Meeting Jesus Under the Mango Tree

by Paul, DTS Leader

Our pickup truck bounced down the dirt road, kicking up a trail of red dust clouds. The truck swerved around a giant termite mound and I grabbed the side of the truck bed. We finally pulled to a stop between two mud huts, where a dozen people waited beneath a cluster of mango trees.

I glanced at Job, the man who brought us to Pader. He looked nervous. Would his twenty-five year prayer be answered today?

Jall,” an elderly man greeted us. Hello. He led us to a circle of wooden chairs in the shade. The man was Job’s father.

Apoyo matec,” I said shaking his hand. Thanks so much for having us.

“We are so honored that you came today,” he said in Luo. He introduced each of his family members who sat with us in the circle.

Job gestured for me to stand and for our team to introduce ourselves.

“We are so happy to be here,” I said. “When we were in America, we were praying and God told us to come to northern Uganda to tell you that He has not forgotten you.”

War had engulfed northern Uganda for the past twenty-five years. The Lord’s Resistance Army had swept through the countryside murdering thousands, raping women and forcing children to become soldiers. Job fled south and his family moved into the refugee camps after their homes were burned. For twenty-five years, Job prayed for his family. Of the 300 people in his clan, only two were Christians.

In 2007, he received some very encouraging news. His friend saw a vision of a missionary team visiting his family and of a church being planted.

Were we that team? I wondered.

Our team of ten split into pairs and set out in different directions to visit each of the homes in Job’s village. Jaedn and I stayed with Job and his family under the mango trees. My mind raced with thoughts of a message God had just given me.

“I’ve learned much about honor since I came to Uganda,” I began. “Last night I was given a chicken’s back (a great honor in Pader). Everywhere we go, people welcome us into their homes. You also honored us greatly today.” I paused, glancing around the circle. “But there is someone more worthy of honor than I. He is the one who made these mango trees under which we sit and the sun from which they shade us.”

I told Job’s family the story of creation. I told them of the fall, when men stopped honoring God. I told them of Israel, who were enslaved and refugees in Egypt when God rescued them and brought them back to their lands. And I told them of Jesus who came to restore our relationship with God.

“This God deserves your honor. Are you ready to honor him today?”

My gaze slowly moved around the circle.

“My mother wants to give her life to God,” Job said, his eyes glassy with tears. “And my father, grandmother, niece and nephew.”

They bowed their heads, waiting for God to show them any sins that had separated them from him. Silently, they asked God’s forgiveness for whatever sins He reminded them of.

“There’s one last thing we should do,” I said, a smile spreading across my face. “Each of us should publicly honor God.”

I stood to model what they would do. “I thank God for bringing me here so I could learn what true honor is.”

Job’s father stood next. “I thank God for giving me a son like Job.”

A few minutes later, my teammates returned with similar stories of people giving their lives to God. In all, eighteen people became Christians. And now, those new believers want to start a church under the mango trees.