by Dr. Gregory Bartha
March 14, 2018
In the fall of 2017, we received word that Pastor Morris Ogenga’s mother had passed away. There has been some tension between Pastor Simon Peter and Pastor Morris, and Pastor Simon Peter felt that it would be a goodwill gesture for several of our team to attend the funeral. The lady lived in Kenya, so the journey would be somewhat long.
The burial was scheduled for Sunday, and we set off about 5:30 AM and drove through the town of Tororo toward the border. Seven of us made the journey: Pastor Simon Peter; Pastor Vincent, a long time friend of both Simon Peter and Morris; Pastor Vincent’s wife; Pastor Omsulo, a former associate of Morris; clinic administrator Musage Patrick; Chede Patrick the driver; and myself.
There were some delays crossing the border. We were behind several people who appeared to be from a Middle Eastern country. They had difficulty understanding the transit forms, and the border clerk had to assist them in completing them. Later, most of our group passed through easily since, as Uganda residents, they were members of the East African community, which includes Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. But I hold a US passport and had to pay a $50 fee. The official would not accept Ugandan currency, so I had to have the money changed to US currency.
While we were waiting, our vehicle was surrounded by a large number of children who were begging money for food. Some appeared to be in very bad condition. One had sores all over his face and generalized tremors. Pastor Simon Peter finally purchased two loaves of bread and gave two pieces to each child. I understand that begging is very common in border communities where money tends to flow freely.
We drove on into Kenya. At first, the countryside is similar to that of Uganda, but later the vegetation was more sparse and there were more hills. We passed through Bonyo, a small city where we saw the Institute of Science and Technology Center, which was sponsored by Raila Odinga, one of the candidates for the Kenyan Presidency. (he lost) Lake Victoria extends quite a long way into Kenya, and we reached the shore of the lake area where the burial site was located.
We arrived around noon and were warmly greeted by Pastor Morris’ wife, Acala. Many of the pastors who are associated with Pastor Morris had already arrived. The burial ceremony was scheduled to begin in the morning, but true to African time, it didn’t get underway until 1 PM. Many family members spoke about the deceased’s dedication to family and her physical, mental and spiritual strength. Also, many speakers praised Pastor Morris and his work in establishing the Covenant Theological Institute in Mbale and the Lulwanda Children’s Home. They also made mention of the many churches he had helped plant in Kenya and Uganda. Several choirs performed, the coffin was opened for the body to be viewed and then the burial. A strong sermon given by Pastor Boas, the director of the Covenant Theological Institute, stressed the inevitability of death and necessity of each person to face up to this reality and to make preparation.
We then departed for the five to six hour return drive to Mbale and Kanginima, arriving home at about 8:30 PM. I think Pastor Morris really appreciated our attendance at the funeral and the respect we showed to his family. It was in deed a work of peacemaking.