Keith had never been to a Ugandan funeral before. So when he, his wife, and two small children showed up to the family home of a young woman who had just delivered a nearly full-term stillborn baby, they did not know what to expect. But like all good missionaries, they quickly fell into the Ugandan routine for such occasions.
Everything went in a very Ugandan way until the older women—only the older women—took the tiny lifeless body into the backyard to bury it. It was only at that moment that my friend started to ask questions.
He learned that in this village only the older women touch and are exposed to a dead baby, because they believe that evil spirits have killed the baby in the womb. To Keith’s horror, he was told that the mother of this precious little one, a woman who happens to be a believer, had not even held her baby and would not (nor would any man or woman of childbearing age) be a part of the baby’s burial.
It was at this point that my friend moved into action. He went to the mother and asked her if she wanted to be a part of her baby’s funeral. She said that she did. And when Keith asked her if she was afraid of evil spirits, she responded that as a follower of Jesus she trusted Him to keep her from all evil.
With this, Keith, the mother, and the rest of the guests, young and old, men and women, went into the backyard. Keith took the shovel from the old woman who was digging the grave and began to dig. As he dug, he shared his faith in Jesus as the Lord of the living and the dead. He did not fear the evil spirits because his Lord was their Lord too.
Later that night, one of Keith’s Ugandan brothers in Christ had these words for him: “You did good today, Uncle. Today you were Ugandan when you were supposed to be Ugandan. You sat like a Ugandan. You ate like a Ugandan. You talked like a Ugandan. But when it was time to be like Jesus, you were like Jesus. When you needed to be like Jesus, you were like Jesus. You did good today, Uncle.”
This is my prayer for you today. I pray that you will know when it is time to be “Ugandan,” and when it is time be Jesus.