Muriregye ba sebo na ba nyabo…(Good morning, gentlemen and ladies)
Baranyeta Patrick…(My name is Patrick)
Mukama asiimwe! (Praise the Lord!)
Ndikwegw’orukiga (By the way I’m learning Rukiga)
I would like to deliver this message entirely in Rukiga. The Lord has blessed me in many ways…but speaking Rukiga is not yet one of them. And Rev. Bugaba said I did not have all day to tell my story.
I am very happy to be back in Bwindi and to worship with you. When I drove here from Kihihi a few days ago, I felt as if I had been gone for three weeks, instead of 10 months. I feel very comfortable here in Bwindi.
Nimpurirra nshemerirwe mononga. (I feel very happy)’
Let me begin my story by saying I have been in the church my whole life. My father was a reverend in the Anglican Church in the US. As a boy I was active in the church, as an acolyte and in the choir. God marked me as one of his own.
As I grew older, into my 20s, God was not as important in my life. I was too busy building a career and supporting a wife.
It would last until my son, Dan, was born. A divine gift..another life not my own to care for and love. It was then God returned front and center into my life.
It is by God’s grace that I am standing here. My life’s plan did not include a trip to Africa until two years ago, when I went to South Sudan. I was in my mid-50s.
Right now, Bwindi is where I want to be.
For a change, I am living in the present, the here-and-now.
It hasn’t always been this way.
Paul tells us in Chapter 12 of Romans: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…his good pleasing and perfect will!
For most of my adult life I chased the American dream. That is a me-first proposition: Get a good education, take steps to further career, promote to better jobs, and gain new skills. God was not first in my life.
As young people beginning your careers I am sure you know what I mean.
In America, the work I did was how I defined myself and how society defined me. I was a TV sportscaster, a news producer, a civil servant worker. Only on Sunday would anyone call me a “child of God.”
On the “other side,” you meet someone and the first thing you ask is “what do you do?” You make a judgment of that person. Is he or she a doctor, a nurse, an administrator, or an athlete? It is as if we are human doings…rather than human beings.
Defining myself by what I do is a road to frustration.
Though prayer and scripture, I have been transformed. In the past, I would ask the Lord to bless my plans. See…God…I have this great idea. Would you bless it for me?
Today my priorities have changed. I do not seek to be first in my life. The old Patrick is falling away. Instead I am born again. I turn to God. I seek to be in alignment with God’s long-held plan for me. For if it is God’s plan it is already blessed. Because of that, I am more fulfilled and happy than ever.
It would not be my plan to travel to Uganda. Twice! My vision is small and limited. But the Lord removed the scales from my eyes. His plan for you and me is magnificent.
As the writer in 2 Peter put it: “… make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Peter 1:5-10 ESV)
I have a new focus: I am being directed and corrected by the Holy Spirit, with whom I have constant fellowship. I serve the Lord out of gratitude, in thanks for his faithfulness. I share my life with you and am interested in your lives…and those of others half a world away from home.
Earlier this year I traveled with a team of pastors, and doctors from Northern California to Amman, Jordan, where, as the lead pastor put it, we would “share in the pain of others.”
For a week we fellowshipped with refugees from Syria. We met with families in their apartments. Doctors examined adults and children, reviewed their prescriptions. These people have suffered greatly and have left their country with little more than the clothes on their backs. This is a humanitarian disaster.
Despite the hardship, and chaos that I witnessed, the spirit of Jesus was there…in our presence, in our prayers for our Muslim brothers and sisters. These people may not have a home, but they have hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they know as the prophet Issa in the Qu’ran.
Mukama asiimwe! (Praise the Lord)
Hope is what I see and experience in abundance at BCH. The sick are being comforted and made well by your medical delivery system. Your operations continue to have an impact in Buhoma, Kanungu and beyond.
Let me close now with this prayer: Heavenly Father, breathe your holy spirit on Bwindi Community Hospital. Bless the men and women who serve BCH with compassion for others. Multiply their efforts, Lord, to restore health to those who suffer or ache this day.
Mukama nimarungi! Ebiro biyona (God is good!! All the time)