"Behold I am doing a new thing... See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." -Isaiah 43:19
I just realized today how many times during this last year God has encouraged me through passages from the book of Isaiah-and this one is my current favorite. God is always about doing new things and redeeming what is dry and dead. This is the cry of our hearts for the people and district we are working in; that God would bring rivers of life and do a new work as only He can do. My natural eyes look around and see “wastelands." During the last weeks have seen the different tribes in our area fighting and killing one another, but it is even in these places that God wants to bring life. In the verse above God asks us: "don't you see it? I'm working!" Sometimes my heart wants to stay in the old comfortable places where God has already brought growth-but He asks me to step with Him into the new and wants to use us to bring His life to dry wastelands. In this update I will give you some specific things you can be praying for along with us as we walk with Him into the new!
Ugandan Elections & Tribal Conflict:
Just a few weeks after I arrived, Uganda held its national and then local elections. Both of these events caused serious unrest. The discontent on the national level seems to have been quelled, but the local elections stirred up tensions between the local tribes in our district. It’s sad to see the violence that has resulted-people have been killed in senseless attacks on one another, some with specific internal organs removed (I was told this a sign of the influence of witchcraft). A few weeks back there was an incident of arson at a primary boarding school and children awoke in the middle of the night to their dorms on fire and they fled into the forest running for their homes. Last Friday we drove past some rural mountain areas in the district that are completely quiet and many people in the outlying areas had flooded into refugee-style camps. This week the government deployed large numbers of soldiers here in the mountains in an effort to bring order. These last few days the President has been meeting with different groups throughout the area urging people to return to their homes and be at peace. You can be in prayer with us that God would protect the people of our district and that He would redeem what Satan would like to kill and destroy.
Language and Cultural Learning
It's just a little over two months since I landed back in Uganda. The first bit of my time here has been spent getting to know the area, working on language & culture learning, and beginning to get familiar with my new team & coworkers. Although I'm very familiar with life in Uganda, I'm less familiar with this new region. One of my old Ugandan friends asked me the other day how I was doing and I said to him "somehow" it is a different Uganda. He agreed and said “it's like it is a completely different country.” God is giving grace to learn new ways of thinking, customs, and I'm beginning to learn the new language as well. This last week I began working at the school. I'm thankful that I don't have to know the language for this part of my ministry- we speak English at the School.
Beginning Work at the School
In January our new Headmaster arrived and we are thankful for God bringing this very capable “get it done” Ugandan professional onto our team. I enjoy working with him and I’ve been encouraged to see the changes he has already brought to the school. He has lots of ideas for development of the school and is passionate about developing the whole student. Some days we have to slow him down and put the brakes on!
In these next weeks I will be working alongside the teachers and what they call the “spiritual development committee” to lay out a plan for our chapels, small groups, and student devotions. Pray that God would give me His wisdom in both working with the teachers, involving local pastors, and that we could present the gospel in a way that would enter the hearts of both our teachers & students. I have observed some of the small groups at our school, and I’m not entirely sure that all our teachers really understand the gospel. Pray that God would open the eyes of their hearts to His love, and then that a new spark of His Spirit could also be passed along to our students.
Boda-Boda & A Bible:
A sweet encouraging blessing when I was in Kampala was running into Samwell again. About 3 years ago he had driven me on his boda-boda (motorbike taxi) almost completely across Kampala. As we began to chat he asked why I was here, why I lived here... And our conversation turned to spiritual things. I sensed a very strong spiritual hunger and I shared the gospel with him. When the ride was finished I asked him if He had a Bible and he said no. When I paid him for his "taxi" service, the Spirit prompted me to give him extra money to purchase a Bible in Luganda. I honestly wasn't sure if the money would ever be used for this... But apparently it was!
When I visited Uganda 1 1/2 years ago I bumped into him and his fellow Boda drivers said he was always reading the Bible and Samwell eagerly shared what he had read that day.
When I ran into him again earlier this year, I was so encouraged to see him continuing to read and grow in the faith. Seeing his continuing steadfastness in the faith brought back the verse to mind about the sweet blessing of "fruit that remains." Thank you Jesus! Pray that God would continue to give us new fruit that remains and that He would protect the seed that is planted from the evil one who would seek to choke it out.
In July the first printed New Testaments in the local language will arrive. Festivities are being planned in anticipation of its arrival. Pray with us that God’s Word will be eagerly received and that it would change hearts and lives. God’s Word will not return void… this is not a new promise but is tried, faithful, and true!
Thankful for YOU!
Every month I receive a list of the people who support and pray for me here in Uganda. I want you to know how encouraging it is to my heart to see each of your names; the people who are behind me holding me up. I know I've said it before, but I want to say it again-Thank You! When I read over this list I think of you and remember you back home. I often wonder what's happening in your lives. All that to say...I love hearing from you too!
Thanks for your faithful prayers, support, and love.
* My new 3-year work visa was approved in record time!
* God has kept me healthy and safe (I haven’t gotten the colds or flu that's gone around!)
* Thankful for my fan & the electricity to run it-adjusting to the much warmer weather here (120+ degrees warmer than what I left back in Canada)!
* Praising God for His provision of a Good Headmaster at our School.
* That God would help me to embrace all the new in my heart
* That God would help me as I dive into my new role at Christ School
* That God would provide & help me find a “new” used vehicle here
* That God would continue to give us the faith to see His Spirit at work
* That God would give me His grace in my present housing situation.
* That God would build His church here and help me see how I can be a part of what He is doing in the local church.