Last month I sat down with a new friend, Dickson. Dickson once had his photo and information on a packet from Compassion International. Someone picked up that packet, sponsored him, and literally changed Dickson’s life. Hear in his own words how $38 per month made an impact. You could make a similar impact in the life of a child. Head over to Compassion and see some of the kids waiting for sponsors.
Last night the PDN Conference team took some time to debrief. We each shared things that God spoke to us during the last couple weeks. It was a great time of sharing. God has done some deep things in the lives of African Pastors, and in us as well. My list will grow when I get back home. Like a good movie, these experiences continue to roll around my soul.
As I reflect on the last 2 weeks, here are a few of the things rolling around my mind.
African Pastors are Resilient. They are men and women who are ministering under tremendously difficult circumstances. They have a desire to move the kingdom forward, all while living in poverty (less than $2 a day).
A third world experience will hurt. Before I left home, I felt like the Lord told me 2 things: (1) I am going to let you drop into the African culture deeper than before, and (2) It is going to hurt. He was right on both counts. Poverty is confusing and painful. The scope makes me feel helpless. It makes me question things we accept without question. The answers are not easy. And I doubt there will be much resolve in my soul this side of heaven. That’s probably the way it should be.
Teamwork is a beautiful thing. The MCC team was awesome. We each pulled together in our roles (Mariah with social media, Bruce, Paul, and I with teaching). Bigger than that, The Pastors Discipleship Network team was amazing. They love Christ, the Pastors of Africa, each other, and their jobs. Everyone manned their post with no drama. They support each other in tremendous ways. It is a beautiful thing to see.
Heaven is going to be indescribably. Revelation gives us a peek.
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” – Rev 7:11
Standing in the middle of worship in Africa is an amazing thing. I can’t imagine what it will be like when all the nations worship; but I am looking forward to it!
Here is a little video just to give you a taste.
Note: Our team will be wrapping up our time in Africa tomorrow, preaching at 3 services at a church in Kampala. We will be dropping off the internet grid as we make the 9000 mile trek back to the states. Thanks to all who have supported through finances and prayers. It was a great 2 weeks of ministry.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. – Ps 62:1
It would be easy to look at the updates from Africa and see only adventure. Sometimes we report only the great things. Make no mistake: It is adventuresome. It is great. It is worth the work. But it is also hard. On trips like this your entire being is flung into a new experience. Like bring thrown underwater, sometimes it is hard to know which way is up. Your body is in another time zone. You are seeing things you rarely see. The simple act of eating a meal is complicated. Your body adjusts to a different diet, and you wrestle with homesickness. At times your soul battles for some equilibrium, for some sort of rest.
In truth, we all wrestle with a similar thing. We want our soul to be at rest. We find ourselves searching for things that would quiet our soul. If I just had a little more money my soul would be restful. If the relationship would work out, I would be at peace. If I could just accomplish this, or have that, then I could rest easy. Problem is, when you have this or get that, your soul finds rest only for a season. Why is that? Because our soul is not meant to find rest in anything except our creator.
When everything around us screams “Find rest here,” remember that our soul finds rest only in the one that created us. The best that anything else offers is only temporary.
So, odd as it may be, let me pray from you (from Africa none-the-less):
God, thanks for my friends who are reading this. We acknowledge that we chase many things. We want rest. We want to be at peace. We have looked many places. We have had experiences that have left us without rest. We have chased at an intense level, only to find that the rest and peace faded. Forgive us. We acknowledge that our soul can only find rest in you. You are our creator. You are our comfort. You are the one who died. You are the one who rose again. You are the one at the right hand of the Father. You are the one saving us. You are the one who knows us better than ourselves. Today we find our rest in you. We will stop ourselves today when our soul strays and tries to find rest in something else. Our soul will finds rest in your alone. Please grant us significant rest and real peace today.
Note: Today we travel north to Lira, Uganda for our second conference. It is a glamorous 7 hour non air-conditioned bus ride on rough roads. That’s OK. Our rest is not in the quality of transport or the smoothness of the road. Thanks for the prayers. We will keep you updated as much as can. Real-time updates come through facebook and twitter.
During the Pastors Conference in Rukingiri, Uganda, I led a session on the most important thing a person can do each day. I challenged Pastors that there was one thing that set the foundation for life and daily living: personal time every day in the word. I know it works because it changed my life.
At the end of a session, I asked Pastors to read a chapter from Bible every day, journal some thoughts, and pray. I challenged them to do this for 30 days. The picture above is of the Pastors who raised their hands and took the challenge. In the middle of difficult circumstances, these Pastors are making time every day for the next 30 days to hear from God through his word (the Bible). Would you? Maybe you have gotten away from the practice of hearing from God each day. Maybe it’s time to jump back in. God has great things he wants to say to us. Many times, we don’t take the time to hear.
Note: We are meeting with the Pastor’s Discipleship Network staff today. Tomorrow we head for our second conference. Thanks for the prayers. We will keep you updated as much as can. Real-time updates come through facebook and twitter.
I am writing this from the back seat of a van. We are travelling through Uganda, watching a foreign world pass by our windows. This is my 2nd trip to Africa. This is a beautiful country. These are beautiful people. Some of them are my friends. More are becoming my friends. We are much the same. We share a common belief in God. We are human.
And the similarities seem to end there.
They live in a culture I do not understand. They live in conditions that I cannot wrap my mind around.
In a training session with African Pastors, a Pastor stood and asked me a question. “How do we do ministry to our people who are in extreme poverty.” I thought for a moment. I searched for a great answer. I have observed poverty in many countries. I am involved in releasing kids from poverty. I have a theological degree. I am ordained. I am a full-time Pastor. I help train Pastors to do ministry. I thought hard and fast about my answer. Calling on all my experiences, I looked him in the eye and gave him my answer.
“I’ll be honest: I do not know. You live in conditions that I do not understand. You deal with issues I cannot get my mind around.”
I don’t understand poverty. The issue itself is deep and wide. Looking through the van windows I see an issue that looks overwhelming. The problem is complex. The solutions even more so.
Something, somewhere has gone terribly wrong.
The solution to eliminating extreme poverty from the masses? I don’t know. But . . .
I do know there are small things to do to combat extreme poverty. Compassion International is an organization I have been involved with for 25 years. They help release children from poverty in Jesus name. Compassion offers education, a spiritual base, food, and medical care (and more). You can make a difference in the life of a child through a monthly sponsorship of $38.00. I might not stop poverty for everyone. But I can stop poverty in the life of one child. And so can you.
Tomorrow we visit New Life Baptist Church Nakawa. My friend Richmond Wandera grew up there, in extreme poverty. At a young age, he became a compassion child. His life was slowly released from poverty. Today Richmond (who holds a masters degree) serves as the Founder of the Pastors Discipleship Network.
Note: For rapid and almost real-time updates, follow me on facebook or twitter.
Day one of the PDN Conference in Rukungiri, Africa has come to a close. The day was full of worship, Africa style of course (man, I wish I could dance). Also during the day we had four teaching slots. Paul taught on the dangers of the prosperity Gospel, I taught on preaching, and Bruce did a double hitter: accountability and balancing your life. Mariah was the social media queen and spent much time on the cameras. I am proud to be part of this team. They are making great investments in helping Pastors become resourced and refreshed.
We have been feeling the power of your prayers. Keep it up. Tomorrow we have another full day of sessions here in Rukungiri.
Mariah, Bruce, Paul and I arrived in Kampala, Uganda Africa on Tuesday afternoon. After 30 hours of travel we are exhausted, but excited. After a briefing with the Pastors Discipleship Network, we are heading 6 hours by car to Rukungiri, Uganda. There we will teach in the first of two conferences.
I love the Pastors of Africa. They are committed, resourceful people who are working in challenging conditions. They are often under-resourced, and over-extended. These conferences are designed to equpt and encourage them.
Internet is spotty, but we will be updating as much as possible. Check facebook and twitter for the most constant updates.
During our trip last year with the Pastor’s Discipleship Network, we spent a few days in the village of Bukeka. Bukeka is a typical African village, a couple hours outside of Kampala, Uganda. In Bukeka, a ministry drilled a well, held a medical clinic, and are in process of planting a church. Because water and medical needs are being met, the people of the village are incredibly open to the church.
I shot this video one night of a revival (in the village square).