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Amid Uganda’s hardships, 14,000 baptized

EDITORS’ NOTE: This past fall, the International Mission Board released its 2007 Annual Statistical Report, which provides information on how God continues to move around the world. This story takes a closer look behind the numbers at the lives changed by the work of Southern Baptist missionaries and their overseas Baptist partners.

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Digging down three feet in the dirt, a group of Ugandan Baptists lined the hole with a tarp, then filled it with muddy water collected in jars. There was just enough to baptize 35 new believers.

“It is a hard place to live,” said Danny Hood, an International Mission Board missionary in Uganda’s capital of Kampala. “I mean it is almost desert up there” where the baptisms took place. “[But] God’s Spirit is very much at work.”

Hood has many stories about Ugandans who have given their lives to Jesus Christ. In 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 and 609,968 worldwide.

These decisions for Christ come about in part through the ministry of missionaries like Hood and his wife Claudia who are supported through the generous gifts of Southern Baptists to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program.

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

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

“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].”

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.

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

The Hoods will end their three-year term in April serving through the IMB Master’s Program for people age 50 and older, but they plan to make a long-term commitment for missions service.

“We’ve had work in Africa for a long, long time, and so everybody is almost ready to say Africa has been won,” Hood 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.”
Shawn Hendricks is a writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. With more than 5,300 missionaries currently serving worldwide, the IMB’s goal is to increase that total to 8,000 through the support of Southern Baptists. To learn more about missions opportunities, go to http://going.imb.org.

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  • Shawn Hendricks