Volume 4, June & July 2013 "Future missionaries will be rewarded... let them not forget us, who worked when all was gloom, and no evidence of success in the way of conversion cheered our paths." -David Livingstone
I’m so grateful for all those who have gone before, not only those in the early years of missions (like David Livingstone) but more recently all the work that was done here throughout the years before I moved here laying the groundwork of this ministry and we are now all experiencing the joy of reaping the fruits of the seeds that were sown long before our arrival!
Some of you who are familiar with the history of Uganda will recognize that we are working in the area where the Uganda Bush War took place. The name of our village literally means “where the heads come off.” Past government used to bring those who were not in compliance with their rule here, and thus the area earned its name. This area which used to be plagued with such despair is now becoming known for a new reason!
This Spring we hosted a group of church leaders from other parts of Uganda for two days of meetings. One of these Church Leaders said during his prayer:
“This place which was neglected and which the people feared has become a place to show your glory… it has changed.”
Our village is now on the map for new reasons! In the last month we’ve had surprise visits from numerous government organizations. One from a large convoy of UN Ambassadors & Six Ugandan Members of Parliament. A few days later we had a second visit from US AID & GAP. All of these visitors were brought by local leaders who wanted to show the work that was taking place here in their district.
The visits took us completely by surprise—we were all going about our usual work when suddenly a big line of nice SUVs marked UN pulled up to the gate and told our Security Guard they were here for a tour! Jackie, Jen, & I scrambled to put together some refreshments in order to properly receive our visitors! (Here in Uganda warm hospitality for notable visitors always includes a bottle of soda) Luckily, this last month one of our villagers opened a “shop” in his house and Jacky ran there to buy a case of bottled soda. The visits went well, with some MP’s saying they wished their children could attend our school and many of them saying they wished they could stay longer.
So, this little jungle village is becoming a place where God’s light is shining through—the seeds sown here are beginning to blossom and bear fruit and not just because we’ve had some high profile visitors!
Last weeks Sunday School lesson was on the Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13. We know that the seed is God’s Word-there is no fault with the seed, but the response varies based on the type of ground. As I prepared the lesson I was encouraged to be faithful in continuing to sow the seed of God’s Word; and leave the response of the people in God’s hands. Some seed is plucked away by the evil one; some seed falls on rocky soil (it’s received with joy and enthusiasm but trials comes and expose the lack of a true root in Jesus Christ); some seed is sown among thorns (this one hears the word but the cares of the world choke out the word); then there is the seed that falls on good soil—he hears and understands the Word and bears fruit! The Lord has been so kind to let us experience some of the joys of seed sown on good ground. We just keep sowing God’s Word and pray for Him to make hearts fertile ground for His Word.
The last month was busy and it seemed a week was over and gone before I knew it! Just preparing for the 5 weekly studies kept me hopping! (In addition to my normal work in the office-plus caring for the Hurley’s home and youth in their absence.) Here’s a weekly recap:
Sunday School Class: In May we broke our 8am kids Sunday School class into two age groups. I took the kids aged 9 and up. We average around 60 kids each week. Last month I challenged the kids to memorize a packet of key verses and I told them that once they completed them all, I would buy them their own Luganda Bible. They’ve eagerly arisen to the challenge, and I’ve already had six kids complete their memory verses! Some of them memorized 30 verses in only 3 weeks. Listening to the memory verses has also helped me learn more Luganda pronunciation. Many of these kids may not realize the real value of what they are putting in their hearts, but we know that God will bring His Word back to their minds and it will bear fruit in the future!
Monday Ladies Bible Study: This study continues to go well. One week last month I arrived at the study after a really busy day; it was a struggle to get there. When I arrived I discovered that very few of the ladies had made it to the study because of sickness. I thought to myself, “If I had known, I would have just cancelled the study!” However, God was at work. A random man arrived at our ladies Bible study a few minutes after I started-he said: “I have watched you go past my hut every Monday week after week. Something would tell me I need to go to the bible study, yet something would tell me not to. Today I was compelled to come. Please, I am tired of this world, I’m 60 years old and I want to become a Christian.”
I was rather surprised by his declaration and I spent quite a bit of time testing out his sincerity and explaining to him what it meant to be a Christian… turning from our Sin to Christ, placing our faith in Him, and the persecution that God promised to all those who follow him. He insisted that “today he was turning from his sin to Christ.” I was amazed at yet another small example of God’s Spirit at work!!! Please pray for this man, he is a leader in the community and I’m told many follow his lead, yet he will also have a struggle in front of him with alcoholism. The following week I returned with one of our church elders to visit him and they will be taking him through a Bible study.
One week last month I arrived at this same study to fine that one of the ladies had attempted suicide (unsuccessfully) and then left the village abandoning her toddler. It was sad, yet that week our lesson was on the affects of sin… the people in the study kept noting the situation we had before us throughout the lesson as an object lesson of the truths we were studying. We have been praying for this young mom and thankfully she returned to the village and her baby yesterday! I had the opportunity to chat with her and we will continue to pray that God will help her place her faith and hope in Him.
Tuesday Ladies Bible Study (New): There is a group of ladies who come to our church from a distant village. Many of them get up at 5 am to prepare their afternoon meal; they then leave around 6 am to begin the long walk to attend Sunday School at 8am. One Sunday they pleaded with us to begin a ladies study in their area. In June Jen & I began the study and I have been so blessed and encouraged by each of these ladies! Our group is growing quickly. Last week one of the ladies was delayed and I asked what was delaying her; I was informed that one of her neighbors was angry that she hadn’t been invited to the study… I reaffirmed that all are welcome and our little study is growing in number every week! Right now we have 10 ladies who come, many of them with their small children.
My Shadow… If you had been around our church this Spring you would have noticed a little girl who our staff started to call my “shadow.” Wherever I was, she would be; she wanted to sit on my lap, she’d want to hold my hand, she’d want me to carry her. I didn’t realize this little girl came to church with another lady who wasn’t her Mom. Well, her Mom began attending our new Bible Study. One week she told me how people told her about this “Muzungu lady” who cared for her child at church, so she finally decided to come just to see this for herself! She then decided to come to the new Bible study—a few weeks ago she said she had never understood Christianity before and had been a Muslim, but now she understood and she wanted to become a Christian! I just about wept on the spot, because I was so humbled by the fact that God used me holding a little girl on my lap at church to bring a Muslim lady to Himself. Please continue to pray for Hajarah that God would protect her heart from the evil one and that the seed of His Word would grow strong roots in Him alone.
Wednesday Home Village Ladies Bible Study: This ladies Bible study is held in our home and many of the more mature Christians come to this study. We’ve been working through the book “Lies Women Believe” Last month Jen & I taught on fighting sin in the believer’s life. We were a little worried that attendance might suffer (due to the topic!) but the ladies have been faithfully coming. Please pray that they would be faithful to be in God’s Word on their own and that they would grow to full maturity by investing in the lives of others. Our goal here isn’t to do everything ourselves, but to train up Ugandans to do the work themselves!
Friday Weekly Chapel: Last month I did the Friday Chapel time at our primary school studying some of the attributes of God with our kiddos. I always love working with kids when I have the chance. We had fun acting out the Bible stories together!
That’s a little report on what’s been going on around here—and a little snapshot of how my weeks pass so quickly. I can’t believe it, but I’ve now lived in Uganda for 6 months! Continue to pray for all of us to faithfully sow God’s Word and that He would prepare & protect the hearts of those we work with!