Our Africa updates are often filled with the encouraging news of baptisms, conversion testimonies, churches growing spiritually, and pastors being trained in biblical truth. But church-planting has hard moments of deep pain also. The first discipline case of a beloved member by a new church is one such moment. Pastor Bill Issa of Kampala, Uganda shares a sad story in his recent report:
“Lest they sit back and relax as God is blessing His work at Reconciliation Baptist Church, we always warn our church members that ‘The Enemy will never stand somewhere with his hands folded watching people plan to destroy his kingdom. He will always raise dust in fighting against the work in various ways.’
In 2007, I was employed as a teacher of Swahili at a secondary school in Kampala. Among my many students in that school was a certain ‘Joe.’ I taught there for two years and left that school for a better paying school, then later left teaching altogether for pastoral work. In 2013, when we started reforming our Pentecostal church, I was busy preaching the ‘new’ biblical gospel to my students. Providentially, the Lord made me and ‘Joe’ meet on the way and we talked together. I used that opportunity to share the gospel with him.
“I’m a born-again Christian.” said ‘Joe.’ “But to be sincere, I’m hearing this kind of gospel for the first time today! I find it a bit strange but interesting. I need to visit you so that I ask some questions.” he concluded. We made an appointment and parted. After a few days, ‘Joe’ came to visit me and we spent the whole day talking about different biblical doctrines. Our talk did not leave ‘Joe’ the same! He started questioning his salvation and his Pentecostal pastor. To cut the story short, ‘Joe’ ended by joining RBC and we all witnessed change in his life. He has been one of the most humble brothers in our church.
Fast forward to 2017, when Pastor Sam Oluoch, our overseeing pastor from Kisumu, Kenya, came to constitute RBC. ‘Joe’ managed to pass through Sam’s interview questions to become one of the first members of our new church.
It was last year, 2018, when I first heard some shocking rumors concerning ‘Joe’ going to buy prostitutes in a suburb neighboring where the church is renting. I first didn’t believe the news! But we applied the procedure of Matthew 18. ‘Joe’ denied the allegations at first. Then, as more eye-witness reports came in, I informed Elder David and the deacons and we summoned him. After seeing our seriousness, he finally admitted his sin and asked for forgiveness, promising to stop. We forgave him, with serious warnings against sexual immorality. We also advised him to pray for a wife and plan toward marriage.
2018 ended well, however, when 2019 started, I saw some changes in ‘Joe.’ He was no longer regular and serious with church activities, and whenever he came for worship services he was only dozing in church. I grew suspicious and wanted to know how he was living his life. I and Elder David talked to him privately but he did not reveal anything. When I took a chance and said that I already knew everything, he feared and revealed the secret – he had impregnated someone’s daughter in his community!
What disturbed us most was that, instead of being sorry, he was boasting about it! He blamed us for being too judgmental, saying, “Why are you judging me? What do you want me to do? I have prayed several times to God for help with my sexual lusts, but God has refused to help me. There is nothing I can do; let me remain like this. If I’m among the elect, I’ll still go to heaven; if not, there’s nothing I can do about it!” When we saw that he was not repentant at all, we put it before the church, and all of us decided to remove him from membership until he repents and does right.”
We praise God for a church in Uganda that holds a truly biblical view of membership. Please pray that ‘Joe’ will repent of his sin and be restored to church fellowship. Please pray for the elders, Bill and David, as they shepherd the church and ‘Joe’ through this painful time.