Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sometimes it's hard to guess the ending

As we go forward with the work on the university, Satan is NOT sitting still. The team has been very aware for the past year that we are under attack. Sickness, lawsuits, attempts to break the unity of the team (both on the African side and on the missionary side), behavior issues that resulted in the loss of important members of the African leadership and staff -- the list just goes on and on.

Last Wednesday night, the missionary team went out to the land to have a pre-dedication dedication. We worshipped the living God ON the land itself, we spent some time in prayer, and then Phillip anointed the land with oil. As he poured the oil on the land, a gentle rain began to fall. To the Ugandan people, rain is a physical sign of blessing. It was as if God were taking the oil Phillip was pouring in one particular spot and multiplying it over the whole land.

The next day, the team (African and American) divided up to finish preparations for the official land dedication and also to work on the Churches of Christ National Meeting which was to start Friday in Mbale. As we were all busy with our tasks, we suddenly received tragic news: Simon, Jennipher Ndegemo's father (Jennipher is an African member of the team), was struck and killed while crossing the road out at the LIU land site. A young man with him was critically injured. In Uganda, there is no 911. It was up to members of the team to go out to the site, take the boy to the hospital (and make sure he got treatment), pick up the body of Jennipher's father, and take care of Jennipher and her mother as they now began to get ready for the funeral. All this while going forward with the other preparations. People were doing their work as they cried. No one doubted that this was an attempt by an angry Satan to stop the dedication.

Yes, the dedication went forward as planned. We stood on the land and again praised the living God -- this time with 350 people participating. Pastors preached. People sang and danced. There was much worship and praise. Phillip again anointed the land with oil. He then invited people to come forward to be anointed with oil and proclaim themselves ready to be set apart for God. So many people came forward that I began to wonder if the oil would hold out. It did.

The land dedication lasted until early Friday morning, and we all knew that God had had the victory that night.

But the story isn't over yet. No, indeed. Today, Shadrack, the guard who works out at the land, came to meet with Phillip at the office.

Shadrack had been plagued by a large snake -- "Oh, very large, very, very large!" -- out at the land. No matter how hard he tried, he could not kill that snake. Snakes, by the way, represent evil to most Ugandans (and I must say that I totally agree with them on that). On Friday, a few hours after the dedication ceremony ended, guess what happened. Shadrack finally killed the snake? No. The snake decided to leave the just-dedicated land. It began to cross the road.

The snake was struck and killed -- on the very spot that Jennipher's father had been hit.

Do I believe that was God's hand at work? Yes, I do. But that is not as important as the fact that every single Ugandan who hears the story will understand the symbolism. They will fear and reverence the living God who continues to make known that He is in control of the land and of the construction of LivingStone International University.

Sometimes it IS hard to guess the ending. But sometimes it's easy.

God wins.