Thursday, September 3, 2015

Uganda Children of the Nations Trip 2015 | Wednesday, August 5, 2015: Praying for Crazy Things Only God Can Do

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

"Pray for things only God can do. Crazy faith, Pastor Mike."

Sunday, August 2, 2015: The Boy on the Road to Lira
Monday, August 3, 2015: The Memory of Massacre in Barlonyo 
Tuesday, August 4, 2015: Meeting Daughters and Sons of the King

This will be my last post about my time in Uganda. There is so much to write and reflect on, but just providing these four posts was both an emotionally enriching and draining exercise for me in the midst of the flood of memory. For the rest of my time in Uganda beyond these posts, Wednesday and Thursday are the days I was involved in a seminar with Pastor Tom Sparling from The Journey for Ugandan church leaders and Children of the Nations staff. I was able to share about The Story of God and our Gospel identity He's given us in Jesus, and Tom shared about how we approach the Scriptures with wisdom and humility, and how we walk in the ways of Jesus based on His Sermon on the Mount. And then Friday was a day of rejoicing with our new Ugandan family, laughing and dancing with the kids, and saying our goodbyes.

So much to remember. So many to be thankful for. 

What God did in our small team of eight people – two from Emmaus City and six from The Journey, two churches in our city of Worcester – in relation to our time with our Ugandan brothers and sisters in the photo above, I pray, will not only be memorable, but will connect more people from Worcester to Lira. The faith of the Ugandan Children of the Nations staff, as well as the vision for how to provide for the children in the years to come, is worthy of recognition and service.

What's next? Only God knows. What He has done already through Children of the Nations in Uganda is remarkable. And what is next is most likely more than I can ask for or imagine. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2015 | Praying for Crazy Things Only God Can Do

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

This is the tree where Children of the Nations held its first class of less than a dozen students. Today 58 children live on the grounds in Children's Homes through full care provision by donors. Nearly 300 children are part of the Village Partnership Program. And they are faithfully feeding and educating 150+ children with no sponsors from the nearby village trusting that God will provide from His abundance.

In the past eight years, God has provided Children of the Nations with land, a container for storage, houses for children, workers and plans to build the school and guest house, and a growing number of staff.

The Ugandan government has recognized their growing school as one of the best primary schools in the nation. Their students are hungry to learn and growing in skills and understanding in a rural setting far away from the capital of Kampala.

Next steps are to develop nearby land for a secondary school, build dormitories for a boarding school, complete a second primary school and a technical school, add solar panels for greater sustainability, dig cleaner wells less infected by typhoid, and hire more staff so more children can be cared for and taught throughout all their schooling.

Is this possible? 

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

Mama Norene believes it is. This wonderful woman has a compelling story that I won't go into too much detail about here. She and her children have greatly benefited from her ability to work for Children of the Nations. She has been protected by God from a great many things and she is beloved by the staff and the students. She lives in one of the children's homes where she cares for a house of more then ten.

Mama Norene is one of many people I could tell you about and came to love as family. I could speak of Thomas, Justine, Moses, Pastor Richard, Nadrene, Walter, Pastor David, Claudia, and many, many more.

One more I will mention and provide a little more detail about is Tonny (with two "n"s; he's in the back row to the far left in the photo at the top). Tonny stayed with us in the guest house all week though his home and his family are in another village. He brought us bottled water. He turned on the generator for us to give us light. He locked up the house when it was time for us to rest. He guarded our home and slept in the room attached to the house. He was a leader, and a friend, and a servant all wrapped up in one person.

In so many ways, Tonny was like Jesus to us, a faithful watcher and protecter. And he shared with me words that I hope are not only his prayer for me, but a prophecy that God will make come true in my heart and life:

"You have to have 'crazy faith' when you follow God. Whether in Uganda or with Emmaus. Pray for things only He can do, Pastor Mike. Keep praying. There's nothing else better you can do. Crazy faith, Pastor Mike."

God, give me crazy faith as big as you've given Tonny and these hearts in Uganda. Help me to dream dreams as big as You are.

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

Another privilege of being with my beautiful family in Uganda was beginning each morning praying, and singing, and listening to God's Word, and worshiping Him with them on the other side of the world from Worcester. 

One of the passages that was shared during our time has not only stuck with me, but provided a framework for remembering this week:

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
 and He will repay him for his deed. Listen to advice and accept instruction,
 that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
 but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. What is desired in a man is steadfast love,
 and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, 
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
 he will not be visited by harm. Proverbs 19:17, 20-23

We not only learned these truths of wisdom deeply in Uganda, but we can also continue to know and be confident they are true because Jesus was kind to the poor (Luke 4:18-19); Jesus listened to instruction (John 5:30-32; 12:49); Jesus acknowledged the rule of God (Mark 1:14-15); Jesus understood money does not bring joy (Matthew 6:19-21, 24-25, 33-34); and Jesus revealed that the fear of the LORD leads to life (John 14:6, 23-24).

And why do we trust this Jesus? Because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

And let me tell you, we sang You Are the Same, along with songs like The River and Lord, I Need You, like I've never sung them before with my sisters and brothers in Uganda. The YouTube videos can't compare to what one guitar, one drum, and a collection of people outside of Lira can sound like when they are unashamedly crying out to God with joy for giving us life. How can you not but give glory to what God has done and is doing in this place near Lira town? And He is doing it through wonderful people and children whom I love dearly.

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

When the kids would see us drive down the road, many of whom had only seen a few if any white people, they would smile, wave, and shout, "Muno bye!"

I also had to give my goodbye to Brenda, Milly, and Simon – the three children our family sponsors. I hope to return to Uganda to see them all again and perhaps bring some of my family, too. Multiple times Brenda asked about my wife saying, "Where is Julie?" I would love to see a future when they can meet face-to-face. 

I also hope to see Jesus' Church flourish and multiply in Lira. I hope to see Children of the Nations double the amount of children they are loving, serving, and educating in Jesus' name. I hope to drive through Kampala again and connect with Sojourn: Uganda. I hope Emmaus City can support more of God's work He is doing in this country. I hope.

And for now, I also hope for a crazy faith, recognizing the One my Ugandan brothers and sisters call, "Master Jesus," to be my Master and King.

"Jesus, You are our Master and King. You reign. Bring Your Kingdom come to Uganda. Shepherd them and shelter them. May many more servants be brought here to join Your mission in Lira town. Continue to bind our story together – Emmaus City to Uganda – if it will produce a great display of Your gospel of the Kingdom in the years to come. Give me crazy faith that You will. And give Emmaus City crazy faith that You can do things in us and through us in Worcester like you have with Children of the Nations in Lira town. I pray this because I'm praying in the name of our Master and Savior Jesus, Amen."

This series of posts began with a sunrise and now I will end it with a sunset. I love you Uganda. May the sun rise for you again and again. And may the Son bring many more resurrections in your towns and in Worcester for the praise of His glorious grace.

Learn more about how to

sponsor a child in Uganda through Children of the Nations.

– Sully

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