Far from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, Johnson Bakashaba pastors a more rural church. Like many African pastors, his work includes a lot more than preaching a sermon once a week. Orphans are to be found in large numbers, presenting huge challenges. Several live with Johnson and his own family. Others are looked after in other ways by both him and his congregation.
Johnson came into our lives by one of God's sweet "accidents." One Sunday when showing prospective Spanish translators around, it so happened we visited one of our favorite local churches, expecting to hear our friend, the regular pastor. Instead, having stumbled into "Mission Sunday", we found ourselves listening to Johnson.
After the service we became aware that he had begun his Christian walk with Pastor Peter at ARM. God had called him across the country to the border of Rwanda where Gerald now lives. We offered to send him a box of Russell's transcripts. As it worked out, we didn't get the Spanish translators, but we did get women in Johnson's church to translate the lessons into one of the major dialects we were "missing." And the "Runy" language is the tribal language of Gerald's wife, Robyna, so we even had someone to be sure they were adequate translators.
We became great friends a few years ago when Johnson came to stay for three weeks on his second visit to the U.S. Very early on the Sunday morning that he was expecting to teach the two classes who still meet to view videos of Russell teaching, he was dressing when the house was struck by lightning. Only later was it realized that his hand had been on a water faucet at the time, and that he had definitely felt the bolt.
All over the house a strange assortment of things from computer to sinks no longer worked after that, but he escaped unscathed. The morning turned to sunshine and flooding water receded in time for the requisite "welcome to Texas" barbecue. The lightning seemed only to have energized Johnson to deliver a wonderful lesson to the assembled class.
We continue to communicate with him regularly.