they would be evangelizing in the streets of Kabalagala, knowing that God wanted ministry in the middle of the growing city. As the street church grew into a tent, then a building, Samalie served alongside the pastor couple as KPC’s accountant.
In 2000, Samalie moved in with her sister Milly and husband, Placide DaSilva, to Thousand Oaks, California. When Dongo visited the U.S. in 2001, he contacted Samalie, and she invited him to visit. Milly and Placide introduced their new Ugandan friend, Pastor Dongo, to their own Pastor, Larry DeWitt, at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village the following Sunday. Milly recalls that they found Pastor Larry right before church started to make an introduction. Even though Pastor Larry met Pastor Dongo five minutes before the service, he recalls, “God put on my heart to be open to this Ugandan brother, and I also trusted the integrity of Milly and Placide.”
needed to be photographers sent to Uganda to take pictures that could tell the story, so when Milly went to Kirk to ask if maybe Calvary should send a team of people to see the work happening on the ground, the church was ready.
Milly recalls that when she asked who should lead such a trip, Pastor Kirk said “This is a great idea and YOU are the leader to do it!” Milly and Placide led that first Calvary Community mission trip with a team of 26 people. More than half of these were high school students who were added to the team at the last minute. The planned high school trip to Zimbabwe had been cancelled due to the political climate at the time. The team returned called and charged to care for the children of Uganda, and the church involvement grew, sending teams every year, sponsoring children, and helping with significant building support for God Cares Schools.
Degna ended up sitting in church that same Sunday that Dongo was introduced. She went up to him after service and told him the story of seeing him the previous day. She recalls, “Pastor Dongo took my hand and said, this is truly a divine appointment.” Degna had many connections, and she soon started making them. She became an ambassador for the ministry, connecting people both in California and other states. Pastor Dongo would stay with Keith and Degna Horton for years to come, and he affectionately called Degna “Madam Secretary” as she would schedule meetings each visit with different churches, schools and individuals that would evolve into lasting partnerships.
of 1998. Modele shared, “The focus of that first team visit was ‘soul winning’ and I spent much time traveling to teach pastors how to evangelize.” Modele also noted, “There was also a little school off the church property that had a few kids with a chalkboard that Pastor Dongo was involved with, which seemed to be gathering more kids in the area.”
The following year, Rev. Modele sent two other members from his church, the Rev. Paul Worthington, and Sister Jamila Reid. A year later, one of Modele's friends, the Rev. Jesse Bottoms, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church, Poughkeepsie, NY, sent two volunteers to assist in the construction of the church on Gaba Road which would be called Kabalagala Pentecostal Church (KPC). It was clear, God’s vision for the children of Uganda was spreading to churches in New York.
dump into a home setting. As Robert shared the Lord with barely clothed children rummaging for food, he committed to the Lord that he would help any way the Lord willed. Six weeks later, Robert and Nicole found themselves at this gathering listening to Bethuel talk about his vision to empower the orphaned through education and discipleship.
They hosted Bethuel at their home that night, and by the next morning, the Cockburns had heard clearly from the Lord that Pastor Bethuel was a man after His heart and could be trusted. After a unanimous family vote, the Cockburn’s decided to empty their ministry account balance to buy the property for the first school/orphanage.
Over the next many years, Robert and Nicole traveled to Uganda three to four times annually, preaching and overseeing the construction of God Cares Nursery & Primary School. They continually shared the vision with their sphere of influence, bringing numerous pastors, school teachers and other interested people to Uganda, including a longtime friend of Robert’s, Bill Shepherd, who gave approximately half the needed funds to build the school in memory of his wife, Sue Shepherd.
Part 1: The Beginning
Brother Jerry Lehmann, one of Buyamba’s founders on the U.S. side in New York, was stationed in Uganda as a Mennonite missionary from 1984-1987. Jerry told the story that during that time, he decided one Sunday, to walk through the streets of Gonzaga to find a church. As he passed a few people on the way, he asked, “Where do the saved ones meet?” Each person on the street he asked would smile and instruct him to keep walking for he would "run into them soon enough." As he approached Pastor Bethuel Dongo’s open-air church, Jerry heard the singing, saw the crowd, and listened as Pastor Dongo got up to share the gospel. Pastor encouraged the assembled believers as they sat under the crude sheets nailed to posts which offered a semblance of a roof over their heads to block the sun. It was then that Brother Jerry began attending Pastor Dongo’s church.
Jerry Lehman’s funeral will be held Saturday, June 23 at 11:00 am at Abundant Life Church, Kingston, NY
Reflections from those who served alongside Jerry
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Riches and honor are with Him, enduring riches and righteousness." Proverbs 8:18