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.
Heâ€™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.
â€œIt was part of a larger group called Equipping Pastors International (EPI),â€ he said.
According to McCall, EPI had a vision several years ago to travel into third world countries and train pastors already there.
â€œThe group had approached me several times before I decided to go with them into Africa,â€ he said.
McCall was part of a team of five that went to the country from Nov. 5 to Nov. 20.
â€œWe trained over 600 pastors in how to minister to their churches,â€ said McCall. â€œSome of these churches have more than 2,000 members. The Church is spreading faster in Uganda than even in China.â€
The first things he noticed upon arriving in Uganda is how poor the countryâ€™s people were and how the political strife was tearing the country apart.
â€œAs poor as these people are, they are dedicated to Christianity and education,â€ said McCall. â€œThe illiteracy rates in the country are very high.â€
He added that pastors there arenâ€™t generally paid despite having large congregations.
Ugandaâ€™s geographical location, according to McCall, put the country in â€œthe middle of a sea of turmoil.â€
â€œWe had slave traffic on one side of us and the Congo on the other,â€ said McCall. â€œRwanda was to the south.â€
McCall witnessed turmoil firsthand while traveling through the country.
â€œWe had gotten into traffic in Kampala, Ugandaâ€™s largest city, when we noticed one of the countryâ€™s opposition leaders were ahead of us,â€ said McCall.
The scene, once people discovered the opposition leader was in that vehicle, turned ugly.
â€œPeople pulled out automatic weapons and started shooting. We were looking for an exit,â€ said McCall. â€œWe later heard on the radio that people in Kampala were rioting and burning cars.â€
When the group got to their second stop, they encountered yet another riot.
â€œWe told the pastors that if the civil unrest continued, we would head to Kenya,â€ said McCall. â€œThe riots ceased and we were able to finish the conference.â€
McCall himself participated in two conferences during his visit. The first was held close to the Congo.
â€œIn that one town, there were 45 tribal languages spoken,â€ he said.
While he was visiting that region of Uganda, he went to visit a pastor and his wife.
â€œThe way Ugandans cook is over charcoal. There arenâ€™t any stoves anywhere in the country,â€ said McCall. â€œI never expected to see that.â€
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.
â€œWe taught stewardship of time, resources and money,â€ said McCall.
He estimated that 20,000 people will be touched by the seminars.
â€œThe pastors who participated in the seminars understood what we were saying,â€ said McCall. â€œSome of them had to walk for days and days across jungle to be a part of the conference.â€
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.
â€œIn the hymn, the pastors pledged to bring the gospel to Africa and to break the barriers of the tribal system,â€ said McCall.
One barrier, according to McCall, that the pastors have to constantly work hard to break is that of witchcraft.
â€œItâ€™s a major part of African culture,â€ said McCall.
One pastor that McCall talked to had planted a church next to a satanic temple and across from a cemetery.
â€œA witch lived in that cemetery,â€ McCall said. â€œAnd she came to the pastor and demanded payment for his church being across from her cemetery.â€
McCall added the witch dug up a skeleton and placed it in front of the door of the church.
â€œThe pastor told me that by the witch doing that, it was a curse that he (the pastor) would die in the week,â€ said McCall.
The pastor eventually burned the skeleton and the witch dropped dead three days later.
â€œWe even met with five former witches who have given their lives to Christ,â€ said McCall. â€œThree of them are former Muslims and another once trained 40 witches before her conversion.â€
Despite the poverty, political turmoil and satanic rituals that grip the country, McCall closed his presentation to his congregation by making a request.
â€œI want to continue working with EPI,â€ he said. â€œAs I minister here in Denver, Iâ€™d like to be able to give back to both my congregation and areas like Uganda and Israel.â€
by Jon Mayhew