Tim and Jill Way

Adventures of the Way Family

Kayita.

Dear friends,

A phone call yesterday from Uganda informed me that Godfrey Kayita died that morning. It was followed by this simple e-mail message from another friend: Pr.Kayita is dead.

Kayita was one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Some of you who have been to Uganda had the privilege of knowing him. I’m struggling to know what to write now. But I have this hope that writing to all of you about him will somehow bring some release to my heart. It hurts so much right now. The tears just keep flowing, and I can’t seem to stop them. Actually, I don’t really care to. All I can tell you about his death is that he was sick for more than two months. I don’t know what it was. I just know that I’ve gotten so many e-mails from concerned people in Masaka asking me to pray for him. I last spoke to him on the phone about a month ago. Since then he’s apparently been too weak. A few days ago I was told he was taken back to the hospital in bad shape. And then the news came yesterday.

The last time I saw him was in July. We were on a bus together coming back from Gulu, along with Frederick and Israel, and two BWO team members, Tyler and Joella. Tyler, Joella, and I were getting off the bus before Kampala in Luweero, because I wanted to visit friends there. Kayita and the others were remaining on the bus and heading for home. The bus driver wasn’t stopping where he should have in Luweero town, and Kayita was standing up and shouting from half-way back on the bus on our behalf. “Stop the bus! Driver, stop the bus!” I’m sure it was the loudest and most emphatic I’ve ever heard his voice. Finally the driver stopped, more than a mile down the road. Hustling out the bus, I had not managed to say good-bye, so I walked to Kayita’s window before they took off again and took his hand and told him thanks for everything and bye. How could I have known it would really be good-bye? There was no indication.

I remember the first time I met Kayita. It was in the summer of 2000. I had come to Masaka from Kampala to meet with church leaders about beginning a school of ministry in the town. Only a few people showed up for the meeting, and I was naturally disappointed. But this one pastor from a nearby village was so enthusiastic about the opportunity to receive training, and to learn more from the Bible and about ministry. I don’t think if I live to be a hundred years old I’ll ever have another student to match him. Certainly not one who will teach me more. Intelligent. Inquisitive. Teachable. Enthusiastic. Consistent. Hard-working. Appreciative. So appreciative. Hungry for God and ready to serve Him. I could go on and on. His knowledge of the Bible and search for wisdom were a constant sharpening for me. Before his class graduated, all his fellow-students already considered him their teacher.

Once that first class graduated, Kayita and a few others agreed to join me in this ministry of training ministers and strengthening and planting churches. Together, by the grace of God, we built something for The Kingdom. For the next three years or so, Kayita and I did most everything in ministry together. In fact, I can clearly say that anything I built of lasting value in Uganda was done with Kayita. We traveled and opened other schools in rural areas to train pastors. We worked on student books – writing courses, getting them translated, typed, and printed. We preached the Gospel. Trained teachers. There is nobody else I’ve shared as much work or ministry time with as Kayita. Nobody else even comes close. We shared many a late night, and many a weary trip. We taught together and we prayed together and we preached together and we did a bunch of administrative stuff that we both hated together. We laughed a lot together, and even shed a few tears. We hosted teams and made plans and discussed the Scriptures together. We solved problems and put out “fires” and drank countless cups of sweet milky tea (“Don’t worry Tim about all the sugar. I don’t eat cakes and cookies and other sweets like you whites. It won’t hurt me.”).

We lived together for most of that time. His home just a few steps away, within the same compound as ours. We shared our American Thanksgiving with him. He loved Jill’s cooking – especially her pizza. I spent hours sitting in his room, just talking, and he in mine. We made plans. We dreamed. We strategized. My kids’ art work hung proudly on his walls, and they loved spending time hanging out with him. He was my friend. He was more than a friend, too. He was a partner in serving God like none I’ve ever had. I can’t really tell you what he was to me. There aren’t words. I can’t believe he’s gone, and I can’t stop the tears because I know he is.

Kayita had such a desire to just come and see America, and during our brief years together he made many friends from here. I always knew that one day he’d come to see me, and I’d have the time of my life showing him around. I dreamed of where I’d take him, and who we’d go visit. I imagined him with me at different times – going to church, out to coffee, at a Bible Study. I got a kick at the thought of taking him to a Christian bookstore. He loved books. And music. In my dreams I’ve taken him to all the places that interested him – especially ORU. I can’t believe he’ll never see it. He felt such a connection with it because of me, and because of the teams that came from there.

He took it pretty hard when we left Uganda last year. Everyone with any connection whatsoever to our ministry knew that he was the one to lead it forward. There was never a discussion or a doubt about that. And over the past year he did an incredible job. When I visited Uganda in January, and again in June, it was so clear to me why I had to leave. Because Kayita was there, and he was going to take the ministry so much beyond where I could. That man loved the Bible, and he loved teaching the Bible, and he loved The Church. This summer he and Israel were given the job of hosting a team of ORU students for one month. He was so nervous. We had hosted teams together a number of times, but he was afraid he wouldn’t do a good job without me. He confessed to me that he couldn’t even sleep the first couple of nights the team was there in May. But I’ve heard the reports since then, and he did an amazing job. The team loved him, the ministry was powerful, and God used him to impart something to the students who went.

Did you know he was going to get married? He fell in love with this great girl, and I was so happy for them. And his church. Did you know he’d started building a permanent church building? He had laid the foundation. I remember asking him why so big. With his usual simple faith, he told me it was to hold all the people God was going to bring into His Kingdom from that village. Believers Church in Tulsa just decided a few weeks ago to send the money that was needed to complete the building. He was going to be so happy about it. He’d been working for years to get a church structure. Why? Why is he gone? He was a good man. A good friend. He was my true African brother.

Kayita showed me Jesus in so many ways. I can’t begin to tell you. His gentleness. His servanthood. His longing was to see Christ’s church strengthened in Uganda, and to see lost people come to salvation. He was a teacher. Teaching God’s Word was his joy and his hobby and his gift and his passion and his calling. He taught me so much. His godly wisdom. This man was so full of wisdom, and I tell you I leaned many a time on him because of it. Whether counseling a member of his church, facilitating a Bible study, training pastors, leading a ministry, advising missionaries, whatever – he was so full of God’s wisdom. Man, I’m going to miss him. You know what really strikes me about his life, though? It was saturated with God. Everything that man did was about serving God. He was not distracted. He loved Jesus. He loved working for His glory. May his memory live on and continue to instruct me.

I guess I’d better end this. I’m sorry its been so long. And yet, as I read it over, its been such a pitiful attempt to honor the life of a man of God. Thanks for reading it. God bless you.

tim

I would ask that when you are in your daily prayers that you pray for those in Uganda who will be affected by this and that God will strengthen and encourage them to become even greater disciples of Christ.

The LORD bless you, and keep you;  The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;  The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.’ Num. 6:24-26


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