Growth of New Heart Worship Center extends to African nation

Joe Parker went a long way –– geographically and in the growth of his church –– to meet with one of Uganda's heads of state.

Parker, pastor of New Heart Worship Center in Federal Way, was in Uganda on a mission with other members of the church when the town where they were working was visited by Vice President Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya just weeks before the national election in February.

Bukenya and President Yoweri Museveni won the election –– a good choice by Ugandans, Parker said, based on his meeting with Bukenya.

"It was a great honor to be able to share the gospel with the vice president. He is a man of great respect and is working hard to help the people of Uganda," Parker said.

New Heart's mission work in the African nation is a far cry from the humble beginnings of the church. Parker and his wife, Jean, who will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this month, founded New Heart (originally called Faith Outreach Center) in 1978, without knowing anyone in the area and without a place to hold meetings. The couple hosted Bible meetings in their apartment in the formative days.

The congregation grew and now has a 1,000-seat auditorium in a building on Military Road South that was formally dedicated last year.

The church has expanded its outreach locally, regionally and in world missions. The latter includes a 15-person team that went to Uganda in January to help in prison ministries, food programs, medical clinics and orphanages. The New Heart group also participated with about 500 other people in a ministers' conference.

The efforts of the Federal Way delegation were appreciated by Robert Kazosi, who pastors a church in the town of Masulita.

"New Heart gets a lot of credit for the growth we have experienced here, and we are grateful to them for their generosity," Kazosi said.

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