When I returned to Uganda in August, I felt many of the same emotions that clouded the early trips. It didn’t hit me quite so soon, because when you drive from Entebbe in the south to Bombo in north, there is a new by-pass road around downtown Kampala. It wide and smooth.
The by-pass road does end, however, and you return to the two-lane road all the way to Bombo. Those first few miles are crowded with pedestrians and small motorcycles zigzagging through the cars and semi’s – all in a hurry. The motorcycles can carry furniture or multiple passengers, but they still weave in and out. The road is lined with small shops selling things we would never buy. There are some good deals on water and sodas and things, and so many pharmacies. And churches.
Welcome to the hustle and bustle of humanity. There are ditches where we would build sidewalks. You can buy groceries and very fresh beef or pork or chicken. You share the road with semi’s. People meander through traffic to cross the street. People are everywhere. And it is that stew of humanity and modern life which can be overwhelming, at least to me. The scene is so different from anything in the world in which I live. But it is vintage urban Uganda.
I think it is the poverty and apparent lack of hope that can get to me. But that is only my perspective. I forget that God is at work among these people and though this poverty. He has been at work long before I ever visited Uganda. And that will not change.
I must fight the urge to believe that the poor are poor because they are less spiritual than the rest of us. That concept comes from the health-and-wealth gospel, which needs to be rebuked in all of its forms. The poor could be poor due to injustice committed against them. Or the weather. Poverty is complex.
But what I cannot conclude is that my economic superiority goes hand in hand with my spiritual superiority. That’s a lie. Spiritual maturity does not necessarily lead to financial prosperity. And God can use the materially poor, people more visibly broken than I am, to teach me about my own brokenness. That’s the genius of traveling to Bombo. You experience your own brokenness and learn that ministry that helps only happens when you serve out of your own brokenness. I am broken, they are broken, so let’s serve together.
The believers in Bombo, often experience a far deeper intimacy with God than we may ever have. Why? Because they must depend on God much more than us, sometimes even for daily bread. How about you?