I was overjoyed at the opportunity to visit Uganda at the beginning of this month to see what God is doing there, particularly through two people I care about very much. My primary purpose was to extend our support as a diocese to our two missionaries there, Ryan and Jillian Johnson. A year ago they traveled to Muhabara in Kisoro, Uganda, to work with the Batwa people. While I was there, Jillian was ordained to the transitional diaconate in the Anglican Church of Uganda, soon to be followed by her ordination to priesthood, and I was blessed to be a part of that.
Getting to see the people, children, and circumstances of Jillian and Ryan’s ministry in Kisoro was inspiring. My first day in Kisoro, I walked through the amazing projects Ryan has personally developed and overseen on the campus of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. One of those projects will save countless lives. Ryan found that the clinic on the cathedral campus, which is called the Potter’s Village, is the only neonatal hospital for premature babies in the whole of southwest Uganda. He also found an inadequate generator system backing up the hospital’s electrical supply. The result of the backup generator’s inadequacy was that whenever the electricity went out, several babies would die. Ryan therefore created a new system of backup by installing a transformer and a bank of batteries that would sustain the electrical supply to the incubators for the newborns. This invention will save hundreds of lives. Ryan and Jillian’s personal financial sacrifice to make this happen, and their commitment to the needs of infant children and the neglected Batwa people of Kisoro, is the focus of their ministry and is truly exciting.
My main focus while there was to lead a two-day ordination retreat for Jillian and Ryan and their two children, Matthew and Avalana, plus extensive visits throughout the diocese led by the diocesan administrator, who shared with me dreams of partnership with the ADNE. The ordination service itself was one of three services they hold every sunday at St. Andrews Cathedral. Attendance runs between 5 and 7 thousand per sunday at the Cathedral. I preached the Gospel at Jillian’s ordination service and examined the candidates, while Bishop Cranmer laid hands on her to ordain her to the order of deacons. The ordination service had 1500 people in attendance; she was the only person being ordained that day.
Watch the opening worship at the Johnson ordination service:
Watch the moment of Jillian Johnson’s ordination to the Holy Order of Deacon:
Our partnership with Uganda has grown out of the formation of our province here in 2008 and 2009. The great support that Abp. Henry Orombi gave us at the time was invaluable, and we have been blessed with our current support from Abp. Ntagali. One of the discussions I had with Bishop Cranmer was the idea of a future mission trip, in which we would bring a team of clergy and lay leaders, and they would send a team here for mutual ministry, support, and encouragement.
I am thankful for the opportunity to support the Johnsons in their work and in Jillian’s ordination. Join me in praying for the Johnsons as they move towards fuller mission and ministry in Kisoro, Uganda. May the Lord’s face continue to shine upon them and their efforts to serve God’s people.