2012 Prayer

"My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make ever effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 10-12

Friday, July 30, 2010

Christian: Easy in America, Hard in Africa

By the end of the week, some of the team members were saying how easy it was to be a Christian in Africa and to some extent I agreed with them. After all, when you go and share the gospel from hut-to-hut all day and almost everyone you share with accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, how can you not feel successful. However, I was not feeling like it was easy to be a Christian in Africa. God was continuing to prune me and it came to fruition on Friday.

Friday, July 2
This morning's devotional was given by Stephen. He said his passage of scripture was Micah 6:1-8 and that he had already picked it out before he even knew Mike had spoke some on it earlier in the week. Stephen may not have known why God laid on his heart the same passage, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was definitely for me!! After Stephen spoke, we listened to our final voice from the states. My daughter Hannah shared with us her voice and prayer for us. She shared about hearing God's word and not doing it. I was overwhelmed and could not hold back the tears. From the beginning of the week I had prayed and asked God to give me his mercy and compassion. God spoke to my heart as he taught me through Micah 6:6-8. God had showed me how hungry and desperate the people of Uganda were to hear the word of God and how the children longed just to touch our hands or receive a wave. God spoke to my heart as I was convicted of how even though there are so many precious moments acquired from sitting at Jesus' feet, He also desires to show me the powerful, awesome moments I can have with Him when I follow in His footsteps. God lavished on me on Friday, the importance of obedience to His word through the hearing of Micah 6:6-8 one more time and the voice of my daughter through the reading of the Word as she spoke about the ramifications of hearing God's word and not doing it. I was overwhelmed and it wasn't even 9:30 AM yet!!!

After the devotional time, Jamie, Scott and I headed out to visit two schools and then to Lulwanda. Scott and I gave our testimonies at the first school. I shared about how I had sometimes felt alone, unloved or cared for and how God had changed that for me. As I was closing up my time, I looked straight into the eyes of those precious children and with tears coming to my eyes I told them that God loved them. It was at that precise moment as my eyes met theirs and as the words were coming out of my mouth that the Holy Spirit overpowered me and God opened my eyes to see into the souls of these children and I experienced just a taste or maybe you would call it an emotional jolt of God's mercy and compassion for these children. It was overwhelming and it was all I could do to keep my composure. I could do nothing else but offer a prayer of thanksgiving to my gracious, heavenly Father and sit back down in my seat. God continued to do his work at the school as Scott also shared his testimony and Jamie preached and shared the gospel. Several children prayed to receive Christ.

Me and one of the youngest girls at the first school we went to

Scott and Jamie praying with the kids

At the next school, Jamie and I gave our testimonies and Scott preached and shared the gospel. The Lord laid on my heart a different testimony as I shared about going through hard times, putting myself through college, and Scott loosing his job. God showered his blessings and grace again upon the school and many children prayed to receive Christ.
Secondary students praying to receive Christ

We headed out to Lulwanda for a short time after visiting the schools. I was able to spend some time with Sarah as she read to me and showed me around some more at the home. It was nice to be able to strengthen our relationship.
Our sweet Sarah

That night I shared with the group how it was easier to be a Christian in America because no one really holds you accountable. In Uganda you have to do what you actually preach and teach. Hannah's words rang so true to me, I must not only hear God's word, but I must do it. I must share the gospel in Tomball as well as in Uganda. I must show mercy and compassion to my family, children, and the people in Tomball as well as in Uganda. It was a wonderful day and God has changed my heart.

The main scripture I shared at the schools:
You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word.
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.
You are good and do good; Teach me Your statues.
The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.
Their heart is covered with fat, But I delight in Your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statues.
The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psalm 119:65-72

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Pruning Process

Thursday turned out to be a non-day of ministry for Dee and I. Or should I say, a day that I did not minster to anyone, but God ministered to me!! Larry and Mike had meetings all day and the rest of the team went to Lulwanda to minister by being the teachers in the classroom, teaching computer skills to the teachers, and loving on the children. Dee and I stayed back at the hotel and got our hair braided in preparation for the African wedding we would be attending on Saturday. Dee and I enjoyed getting to know Prosee and Sarah as they braided our hair. Dee said it was the most she had ever heard Prosee talk! It took three hours for each of us to get our hair done and by 2:30 or so we were ready for lunch. Dee and I had lunch at the hotel and then I spent the rest of the afternoon reading the book Blue Like Jazz. It was a different book and brought a different perspective to the way Christianity is viewed. God used this book to minister to me on the trip.
My hair after it was braided

As God was stirring my heart to be more passionate, he was also showing me the importance of community. I am more of an introvert by nature and as I have said before, desire to be more at Jesus's feet that are not moving than when his feet are moving. I like the stillness and the quietness of the mornings and the slower paced lifestyle (I know you are thinking that I am living anything but a slow paced life!!!) All that said, I tend to try to stay away from community Yet God desires for us to live in "healthy" community with other believers as well as non-believers. (I say "healthy" because I know there are some of you out there who thrive on community and who need to have less community in order to have balance.)
After four days, I had to take the braids out. They were starting to drive me crazy. With already naturally curly, frizzy hair, the braids only magnified it!!

So as I have been reflecting on my Thursday in Uganda, the past two days here in Tomball, we have been having our trees trimmed and some cut down. The timing of this could not be more perfect as I recount my experiences in Uganda. The Lord has led me to John 15:1-11 where he clearly not only is showing me through his word what he is doing in my life, but is allowing me to see the pruning he did to me in Uganda and the visible changes that it makes to the outside world when I actually allow him to do it.
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples, Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also love you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."
Scott and I thought our yard and tress looked fine. However, when the pruning was finished, we realized how much more we had and could enjoy. The same is true with our Christian walk. Before going to Uganda, I was comfortable with my spiritual condition. However, God desired to do some pruning in my life. He made it to where I did not have time to plan anything. I had to just walk in whatever he placed before me, including going on the trip. While on the trip he was already showing me the lack of mercy that I have and would bring that lesson to a climax on Friday. God used the Blue Like Jazz book to show me how much I need to make an effort to fellowship in community with other believers here in the states. Just like the parts of the tree that were not beneficial for the growth of the tree or the trees around it, God pruned out and is continuing to prune out of me the things that are not beneficial to myself or those around me. I pray that those things that are being pruned will be cast into the fire just like the branches of our trees were burned.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Need Mercy

By Wednesday, I was still seeking why the LORD had me in Uganda. He had been doing some amazing things and allowing me to be a part of them. But why? Why was I there? I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was only because of him that I was 10,000 miles away from home. It was only because of him that I was able to pack and get ready in two days and not forget anything. It was only because of him that I had wonderful friends and family that jumped at the opportunity to minister to Scott and I as they graciously watched over and took care of our four children. So, I daily sought the LORD for why he had me in Uganda. I did not want to miss out on what he wanted to show me and teach me. Well, by Wednesday I was beginning to see just what it was that he wanted to show me. As promised, here is my next journal entry with some pictures of God's mighty work that day...

June 30, 2010
Today was amazing!!! (I think I have said that about every day) Dee led our devotional this morning and she talked about the need to be at Jesus’ feet. So many times we only go to Jesus’ feet when we are in need. Her words started me thinking. The thought came to me that when Jesus rested the disciples were at his feet, but when Jesus got up to minister the disciples had to get up in order for them to continue to be at his feet. Otherwise, they would just be resting by themselves. It struck me that as much as I would love to stay at Jesus’ feet in the quietness of reading his word and in prayer, if I am to remain at his feet, I must get up and follow him. I left the devotion and came back to the room to pray. I asked God to help me to have mercy and love like he does for his children and God began to soften my heart right then. While I am not necessarily unloving, my heart does not express mercy the way so many around me do. Mercy is not my top spiritual gift and yet that is not an excuse because as we continue to become Christ-like, the gift of mercy should be increasing in my life since Christ is extremely compassionate and merciful.

Later on in the van ride out to Sibanga, Mike shared with us what he had been reading out of Micah 6:1-8 where God asks us to act justly, love mercy and to humble ourselves. This struck me as I had just been praying about having mercy and here he was asking questions and holding a discussion about it. I pondered it all day and came to realize that it was easy for us to act justly, to do what is right and not wrong. However, it is often times hard, especially for me to not judge others and want them to pay for the consequences they deserve. God wants us to love others with mercy (not getting what you do deserve) and to live our whole life in a humble way. So God let me rest in this for two days without totally revealing what he had in mind for me.

Once we got to Sibanga I was matched with my translator, Pastor Ben, whom I had on Monday. He is such a passionate pastor with a pastor’s heart and lives what he preaches. He brought along Abel who is a young man in his church and discipled him as we went along. We had several neat experiences. Pastor Ben was a little discouraged at first since the first few huts we went to the people were already believers. However, that does not ever stop me from praying words of encouragement to other believers and so we did. Then we came to a hut where two women said we could share with them. As we were sharing two more men came up and wanted to hear as well. When I was almost done sharing, two more men came up and wanted to hear as well. After everyone had heard the gospel message, the oldest gentleman shared he was so thankful for this news. Then they all wanted to pray to receive Christ. The oldest gentleman told us afterwards that he was a pastor at a nearby church (that is typically not known for believing in the "protestant" gospel). While, I cannot judge and say that this pastor had not been teaching the bible correctly, I pray that the truth of the Bible will now be preached in a way that it could not before as the Holy Spirit is now in this man. May his congregation hear the truth of the gospel from their new believing pastor.

Pastor Ben with new believers

The first two men who joined us

Everyone together who prayed

The last two men who joined us. The one on the right is the older gentleman who is the pastor.

Another time a young boy that was just passing between huts prayed to receive Christ. He said he was in the area visiting his relatives, but his home is near pastor Ben’s church. What was cool about this is that Pastor Ben had told me earlier that he did not care whether or not the people he shared the gospel with could actually make it all the way to his church. If there was a bible believing church that was closer to their home, he encouraged them to go to it. Oh how so many churches here in America care about their numbers more than the discipleship of their members. I believe God was blessing Pastor Ben's attitude and I was able to encourage Pastor Ben by sharing with him that God may have just given him a new young disciple for his church.

Our last visit was to a beer hut. Now I had heard many times about beer hut experiences, but had never experienced one myself. There was a group of about five men sitting around this pot of banana beer with long straws coming from the pot to their lips. They were gracious in letting us come and share with them, but they already had their ammunition ready for us. They knew the verses in the bible to use to rationalize their drinking, but that did not stop my translator Pastor Ben and Abel. They too had a ready defense for these men and I am so glad they did. They were much more prepared to handle it than I was and I could tell they had encountered this before. Pastor Ben would ask me to turn to various scripture passages. I would read them and then we would both share the truth of the bible. I was utterly amazed at Pastor Ben's knowledge of the location of various verses and was reminded again how much more I need to be hiding God’s word in my heart so that I can give a ready defense when called upon. (2 Timothy 4:2)

When I thought we were through and had returned to the van to head back to the church, Mike had just completed sharing the gospel with a group of children and a couple of adults. He asked me to lead the children in the prayer of salvation while he answered some questions from another man. After I prayed with them, two boys on bicycles came up and I was able to share the gospel with them and they prayed to receive Christ. God is never through working!!!

We all went to lunch and before the crusade started around 3:30 we all gathered to pray. Don and Mike led out in prayer. They covered everything so thoroughly that as I was praying in agreement with them, the Lord burdened my heart to lift Dee Dee up in prayer. She had not been feeling well that morning, but went out to give her testimony at the schools with Scott anyway. Later we would find out that at the exact time we were lifting her up in prayer, Dee Dee needed it and was empowered to give her last testimony of the day. While God did not need us to pray for him to empower Dee Dee, he allowed us the opportunity to participate in his work. Another awesome way God worked is that after Dee Dee gave her devotional this morning, we listened to Dawson's prayer and verses. Dawson read about Saul seeing a vision and becoming a believer. Don shared with us later in the day that the first person he came to told him that he had had a dream that a Muzungu was going to come to him and share with him. God’s timing is always perfect and God allowed our children to minister to the team while we were there.

The crusade was wonderful and it was all God. Melissa and Mike were to be giving their testimonies, Don would be preaching, and Stephen and I would be leading the Children's ministry. As it was getting closer to the time for the crusade to begin, I began to have doubts as to whether or not God was going to show up. Don, Melissa, and Mike had prepared and prayed so much for this time and there were hardly any people there. But after it was all said and done I had to kick myself for even doubting whether or not God was going to show up and do his amazing work. Not only were there a ton of people listening and hearing the gospel message, but He spoke to all the members on the team who were being God's vessels. Melissa had been struggling with the cracks in her life that God was using to share his message with the Ugandan people (see my husband's blog for more about how God uses our broken pots to further his kingdom at and yet God gave her not one word more and not one word less than what she needed to share. Mike too did a great job in sharing his testimony and Don shared powerfully the gospel message. What happened in the children's ministry was nothing less than God loving the little children.

Mike's Testimony

Mike and Stephen entertaining the children before the crusade

Melissa's Testimony

Mike praying for Don before the sermon

Don's sermon

The night before as I was preparing to do the children’s ministry, I was in Melissa's room gathering the materials together and she mentioned something about possibly sharing the good news bad news message with the children. I can only describe it as a total whack to the head as God revealed to me that here I was trying to prepare a bible story lesson that the kids would like and I was never even considering the story of actually presenting the gospel to them. I let loose (Scott, Mike, and Melissa said I yelled at her) as I could have kicked myself for being in such a Sunday school/bible story mindset. Why couldn't we share the gospel with the children and call them to respond!?! So Stephen and I planned to share with them. The children sat so attentively and listened and learned the songs that went with the story of Jesus calming the storm and the wise and foolish man building the house. Then we shared with them the message of the gospel and several prayed to receive Christ. Those who prayed received a cut-out foam fish to remind them of the decision that they had made and to share the good news with others. When we were done, Mike asked “How did it go? I didn’t hear a sound.” (This was unusual because with so many kids, it had been crazy good all week in the children's ministry department). All I could say was that it was all God and the prayers of his people in Uganda as well as everyone who was praying in the states. It was a wonderful day in the Lord.

"Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning...
Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
and girded me with gladness,
That my soul may sing praise to
You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
Psalm 30: 4-5, 10-12

Thank you Lord for bringing dancing and shouts of joy to the people of Uganda. Amiina

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh God, Shine Your Face on Us

Yesterday I looked in my journal and saw I have an extensive entry from my second day in Sibanga. In the midst of trying to get lesson plans finished, a chicken coop built, laundry done, and the numerous other daily tasks to take care of, I did not have time to share yesterday. And while I am more than willing to share what God did in Uganda almost a month ago, (and I know a lot of you are looking forward to seeing more pictures), today I have to share with the you the burden the Lord placed on my heart this morning.

Psalm 80
Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power
And come to save us!
O God, restore us
And cause your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
These first three verses prompted me to call upon the Lord, to beg his ear to save our country and our nation.

O LORD God of hosts,
How long will you be angry with the prayer of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And you have made them to drink tears in large measure.
You make us an object of contention to our neighbors,
And our enemies laugh among themselves.
O God of hosts, restore us
And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
We are not so far removed from the Israelite's position. Our nation is feeding on the bread of tears. We are the object of contention among other nations and are enemies are laughing at us. Lord God, please restore us and shine your face upon us.

You removed a vine from Egypt;
You drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground before it,
And it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shadow,
And the cedars of God with its boughs.
It was sending out its branches to the sea
And its shoots to the River.
Why have you broken down its hedges,
So that all who pass that way pick its fruit?
A boar from the forest eats it away
And whatever moves in the field feeds on it.
Roughly 234 years, when America was being discovered and beginning to be settled, people began to move to America for religious freedom. God removed the Israelite's from Egypt and rescued them from other nations. He led them to the land flowing with milk and honey. And yet, the Israelite's turned away from the God who had been blessing them. The pilgrims saw America as their milk and honey land. America began to follow after the American dream instead of the God that brought them to the land. Now, other nations are coming and eating of the fruit that America has produced. They are feeding on our fields.

O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You;
Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine,
Even the shoot which Your right hand has planted,
And on the Son whom You have strengthened for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the Son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.

My prayer is that God will look down from heaven and see his people. He will see his son, Jesus Christ, whom he sent to save the people that he loves. Despite all of the people who have spit, and ridiculed and mocked his son, may God place his hand upon Jesus who sits at his right hand and uphold his faithfulness to rescue his people. May he give his people grace to return to him.

Then we shall not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
O LORD God of hosts, restore us;
Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
God may we not refuse your grace. Help us to turn back to you. Revive us and may we call upon your name and give you all the glory for the restoration of our lives and our nation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Visiting Ugandan Schools with the Gospel!!

"We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For your name is near; Men declare Your wondrous works."
Psalm 75:1

It is my desire to continue to declare the wondrous works of our Almighty God today as I share with you what happened on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 in Uganda.

What a day today has been!! I awoke this morning after a quick night's rest. I think my body clock is finally adjusting to the time change. After breakfast and a devotional about the armor of God, we listened to Nathan's verse and prayer. He was so sincere and sweet and I could visually picture him in my mind as he spoke those blessed words. (By the way, we have tried and tried to find a way to upload just audio so that we can share with you the kids verses and prayers, but have been unsuccessful. Any ideas would be appreciated.) I hurried to get ready as Jamie as I would be headed to the schools today. All the public and private schools in Uganda are open to have people come and share with them on various topics. This includes sharing the gospel!! It is beyond comprehension since we can't even do that in America. Anyway, it would be my first time and as with all first time activities I was nervous and did not know what to expect. I did know that I was to pack my own snacks because we would not be eating lunch!! That was a scary thought to me, but I survived!!

We drove for over an hour to get to the first school. Upon arrival we were told that we could not share because they already had another program later that afternoon. Evidently, the school was hosting another school that afternoon for an athletic event and the students needed some time in the classroom to get their work done!! So we loaded up again and headed toward the next school. Jamie and I had a good visit on the van ride and then we stopped at a restaurant. Some of the Ugandan school team members had a bite to eat, while Jamie and I ate some of our snacks and had a soda. We are not allowed to eat food that is not prepared by our designated cooks for health reasons. Thus, the reason we have to take snacks when we are visiting schools.
Millet Bread--A cheap favorite for the Ugandans

Little boy wanting to see a white person

Jamie enjoying a soda and waiting to go to the school

We went to the next school (a primary school, children ages 5 to about 14) and our school team got the sound and everything set up for the presentation. The headmaster gathered all the children together under some trees where we began with praise and worship by the school team. Then I shared my testimony and Jamie preached and shared the gospel. While Jamie was preaching, the younger children decided to begin to talk. I began to pray that they would be quite so that they would not be a distraction to the other children. Before I knew it, two older boys began walking around with a switch and hitting the children who were misbehaving!! I told God that isn't exactly what I had in mind, but if that is how he wanted the distraction taken care of, I guess I wouldn't argue. :) Several children prayed to receive Christ and when it was all over, the headmaster got up after we were through and praised all the kids for being so good. I was wondering if this was typical good behavior for children at schools, but Jamie assured me in the van that it wasn't.

The whole time we were there, I felt like there was almost a spirit of oppression or resistance against us. This became clear why I was feeling this way when we found out later from one of the teachers that the school we were at has Muslim roots. The resistance and oppression we were feeling was the "struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12) How appropriate it was that the devotion on this particular day focused was about putting on the full armor of God!! Thanks Kayla for being faithful to what the Lord laid on your heart!! We were only able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil because we had put on the full armor of God that morning. (Ephesians 6:11) The teacher at the school told us that all the teachers were Christians and they wanted the children to hear the word of God. They do offer a Scripture Knowledge class, where I believe is sort of like a chapel class for anyone who wants to be a part of it and we encouraged the children to attend. The teachers also said that the children were afraid to become Christians because their parents are Muslim. She asked us to pray quote, "for this little school out in the middle of nowhere" so that the children would come to Jesus as Lord and Savior. I wish I had the name of the school, but if you just pray for the school out in the middle of nowhere, I know God will know who we are praying for!!!
Mike, Pauline, and Francis (part of the school team)
Thank goodness for beef jerky and Chex Mix!!

The atmosphere at the last school was drastically different. Before Jamie and I even began, we had already had "church". The headmaster himself led the school in a worship song along with the school choir. Again, I gave a brief testimony and Jamie shared a message and the gospel. Several accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. The intense desire from all the children just to touch our hands overwhelmed me as I thought about how many people chased after Jesus. For instance, the woman in Matthew 9:20-21, "And a woman who had been suffering form a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Hm and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, 'If I only touch His garment, I will get well.'" Now, I am in no way comparing myself to Jesus, but all of us who are believers do have the cure for the lost and dieing world around us!!
School Choir
After we finished at the school we loaded up once again to head back to the hotel. However, God was not through drawing more people into his kingdom. Since we ride around in vans that are taxis, our driver stopped to pick up two ladies and give them a ride into town. I felt in my spirit that I needed to ask them if they had a personal relationship with Jesus. Come to find out they are from the village of Muyembe which is the village we went to the first time Scott and I were in Africa three years ago!!! I was able to share with her that I had been to her village and shared the gospel with both of them. They both accepted Christ and we were able to tell them who to contact when they got back to their village so that they could continue to learn more about God and be discipled.
Miriam and Nayamba from Muyembe

Unsure and nervous when leaving the hotel that morning, I arrived back at the hotel in awe of being able to be in the presence of God working firsthand in the lives of individuals.

"The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous;
The LORD protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked.
The LORD will reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!"
Psalm 146:8-10

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Side Note

After Sunday's message from our pastor, I felt like I needed to take a side trip from Africa to express the conviction I am under.

Our pastor preached out of 1 Timothy 2:1-7 where we are reminded to pray for our leaders, people of influence and all who are unbelievers. I sat there thinking about how many people have been praying for the people of Africa. They have prayed so much that when we arrived, the fields were so ripe for harvest. The conviction came when I realized that I haven't even been praying for my own country. God's heart is truly for the lost.
1 Timothy 2:4-6 states: "[God] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."
My translator, Pastor Ben understood these verses. As we traveled through the hillside he would share with me how burdened he is for the Ugandan people. There is so many who need to hear the gospel. So much so, that when we attended another pastor's wedding, Pastor Ben said that he could not stay for the reception because he was going back to Sibanga to help with the crusade. He said that since he missed going hut to hut that morning because of the wedding, he would just have to go hut to hut on Monday to make up for the time he lost in sharing the gospel with the people. That is a heart who desires all men to be saved!!
Pastor Ben and Me at Pastor Timothy's Wedding
How burdened am I for my children and other family members? How burdened am I for the people who live in my neighborhood? How burdened am I for the leaders of my city, state, and country? How burdened am I for the men and women who influence us in the media? I'm afraid to say that I have not been burdened at all, when I can't even remember the last time I prayed for the salvation of any of the above mentioned persons. Yet, God is patient in his return because he longs for more people to come to know him. And he is patient with me when I forget to share his heart with a lost and dying world.
Scott, Pastor Ben, and Me at Pastor Timothy's Wedding
Lord, give me the burden and the desire to pray for my children, family, neighbors, officials, leaders, and people of influence. Lord, give me a heart that desires for all men to be saved through the one God and one mediator between God and man...Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus Christ name I pray. Amen.

P.S. For those who are interested in praying for people who have a cultural influence, you can go to and sign up to receive two names a day that you can pray for. The Media Leader Prayer Calendar is also a great way to pray for media personnel together as a family.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hut to Hut

As promised I will continue my journal entry from June 28, 2010 that entails my first day of ministry in the field while in Uganda. On Monday, myself, Scott, Jamie, Dee, and Don went out to the village of Sibanga to share the gospel hut to hut in the morning and to participate in the crusade that afternoon. Words do not do justice to the power and work that God allowed us to experience and be a part of, but I will try to express as clearly as possible what I experienced on this day.

Once we arrived at Sibanga, we all met in the church and had a time of prayer and worship. Then the pastor matched us up with a translator that would take us around the village and be our "mouths". The first miracle I experienced was that God matched me up with the perfect translator, Pastor Ben, who I would get to know better throughout the week and grow an appreciation for the work that the pastor's in the Ogenga ministry perform. After we were paired up, we loaded up in the van and they drove us to the main street where we exited and took off on foot in different directions with nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit, our translator, and our bible.

Pastor Ben walked us to the first hut and after the traditional welcome and the okay to share with the man, I began to share the gospel. After presenting, the man said he wanted to accept Christ. We prayed together and took down his information. (Everyone that prayed to receive Christ, their name and address was written down so that the Pastor of the Sibanga church would know who in his community had become a new believer. This allows the pastor a type of prospect list to invite to church and begin discipleship.)

From there we went to the next hut where two ladies were doing their morning chores. Upon our arrival they quickly stopped their work and brought out a chair for me to sit. (Everyone in Africa is so hospitable. They always quickly run to get sometimes their only chair for the Muzungu (white person) to sit on while they sit on the ground to listen.) After sharing the gospel with them, they too prayed to receive Christ.
Florence and Mary (two ladies who accepted Christ)

This happened over and over as Pastor Ben and I walked from hut to hut through corn fields and Ugandan farms. With my backpack on, I couldn't help but absorb the beautiful countryside and praise God for his creation of nature. I felt like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music when she is on the hill singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music."
The Uganda hills in Sibanga were filled with the sound of music. Angels rejoicing from hut to hut as more and more of God's children gave their lives over to a relationship with him.

One time we were walking down a trail there was a lady and a man doing chores. The man began to walk away as we got closer. The lady upon seeing us began to tell Pastor Ben that she was a believer. She continued to plead with Ben to allow me to share the good news with her husband. Of course I told Ben that I would and she began hollering at her husband to come back and hear what I had to say. He did come back and I shared the gospel message with him. He said that he would wait and go to the crusade. We told him that there were no guarantees that he would make it to the crusade and asked if he had any other obstacles that would keep him from placing his trust in Christ right then. He said no and that he would like to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. We prayed and then she asked us to pray for healing for her back. It was a sweet time as I remembered that faithfulness in prayer for family members to come to know the Lord is part of our responsibility as believers. Just as the friends in the bible lowered their crippled friend on a mat through the roof to see Jesus, so this wife brought her husband to someone who could share the gospel with him and he would listen. (Mark 2:1-5)
Pastor Ben, my translator, on the Right at the Crusade

Another time we were walking along in search for the next hut, a man came walking up the trail and stopped us and told me that
God's spirit told him I would come and share with him some news.

In awe again for the hundredth time in just a few hours, I began to share the good news of the gospel and he too prayed to receive Christ. Oh how true it is when God clearly states: "...Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest...I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor." (John 4:35,38) How cool is it that God was allowing sinful me to take part in the work that God was already doing in the lives of so many of the people in Uganda.

But, it didn't stop there, the last hut I went to was an elder gentleman. After sharing the gospel message with him, he prayed to receive Christ also. Afterward, he asked if he could ask me a question. I said sure. He then asked,
"Why haven't you come sooner. Things would be different here if you had."
My heart sank. I had to tell him that I was sometimes disobedient to the Lord. You see, I felt a tug from the Lord to go on the last mission trip to Uganda in October 2009, but talked myself out of it for various reasons. Then, when we didn't have enough support for even one of us to go on this trip, we decided that Scott would be the one to go. I then told him that I wasn't even suppose to be in Uganda this trip, and shared with him how the Lord opened doors for me to be able to be there, right at this specific time.
"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37) especially when the workers are disobedient in their call to accept the job!! May we follow Jesus' instructions to us: "Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:38)
And may we all be willing to be one of those workers when the Lord calls us.

After walking in the work of God for over two hours throughout the village, we headed back to the church for some lunch. The team ate lunch together and shared our various experiences from the morning. We then began to prepare our hearts for the crusade and prayed over the afternoon. Don and I would be giving our testimonies, Scott would be preaching, and Jamie and Dee would be doing the children's ministry. After sharing my testimony I went and helped Dee and Jamie with the children's ministry while Scott was preaching. There were over 150 children in the church. We were having to compete against the loudness of the speakers outside from the crusade, the darkness of the church, and working through a translator. We shared several stories and songs with the children. Several people came forward after Scott's message and gave their lives to Christ.
Jamie and Dee singing with the kids before the crusade

Jamie and Dee inside the church for the Children's Minisry. You can see how dark it was

Scott encouraging men to come forward

Scott praying with a man

After we got back to the hotel, ate, and showered, all I could do was jot down phrases to remind me of the work that God did on that day. As I sit here and remember what happened two weeks ago on this day, I feel like it has been just a dream. And yet, I know that it did actually happen and it happened only because of God. So I close with the verse that I began the day with in Uganda two weeks ago Monday, because it is all about God!!!
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory. Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth." Psalm 115:1

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Devotional Time

Well, I was ready to type in my next journal entry, but looked and found out that our first Monday in Uganda was the first day that I came home and just wrote down phrases to remind me what had happened on that day. As I read over them, I was overwhelmed once again how awesome our God is. There are so many stories to share about my first day of hut to hut this time. However, because of time constraints today and other responsibilities I am going to share with you the devotional that I shared with the team on Monday morning before we split and headed to our various ministry posts. It was my turn to give the devotion and the Lord had me share from Psalm 115. I promise my next blog will begin with the God stories that he allowed me to participate. :)

Psalm 115
Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth

The opening verse to the psalm reminds us that the reason we were in Uganda was not for our own glory, but for the Lord's.
Why should the nations say,
'Where, now, is their God?'
But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.

Our God is not accountable to us at all. He is almighty and powerful and does not work according to our ways. This reminded me that I was in Uganda not from anything I could have done, but because God worked it out for me to be there.

Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man's hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them.

God revealed to me that man has tried to recreate and be god himself. Each of the above mentioned work of man's hands has to deal with our five senses...mouth, eyes, ears, noses, hands, feet...Many people in Uganda have been trying to make idols for themselves and to be god. However, the verse states that those who make idols and places their trust in them, they too will become like them...unable to speak, see, hear, smell, feel, or walk. Basically, they will be dead.

O Israel, trust in the LORD;
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD;
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD:
He is their help and their shield.
The LORD has been mindful of us; He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless those who fear the LORD,
The small together with the great.

Here, I began to ponder what Israel and Aaron stand for. Then God revealed to me that Israel is the nation. If nations trust in the Lord, then God will be their help and their shield. Aaron was the head priest. He was a leader. If leaders will trust in the Lord, then God will be their help and their shield. Then all those who fear the Lord and trust in him, God will be their help and their shield. It was important for us to remember that our trust should be in the Lord and that God is our help and our shield.

The next verse I almost skipped. I told the group that I thought Scott and I already had enough children and we were tremendously blessed already!!
May the LORD give you increase,
You and your children.
May you be blessed of the LORD,
Maker of heaven and earth.
The heavens are the heavens of the LORD,
But the earth He has given to the sons of men.
The dead do not praise the LORD,
Nor do any who go down into silence;
But as for us, we will bless the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
Praise the LORD!

The Psalm ends with a reminder that the dead cannot praise the Lord. Idols and those who make them are unable to praise the Lord. But we who trust in the Lord and know him are capable of praising the Lord and are able to share this with others.
It was our responsibility to share with the Ugandans who the true creator is and the relationship he desires to have with them. It is still our responsibility over here in the states to share with those around us who the true creator is and the relationship he wants to have with them.

Lord, we praise your name. May we never become dead as the idols we sometimes try to make. Help us to fear you and place our total trust in you instead of trying to force you to be accountable to us. May you receive all the glory and praise as we share with others the great creator God we serve. Be our help and our shield as we go into the harvest you have prepared. In Jesus Name, Amiina!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Finally in Africa

Okay, so it is really getting hard waking up at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning starving because it is lunch time in Uganda!! I am trying to force myself to go back to sleep and not get up, but this morning I gave in and got up at 5:30. Scott on the other hand got up at 4:30 and went back to sleep a couple of hours later. I haven't eaten anything yet, but there are muffins in the oven!! Below is my second journal entry from my trip. I hope you enjoy it. As I retyped it I remembered how much I was searching for the reason God even allowed me to go. It is exciting on this side of the trip to know he had a special purpose and plans for me and I will enjoy sharing them with you!!
June 27, 2010

I couldn't write over the last two days because we were traveling. We spent all day Thursday and Friday either on a plane or in an airport. We ended up having a three hour delay in Amsterdam which put us in Entebbe, Uganda at 11:00 p.m. instead of 8:00. We finally arrived at our hotel at 1:00 a.m. where they had dinner waiting for us. We crashed around 2:30 a.m. and got up at 7:00 for breakfast, devotional, and to load up in vans for the four hour trip to Mbale. However, that trip turned into 6 1/2 hours as we manuevered through Kampala traffic and road construction. It was nice to finally see Mt. Elgon Hotel. It was a weird feeling as it was familiar to me, yet felt unfamiliar at the same time. Almost like a dream I had revisited. The whole time on the airplane felt the same. I couldn't believe that I was actually on my way to Africa again. But, here I am and after a great nights rest under a mosquito net, we woke this morning for breakfast and devotional. Scott led us in the devotion and he began with Peter saying a verse and praying for us (Before leaving town, Scott had each of our children find a verse they wanted to share with the team and then recorded them reading it and saying a prayer. They each took turns in their room recording themselves so neither of us knew what they were saying. Scott then put it on a flash drive and we took it with us to Uganda. Four mornings we were blessed with hearing the voices of our children). It was so good to hear his sweet voice and encouragement as he prayed for us. (We are trying to convert the audio file so that we can share it with everyone. So check back later to hear Peter's verse and prayer!!)

From there we went to Pastor Morris's church (Morris and Aida Ogenga are the couple we work with when we are in Uganda) where I was able to speak to the women. It was a blessed time. I met a young girl by the name of Angus who works in town (Kampala), but attends the church. She came to know the Lord in 1995 at a crusade when she was four. She is now sixteen and her mother is a believer but her father is not. He has two wives and Angus has seven siblings. They are all older than she is except one. Please pray for the salvation of her father and the rest of her family.
Teaching the Women's Bible Study

Women attending Bible Study


I then met a lady by the name of Katherine. She works Monday through Friday 2 1/2 hours away from home. She lives there and comes home on the weekends. Her son stays with her husband during the week and goes to school. She said her husband is a believers but goes to a different church. She said she thinks he is finally okay with the fact that she doesn't go with him and attends Mbale PCU. I was able to share my own experience when Scott and I first go married in regards to choosing a church home. I shared with her that Scott and I both attended churches only two blocks from each other when growing up. Once we got married we would go one Sunday to his church and one Sunday to my church. We would leave each Sunday from the churches thinking that our church was the best. Finally, I decided that I would stop fighting with Scott about what church to attend and just pray about it. As I prayed for God to reveal to us the church that he wanted us to attend. Katherine interrupted at this point and said, "you went to his church?" I told her no, God had revealed to Scott that we should attend my home church. Katherine was some what shocked because she had automatically believed that God could not change her husbands heart to attend the church that she really felt most comfortable and was learning the most. It was a sweet time and still hard to think that my own experiences here in the states relates to people in Africa. Please continue to pray for Katherine as she is gone from her family so much during the week and for she and her husband to be able to fellowship together at the same church as God draws them closer together spiritually.

After lunch we went by the hotel to change and then went to Lulwanda (The children's home where we sponsor Sarah Nasike). We were greeted by so many children and then we finally saw Sarah. She has gotten so big over the last three years. And despite seeing pictures over the years, to actually see her in person again was so amazing. she said she remembered us and thought we were coming back the next year. (For those who don't know, Scott and I went to Uganda in 2007 and saw Sarah for the first time then. She automatically believed we would be coming every year.) She had asked Mama Rose (another member on our team who has been able to go every year) if we were with her. Rose had to tell her that there was a problem and we couldn't come. It was sad to hear that she was so disappointed and I honestly didn't think that she would have remembered us. However, she did and showed us all the new things happening at their school. It was a fun and relaxing afternoon. Scott handing out jelly bellies and soy nuts and read Dr. Seuss books to Sarah and her friends.
Seeing Sarah

Kid's playing Basketball

Kids playing soccer

Kids playing cards on the steps

Animal Keeper at Lulwanda

Reading to Sarah

Eating Jelly Bellies

Local kids come to Lulwanda and get water from a pump. This is a huge outreach to the community around Lulwanda

Our Precious Sarah

I am ready for dinner, a shower, and another good nights sleep with Melatonin. I believe we will find out tonight where we will be headed tomorrow. I will also be leading our devotional in the morning. Lord, I am still wondering what my purpose on this trip is, but I thank you for providing me the grace I have needed to be here and to be in your will. I love you Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.