Former Berryville pastor spreading Gospel in Uganda

Friday, July 19, 2019
Phil Tolstad was in a pastor in Berryville from 1983 to 2002. Now he and his wife, Twyla, are active in missionary work in Uganda.
Submitted photo

Poverty. Disease. Famine. Malaria. Drought. What would cause a man to leave the prosperity of the United States and travel to the war-weary nation of Uganda? What would propel a couple to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, absent from home, family, and friends? The answer is simple: love.

Phil Tolstad was a missionary’s kid, born in the country of Uruguay to missionary pioneers in South America. He traveled to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil as his parents spread the gospel of Jesus Christ from the 1950s until 1964, when his family returned to the United States. It was then that Tolstad learned a second language – English.

From New York to Oregon, Tolstad traversed the Pacific Northwest region of the country and dedicated his life to the work of God. He went wherever he felt God leading him, and that led to UPCI (United Pentecostal Church International) church in Berryville.

Berryville became his home, and he and his wife, Twyla, settled down to pastor a burgeoning congregation and raise a family. From 1983 to 2002, Tolstad loved Arkansas and loved his pastorate. Yet, another love grew inside of him. Tolstad was a missionary’s kid, after all, and he had a global heart, a global love, to help people across the world.

In 2002, Phil and Twyla moved once again, this time to the African continent, to undertake a religious work in Malawi and Mozambique. In 2006, the Tolstads transferred to Uganda, where they are still active in the missionary work today.

The Tolstads were a local couple who became global heroes. They continue to work tirelessly to provide religious and humanitarian aid to the African citizens. The Tolstads have a strong belief in the power of education. They established a local two-year Bible College program to train pastors, and Twyla works in the Kampala schools to oversee the education of the area’s children.

“Without education, there is no hope for the children,” Tolstad says.

The needs in Uganda are great. Lack of rain has dried up all of the wells and the rivers. Crops have long been destroyed. Animals have either died from lack of pasture or been eaten for food to survive. The African rains have begun in some areas, and the hearts of an Arkansas couple are watered with hope. Hope for a harvest of souls as they minster the gospel to the spiritually hungry. Hope for a harvest of crops as they labor with the people they serve, seeking relief for the physically hungry. It is the heart of a pastor, a missionary, a missionary’s kid. It is the heart of love for a global people. It is the heart of a hero.

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