Church Planting International led its first short-term missions team to Uganda, Oct. 22-Nov. 2. Steven and Christy Shepard arrived a week ahead of the team and hosted a training conference for Christian leaders at Calvary Worship Center in Kampala, the home church of co-worker Michael Dikatali. After the rest of our 13-member team arrived, we traveled six hours to the Bundibugyo District, a mountainous region of Uganda bordering Congo, where we began ministry in the small village of Bundimulombi, a remote mountain community of 2,800 people. Pastor Michael also went with us and served as our guide.
When we first arrived in Bundimulombi, we were treated to an unforgettable welcoming ceremony by the students of God’s Mercy School. Founded by pastor and CPI co-worker Isaac Mugisa, God’s Mercy provides Christian education for 235 children ages pre-school through high school. Currently, the classrooms at God’s Mercy are stick huts with dirt floors, many of which only have partially covered walls of mud. Part of our mission was to construct the school’s first brick classroom building. As a result of the exploratory trip in 2014, CPI initiated a feeding program which provides lunches for the children. Many of the children were coming to school without breakfast and were having difficulty concentrating on their studies.
Over the course of seven days, our team hosted children’s programs, women’s ministries, a three-day training conference for church leaders, and a medical clinic that treated approximately 300 individuals. Members of our team also visited homes to pray for families and deliver basic supplies. On Sunday we attended three worship services at churches planted throughout the region by Pastor Isaac. Our team members preached God’s Word, shared testimonies, and our newly formed and unrehearsed “Uganda Missions Choir” sang hymns. CPI also provided about 300 books for church leaders along with 82 copies of the New Testament, recently published in the local tribal language of Lubwisi.
This was the first trip to Africa for the majority of the CPI team members. The Ugandan culture and precious people left an unforgettable impression on us all. I was specifically touched by the humility and gratitude of our Ugandan brothers and sisters in Christ. They have very few resources, yet are so grateful for what they have and use it to serve the Lord faithfully. From seeing groups of believers meet in churches with dirt floors, some without access to electricity and some even without walls, I was moved by how fancy buildings and elaborate programming didn’t define their churches — instead they were defined by love, fellowship and corporate worship of our Heavenly Father.