FOR WHAT is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy" (1 Thess. 2:19, 20).
The greatest lasting joy a true evangelist experiences is in winning souls to be presented before the Lord at His coming. Those of us engaged in public evangelism in Uganda have decided to leave no stone unturned, no house unentered, and no means unused to gain this joy. From the president, a national of Uganda, down to the church member in the smallest church, we hunger for souls. In this independent state, with 7 million people, Adventists number 6,372 only. What a challenge!
One of the most recent spiritual attacks took place on Mbarara, a town situated 167 miles from the city of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and forty miles from our big Ankole mission hospital. This town, with a population of 20,000 people, is the seat of the omugabe of Ankole (king of Ankole), and therefore the headquarters of his government. In the past the Banyankole people were predominantly Bantu cattle keepers; today many have turned to peasant agricultural farming. They are a religious-minded tribe and for that we thank the Lord.
Just before the campaign started on March 20, 1966, I was introduced to a well-educated young minister of 26 years serving in the Church of Uganda (Episcopalian). The minister was looking for answers to the questions of adult baptism, baptism by immersion, the Sabbath, and the whereabouts of the righteous dead. Serious, thought-provoking Bible studies were conducted, and both this minister and his wife accepted the message, were baptized, and are now teaching at one of our schools. Such news is good news and encourages us all.
During the campaign the message reached a young woman running a small bar. She, together with her brother, who is now preparing to be a colporteur, accepted the gospel of Christ. She has been called from being a beer seller to being a children's dressmaker, and was baptized. We thank God for these souls.
Just about the close of the nightly meetings a church member living some 16 miles from the effort site came and asked me to visit him and talk with the villagers. A day was arranged. Another evangelist and I visited the brother as planned and to our amazement we found a whole village gathered to see us, to hear us, to be taught, and to be enrolled in the baptismal class. At the close of the lovely day-long meetings out of the 30 present, 16 joined the baptismal class. The next Sabbath six more joined the 16. Thus the life of a faithful brother has been instrumental in changing a village. This service to the Master causes us to rejoice.
At the close of the meetings we had 70 decisions to join the church, 30 of whom have been baptized at time of writing. Fifty-seven others, including 22 from the village of Brother Katende, are being prepared for baptism. That which brought joy to all who participated in the effort is that (1) some backsliders were reclaimed, (2) some die-hards were reached, (3) those who knew Christ learned to love Him more, (4) those who knew not Christ learned to know Him, (5) and a beautiful church in which the new members can worship is now under construction.