But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV).
We just returned from our second two-week mission trip to Uganda. My wife, Robin, and I led a 4-day Pastors and Pastor’s Wives Conference in Kisoro, Uganda for the Kisoro Baptist Association. On the last day of the conference, we gave out a few small gifts that church members in America had donated.
Pastor George Mbonye was our host again this year. He asked me to teach leadership principles from Nehemiah and he asked Robin to teach the book of Ruth. So, my partner, Mike Laramee, and I spent the first two days of the conference teaching from Nehemiah and the final two days teaching how to preach through a book of the Bible using the book of Jonah as an example. Robin and her teaching partner, Donnas Kinton, taught a chapter a day from Ruth for the four days.
Robin gave the women small bottles of lotion and crochet scarves to illustrate the way that Ruth had prepared herself before going to Boaz on the threshing floor in Ruth 3. The women were very thankful and excited to receive these gifts. Robin said they actually danced after receiving their scarves. The joy and gentleness with which they responded was very moving. Robin felt such affection for these women.
We gave Pastor George several preaching books for the Bible school he is building for local pastors. We also gave each pastor a journal notebook, a WCC pen, and a copy of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. The surprising highlight of our gift giving time was the suitcase full of neckties that we gave away. We told the pastors to pick two ties each. They took great care in choosing ties that they thought would match their clothes.
There was only one problem: Most of them didn’t know how to tie a necktie. So, Mike and I ended up doing a necktie-tying clinic. My problem was that I can’t really tie a necktie on someone else, so I had to tie it on myself and then slip it over my head onto theirs. There was much laughter and good-natured fun during this time. The Ugandan pastors are so humble and gentle in their demeanor that it keeps me coming back to invest in them and in their gospel ministries.
In America, we can often be so brash and sarcastic in our communication with one another. But the Uganda Christians are so humble and gentle. The way they would introduce us to their church members was so honoring to us.
“This is Pastor Gary from Wilson Community Church in North Carolina, USA. How many of you remember him?” Pastor George would ask at each church, as hands shot up and smiling faces nodded. Followed by, “And who remembers his wife, Mama Robinah?” To which many hands would go up around the church.
They made us feel like family. As the apostle Paul said, we shared not only the gospel with them, but our own selves because they have become very dear to us.