SOROTI, Uganda — The most rewarding thing I’ve done in my nearly 33 years is serve on staff of a Discipleship Training School. The schools include 12 weeks of classroom lectures intended to help participants strengthen their relationship with God. These three months are followed by an international outreach in which those who have completed lecture phase can share the news about Jesus from a heartfelt — not merely doctrinal — perspective. Trainees go on these outreaches as teams and DTS staffers serve as their field leaders.
One of my proudest moments as an outreach leader came when I was co-leading a group in Uganda, east Africa. While there, I asked Zack, a Canadian, and Julia, of the U.S., to visit the main mosque in Soroti, a rural region whose population is about 66,000 residents. I wasn’t really sure what to expect in sending them to the mosque. The only thing I knew was that their combination of personable dispositions and intelligence meant that something good would probably happen. I was correct, but only because if you know these two you’d realize my prediction wasn’t exactly a shot in the dark.
That being said, the outreach worked out better than I had anticipated. Zack and Julia really did a great job of engaging the Muslims in dialogue about their faith and why they believe what they believe. They took a conversational approach to outreach that endeared them to the Muslims. In fact, they were even invited inside the Mosque and were given a tour and the opportunity to meet with its imams (mosque prayer/worship leaders).
That initial conversation with the imams went so well that they were invited to return for a second round of discussions. So, basically, Zack and Julia ended up having full-on Gospel conversations with these imams. Keep in mind that Zack and Julia were 19 and 17 respectively when this episode occurred.
A few days after their meetings took place, I was walking around Soroti and ended up on the same street where the mosque is located. I was probably on my way to the Internet cafe to check on the happenings back home in the States when I was stopped in my tracks by a young street merchant who appeared to be in his early or mid-20s. The man asked “Aren’t you in the same group with Zack and Julia?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Thank you so much for coming here,” the man, who turned out to be Muslim, said. “Whenever westerners come here, they’re always afraid to talk to us. Zack and Julia were so nice to visit us. They are great people.”
We spent the first month of our 11 weeks of Uganda ministry in Soroti. The night before we left, our ministry partners at Youth With A Mission, Soroti, praised us for our inroads into the Muslim community. They said we inspired them, because they previously had not had the boldness to go straight into the Muslim community and directly confront them about the Gospel.
I’m glad we were able to set a good example. I’m sure that our initiative is duplicable, but I also believe the unique capabilities of Zack and Julia probably had as much to do with their success as their boldness did.
By Raymond Billy
Port YWAM Kona Communications Office