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Denver pastor returns from Uganda

Dr. Joel McCall, pastor of Lakeshore Presbyterian Church, has lived in Israel for a year and can speak and translate Hebrew. He has spent the last several years going on a mission trip to Rwanda with members of his church for mission trips.
He’s never been to Uganda, however, until now.
He recently completed a two-week mission trip. He shared his experiences recently with his church congregation.
“It was part of a larger group called Equipping Pastors International (EPI),” he said.
According to McCall, EPI had a vision several years ago to travel into third world countries and train pastors already there.
“The group had approached me several times before I decided to go with them into Africa,” he said.
McCall was part of a team of five that went to the country from Nov. 5 to Nov. 20.
“We trained over 600 pastors in how to minister to their churches,” said McCall. “Some of these churches have more than 2,000 members. The Church is spreading faster in Uganda than even in China.”
The first things he noticed upon arriving in Uganda is how poor the country’s people were and how the political strife was tearing the country apart.
“As poor as these people are, they are dedicated to Christianity and education,” said McCall. “The illiteracy rates in the country are very high.”
He added that pastors there aren’t generally paid despite having large congregations.
Uganda’s geographical location, according to McCall, put the country in “the middle of a sea of turmoil.”
“We had slave traffic on one side of us and the Congo on the other,” said McCall. “Rwanda was to the south.”
McCall witnessed turmoil firsthand while traveling through the country.
“We had gotten into traffic in Kampala, Uganda’s largest city, when we noticed one of the country’s opposition leaders were ahead of us,” said McCall.
The scene, once people discovered the opposition leader was in that vehicle, turned ugly.
“People pulled out automatic weapons and started shooting. We were looking for an exit,” said McCall. “We later heard on the radio that people in Kampala were rioting and burning cars.”
When the group got to their second stop, they encountered yet another riot.
“We told the pastors that if the civil unrest continued, we would head to Kenya,” said McCall. “The riots ceased and we were able to finish the conference.”
McCall himself participated in two conferences during his visit. The first was held close to the Congo.
“In that one town, there were 45 tribal languages spoken,” he said.
While he was visiting that region of Uganda, he went to visit a pastor and his wife.
“The way Ugandans cook is over charcoal. There aren’t any stoves anywhere in the country,” said McCall. “I never expected to see that.”
He added that one of the marriage seminars taught the husbands to love your wives by putting chimneys in your homes.
The second seminar McCall was a part of was on stewardship.
“We taught stewardship of time, resources and money,” said McCall.
He estimated that 20,000 people will be touched by the seminars.
“The pastors who participated in the seminars understood what we were saying,” said McCall. “Some of them had to walk for days and days across jungle to be a part of the conference.”
Some of the pastors were so grateful for the teaching they received that the wrote and sang a hymn dedicated to McCall and the other pastors who led the seminars.
“In the hymn, the pastors pledged to bring the gospel to Africa and to break the barriers of the tribal system,” said McCall.
One barrier, according to McCall, that the pastors have to constantly work hard to break is that of witchcraft.
“It’s a major part of African culture,” said McCall.
One pastor that McCall talked to had planted a church next to a satanic temple and across from a cemetery.
“A witch lived in that cemetery,” McCall said. “And she came to the pastor and demanded payment for his church being across from her cemetery.”
McCall added the witch dug up a skeleton and placed it in front of the door of the church.
“The pastor told me that by the witch doing that, it was a curse that he (the pastor) would die in the week,” said McCall.
The pastor eventually burned the skeleton and the witch dropped dead three days later.
“We even met with five former witches who have given their lives to Christ,” said McCall. “Three of them are former Muslims and another once trained 40 witches before her conversion.”
Despite the poverty, political turmoil and satanic rituals that grip the country, McCall closed his presentation to his congregation by making a request.
“I want to continue working with EPI,” he said. “As I minister here in Denver, I’d like to be able to give back to both my congregation and areas like Uganda and Israel.”
by Jon Mayhew

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