MAF Uganda have had a long relationship with Sam Tsapwe who we love to support as much as possible. Over the years we’ve seen how much this man personifies Jesus and has such a passion to reach the lost with the gospel. There’s nowhere too difficult to get to that Sam isn’t prepared to go but MAF is able to help him and his team get to these hard-to-reach places more comfortably and quickly. Godfrey, Benjamin and Pastor Clement who are all from different church partnerships were flown with Sam on a return trip to Mbarara.
Jesus Film Ministries provides outreach to remote places on the islands and also in South Sudan. This trip was a flight to Western Uganda where Sam and his team were heading up into the mountains. This time they went to a small village in the Rukiagiri district where Sam has been regularly visiting over the last 18 years. Originally a doctor took Sam there when there were only 20 people in one church. Since then that church has continued to expand and has planted 25 other churches with now 1,500 members! Pastor Clement started the work in Rukiagiri and continues to send evangelist groups to reach more people. Pastor Clement has been unwell recently and has had to have several surgeries which would have made it impossible for him to make this journey without flying with MAF.
Sam went onto explain, ‘When we come, large crowds turn up because they are so hungry for the gospel. We show gospel films like Jesus Film, Passion of the Cross, The Cross and the Switchblade etc in their local language inside the church and also to larger crowds outdoors. When we show the film outdoors we find many new converts who then join the local church. On this trip, due to lockdown, we had to have outreach in 3 different places to control the numbers. We were also focussing on encouraging church members after all they’ve been through in lockdown. We also offered ministry to the pastors’ wives and to married couples.’ Sam went onto share how Covid19 has impacted the villagers he is in connection with. ‘It’s been very difficult…it’s changed everything affecting everyone’s livelihoods and even their faith. Some are questioning, ‘Why has God allowed this to come?’ Some were telling us, ‘We’re going to go on leave in our faith now since churches have been closed’. Our main aim for this trip was to strengthen church members’ faith. Our team was very formidable encouraging these families that life isn’t always easy and there are stones that come against you. A plane flies against the wind but it still needs to fly through and reach its destination.’ Sam tilts his head and with his trademark smile adds, ‘Jesus has not only conquered small difficulties but even death itself.’ Pilot Dave Forney told Sam, ‘It’s so encouraging to me to hear all of this because flying people like you is the reason we want to work for MAF.’
Thankfully Uganda is now allowing gatherings of 200 people, so hopefully Sam and his team can have an easier time arranging their outreach schedules in future and Sam is starting to make plans for their exciting Christmas party over in the Sesse Islands.
Sam was very quick to give his reasons for wanting to fly with MAF. ‘Firstly, flying itself is expensive and the MAF flight is subsidised. Secondly, a commercial flight wouldn’t fly to this airstrip in Mbarara. MAF is flying us to very remote places that other planes don’t fly to. Thirdly, if we came by road we would be so exhausted once we arrived up in the mountains. We return from these ministry trips not completely exhausted because MAF have taken care of us and the flight is 50 minutes instead of taking most of the day driving. Because MAF is available to us, we are able to go where our hearts want to be, evangelising people that are hard to reach.’
Our planes are flying daily across remote areas while observing first-hand from partners like Sam how the gospel is continuing to reach hearts in the most difficult places to reach.
Story: Jill Vine
Photos: Dave Forney