Uganda Conference

Three pastors from DR Congo are visiting Sam’s church, teaching and preaching. These men are all dear friends, and I’m very glad that I can play a small role in helping them do what God is calling them to do.

Above are pastors Maskote, Bethuel, Jeremy, Sam and Damiri. Here is a quick report from Damiri:

We’ve had a great time today at the conférence. Pastor Bethuel is Teaching about Discipleship, Pastor Jeremy is teaching on Discernment, Pastor Maskote is teaching on Fellowship and I am doing Leadership. The attendance increased today and mostly pastors and church leaders. We love it.

This is a blessing for us, to be given an opportunity like this, builds us in our faith, and we come to understand that we have something very much needed elsewhere that we can share. May God bless each one that contributed to make this possible. We are very grateful.

UPDATE: Damiri sent this after the conference was over:

We are very very grateful for giving us an opportunity to minister. We had a great time ministering and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Fortportal. I have a sense that this door is not only open to Spring of Life church but to the surrounding areas as well.

The number of ministers increased, and testimonies from the attendants were powerful. Like one old man called his wife up front and asked for forgiveness to his wife and his whole family for mistreating them. He learned from the teachings that he must have a good relationship with his family. There were healings and some youth accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior.

The need for teachings is still highly needed.

I think God opened this door not only for Pastor Sam, many more ministers have benefited.

Glory be to God. Each and every one in the team says Thank you and may God bless you more for the finances and prayers for this work to be done.

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Conference in Uganda

With the help of donors from St. James United Methodist Church, we recently sponsored a leadership conference in Uganda, partnering with Pastor Sam Bahiirwa’s church. Three men from Church on the Rock, in Butembo, Congo traveled to lead the conference. It was a great success.

One of the pastors from Congo, Pastor Maskote, is a wood worker, and he also taught at a woodworking workshop we’ve sponsored.

Here are reports from Damiri Paluku (from Congo) and Sam:

From Damiri:

Hello Mike, I and Pastor Kivuya and Pastor Maskote Thank you.

We are very Grateful for each and every on that contributed by Praying and gave Finances for the Conférence in Fort Portal and made it possible for us to travel east and have a place to spend the night. May God bless each one of you and all your works.

You’ve played a Big role by enabling us to go share the word of God.

There is still a great need of Teaching. Pastors asked if we could plan to go there again. I pray that God will give us ways to specifically help Pastor Sam’s church. Both time we’ve gone there it has been for all différent churches. I think it is good sometimes to just focus on one specific church in order for Pastor Sam to benefit fully. We can still have a Teaching for leaders of many différent churches, but when we focus we can impact, in a sense that Pastor Sam can do a follow up.

Thanks once more for supporting and praying for us.

From Sam:

Am highly blessed and I feel very humble because the work you are doing here in Uganda mostly to help my calling.  It is true that I have nothing to give back to you, but let God do his will to you, only I pray blessings to you and say thank you.

I thank God for he led Pastor Damiri and others who came from Congo to teach our church and minister the word of God.

The conference started on 7th, Thursday morning the turnout was a bit low in morning because a few people came on 6th Wednesday and spend a night at church and people continue coming in the day time.

On the second day the number increased and was starting at 10am and closed at 5pm. And even these who spent the night at church were many.

The  conference was attended by Pastors and the their assistants, church elders, women leaders and other leaders of different departments in churches. The leaders came from other churches and even outside of our district.

Continue reading

Uganda and Congo

My connections with Africa continue to grow. A few days ago, here in Russia, I met with Mike Anticoli, the director of the ministry I worked with in Congo. Once again, Mike invited me to go with him to Uganda and Congo, this time at the end of May. While specifics are still being worked out, the general plan is for us to speak at conferences in both countries. In Congo, I will speak on the topic “A Biblical Understanding of Money”.

While I was in the States, I spoke about my trip to Africa and the people I met, and our Sunday School class in Athens, GA was really touched in their hearts. They and others offered funds to help the ministry, particularly the work of Sam Bahiirwa, a pastor in the mountains of Uganda, near Fort Portal. A few weeks ago, we sent money to sponsor a leadership conference at Sam’s church. We also sent funds to buy wood-working tools and Bibles as well as send several orphans to school.

I just received an update from Damiri Paluku, the bishop of several churches in Congo. Damiri is a friend who traveled with me when I was there in September. Damiri traveled to Uganda from Congo and wrote the following report about the conference we sponsored (above center, Damiri is holding a microphone):


Hello Mike,

The conference has ended. We had a Great time in the Word and the Presence of God.

People came more than we planned, we had about 40 the first day, the number increased the second day and the third day more than 70 adults were present, the church was full of people . Continue reading

African Blessing

Kasese and Butembo

I have just returned from a great trip to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (which I’ll call Congo from here on).

A Bulgarian pastor, Ilia Iliev, and I went at the invitation of Mike Anticoli, an old friend who is the director of Victory Christian Global Fellowship.

I met Mike when he lived in Russia many years ago (he performed my wedding). He later lived in Congo for several years where he founded The Church on the Rock in Butembo, Congo. Sadly, for health reasons Mike was unable to travel with us, so Ilia and I shared teaching responsibilities.

Kasese, Uganda

Me, Damiri, Ilia

I flew into Entebbe, Uganda (near Kampala) and traveled to Kasese the next day where I spoke at a conference. We took one day to go on Safari, which was very interesting. (There are pictures in the slideshow below.)

I was also happy to cross the equator; earlier this year I was above the Arctic Circle when I attended the Arctic Men’s Fellowship conference in Norway. God has moved me around quite a bit this year.

Damiri Paluku served as our host and interpreter. Damiri is bishop of the 13 daughter churches, and he’s also planting a church in Goma, Congo. Damiri and I immediately had a good connection and grew closer over time. He’s a good man doing great work.

Church on the Rock, Kasese, Uganda

The conference in Kasese was held at a daughter church of Church on the Rock. Members of several local churches attended the conference, which lasted two days. The subjects of my talks were: Two Kingdoms, Abiding in Christ, and Love & Unity.

Very few foreigners visit these churches in Uganda and Congo, and I was warmly welcomed. The people were very honored when I visited their homes, and they all treated me with great respect.

They are hungry for teaching and repeatedly asked me to return so they can receive more Bible instruction.

Butembo, Congo

On the road to Butembo

From Kasese, we drove to Butembo, Congo. That part of Congo is considered a war zone and the road we traveled is not considered to be completely safe.

There is no paved road from the border to Butembo. The road is very rough and therefore dangerous. The land is beautiful and the ride itself was quite an adventure.

Armed robbers as well as rebel militia live in the bush along the road and can at any time attack travelers. At one point we stopped because someone had reported that there might be trouble ahead. Damiri said, ‘if they start shooting at us run in any direction and be sure to have your passport on you. You’ll need it to prove you’re not a rebel’, Continue reading

To Hungary and Serbia

I’ve just returned from a trip to Budapest for a conference and a visit to Serbia where I spoke at a church.   I traveled with John Bull, a Stoneworks missionary based in St. Petersburg.  The picture above is of the Danube flowing through Budapest, taken from the Citadel overlooking the city, with the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in the background.

We attended the Free Methodist European missions conference. The European director and good friend, Jerry Coleman, invited us to attend.  We met missionaries and local leaders from 14 countries — from Bulgaria to the Canary Islands.

It was a great conference, and I’m hopeful that these new relationships will lead to future partnerships in ministry.  I was especially blessed by meeting missionaries from Ukraine and Romania.  I was also asked to play my guitar for two services, and it was good to be able to minister in that way.

We were all very encouraged in our work, and it was great to see and experience spiritual unity with brothers and sisters from so many countries.

After the conference, we drove to Batcki Petrovac, Serbia to visit a church.  Last summer I met one of the elders, Jan Dudas, in Montenegro, and he invited me to visit when I had a chance.   I was very happy to be able to speak at their church on my birthday.

Their hometown is a small farming village (about 6000 people) in north Serbia.  The town is 90% Slovak, so they all speak Slovak as well as Serbian, and quite a few people speak English as well.

This part of Serbia is a sort of Bible belt — many churches there were established over 100 years ago and survived through the communist regimes.  It reminded me of visiting believers in small farming towns in the US and Finland — people are the same all over the world it seems.

My relationship with Jan (pronounced Yahn) is very good; his family is great.  I’d love to help send a missionary there to serve that church.  Jan was the best man for Vladimir Cizmanski, a dear friend who is the pastor of the Brethren Assembly in Montenegro (where we’ve recently sent a missionary). I believe that God is setting us all together as living stones.

Olga and I hope to visit there again early next year.  Above at left I’m with John, Jan and his wife Nada, and their three children.

John and I drove quite a distance — about 1300 miles each way. We drove from the Balkans through the heart of central Europe and the Baltics: Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.

I have a sense that the Lord is calling us to do more work in that area.  It was very good to have more experience there, deepen relationships and meet new people.

It was a very blessed trip, and I look forward to seeing how God opens doors for future ministry.