Hagemyers Bring Christ's Message To Uganda
Despite the danger and uncertainty permeating American society in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, Roy and Cheryl Hagemyer feel gratitude every day. The couple spent two weeks in the East-African nation of Uganda earlier this year, before Coronavirus appeared. The experience reminded them how important “the little things in life” truly are.
“These people are dirt poor, worse than dirt poor - they have nothing,” Roy said. “Yet they are the happiest people we’ve ever met.”
Roy Hagemyer is the pastor at The Way Christian Church in Fort Mohave, which he and his wife Cheryl founded almost 5 year ago. They visited Uganda to evangelize; Roy preached up to three sermons a day at seven different Christian churches in villages where the inhabitants live in mud-brick houses with dirt floors. There’s no glass in the windows, so their homes are filled with tropical insects. Poverty and Malaria are endemic, and many of them suffer with the insect-borne parasite most of their lives. They often must travel many miles on foot or motorbike for basic sustenance – food and water are not conveniences, they require time and hard work to obtain. Clean water and food can be hard to come by and meat is scarce. Basic sanitation may be nonexistent.
The children at the orphanages the Hagemyers visited slept on floors with no beds, and were served only a single daily meal comprised of a gruel made from cornmeal and water. A few beans is a treat.
“They don’t have much to eat, they are excited if they get a few beans along with their corn,” Cheryl explained. “But they are all so loving, I just wanted to grab the little babies and hug them. We learned hugging is not part of their culture, they are taught to bow down to their elders. I did hug a couple of kids and they were just burning up, you know they have Malaria. Still, they dance and sing and are happy every day.”
The trip came about after Roy began a social media relationship with a Christian pastor in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city and home to nearly 1.7 million people. Six months later the Hagemyers were on a series of long flights. They landed at the famed Entebbe International Airport, which is situated on a peninsula in Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the African continent. Two weeks of travel on rough dirt roads in tropical heat – their transport never had air conditioning – led them from Kampala, the nation’s capital with a population of more than 1.6 million inhabitants, to the city of Masaka with a population of about 100,000. They spent time in numerous small and often remote villages that were home to only a few dozen residents.
Their “5 star” accommodations had mosquito netting and no air conditioning, sometimes no hot water. But the landscape was beautiful, the people were warm and welcoming, and there were large crowds wherever Roy preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, despite the distances people had to travel to attend.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been asked to prepare sermons and to be prepared to preach on a regular basis,” said Roy. “Once I did three in one day, other days I did two sermons.”
Working with an interpreter was a new experience for Roy, who had to change his usual flowing rhythm of preaching by pausing regularly for the interpreter to relay his words in the native language. His message was understood and well-received, though.
“What really struck me was the awesome response to the message I preached,” said Roy. The couple learned that Christians in Uganda are very committed to their faith; they are willing to travel long distances for fellowship with other Christians and to hear the Bible’s message.
“They might have traveled for hours to get to the church,” Cheryl said. ”Some had to leave the day before, and mostly they walked. But they showed up in their Sunday best and filled with gratitude for the chance to gather together to worship. They dance and sing and praise the Lord.”
Roy’s sermons were so inspiring that Ugandan pastors asked him for copies so they could repeat his message verbatim. “If they want their pastors to preach the message I preached, that speaks volumes,” Roy said. “They are hungry to hear the Gospel.”
Bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Africa was the goal of their trip, and the people they met and their indominable faith and spirit reinforced in Roy and Cheryl a deep gratitude for Christian fellowship and the appreciation of all the things in life most people take for granted in developed countries.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m having a bad day because things are not going right, I’m dealing with a difficult person or stuck in traffic. But then I think about the people I met in Uganda who literally have nothing, yet they are truly happy. It makes me thankful for everything I have,” said Cheryl.
Everyone is welcome to hear Roy Hagemyer preach each Sunday at 10 a.m. at The Way Christian Church in Fort Mohave. Currently, masks are required to comply with CDC guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID 19.
The Way Christian Church is located at 4122 Highway 95 at the corner of Gardner Road in Fort Mohave, just south of Bullhead City, Ariz. Everyone is welcome to attend services at 10 a.m. each Sunday. The church offers Bible Study at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and there are men’s and women’s prayer groups and groups for children, youth and young adults. For more information, visit www.thewaychristianchurch.net or call (928) 768-9292.