An Account of Events in Kampala by Tim Knoppe
December 29, 2006
The situation concerning the church in Kampala, Uganda, is quite different from what is being reported by those who are working under Titus Chu. The current group of workers sent by Titus are doing a work in Kampala separate and apart from the church there. In fact, they continue to labor there in spite of a direct request by the brothers taking the lead in the church in Kampala that they leave. To make matters clear, like so many of the situations we have experienced in the Great Lakes area, is complicated. What follows here is a brief account of what has happened in Kampala.
The church in Kampala was raised up under the direct labor of Steve Lietzau and myself after we had both moved there in August, 2003. After two years the church was standing clearly in response to the Lord's impartation of life and truth in the same way that caused many of us to respond to follow Him for His recovery. There was a core group of local saints, approximately 25 out of the 100 meeting as the church, who clearly understood the truth unveiled through the writings of Brother Lee and Brother Nee. These truths opened the Bible as never before to them and their experience of Christ increased. Many of them paid a high price to follow the Lord this way.
Before moving to Uganda, in a meeting with Titus Chu and others working with him I asked if the brothers in southern California knew about our going to Kampala, and I was told, yes, this burden for Uganda came out of a time of fellowship with them. Through the first letter written to Titus Chu in June of 2005 by twenty-one blending brothers, I discovered that the work in Kampala was not initiated in coordination or fellowship with brothers who are in the one work for the Lord's move.
During a visit to the U.S. in June 2005, I asked Titus Chu directly, "Brother, did you have fellowship with the blending brothers about our going to Uganda?" His response was, "I don't have to fellowship with those brothers." My response to him was, "But you told me that you fellowshipped with those brothers; that is how I had a clear conscience to go there."
The next month Titus Chu asked me to move to Detroit. Upon arriving in Detroit, I was informed that the work in Kampala was going to take another direction under Titus' instruction. A leading brother told me, "Brother, this is going to be a big test to you before the Lord. You will have to let the work you did in Kampala die. The brothers [working with Titus Chu] have made a decision and they are going to take the work in Kampala in another direction." The "work" which Steve and I had had been laboring to build up was the church in Kampala. Saying that "work" would have to "die" meant that Titus' workers would be pursuing some other goal as the focus of their work. "Taking the work in another direction" proved to be a damaging and divisive factor to the church in Kampala.
This new plan of action was carried out in Kampala beginning with the visit of two brothers sent by Titus Chu in September, 2005. They announced that funds were no longer available to support renting the hall in Kampala, so there was the need to divide the church into three groups. The poorer saints would meet in their part of town in a soon to be constructed sheet iron facility. Steve Lietzau and George Kiiza were instructed to care for this group and allow them to return to their traditional way of meeting and practice in order to gain the people in that neighborhood.
A brother who had just been sent by Titus would take the six or so students and begin a new work on the University campus. The rest of the saints were told to fend for themselves and meet in the best way that they could. This group of saints was made up of the educated core saints who were the most clear concerning the church life. One member of this group was a sister named Sarah, who had been our only Ugandan contact prior to our coming to Uganda. Sarah married Godwin Kihuguru, who is now one of the leading brothers in the church in Kampala.
The letters I received from these saints after I was deceitfully maneuvered out of Uganda was a real suffering. They were confused, hurt, and bewildered. I could not explain anything to them at that time but trusted that the Lord would preserve them.
From the time I returned to the States in June 2005 until December 26, 2005, I was still in the work under Titus. On that date I was called to a meeting in Titus' house with those involved with the work in Kampala. In this meeting there were insinuations toward me that I must be defaming them because a good number of the saints in Kampala were refusing to follow their new direction. In good conscience I could clearly state that I had never tried to undermine the standing of any of them to the saints in Kampala. They asked me to travel with two brothers to Kampala to tell the saints in Kampala to follow their direction.
At that point I announced that I could no longer continue with them by calmly stating that "I am done." Then I stated, "Now I must fulfill my portion; this meeting can end here." I went to Kampala in April 2006 and stayed for two months. I spoke with Steve Lietzau upon my arrival; he was bothered when I told him that what we had both been told from the start concerning a coordinated "fellowship for Uganda" was not true. Steve consulted with a brother who had a long-standing relationship with Titus in the U.S. When that brother told him that Titus' work had been a source of problems elsewhere, Steve also withdrew from the work being carried out under Titus' direction.
As I began talking to Brothers Godwin Kihuguru and Sam Mpugu, who are taking the lead in Kampala, they revealed how there was an increasing distance and separation between the work on the campus that Keith Miller was doing and the church. They noted there was less and less contact between them and felt something was wrong. This was confirmed by the following letter that Keith sent to us at that time (emphasis added):
March 27, 2006
Dear brothers Tim, Steve, Godwin and Sam,
Based upon the recent events, conversations, and communications we have had with you we realize that
- Among us there are radical differences in the view, direction, and practice of the church in Kampala.
- You now oppose the work that brought the church to Kampala and feel that the workers affiliated with this work are now a frustration rather than a help to you.
We respect your convictions to resign from the work due to opposing views and to follow the Lord in another way. We would ask you to also respect our decision not to join you and know that we also must be faithful to follow the Lord and fulfill what He has committed to us. Regarding the temporary structure in Naguru, I think you will agree, that it was erected with funding provided from the work (which work George and I remain in) and under the direction of myself and George. George is committed to continue his labor in Naguru. We therefore would expect there should be no dispute by you over that structure or its contents.
Because our views are different and the direction we are taking is not according to the way you are taking we would also ask you not to contact those who we are laboring with as we do not want to bring them into any disputes or confusion.
We understand that you do not want us to use the name "the church in Kampala" on any sign, flyer, invite, etc. We agree to abstain from using that name on any of our future signs or materials. If you have a change in heart regarding the above matters we are open to get together, otherwise we feel there is no need for further communication about this.
Keith Miller George Kiiza
Based on such a letter declaring that the work under Titus Chu intended to labor separately from the church in Kampala, the brothers felt to take the advice given to them by one of Titus' workers on a previous visit. That worker told them that if the brothers taking the lead in the church did not want the work to continue then they should simply ask those workers to leave. He told them that the work is for the church and not the church for the work. With this understanding the brothers taking the lead in the church in Kampala sent the following letter to Titus Chu by Federal Express (emphasis added):
THE CHURCH IN KAMPALA
P.O. Box 1003
28 March 2006
Brother Titus Chu
3186 Warren Road
Cleveland, OH 44111
Dear Titus Chu,
We have been standing since 2003 here as the church in Kampala, even as you visited us. We have come into the practice of the genuine oneness on the ground of locality and the reality of enjoying Christ as Life and Spirit.
More recently your work has brought in a different direction that was not in fellowship with the church and that has not been received by the church. We believe that the work should be supporting the church even as agreed by some of your co-workers that recently visited us.
The church in Kampala finds that this work has proven to be divisive and contrary to the church. Even claiming some of the younger members as belonging to the work.
We therefore ask you to remove your co-workers from the city in Kampala to avoid further damage to the saints under our care.
Sam Mpuga Godwin Kihuguru
cc: Paul Neider, John Myer
Titus Chu never responded to this letter from these brothers except to send more workers who continued their separate work without any fellowship with the leading brothers or the saints in the church in Kampala. Whatever work has gone on through Titus Chu by those sent by him to Uganda is a blatantly divisive work that violates every principle of the one Body of Christ and the clear teaching we have received from our brothers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee regarding the practical ground of the church. The actions of Titus Chu and his workers violate even simple human decency toward those saints standing on the ground of oneness in the church in Kampala and takes advantage of the good hearts of the unsuspecting saints from the Great Lakes area who have supported Titus' work through prayers and finance.
There are many details that would take too much time to convey, but I felt that the reports many are receiving through Titus' workers concerning the work in Kampala are subtly misleading and that the truth must be told. When Steve Lietzau and I went to Uganda, our burden was to fall into the ground and die in order to raise up a core group of local saints who knew life and were clear concerning the truth of the practice of the local church life as a testimony of the one Body of Christ in Kampala. Our labor was seriously undermined by brothers who came to change the direction of the work according to a different view without any fellowship beforehand either with us or with the leading brothers in the church in Kampala.
I can joyfully testify on behalf of the saints in the church in Kampala that they are pursuing steadfastly in the enjoyment of the Lord Jesus Christ practically as His members for the building up of His universal Body in His New Testament economy.
Your brother in Christ,