Bryan Stensaas has given twenty-three years to missions work, the last fifteen in Uganda. His four children are now all grown and serve as missionaries in Uganda. In a recent interview with The Baptist Voice, Brother Stensaas spoke about the great need in Uganda.
ARE THE PEOPLE OF UGANDA OPEN TO THE GOSPEL?
They are open to listen, but they do not make a fast decision. They weigh out what has been said and make a decision based on the Bible. When you show them the truth (not just tell them), many receive Christ.
SO THEY ARE OPEN, BUT SKEPTICAL?
They have been lied to and manipulated by governments and leaders. We have a good government now, but because of all the turmoil and strife they do not know who to trust. Children do not trust their parents. Parents do not trust their children. Children take anything they can from their parents just to exist, and parents would do the same to their children. That confusion causes problems. They do not know whether or not they can trust you.
HOW DO YOU GAIN THEIR TRUST?
You have to be real. You get out there and work alongside of them—anything you can do to show them you are a human being right along with them. Because their religious leaders do not work, you start building their trust through labor. You do not merely tell them truth, you show it to them in the Bible. It does not make a difference if they cannot read. You build trust by showing what God says, not what you say.
WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES IN TEACHING NEW CONVERTS?
When I first begin training new seminary students, they would not look to the Bible for answers. I asked them to turn to a passage and tell me what it says, but they will just look at me for the answer. One of the biggest problems is getting the people to look to the Word of God and think through what it says. When you get them to that point, it changes their lives completely.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO BEGIN A RADIO MINISTRY?
When I got to Uganda, people asked me to preach in their village. We ran from village to village, but we could not get to every one. Many friends we met who were dying of AIDS would just sit in their village, listen to the radio, and get ready to die. When back on furlough, I asked God how I could reach these people. I met a man at a conference in Kansas with a little booth about a radio ministry. It was like God turned on a light and said, “You need to start a radio ministry.”
HOW FAR CAN YOU REACH WITH THE STATION?
I am in thousands of villages every day, eighteen and a half hours a day. Thousands of villages I can never get to are hearing the Word of God. Many are getting saved that I will never see until I get to Heaven. I had such little vision for the station when it started. I wanted to reach our little town with some good music, good preaching, and advertisement for our church. I never dreamed what God would do with it. Our station is 500 watt, which normally only reaches about eighteen miles. Engineers think I’m lying when I say this, but people can hear our broadcast from fifty miles away.
HAS GOD REACHED INTO THOSE VILLAGES THROUGH THE RADIO?
You never know who God will touch. One day I found out I was essentially pastoring a church I did not even know I started. A group of people in a village had gotten saved through the broadcast and began meeting together to listen to the sermons. Anglican preachers have told us they now get their sermons from our station instead of the diocese. We even had one Anglican preacher resign and enroll in our Bible institue.
OF THOSE WHO HAVE ASKED YOU TO PREACH IN THEIR VILLAGE, HOW MANY HAVE YOU HAD TO TURN DOWN?
Hundreds and hundreds. When we are in one village, folks from another village will ask us to come preach at their village. And I have to tell them “no,” because there are only so many hours in a day. When you are in ten villages, how many times can you get out to each village? As we drive for hours to different villages, we pass dozens more that we can’t reach.