Uganda The Pearl of the Middle East
It was Sir Winston Churchhill who visited Uganda and called it the Pearl of Africa. Of course when I visited Uganda in July this year I didn't know that and I wondered why it was called that. After talking with our very kind African hosts they told me that Sir Winston had visited many African nations and that this one boasted wonderful crops, good rain, was very plentiful and green and stood out to him above the other nations he had visited. I'm not sure if that was true or not, but my time there came to inspire me greatly also because of a few other things I realised.
My title to this blog is also not a mistake as you may have been wondering... I'll get to that.
Before visiting African I had been to 15 other nations and each has something to like (and some to dislike) from Haiti, the poorest and most difficult to the USA the easiest and with good food. I had heard stories of Idi Amin, Milton Obote and the AIDS epidemic which started in Uganda. Uganda in fact became known as the nursery of AIDS and I knew about all of these things. So of course I expected it to be a difficult place.
Idi Amin was muslim and started to apply Islamic laws to the nation. He disciplined as he saw fit, which often meant killing with no apparent system of justice for anyone. The nation was in a desperate way.
As I thought about other nations who had gone the way of Islam, I realised that not many, in fact none that I could think of, had every turned back from Islam. There was something about Islam as a culture and way of life that seemed to extinguish hope from the places it goes so that only it remains.
When I visited Uganda however I found a nation which was strongly Christian - over 90% of people believe in God. Islam is a shrinking force and faith in God and the gospel is growing. It was so encouraging to see.
In talking with a pastor there, he said to me that the believers of Uganda see their problems as "spiritual problems" so even though there are real issues in real circumstances, they see the real answer being one that must come by prayer. If you know a little about how this nation has overcome Islam, and is overcoming AIDS, and how they settled the issue with the Lord's Resistance Army by prayer.... then they really know how to pray and see spiritual issues resolved.
Uganda is a great nation, and a nation with a significant place in world mission. I realise this on the day we went for a trip to the source of the Nile.
It was our day off and we became tourists. At the source of the Nile we arrived in boats and saw an island in the middle of the Nile river at the mouth of Lake Victoria. On the island was a man with goats and we were told he was "practising witchcraft" by the tour guide. It slowly dawned on me that he was cursing the waters which were flowing North through sudan, egypt and into the middle east. It reminded me that a thousand years earlier it was Arabs who sailed up the nile into the centre of Africa to take slaves. Of course there are no Africans in arabia now because they castrated all the males, unlike Europeans who took slaves.
I realised that Uganda is unique - the Nile is supposed to be a source of blessing to all the land and nations to the North, but at this point it was curses flowing north and not blessings. However I realised that in just the same way that Uganda was declared the pearl of Africa.... that spiritually it was also the pearl of the middle east. As it had overcome Islam, and other problems, that this same fighting and persevering spirit was supposed to be transplanted to bring Christ to other places too.
So the work of prayer must continue and Uganda still has yet a large part to play... witchcraft must be overcome, prayer must continue and the gospel will go out to the North. Uganda is an unique and blessed nation, and the blessing must be given away for it to increase in it's blessing. I'm going to go back one day... I don't have any plans to do that, but just feel that it will happen somehow and I look forward to seeing all that God will continue to do.