!
We are seeing an increase in healing and freedom in Uganda! Thanks for allowing us to serve.