MY JOURNEY TO FIND THE GOSPEL – DAVID KAYUMBA
Feb 28, 2014 2259
I was born in Uganda in an Adventist home. When I turned fifteen years my father left the Adventist Church and did not join any other Church. He left the Church because he was angered by a church leader who referred to him and other person as being “spiritually dead” for not meeting the minimum tithe goal set by the church for every member. I was greatly disturbed by this development because I enjoyed being an Adventist because I loved the hymns and church choir. My father wanted all us to leave the church, but somehow I negotiated my way to his heart and he allowed whoever wished to remain in the church and so I remained with my young brother.
When my father passed away seven years later, there was no religious leader who was willing to officiate on the funeral service and so I conducted the service. I do not even remember the words or the verse I read. And so, for many years to come I carried with me the burden of making sense what the words “spiritually dead” meant that had sparked my father’s anger and why he had left the church. Was my father really dead spiritually because his harvest did not yield enough so as to reach the goal set? This seemingly small and possibly uninteresting issue kept lingering in my mind and it opened the door to question many issues in the church as I grew up and joined Bugema University Seminary. It had become come clear at this stage that I was neither better than my father nor the leader who had declared him dead spiritually. I had no peace with God and I saw no way of getting it, and so I questioned the purpose of Christ’ atonement of the cross.
My Professor Comes In
I am thankful to one of my professors who for the first time mentioned the name Desmond Ford in one of our lectures. This is what he said: “You people, don’t talk about imperatives without first taking about the indicative of the gospel. Desmond Ford has laboured for many years to explain this but we are not getting it!” And then he added: “Desmond is a brain that appears once in 1000 years.” I asked the professor if it was possible to read the books by Desmond Ford and the reply was: “You cannot. You will be in trouble with Church, and besides, where will you find the books?”
This day was important in my life and I embarked on finding out who was Desmond Ford. This year was 1997 and the internet had not yet come to Uganda. In April 1998 I travelled to Botswana by road from Uganda to go and do colporteur work to raise money to pay for my tuition fees. Two months later I visited a fellow theology student in Zambia and while there, he enthusiastically handed me a magazine called Our Firm Foundation. The pastor thought I would find something in the magazine that would demolish what the professor had said about Desmond Ford. And when I looked into it, there was lengthy article by Ron Spear in which he was attacking the theology of Robert Folkenberg, Jack Sequeira and Desmond Ford. In the article he included quotations from the three men. But he said much about the danger of especially what Dr. Ford was teaching on the sanctuary.
I thank Ron Spear, because his article made available to me some of the statements by Desmond Ford and also the sources of these statements. The statements that seemed offensive to Ron Spear became for me power and a complete reversal of who I was: assurance was born in me. One statement I will never forget was by Ford, was that: “The moment a Sinner declares his or her faith in the atonement of the cross, is declared righteous and without fault. These blessings continue to be ours as longer as we believe despite our mistakes and failures. Each sin we may commit does not ruin salvation in our life as long as we believe.”
I discovered from these men of God that “we were ruined in Adam without asking for it and likewise we were redeemed in Christa without asking for it.” I asked my Zambian friend to take me to a place where I could make a photocopy, and he did. I went back to Botswana to continue my work. These statements, I read them daily. I shared them with students who had come from Spicer Memorial College, and from Tanzania and Kenya, and all were shocked and thought I was falling away from the truth. I assured them that I was slowly but surely falling way from the grip of sin and hopelessness. I remained in Botswana and South Africa throughout 1988-2000 and I can tell you, that this time the list of books I used to sell changed, and I spent much time selling the Bible and a few books on health and family.
With my photocopies I went back to Bugema to finish my training. I memorised these statements by Ford, and some from Sequeira. I repeated these statements in class discussion, Sabbath school lesson discussion and on the pulpit. Some students made copies and soon there was a talk about Dr. Desmond Ford. Matters became confusing for lecturers when final year students were also taking about me and “Fordism” and already were becoming critical of the sanctuary teaching. The “Fordism” movement as many termed moved from our lecture halls to Sabbath school. The vocal seminary students used every opportunity in Sabbath School to highlight our doctrinal issues. It became apparent to lay people that in our seminary we fear the book of Hebrews: that it is controversial and that is why it was not in our study program. Sometimes Sabbath School Lesson discussions were suspended. It was an interesting time; it revealed what we were missing and that there were problems.
Meanwhile I had discovered Good News Unlimited and I had written requesting Dr. Desmond Ford for an old he had authored, and particularly the Glacier View manuscript. I was a student with little means to afford a book from overseas. And to my forever surprise Dr. Desmond Ford did not send me the old book I had asked for; he sent me a box of brand new books. I have never finished talking about this gift from Ford without tears in my eyes. He gave me more than I asked for. This is why I am always indebted to the ministry of this great Christian man! I will support this ministry in any way possible because by doing so I help someone discover the Gospel just as I was helped to discover it.
With the box of books, I created a small library within the University library. I was a work in the library and so I kept my bag of books with me. This time I was not selling books, but rather giving my fellow students an opportunity to read for two days only because the need was so great. With these books in public our professor was excited and we began to notice that in his office library, he had also placed the books there. It seems the fear was gone. It was at this time that I discovered that institutionalised religion could be dangerously blind. While the administration had no problem keeping the Catholic Summa Theologica and other useless books, they were determined to keep away books that gave assurance of salvation.
I must say, I enjoyed this turbulent period of my study. For the first time we saw that most of the lecturers avoided debate on doctrinal issues; they withdrew from discussing contentious issues in the presence of students. Why this was so, was because many were not willing to read forbidden authors and so could not debate freely. Most of students who specifically made reference to Daniel 8:14 and the Investigative Judgment were blacklisted and eventually were sidelined from the ministry. This did not surprise us because our professor had warned us about it, and yet he encouraged us to read Desmond Ford.
I completed my basic seminary training and graduated in 2003 and went home. The local church where I fellowshipped viewed me as a dangerous, but with time and discussion, local members confessed to me that they knew that the real danger was in preventing people from free debate and discussion, and not in ideas. I came to accept the fact that I had spent all the years working for my fees, only to finish and be not allowed to serve. This challenge became much easier each time I remembered that I was not the first and will not be the last to experience such. I found joy in serving for the joy of serving.
When I moved to Belgium in 2007, I was received in Brussels International Church. A very good congregation which gave me the opportunity to be actively involved in the ministry of the church as a lay work as head of Personal Ministries Department. I delivered a sermon at least once a month in this church and also once in a month in another Rwandese church we organised with great difficulty. I served these churches as a lay preacher until in my capacity as Personal Ministries Department head, and with my assistants we decided to invite Pr. Jack Sequeira to come for a one-week study of the Gospel. He came amidst great difficult from some members and the leaders who were against it. Our small group which by then numbered nine had committed itself to cover all financial obligations, and it did, and we were privileged to host him in our homes. The church provided the building in which we held the weak of prayer, and indeed the church was happy that this event finally took place.
I will not give details here but it suffices to say, that this experience was decisive for my future work as a lay minister. From that time on, we decided that we shall minister using the primitive way. Small groups have become our only viable way for sharing the Gospel. We value each other, and we consider time to be running fast and so we cannot wait.
I was overjoyed to hear Dr. Desmond Ford saying that GNU is going global, and I am sure it will explode into a mighty movement for the Gospel that will herald the soon return of our King.