One of the most challenging parts of planting a church is developing leaders. Evangelism, preaching, organizing meetings – these are relatively easy compared to teaching, training, and discipling men, and then discerning and nurturing their gifting and calling. Bill Issa in Kampala, Uganda is busy doing just that. I have had the pleasure of meeting with his men more than once
One extremely helpful tool in leadership training is the pastoral internship at Kabwata Baptist Church (Pastor Conrad Mbewe) in Zambia. One of Bill’s deacons completed that internship last year, and another man from Kampala is currently an intern. In this article, Bill gives us the amazing backstory of these 2 men:
“In 2014, after the Lord opened our eyes to the truth of Scripture, and as we were busy reforming our Pentecostal church (Reconciliation Outreach Ministries) to conform with the truth of Scripture, I was invited to preach at a Scripture Union function at a high school. A young man who had just joined our church, Emma Mukisa, was serving as the leader of Scripture Union in that school. Emma was left tongue-tied by the doctrines of grace that he had been exposed to in our new Reformed Baptist Church, and invited me to go and preach the same truth in that SU function.
After failing to get an MC (Master of Ceremony) for the event, Emma was forced to request a proud, talented, and irreligious young man named Marvin to help him with that task. This is what Marvin himself wrote in his testimony of conversion that we sent to Kabwata Baptist Church with his intern application:
‘My journey to salvation dates back to the days nearing my completion of high school in 2014. I was asked to serve as a master of ceremony for the Scripture Union club, a Christian club that I never subscribed to. But because the club did not have anyone to represent it on this occasion, and because it was an opportunity to stand out and be recognized, I offered to do it. Not because I was a Christian, but because it appealed to my pride.’ (photo above – Bill and his son see Marvin off at the airport as he leaves for pastoral internship)
I knew Marvin’s reputation as a proud young man because I used to teach at that same school. In fact, I had been chased from that very school because of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and almost everyone in the school – students, teachers, administrators – despised me so much because of Christ. Although Marvin joined the school after I had been dismissed, he also developed a strong hatred against me like others, without any reason. Then the time came for the master of ceremony (Marvin) to invite the one he hated to come and preach. This is what he says about that day:
‘Now the turning point came after listening to the singers and preachers who encouraged students to accept Christ in order to have improved and comfortable lives. It was now time to listen to the last preacher of the day and my mind was already set to hear more of the same, thinking that all Christian preachers speak the same things. To my surprise, the last preacher corrected everything the previous speakers had said, and all that he spoke was way different from the previous messages. In fact, it was shockingly different from anything that I had ever listened to that was called the gospel!
I must admit that one of the reasons I gave time to listen to this particular preacher was the fact that he was a man that I despised a lot. Though I never had personal dealings with him, he was previously a teacher at this very school and had been given a number of nick-names from his former students. This was my opportunity to see the man that everyone made fun of. I do not recall the details of his sermon, but it was definitely not the prosperity preaching that I was used to. I did not receive the message as saving truth that day, but his words continued to trouble my mind for a couple of months afterward, and I hoped that one day I would meet him again so I could ask him many questions.
On one of the days as I prepared for my final high school exams, I left school a bit early and headed home. On reaching home, I decided to have an evening walk, and to my surprise I met Pastor Bill also having an evening walk. As we passed each other, I recognized him but he did not know me. He told me that he was a new resident in the area so he was walking around to get used to the new place. Thank God for bringing us together!
In our conversation that followed, I accused him of dividing the Christian faith by preaching contrary to the common contemporary preaching. I am grateful to the Lord that He used this very encounter to open me to the truth through a clear presentation of His word, and I am glad that the Lord used His servant to patiently teach to me these treasures. This encounter lasted for about three hours and later Pastor Bill invited me to church on Sunday. I failed to honor that invitation for about a month but later complied. Since then, I am grateful that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord has taught me a lot about His love for all His saints and, above all, that His saving grace is not based upon anything in me but only upon the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. I am also thankful to the Lord for everyone He uses to faithfully preach His word.’
Marvin has been wonderfully transformed by the Lord and is now serving his Redeemer as one of our deacons. He recently returned from Kabwata Baptist Church (Lusaka, Zambia) where he spent twelve full months being sharpened by our beloved brothers there. Shortly after his return, I gave my evening service pulpit for Marvin (Marving preaching above left) to share the Word with us and…wow, wow, wow, it was amazing what I heard coming from him! The message, the boldness, the zeal, everything was good! Our Zambian brothers did a great job indeed. Glory to the Lord. Throughout his sermon, his testimony kept running in my mind. I felt both joy and fear inside me because of what Christ can do when His word is faithfully preached.
One final amazing part of this story – Emmanuel (Emma), whom the Lord used to invite me to preach and Marvin to MC his Scripture Union function, has now replaced Marvin at KBC’s 2019 Pastoral Internship Program in Zambia! (RBC seeing Emma off at the airport) Marvin returned to Uganda on December 30th, 2018 and Emma left Uganda on January 2, 2019. Isn’t this amazing, friends!?”
Before his current role at HeartCry, Robert served several years in pastoral ministry, and a few years in Zambia, Africa as a missionary. He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps. Robert and his wife have been blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They live near Christiansburg, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, where he enjoys deer hunting and fly-fishing for trout.More By Robert Shepherd