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Acts 29 says, “And he saw a man from Karamoja saying, ‘Come over and help us.’ Immediately we endeavored to go into Karamoja, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them.”
For those of you who don’t know, there are only twenty-eight chapters in the book of Acts. So, the previous paragraph is not in your Bible. But Acts 28 is not the end of the book of Acts. It is still being written today through us. And I believe I have a Karamoja call just as surely as Paul had a Macedonia call in Acts 16:9-10. Let me explain.
I started supporting a missionary in Uganda in the early 1990s. This led to our students taking missions trips to Uganda, and eventually, a number of them moved there. One of our graduates, Leland Shores, took our Discipleship Evangelism course and started discipling 800 pastors, who in turn discipled around 150,000 people in their churches. The second wave of this Discipleship Evangelism course had 2,000 pastors, with around 500,000 in their churches being discipled. And the third, fourth, fifth, etc., generations of discipleship are continuing today.
In 2004, I started broadcasting on Lighthouse Television from Kampala, Uganda. A good friend of mine, Pastor Bob Nichols from Fort Worth, Texas, bought the station and has turned it into a tool that reaches about half the population of Uganda. It is a 50,000-watt station that broadcasts on a television tower originally erected by the Chinese Communists for Idi Amin to broadcast his propaganda. I’ve broadcasted the Gospel Truthon that station twice each day for around eight years.
Also in 2004, we also established a bookstore in downtown Kampala at the busiest intersection in the city. There are probably 10,000 people who walk right by that location each day. We have averaged 25 people coming to the Lord and many more receiving prayer and the baptism of the Holy Spirit each week over all these years. It’s a tremendous tool.
Leland also opened an office for Andrew Wommack Ministries of Uganda and a Charis Bible College. We had 141 students in our inaugural class. Sadly, we had to close the college at the end of 2011 because of Leland’s death. But the Lord has now raised up new leadership, and we just reopened our college at the end of January with over 150 students.
All of this is to say we have roots in Uganda and are there to stay. In a meeting with President Museveni, he told me that we are different than other American ministries that have come to his country: Others hold crusades and then leave, while we have boots on the ground, which shows our love and commitment to these people. We are heavily invested in Uganda.
My Karamoja Call
In October of 2012, I ministered in Kampala and helped restart the Bible college. Then I travelled to the northeast part of Uganda with Pastor Francis. He is from southwestern Uganda and was in our first group of disciples. He was miraculously healed of a terminal cancer on his neck – without surgery or medicine. He has now personally discipled over 300 ministers with some of them having seen the dead raised through their ministries. I’ve supported him for four years on five daily radio stations, where he teaches our Discipleship Evangelism course. It’s reaching thousands.
Karamoja is remote and isolated. For years, there was terrible fighting going on, and it was basically lawless. Until the Ugandan government sent in troops just a few years ago, people were killing one another because of cattle rustling. We still had to have a military escort to go to this area, but it is relatively safe now.
One of the pastors we met there was Pastor Peter who, just a few years ago, was murdering people to steal their animals. He got saved and took his rifle to the authorities and told them he wouldn’t need it anymore. I went with him to his village, called Lodoi. It was about five or six miles outside of a primitive town called Moroto.
This area is very different from the rest of Uganda. It’s been isolated because of the violence, and the people are living as their ancestors did a thousand years ago. Instead of individual houses like the rest of Uganda, they live in circular villages of 200 or so. This is for safety because of all the fighting. For defence, each village is surrounded with huge thorn branches woven into hedges with small three-feet-tall openings.
We went to this village of Lodoi and met the chief, or elder, of this village. He was thrilled that we came and gave me his staff and stool. This reminded me of David Livingstone, who had a chief give him a staff, which opened up all of Africa to him. This was very significant to them.
I went into a couple of their grass huts. They are just sticks with thatch covering the sticks. The first hut was a two-level hut only eight feet in diameter, and the doorway was about three feet tall. The inside of the hut was only four feet tall because of the second level above. A family of ten lived in the bottom portion. There was no need for closets, because they have nothing. In fact, some of the pictures I took turned out to be X-rated because they don’t all wear clothes.
When we entered the first hut, a fire was going where a dozen rats had just been roasted. A crude plough was in there and some sleeping mats. And outside of a couple of pots, these were all the worldly possessions this family had.
The children had the extended bellies caused by malnutrition and contaminated water. I was overwhelmed with the hopelessness of their lives. It appeared to me that their total focus was trying to find enough food to survive that day. They are only a step away from death at any time. They are basically shepherds, but the fighting has killed all the cattle. Now all they have are very small and thin goats. It’s a meagre existence.
I shared the Gospel with about a hundred people who gathered. They had some knowledge of the Gospel because Pastor Peter had gone back and shared with them, but it was difficult at best to minister to them. They don’t have a clue what exists outside of a few-mile radius of their village. They didn’t know what crucifixion was. They don’t know what the Bible is. I was told that just a few more miles into the bush from this village, many have never heard the name of Jesus. They still believe in all the pagan practices of their ancestors.
I shared as best I could and gave an invitation to which about fifty people responded. I ministered to them through an interpreter and then had Pastor Peter and others talk to each one who made a decision. They started bringing their babies up to me with malnutrition and diseases and wanted me to lay my hands on them. I did, but I felt so helpless.
My ministry is a teaching ministry. I don’t just pray for a person; I teach them how to pray and believe and receive for themselves. As we left that village, I felt I had to do something to reach these people with the knowledge of God and His Word so they could change their situation. We discussed this on the ride back to Moroto, and I believe that the Lord gave us supernatural direction on how to reach this whole region.
I turned to Pastor Francis for help. I told him I just couldn’t leave these people as they were and asked if he could help. The timing was perfect. This year is the twenty-fifth year that Pastor Francis has pastored in Kasese. Last summer, the Lord told him that starting in 2013, he was to turn his church over to an associate and start travelling and teaching the Discipleship Evangelism course full time. This was all ordered of the Lord. So, in January of 2013, Pastor Francis came to work for me to help me reach the people of Karamoja.
There are approximately 1.8 million people living in 5,000 small villages like the one I visited. Many of them are more remote and have never even heard of Jesus. There is no electricity, running water, electronics, or many things most of us take for granted. But they are hungry for and open to the Gospel.
Pastor Francis has a pastor friend in Moroto named Robert. I spoke at his church, and we shared our plans with him. He has been in that area for twelve years. There were fewer than 200 Christians in the whole region when he came. Now he has established twenty-two churches over a large area with around 2,000 believers in the region.
In January, Pastor Francis started traveling to the Karamoja region and using Discipleship Evangelism to train around a hundred believers from these twenty-two churches. He teaches four or five lessons over a couple of days and then sends the disciples out in groups with the “JESUS” film in the language of these people. We have already purchased three “JESUS” films, along with solar generators and projection screens. This is going to be a big thing to most of these people who have never seen a movie before. I believe this could draw every person in the entire village to come and see this new thing. It ought to be quite the event for them.
But more importantly, this will give them some frame of reference as to who Jesus is and what He did. They will understand what crucifixion is and why Jesus died for them. It will show Jesus triumphing over death. Immediately after the film, an invitation will be given, and I expect a mighty harvest for the Lord.
Thankfully, it doesn’t end there. Every few weeks, Pastor Francis will travel back to these areas and give the disciples the next few lessons of the Discipleship Evangelism course. Then they will go out and begin the discipleship process with these new converts. Pastor Francis has modified the program so the pastors are graded on their discipleship efforts in these villages. It will be a one-and-a-half-year process to take these pastors and their disciples through the whole program.
We have a plan that will allow us to reach all 1.8 million of these villagers with the Gospel in three years. I don’t know exactly how many will commit to the Lord and how many will ultimately become disciples, but I know it’s going to be big. Our Kampala Bible college will take their missions trips to Karamoja, supplying hundreds more laborers into the harvest field. And I believe there is much more we can do.
Jamie and I visited with James and Betty Robinson at their home this last summer. We have helped them drill many water wells in Africa. I believe I can partner with James or some other ministry to start providing some of these necessities for these people.
But I am going to keep the main thing the main thing. I’m a minister, called to teach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Discipleship is going to be the thrust of all my efforts. But as we make inroads with the Gospel, we can partner with others to help in more physical ways as well.
And one of the amazing things about all of this is it only takes $4,000 per month for this Karamoja project. That covers paying Pastor Francis a salary, travel expenses, and the purchase of the “JESUS” films and generators. We put another $16,000 per month into our Bible college, television broadcasts, and downtown bookstore. Altogether we are impacting tens of millions of people in Uganda in a way that could literally change that nation.
I am humbled and so grateful that the Lord has given me this honor of reaching out to all of these precious people. Uganda is in revival. In fact, President Museveni just recently publicly repented for all his sins and those of his predecessors and dedicated the nation of Uganda to the Lord. The Lord has positioned us to be a big part of what He is doing in that nation.