They could not bring themselves to break bread with them, because of brokenness in their relationships.
On the last day of a conference in Uganda, Glen was asked to lead in the communion meditation and then to invite all the pastors and their wives to join us in breaking bread together. Right after the devotion, a young pastor stood up and asked," Is it right for me to take communion, when I have never married my wife and her father believes I have stolen her from them?" He was referencing 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 "So if someone takes of this bread and drinks from the Lord's cup improperly (as you are doing) he is guilty of violating the body and blood of our Lord, Examine yourselves first. Then you can properly approach the table to eat the bread and drink the cup." His wife sat with her back to him, so embarrassed that she was not officially his wife. Our first reaction was thinking, â€œWow they really want to follow what the Bible says and cannot even take communion with a clear conscience until they make things right." The second thought was â€œWhy has he not married his wife and why is it really tearing him up?" They explained to us that a wedding takes a great deal of money, so it is common for folks to just run away and live together. This young man had then become a believer, but was too poor to marry his wife. They have been together 8 years and still to this day he cannot face her family and they have not been welcomed into the in-laws home.
Similar stories were exposed the previous year and together the pastoral community had helped 5 pastors have weddings - some of whom had been together for over 25 years! Each married pastor and their wife in turn shared the blessing of finally having the wedding. One pastor even shared that even though he was the youngest brother, at his wedding his father made him the head of the whole extended family - because he had stepped up and married his wife.
Another woman shared how she was always nervous because they come from a fishing community and the rule of law there was that if you are not married, another man can come into your home and claim you as his while your husband is away at sea. With tears of joy she turned to her now married husband and said, â€œThank you for making me an honest woman - I feel loved and honored and will love you forever." Words of affection in public are not normal in this culture, but she was so happy she could not help herself! This couple has seven children together and they now say they feel like newlyweds because of the wedding commitment. In Uganda, a wedding is a big deal!
We share this story with you to give you an example of an issue most of us would not even had thought of before taking communion. It is complicated, yet Kingdom workers have to learn to handle each situation with grace and wisdom to figure out how to get the pastors to study the Bible and let the Holy Spirit guide them. The missionaries brought over 17 wedding dresses to help a member start a rental shop so the dresses would be more affordable and one less stumbling block towards marriage. Also the local community of believers is sharing out of the little they have to help each pastor and wife have a wedding where they can feed the community and pay the needed bride price. Please pray for these pastors, the believers they lead and the missionaries as they teach God's message of hope and love.
Blessed to be married,
Wendy and Glen