A Hard Place to Live

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CWN.com - RICHMOND, Va. --It looked more like a lawnmower cover than a baptistery, but it served the purpose for a group of Ugandans intent on being baptized.

After digging down three feet in the dirt, local believers lined the hole with a tarp, then filled it with muddy water collected in jars. There was just enough to immerse 35 Ugandans who had given their lives to Jesus Christ.

"It is a hard place to live," said Danny Hood, an International Mission Board missionary in Kampala, Uganda. "I mean it is almost desert up there. But God's Spirit is very much at work."

Hood has many stories about Ugandans who have given their lives to the Lord and been baptized. A crippled woman was carried into the water by a group of fellow believers. One man emerged from the water with shouts of joy and praise.

These are but a few of the success stories in Uganda. In its capital city of Kampala, more than 1,000 were baptized in a year, according to Ugandan Baptists and IMB missionaries. In addition, the IMB's 2007 Annual Statistical Report showed more than 14,000 were baptized in the country.

But still more missionaries are needed in portions of Uganda and around the world.

With recent violence and political protests in Kenya, a number of refugees have fled into neighboring countries like Uganda. A growing Muslim presence there supports the second-largest mosque in the world, located in Kampala.

Hood and his wife, Claudia, will end their term as masters missionaries in April. They hope to make a long-term commitment with the IMB. The Master's Program is a short-term effort that enables people 50 years and older to serve on the field for three years.

"We were supposed to go home last week, and IMB leadership asked us to extend so that we could cover some bases here," Hood said. "Right now, we're really short on personnel. We really do need more missionaries."

A key role of a missionary is providing guidance and training for local believers. In many instances, Ugandan Baptists are already leading the way in ministering to their own people.

"Our Ugandan pastors do all of the baptizing," Hood said. "We try to keep our Ugandan pastors and leaders upfront and in the limelight."

There still, however, are areas with little to no missionary presence.

In a remote area of northern Uganda there is only one IMB missionary - who is in his 70s - working among a Muslim people group, Hood said.

"We've had work in Africa for a long, long time, and so everybody is almost ready to say Africa has been won," he said.

"But the truth of the matter is that Africa has not been won. There are still many, many people groups that need the Gospel.

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