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I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.

Romans 10:20b

In early August, I visited group of Lutherans in the Nakivale Refugee Camp in southern Uganda. During my visit, I met two nurses, three teachers, a doctor, a community health worker, a carpenter and an evangelist. These are dignified people who had worthy professions before ethnic conflicts forced them to leave Ethiopia for South Sudan. While there, they learned about the Lutheran teachings and converted from Pentecostal, Anglican and Roman Catholic faiths. Many people in South Sudan have become Lutherans because of LCMS efforts through over fifteen years to share the Gospel by starting churches and schools. This is an area we now do not enter because of the continued conflict, but where the Holy Spirit through God’s Grace continues to bring people to Christ!

Unfortunately, conflicts in South Sudan displaced this people group to southern Uganda. Remembering their Lutheran faith, they sought other Lutherans in Uganda, and then Kenya and the LCMS. For two years, they worshiped under a thorny acacia tree within the camp. When they learned they could have a church roof if they made bricks, they quickly got to work, despite the approaching rainy season.

The Lutheran Church of Uganda has lovingly taken in their Lutheran neighbors from South Sudan—the only Lutheran pastor and vicar in the area have made more than 35 visits over the last couple years, preaching, baptizing, catechizing, donating items and encouraging this congregation that has chosen the name “Alleluia Lutheran Church” for the church building they completed in May 2017.

The congregation expressed their overflowing gratitude through jubilant song and dance. I was surprised and impressed by the clean living conditions, land parcels for home and crops, and integration by the Ugandan government to give these displaced persons the opportunities to resume their former professions (or seek new ones) while in a new land. Their lives are not easy, but these are not poor miserable people. They are very much a proud and dignified people who must start a new life in a new place, but remember God has guided and taken care of them throughout their exodus.

God’s ways are not our ways, and we may often not understand. But these people would not have become Lutheran had they not been forced from their home and into South Sudan. They would not be living in south Uganda and now in a position to help their church grow had they not been forced from South Sudan. But God has done all this for the sake of the Gospel, that others may know about Christ and their eternal salvation through Him!

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog,, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.