- Ministry Update
Ministry Update: May 1, 2008
URGENCY HAS MET OPPORTUNITY IN UGANDA.
Last week I sat in appalled silence as I listened to a woman describe how one of the Uganda’s best-known televangelists used her to raise money by falsely claiming she’d been healed of AIDS—and then left her and her children ruined.
Days earlier, a top Christian leader told me: “While we’re registering many conversions to Christ, we’re not producing an equal quality of pastors who are grounded—who rightly divide the Word of truth. And because of that lack of quality leadership, our people are prey to deceit, to deception of all kinds—including cults.... Please, please, equip us for the truth.”
And I knew that we could wait no longer.
On April 11, John Divito and I asked you to pray boldly for our ten-day mission to Uganda. And God has graciously answered.
African leaders have extended their hand to us. Now is the time to answer their appeal and establish a ministry that will equip Christians in East Africa for discernment and the defense of the Gospel!
Say the word “cult” to a Ugandan, and he is likely to associate it with terror and tragedy. From the armed rebellion of Alice Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Army to the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony, from the murderous Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God to the apocalyptic World Message Last Warning, cults in Uganda have left scars that are deep and lasting.
Powerful international cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons work largely unopposed. Lesser-known groups from Europe and North America, like the Branhamites and New Apostolic Church, are growing even more rapidly. Home-grown cults like that of Ugandan “god-man” Desteo Bisaka (who encourages the mass burning of Bibles) draw legions of followers.
But one of the most appalling realities of Uganda—and East Africa—today is the widespread abuse by charismatic pastors who take the teachings of heretical Word-Faith preachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland and twist them further to callously manipulate and rob huge numbers of vulnerable Christians. Despite repeated scandals, such pastors are multiplying, even as they spread error, ruin lives, and blacken the reputation of Christ with almost no interference.
It’s no wonder that the government of Uganda has made known its intention to create a state agency to monitor and investigate religious groups throughout the country. Christian leaders are concerned that the excesses of the cults are now endangering the fundamental freedoms of responsible churches.
In light of Scripture’s commands to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints (e.g., Jude 3–4), the Africa Center for Apologetics Research will:
• Monitor and continuously compile accurate data on new and controversial religious groups active in Uganda and East Africa
• Analyze the beliefs and practices of such groups in the light of Scripture, and develop practical apologetic responses
• Warn and inoculate the greatest possible number of lay believers against both indigenous and imported cults and aberrant Christian movements
• Equip pastors, seminary and Bible college students, Christian workers, and lay believers with tools and training to enable them to recognize and respond effectively to such groups (both apologetically and evangelistically)
• Raise up African apologists who will model balanced, biblical reasoning and responses to the challenges posed by heretical movements
To begin the Center’s work in East Africa, John Divito and his family need roughly $5,500 per month in support to move to Kampala. Indeed, as the Apostle John wrote of Christ’s early missionaries, “we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 8).
Will you and your church rise to the challenge join us in raising up a generation of Christian apologists in East Africa?