long-term partnership (unedited)

(this post is unedited and may not be completely coherent due to lack of sufficient sleep…)

The relationship between CrossPoint Baptist Church and Bugiri Baptist Church began in 2008 via IMB missionary-to-Uganda, Vernon Sivage. How the relationship came to be is a testimony to the deep reaches of God’s Providence (as are all healthy relationships), and will require another blog post.

Bugiri Baptist has an impressive infrastructure held together by a congregation dedicated to the glory of God and the good of Bugiri-town and beyond. This infrastructure is a testimony to Pastor George’s spiritual maturity, leadership skills, and financial independence (he is full-time employee of the local government). In a landscape covered by weak Gospel-centric preaching (which produces unhealthy congregations!) and the false-Gospel teaching of prosperity, Bugiri Baptist is an anomaly. But it should be the norm. And it can be…with long-term partnerships. Bugiri Baptist Church has not always been healthy. This level of spiritual health is fairly new, circa 2010/2011.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011, CrossPoint Baptist sent a mission team to assist Bugiri Baptist in equipping the saints and serving the community. The CrossPoint Baptist teams were paired with Bugiri Baptist ministry leaders who also served as interpreters. Both congregations combined resources to advance the Gospel through pastors’ conference, children’s program (VBS-type), door-to-door evangelism, primary and secondary school visits to donate school supplies, and visiting the local prison and hospital. At the schools, the administrators demanded the Gospel be presented to the students. At the prison, the team brought blankets, mats, washing buckets and soap for each prisoner and prison staff member. [There are no dorm rooms or bunks at the prison; each person sleeps on the floor.] At the (surprisingly unsanitary) hospital, the team prayed and gave gifts of sugar and soap to each patient and nurse in the name of Jesus.

The first time Pastor George and Bugiri Baptist had been to the schools, prison and hospital was during the mission week of 2009. Hopefully you can connect the dots to see the necessity and benefits of an almost four-year partnership.

In 2011, CrossPoint Baptist voted to send its mission pastor and twenty percent of the congregation to replant Grace Baptist Church.

Also occurring in 2010/2011 was a development at Bugiri Baptist. Pastor George pulled his ministry leaders together and said, “We cannot take a mission team to the USA, but we can take a mission team to our area.” They began to “take trips” to the surrounding villages and pockets of immigrants/refugees taking residence in Bugiri, advancing the Gospel through door-to-door evangelism, children’s programs and public worship services. Knowing about the Grace Baptist replant, Bugiri Baptist also sent one of their own to replant Izidra Baptist Church, a congregation that dwindled down to three people and now has twenty-five gathering to pray (that’s another blog post as well).

The relationship between CrossPoint and Bugiri Baptist is a gospel partnership. It is a long-term gospel partnership. We did not throw money at a congregation and say, “God bless.” We committed for long-term. We did send money to put on a roof, establish a child support center, fund ministry supplies; but we also sent people to be equippers and examples of faithful Gospel ministry. In turn, we learned so much about Gospel ministry that we could not have learned within our own cultural context. Christians all over the city, state, nation and world are co-labourers with Christ. CrossPoint refreshes the hearts of the Bugiri Baptist saints and Bugiri Baptist refreshes the hearts of the CrossPoint saints. The Unifier of both congregations is the Holy Spirit, working to magnify the Son, Jesus, in Bugiri, Baton Rouge and all over the world. Both congregations have learned so much from the other. The influence of one congregation can be found in the other. This is God’s design in a long-term partnership (similar patterns of disciple-making). Christ is exalted when people, united by God’s Spirit, work together for the gospel.

There is great need in Uganda for long-term partnerships. Congregations in the US have what congregations in Third World do not. [I don’t like the phrase “Developing Nation” in lieu of “Third World Country” – it’s too optimistic in most cases, IMHO).

I love being with Christians who are taking their first trip beyond the border of the United States. You can see in their eyes the process of anxiety, discovery and then finally, delight.

Living for God’s glory and the good of others is so rewarding, just the way God designed it to be. Plus, there’s a great perk: experiencing and enjoying the Gospel in a multi-ethnic context gives one a delicious foretaste of heaven.