Well, it’s Monday evening now, I’ve spent the day with Pastor Moses and the incredible servants at the Gloryland orphanage and school in Mubende, Uganda, met more brethren from around the country and eaten some things I’ve never eaten before—and yes, that was a bit risky on my part after having had the debilitating stomach issues on Saturday.
I was involved in a discussion here with a group of pastors this past evening where I was asked a question I’ve never had to personally face in all the years I’ve preached and taught but for which I should have been prepared because Rebecca Archer had told me how the pastors here answered this issue. I was sure their response was not God’s will, but I hadn’t given further consideration to the question. Again, I was blessed and amazed as I simply heard scriptures placed in the forefront of my mind which make the answer quite obvious. The question: “How do you deal with polygamy?”
The pastors here have been dealing with it by ignoring it: Not ignoring the question but ignoring the situation by NOT teaching polygamists. Because they couldn’t see an answer to the dilemma they simply walked away from any teaching opportunity that involved polygamists.
I’m attaching the answer which I have now written out for them and I would appreciate any feedback any of you back home have to offer on this topic or my answer. Seriously, I invite your feedback. But basically, when they inquired of me, I felt the Spirit speak to me three scriptures: Judges 11: 30-40, Numbers 30: 1-4, and Deuteronomy 23: 21-23. I’m sure I’ve not read or considered any of these scriptures in a year or two—or more—they weren’t passages that should have readily come to my mind. Yet they did. Thus I’m convinced God placed these passages in the front of my mind for a reason. But understand: He didn’t give me an answer, just these scriptures, the conclusion I drew from these particular scriptures was my own. I’m interested in knowing whether you would have drawn the same conclusion from the same scriptures being placed in your mind at the moment you were asked this question. (btw—I didn’t answer immediately. I asked a return question so they spoke for a few minutes while I weighed these passages and considered the implications to this topic.) And I ask for your feedback because I WILL BE FACED WITH THIS QUESTION REPEATEDLY HERE, and I’m here to be training pastors so my teaching will be shaping the future of multiple churches in both nations for years to come; this isn’t a light responsibility I’ve assumed here. It is more than a little intimidating and LOT humbling, especially as it has been several years since I’ve taught regularly.
I’m coming back inserting this paragraph after I completed the letter because of the experience I just now had. I took the file I’ve attached here addressing polygamy around the corner from my hotel where there is an Internet Café so that I could print copies for two of the pastors returning to Kenya in the morning after breakfast together and for pastor Moses. I had gone earlier but the power was out there so they asked me to come back again in a couple of hours—this is Africa—so I returned and they had electricity and I got my lesson printed. The owner of the shop saw on the screen what I was printing and asked, “Is that a Biblical response ‘On Polygamy’; are you a pastor?” And the discussion was on! He wanted copies of it and even saved the file on his own computer so that he could share it with his pastor and they could pass it on. So, please, if you have some feedback or suggestions for me, get them to me quickly!
Ok, I’ll await your feedback on the above question, but don’t delay as I’ll be moving to my next destination in two days!
Now, to the current…
I experienced a Sunday yesterday like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life up until now. And let me tell you, this was much like I’m told ‘crack’ is, it can be addicting with the first use!
We started at 9:00 AM, and I had been told I was preaching the main sermon during their primary time. They didn’t tell me that meant I would be the 3rd preacher. And the 5th. They didn’t even tell me until after I had preached the first time that I was to preach again. The quirky part of my mind says they were withholding that commitment until they experienced what the first time was like… waiting to see if they wanted to listen to me twice.
When we finished our assembly and they dropped me back at my hotel, it was just as those of you at Dayspring were beginning worship. We are 8 hours ahead of you, so that means it was 6:30 PM here! We had just gone 9½ hours with a brief break for lunch. And when I say 9½ hours, I mean the most intense, challenging, edifying, uplifting, emotionally charged 9½ hours I’ve ever experienced. Everything in their assembly other than a few of the songs was bilingual as about 80% of the people speak English but about 20% speak only Lugandan.
They were singing as we walked in, and yes, I was arriving with a group of pastors apparently late to church. (or as one of them said, right on time, “African time”) We took our places and I must say I’m still not sure about the honor they bestowed upon me. They had special seats set up at the front along one side for the visiting pastors, mine was in the center and draped with white lace as was the table in front of me upon which they placed my Bible and a bottle of cold water. (they don’t ordinarily drink cold water here, but had already learned I do) When I say “placed my Bible”, I mean I was met by a usher who hurried out to our van and took my Bible from me as I opened the door to get out—we had a little tug-of-war for a moment until I realized this was a special courtesy—and he carried it ahead of me to place it on my table and indicate where I was to preach. When I got up to preach he was there a breath ahead of my movement and seized my Bible again, and just to prove I’m a slow learner we had another brief tug-of-war before I yielded it to him, to carry it up to the pulpit and place it there before me, placing my water bottle on a shelf in the pulpit. After the service closed, the usher was there to gather my Bible and notes and put them inside my Bible case and zip it up to carry out to the van for me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he zipped it from the wrong end. Just kidding.
But that unusual cultural courtesy aside, the service itself was overwhelmingly moving. It flowed quickly through fantastic singing—I couldn’t spot a person there not totally immersed in their praise as the tin roof on this little church building was rattled. Only about 200 could fit inside and crowds gathered at the back outside the opened wide double doors (garage door size) and out the side of the building outside the main entrance. And the people outside in the dusty yard were singing and dancing at the top of their lungs as well. It was in the middle of the first song that I thought of Kellie and asked, “How would she like to be here?” and I started weeping at the thought; I’ve never seen people so pouring themselves into praise and I know she would have felt more at home there than she does anywhere she has ever worshiped. Her response when I related this to her was that she doesn’t think she could survive if it is that intense and goes for that long! But as I reminded her there were 5 sermons; two shorter ones (about half an hour each) and two longer ones of a full hour each (as I was instructed to preach). Then the singing was itself in sections as the Gloryland children sang three separate sets of traditional African praise songs complete with tribal attire and drums and they did one dramatic song that was so moving many of the children in the assembly were crying with broken hearts as they watched and listened. One little two year old boy was so moved by the drama that he came running up to the front and knelt down beside a boy playing the part of a hurt child (complete with bleeding wounds and bandages) and sought to comfort him. The older children just stood transfixed weeping even as most of the adults were deeply moved as well. The difference was the adults could remind themselves this was “just” a dramatic presentation while the children were swept up in it as reality.
There were also times when people came up to testify, to address questions to the pastor after a sermon—yes, they really do that—or for prayers. During one time as people were offering testimonies, others were coming up placing folded slips of paper in Pastor Moses hand. He wasn’t paying them any attention, just receiving them so it really made me curious. It turned out that they were requests for special music from specific people. He shuffled them all around drew one out and opened it and called out the request and a beautiful little 4 year old girl came up and sang a worship song with a gorgeous voice. So, while I was assuring Kellie that she could survive 9½ hours of an intense assembly, I had to admit I was the most emotionally exhausted I had ever been after worship.
I do want to add that I have often been moved at Dayspring by Michelle Lillis’ free interpretive dancing in worship. I have told her several times I envy her the freedom she feels to dance like that and I would love to feel that I could do the same. But part of my restraint is also that I know what I look like and there is no way that my dancing would inspire anyone. So, as I was preparing for this trip and having seen some of the videos that Tony and Rebecca had taken while they were here, I had determined that if they were dancing here I was going to dance with them. I told Michelle I would and she even prayed for my feet that they might be loosed to dance before God. I had also told Rebecca and some others that I intended to allow myself that freedom. Well… “IF” shouldn’t have been in my statement, the church is dancing constantly! Men and women, boys and girls. And I didn’t even realize I was dancing with them until I thought the little table where my Bible and water bottle were was in my way. So, Michelle, my feet were freed! And my heart rejoiced.
But that wasn’t the half of it… I haven’t been sure I was going to share this until this moment… during one of the more vigorous of the traditional tribal dances (Rebecca, it’s the one where they wear the fur things that shake as they do.) as the Gloryland orphans were dancing their hearts out and bare feet were slapping up a dust storm on the concrete, one little boy of about 10 danced right over to the table in front of me and reached over, took my water bottle out of my and sat it down, took me by the hand and insisted (believe me, I resisted for a few moments) I come out onto the floor with him and dance. Their smiles were all brilliant but he had been absolutely glowing every time he came near me and there was simply no way I could refuse him. So, there I was out on the floor with him, my big feet slapping the concrete as I crouched and shimmied and swayed—and I can guarantee you from the response of the whole church that I looked absolutely ridiculous. The kids were still praising God in their song but most of the adults were just roaring with laughter as they jumped and clapped and pointed.
The fatted calf, the robe, the shoes, the ring,
All for me, unworthy son.
But sweeter than these, the most wonderful thing,
God ran to meet me, I saw God run!
As I spoke that poem I realized, and so spoke, that when that young boy had danced over there with that smile across his entire face and his eyes dancing as beautifully as his feet, I knew I could not do anything but make his joy complete and I willingly sacrificed my dignity for his joy. At that the entire congregation of adults leapt to their feet cheering and applauding the point that love overwhelms our dignity and that God loves us like that.
INCREDIBLE is the only word I can think of to describe the day.
I came in, undressed and bathed, sat down in a chair and realized I couldn’t call Kellie for a couple of hours and promptly fell asleep in the chair. Then, after we got off the phone I never even turned the lights on in my room (nightfall had overtaken me during the phone call) but went directly to bed and slept for 11 hours!!!
A crowd was waiting for me downstairs for breakfast; I was an hour late after oversleeping… but that rooster was still crowing at 9:00 AM that I know from the night before starts at 5:00 AM. I was just too dead to this world to hear him this morning, I guess.
May God continue to bless you and I ask that you keep me in your prayers!
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.