Thursday, November 1, 2012

First fruits

So I wanted to tell you all the story and introduce you to some new members of your family in this post.

So, I had been praying for Nalebe now for 2+ months, He had been my gardner for about 3 months.  Nalebe is a quiet man, I had hardly heard him speak a dozen words since he has worked for me. In my last prayer update I also asked my prayer partners to pray for the salvation of Nalebe. In fact my main motivation for learning language became learning enough that I could share Jesus with this young man.Well, as we were showing the Jesus film in the manata where he lived i looked for him, to see if he came to watch. I found him and he was standing and glued to the screen. Throughout the movie I prayed that Nalebe would understand and believe.

The next morning when I left the house I saw Nalebe and after handling the typical morning disasters, I made a b-line to speak to him. I asked him what he thought of the movie. He said it was very good (He was smiling from ear to ear) and he said watching Jesus and the things he said and did was amazing. He told me he wanted to follow Jesus. I told him I would be happy to show him Jesus' path and help him follow. We planned to talk about the specifics soon. Everyone was ecstatic. I may or may not have done a little dance.
In this picture Nalebe, in the middle is telling us he wants to follow Jesus.
Since Nalebe has begun to follow Jesus we have seen a drastic change in him and it is clear the spirit is moving and teaching him new things everyday. He has told us he would like to participate in our missionary training in January. Please pray for him. Pray for his wife, pray for him to be bold and to grow in wisdom and love for Jesus.

Nalebe's baptism

Joy of the Lord
Baptizing another new believer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Swallow your missiology



After 10 years in South America working among remote unreached people groups. I had developed a system, a missiology if you will, that worked well in our environment and was effective in making disciples. I spent a lot of time on my knees seeking God and asking what I should do and I feel like we were pretty successful in accomplishing what God set out for us to do.
Along the way, we tried a lot of things. Some of them worked and others were disasters. One thing we tried in South America was the Jesus film. In a word, disaster. The people were more interested in watching a movie than in Jesus. It was completely non-reproducible and new believers thought if they did not have equipment to show the Jesus film they could not share their faith. So, When a friend offered to help us show the Jesus film in Kaabong, my initial thought was, “No, way!, never making that mistake again.” However, after a few days I couldn’t shake the idea. I shared it with Bobby, His response was the same as mine. Then after a few days I confessed to Bobby, that as strange as it sounds I have a peace about sharing the Jesus film. He confirmed that oddly enough he had the same peace. So, grinding our teeth as we went We went ahead and told our friend he could come. 
We had no idea what the future held. In this case there would be a full scale spiritual battle going on in Kaabong, there would be a death of a dear friend that would cause people to question their mortality, and the spirit of God would be on the move. The Jesus film then had a very different affect than our previous attempts. It caused people to fixate on the Person of Jesus and his teachings. Everywhere we went people were talking about Jesus. Everyday new people came to us and told us they wanted to follow him. Then after following him they began proclaiming the Good news to those who have not heard! God knew what was needed and I am so glad we swallowed our Missiology and our pride in order to follow the plan that God had laid out.
I will say that we did make a few changes, for any of you who are interested. Instead of giving an alter call or asking people to raise their hands or say a magical sinners prayer. We simply told them that if they are ready to repent of their old ways and begin to FOLLOW Jesus every day. Then please come to us and we will show you his path. And that is just what we have done, many have now been baptized and we are in the early stages of discipling these new brothers. But we are taking these steps as we are on our knees and seeking Gods will for this very situation and for these very people. We don’t ever want to wretch back up our tired old Missiology and rely on it instead of Gods indwelling Spirit. I hope this testimony encourages you to do the same. Tomorrow we will introduce you to your new brothers! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Lion AND the Lamb.


I am sure that some of you are feeling a little uncomfortable regarding the things that have taken place this week. You are wanting to be faithful to pray, and you are okay to pray for protection for Longolemoe and her sons and even salvation for Moses, but the idea of praying that God would show Moses his displeasure with his sorcery, etc and show him his power by taking away Moses’ ill gotten gains. Well, that makes you a little uncomfortable and that is okay. It opens us up to a bit of a discussion.
There is an epidemic here in Africa that is also common in America and elsewhere. It is this prevailing idea that God is like a nice and gentle old grandpa who just wants to spoil us with gifts and love. Concurrently Jesus was sent to teach us only how to love and to be kind to others. The Holy Spirit is sent to help us to feel good about ourselves and comfort us in times of need. Though many of these things are certainly true they are not the whole truth. Because Scripture teaches us also that Our father is jealous for his name and his wrath is often unleashed because of our sins, and though He is slow to anger and abounding in love when he finally does get angry...you better hope you are not on the receiving end. And Jesus did teach us how to love and care for one another but he also consistantly called out the pharisees for their sin and turned over the tables in the temple. You see he was both the Conquering lion from the tribe of Judah and the Lamb that was slain. And God’s Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and help us find our identity in Christ but he was also sent to convict us and others of sin in our lives. 
You see what we have done is that in our minds we have tamed God. We have shaved his beard. We have chosen to hold fast to the parts of God’s character that benefit us in some way but those things that make God scary we have hidden in the basement. The things that actually make us have a Holy fear of God we have omitted from our theology. Why? because we want a God that we can manipulate and control, not one who is in control of our lives. We want to have a say in what we should do or where we shold go or even who we should marry. Instead of surrendering ourselves fully to him and allowing him to direct our lives. I must admit it is a scary thing living in submission to God, you never know where it will take you. But I have found that God has taken me to many unexpected places, from the hospital bed to the bush of Africa. and though it is not what I would have imagined for my life, I am glad I followed him because I have learned that he does have good plans for our lives and he truly does know what is best.
Now what does that have to do with what happened last week with Moses? Well, If our God is weak, passive and kind, then calling Moses out on his greed and sorcery was wrong. And no doubt telling him that he would lose his riches and would not prosper until he repented and turned away from his sorcery and greed was also out of character with that god. In fact the idea of punishement and even hell are out of character with this ‘god’. 
However, if our God is powerful, loving, just, kind, jealous, righteous, holy and he DEMANDS obedience. Then we see God showing his love but also showing his displeasure. We see things like Ananias and Sapphira being swallowed up by the earth for their greed and lying to God (Acts 5:1-11). We see Paul blind Elymas because he perverted the ways of God by mixing sorcery with the Jewish faith (Acts 13:4-12), We see Peter cursing Simon the sorcerer and his money because he wanted to manipulate God with money (Acts 8:9-25). So though, many of us (myself included) are indeed uncomfortable with this part of God’s character, we can not deny that it exists. and In fact it is what makes him the only God worthy of worshiping. It is his Holiness that causes me to want to fall on my face in worship. It is true that our God is slow to anger and abounding in love (Ex 34:6-7, read both verses for the full context), however there is a couple of things that anger him everytime in scripture, idolotry and sorcery. In fact, i think the use of scorcery is the only time in the new testament that you see Christians curse anyone. And this is the very situation that we found ourselves in with Moses and it is also why I feel our response was in keeping with the new testament example.
Now, if your misgivings were not because of the character of God, but because of the faulty earthly vessel chosen to speak these words in this instance, you are right to question. I am fully aware of my own sin, as are others. But I want you all to know that I spoke those words out of obedience to what God’s spirit was speaking inside of me. They did not come from my own heart or even my personal desires for Moses. It is still our hope that he and his wife will repent from this wickedness and find their hope and salvation in Jesus. I hope this helps a little in understanding the situation and maybe it even causes us to discuss a bit the character of God. That is, after all what the comments are for! Feel free to post your opinion.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life, Death & Ransom, Part 3 (4&5)


Longolemoe and her son Apus



Once again thank you all for your continued prayer. This week has been the biggest roller coaster of our entire life on the mission field. So here is a bit of an update on what God is doing here in Kaabong. It has been a wild ride, so try to keep up.
Praise God, the land dispute is settled. Legally the land belongs to the Baptist Mission. We have given Moses every opportunity to resolve the issue and he has failed to do so. The curses that were cast upon us were a failure and his threats have not amounted to anything. So today we spoke again with the police and they confirmed that Moses had no claim to the property and they would enforce it if necessary. 
SO, this means Longolemoe can return to her garden! We will be hiring oxen to plow Longolemoe’s garden tomorrow (Sunday) We will also be planting for her, corn, sorgum and some vegetables. Let me also share that she and her sons are unharmed and have not been affected by the curses. In fact she is looking healthier every day and her appetite has returned. As soon as we have fast enough internet I will upload a picture of her for you all to see.
As far as Moses is concerned, we have gone to him a couple of times giving him the opportunity to repent and turn from these greedy selfish ways. He has continued to manipulate and threaten both Longolemoe and even some of the elders. So I think that God is fulfilling the prophecy given earlier about his riches. In the past week he has lost a large plot of land, We had offered him a sum of money to pay the debt of Longolemoe, he refused more than a dozen times thinking he would still get the land. Now the woman is going to be receiving the benefit of the money. It will be going to pay for plowing the field and for buying her seeds and food to hold her over until harvest. So he has lost money, land and influence this week. Please pray for the repentance of Moses. Pray that he would turn to God and he would turn away his wrath.
On another note, this week God gave us the first fruits of our ministry here. Two of our closest friends here came to us and told us they wanted to follow Jesus! It was incredible, there has been a huge change in both of them and we are amazed to see God work in such mighty ways in our midst. I will be writing an update very soon that introduces you to some of our new brothers. Until then, please be praying specifically for Nalebe and Ngole. They should both be baptized on Monday.
Our God Reigns
--j

PS: It took so long for us to have the internet to post another blog that there is even more news. We have plowed and planted Longolemoe's garden. She is doing VERY well and recovering well. Moses has continued to be a problem. The day after we planted her garden he went out early in the morning and tried to disturb the seeds that were planted. We were not terribly concerned since it is our God who sends the rains and even causes the plants to grow. Since this all began and you were praying, around 20 men have come to Christ and there have been 13 baptisms. It seems pretty clear who is going to win this showdown.

PSS: Still more news, Moses has continued to find someone who he can pay that will help him get the land. The first curse they put upon us has not worked so they have gone to the witch doctor again to accomplish their plans. We heard from Longolemoe that she was afraid and asked us to  try to pay off the powers that be to take off the curse. Instead some of the new believers went to pray with her and share with her how she could know Jesus and have no fear.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Interested in the language learning process?

I am sure many of you are interested in how our language learning is going. Well, Ngkarimajong is a difficult, but not impossible, language to learn. Luckily we are surrounded by native speakers most of the time and that helps speed things up a bit. We also have someone on the team (Robert Lane) Who has studies linguistics and is tasked with developing for the echelon team a language learning program. As he is developing it he is sharing some of his insights on his blog. I thought some of you might be interested in checking it out. So here is the link:
http://swiftmessenger-languagefiles.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 2, 2012

building a tukal part 1

Karimajong Power tools

So on the Echelon basecamp, otherwise known as Frontier Outpost 1 there are two ‘houses.’ These houses are nice and comfortable. There is also currently space for 3 small guest rooms. They have 2 twin beds a toilet and a sink and share an outdoor shower. There is also another Guest house that is currently being used by our friends the Schrocks. This is like a small open flat with a toilet and a sink and outdoor shower. Since we will be having more guests and even 2 new families coming to Uganda we are needing even more housing. 
Also, Once we get to Sudan we want to be prepared for building our own simple basecamp. We would like for the buildings to be made out of local materials and the houses to look like that native Tukals of the area. So we decided to experiment here in Uganda. We thought we would build one on the compound and see if we can outfit it for a family and learn how we could possible make something like this work in S Sudan. It has been an interesting process. I thought you guys might be interested in joining us in this journey. Here is how far we have come so far. We are mostly watching and learning from the Karimajong men who are building. 
First we measured how wide we anted the structure to be. then, we made a circle and the guys dug holes with long pieces of rebar and then put these support poles in the ground.

then, they made the supports level more or less


these reeds were brought from the bush, they will be used as the supports that wrap around the roof.

We went to the forest and cut down some trees. then the guys took the bark off the trees by beating it with a rock.

 some of those poles were then used to connect the supports

they connected the poles to the supports and one another using tree bark ropes. The ropes are soaked in water to make them more pliable then when they dry they shrink up and get tight.


the larger poles from the forest were used to make the roof's support poles.

then the reeds you saw earlier were bound to the roof poles with wet bark rope and some nails.

this is the bark rope being cut to the right width. It will then be soaked in water an used.

It is starting to come together.
Next step, putting grass on the roof

but we will save that for part two.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life, Death & Ransom: UPDATE


Thank all of you for your fervent prayers about this situation. If you are just now getting into the loop you can get caught up with the first post here.
Since the first post we have made some progress in the land situation. As crazy as it sounds, the land that is in dispute actually belongs to the baptist mission. It was given in 1995 during the tenure of the Schmidt family. So it is 99.9% certain that Longolemoe will get her land back very soon. In fact, we are planning to plow it up for her and replant her garden on Saturday and get her back on her feet. Physically she is doing MUCH BETTER!!!! She is now walking again and she is able to speak. She is now just having difficulty with eating and her appetite. Now that she knows she is going to get her land back she seems to be less desperate and we are not as concerned about her taking her life. When we spoke with her yesterday she seemed to be on her way back to feeling normal. I am convinced that this is due to your prayers. Please continue to pray for her. Also we will be planting very late in the season, so please pray that her crops will grow well and be ready to provide for her needs very soon.
We have begun to see a change even in Moses. Thus far all of his attempts to scare people and intimidate them into helping him steal the woman’s land have come up lacking. This man had pretty significant influence and was able to simply pay people off to get his way and take advantage of people. Since you have begun to pray none of his contacts seem willing to help him with this matter. The local police have chastised him for trying to steal the poor woman's land. They have even threatened to charge him with murder if the woman dies (from starving or witchcraft). Though I think these are probably empty threats, I think Moses is seeing that his money can not buy the solution he desires in this instance. In short, even though he has gone to the witch doctor and placed curses nothing is working and I think he is beginning to see that our God is powerful and He is the protector of the poor and the helpless. 
That being said, I want to make clear that our ultimate desire is for this man to follow after Jesus and I truly believe that the Lord has great plans for his life. But first, he must learn that our God reigns and deserves honor and worship. He has to see that his witchcraft can not stand against our God. That all of his efforts against us can not succeed. But he also needs to see that we truly love him. and that we do not see ourselves any better than we see him. I am convinced that without the grace that I received from Jesus and the renewing of my mind that He began I would be capable of the very same acts of greed and rebellion towards God. So, today we will be going to talk to Moses and share our love for him and Gods love and give him an opportunity to repent of his greed and follow after a God that forgives and restores us. The Gospel is not for the healthy but for the sick, like you, me and Moses. Pray for Moses that he has learned his lesson and we can introduce him to Jesus and God can turn away his wrath from Moses.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bovine Monikers



Living among the Karimajong is truly like living in an african version of the wild wild west. I will go into this in detail in an upcoming blog post but for now I want to give you some insight into how they feel about their cattle. To put it simply their whole lives revolve around these bovines. They spend most of their lives surrounded by cows, most men recieve the name of the first cow/bull they admire. They often even use cow dung as Stucco on their walls. So it would stand to reason that their understanding of Cattle is great and it is. It is however so complex that there are literally hundreds of names for different cows and their colors and horn structure. There is not enough space on this blog to go into great detail but I thought I would let you get a tast of some of the names of our bovine neighbors. Let me know which one you admire and you might just get a new nickname.


Ngolo nyang-brown male

Ngina Muki- female red/black mix

ngina kori-ngina todo anganmwar- female, white with brown spots, one horn

Ngolo pues- ngolo luk anganmwar: blue male, horns turned down

Ngolo ethe- ngolo sogol anganmwar: Male, white with brown and dark lines with standing and curved horns

Ngolo Ngole arengan-ngolo sogol anganmwar: Male, white head, with red body; horns standing and curved

ngina ngole kirioul: female, white head, black body

ngolo ngora kori: male, color going up divided 2 ways, brown with white

ngina ngora ariengan: female, divided two ways, red with white

Ngina meri: female, white and black mix & Ngina kol: female, black with white mix

Ngina kori arengan: female, spotted, red color with white

Ngina linga Pues- Ngina pe ta: female, collared blue color, with horns pointing out.

ngina ngorok: female, black with white spots

Ngina Meri pues- ngina lem: female, white with black and blue, no horns

Ngina ase: female, striped, dark, brown, black and white

Ngolo linga ngorok: male, collared, spotted black and white

Ngina kori komol: female, spotted brown, red white

Ngina gira pues-ngina logul anganmwar: female, zebra stripes, blue, horns pointing up and curved

It gets even more extensive, but you get the picture. I hope you enjoyed. If you are interested in working with these cattle people in any way please contact me and we would be happy to talk.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

URGENT: Life, Death & Ransom


It was a typical day in Kaabong if such a thing exists, and Robert was driving into town to handle a couple of errands. He took with him Andrew and Tanner, summer volunteers from the states. As they were on the road Robert was stopped by a man. The man told him that a woman had hanged herself and someone should call the police. When Robert found the woman she was hanging from a small tree with a makeshift rope around her neck, but she was not yet dead. Robert and the volunteers carefully carried the woman to the truck and then to the hospital. 
Upon arriving at the hospital, Robert went in to find someone to help them, as Andrew and Tanner carried the old woman in. People were scoffing at the scene and even laughing. To their eyes it was wrong to see an “important” white person caring for a poor, helpless woman. Once they received help the people were just as calloused, saying we will give her some fluids but she just needs to die. After she received her treatment she then left with the guys. People were now curious as to what was happening and they asked who these men were that were caring for the woman. The answer that came makes me very proud. “They are Christians!”
The woman, named Longolemoe, was then taken back to our basecamp. There many people from the tribe gathered to discuss the issue as the woman’s needs were being cared for. We found out in this time that the woman was desperate and hopeless because of a land dispute. In 2007 she had borrowed money from a wealthy man in town, she needed this money to care for a sick relative. The relative died and she has never been able to repay the debt. So, the man from town told her he would just use some of her land as payment for the debt. So he began farming the land a little every year. But this year he brought out his tractor and claimed the land as his own. Plowing under the crops the woman had already planted. Essentially this meant that the woman would die because without crops there will be no food for her. She knew she would starve this year so it was better to die quickly than to suffer and starve.
As we gathered together in the assembly of believers, we talked about the story of the Good Samaritan and how Jesus himself taught us to care for people who were in great need and who no one wanted to help. We felt privileged to be a part of him doing just that in our midst. As we continued to talk about the woman and the debt we also talked about How when we were hopeless and out of options Jesus payed our sin debt and gave us a new life. We felt like this was an awesome opportunity for us to display that very thing to the people of Kaabong by paying the woman’s debt and canceling any claim that the man had on her or her land. So we gathered an offering and the church provided more than enough to pay the woman's debt.
The next morning Robert and I took the money to the mans house. When we arrived we explained to the man that we were wanting to pay the woman's debt with interest. This way everyone would get what belonged to them and it would be a fair solution to the problem. The man, whose name was Moses, then told us that he was not interested in receiving money. All he wanted was the land. (The land is likely worth 10X the debt of the woman) I told him that we are looking for a peaceful solution for this problem. I said, you know if you take this woman’s land she is going to starve and die. Moses callously said what does it concern him if she dies? In fact it is better for him because then he doesn’t have to deal with her or her family. He laughed as he said these things and both Robert and I felt the the full depravity of man was on display. As we failed to find a solution, the suggestion was made that we just handle the dispute in the traditional way. I asked what that would entail and they smiled as they explained it would entail calling the witch doctor, making a sacrifice and calling down a curse that would cause the woman, her sons and myself to die. I told the man I do not think he wants  to go that route, because he would surely lose. He could call all of the witch doctors in Uganda and if Gods people were praying they could not hurt a hair on our heads. He confirmed that this is the route that he wanted to go and began to blaspheme and called upon the name of god and the spirits in the same sentences. As he continued perverting the ways of the Lord I was filled with zeal for my Lord and I felt the Spirit fill my mouth with words to speak. I was told to say the following, “Everything you see here in your presence will be gone within six months and you will be destitute having nothing to your name. You will acknowledge that God is the only true god as everything that you touch will fail until you repent and acknowledge your evil ways.” I then prayed that God would fulfill what he had spoken and show to all of these people his mighty power. Moses then spoke a curse upon me, saying that my other leg would whither and then I would die. From that point the die was cast. The legal things will certainly be resolved, and I am fairly certain that the woman will receive her land and be well cared for. But now the spiritual war is in clear view of all. Many of these people just like Moses claim God with their lips but deny Jesus as his son or even believe that the spirits are more powerful that Our God. It is my belief that as the people in the area have been making sacrifices to lesser gods (that are in fact not gods at all) the stench of their idolatry has reached his nostrils. I believe that he has grown tired of his name being profaned and has allowed this showdown to show all of the Karamajong that he is the only true God and the only one worthy of their adoration and praise.
So, in the coming months we are needing your prayers in the following ways:
Pray for Longolemoe (mother), Apus, & Achuka (sons) who have had a curse placed on them by the witch doctor. Pray that the Lord would protect them completely and that instead of dying that they would prosper and look healthy and strong.
Pray that everything that Moses touches would fail and that the riches he has accumulated through his greed would be taken away and that he would know that Our God is more powerful than any witchcraft. Pray also that he would come to know our God through this circumstance.
Pray that the land dispute would be resolved quickly and that Longolemoe would be able to return to her land. 
Pray for the Volunteer girls Allee and Katie who are caring for the woman and her needs.
Finally pray for our team that we would be wise in all of our words and actions and that we would lean heavily on the Lord and not on our own understanding.
Feel free to distribute this prayer request and story far and wide.
to GOD be the glory
--j

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pray

I just received a call from J asking for prayer.  I will try to make this understandable without going into too much detail. The main point though is to pray. A few days ago Robert was driving to town and found an elderly woman trying to hang herself on the side of the road.  This was because another man had taken her land away from her and instead of starving to death she was going to just kill herself.  Robert took the woman back to the compound and talked through the situation.  The team decided that they would try to appease the man by paying him a debt that he said he was owed and was why he took the land.  So the team tried to pay what the man wanted so he would leave the woman alone, but the man refused the money.  It is obvious that he is just in this to take the land.  He has not legal way of getting the land and the police are on the side of the woman, but remember this is Africa and sometimes it does not workout the "legal" way.  J and other confronted the man and through that the man brought in a witch doctor and placed a death curse on J, the woman Longolomoi, and her son Apus.  J has nothing to fear.  He knows he is protected by the Almighty, but the woman and her son are not Christians and do not have the comfort of an all powerful God.  Here are the prayer request. J to trust God will protect him. Longolomio and Apus to accept Christ. The man who is stealing the land to be conviced by the Holy Spirit and give his life to Christ. The witch doctors spells not to work on Longolomio and Apus, and for the witch doctor to turn to Christ. Thank you for being a part of this team.  Times like this remind us that we are all in this together.  Pleas take some time and talk to the Father. Aaron

Encounter with a Mohammedan or Give them Jesus



Recently, I was traveling to Kampala to pick up a friend from the airport. This trip can take anywhere from 12 hours to a couple of days. I do not usually do it along but in this special circumstance I was driving to Kampala by myself. I left very early (before 5) and began on my way. When I reached the first town i made a wrong turn. If you know me you know this is nearly impossible! So, I am convinced it was directed by the spirit (I don’t think it should go on my permanent record). I begin to look around. The sun is just beginning to come up. There are literally only three options as to where to turn in this town how did i mess it up. I stopped and asked a couple of muslim men who were on the way to the mosque. They told me which way to go and ask me where I was headed. I told them and they asked for a ride. Well the place they wanted to go was almost 3 hours away but it was on my way. So I said sure go get your stuff and lets go.
Now i have spent most of the last 12 years sharing Jesus with people who are nominal Catholics or people who practice a tribal religion or training others to do so. This is my comfort zone. Up till this point, I had never shared Jesus with a muslim. I don’t know the rules. I don’t know what I should or shouldn’t say. But you better believe if these guys are in my truck for 3 hours they are gonna get a whole lot of Jesus.
So we talked about our beliefs. He told me what he thought of Christians. I told him that I don’t bother much with organized Christianity, I just follow Jesus. That my whole life is wrapped up in a person not a belief system or religious dogma or structure. We talked about the differences between Mohammad and Jesus. I told him that based on what he told me that Jesus seems greater than Mohammad. We had an awesome friendly discussion while his friend who was in the back seat sat back there giving me dirty looks and staring daggers into my skull. The man in the front showed interest not in Christianity but in Jesus. When I dropped him off, he told me he knew a lot of Christians but he had never heard anyone talk about Jesus like I had. I asked him if I could pray with him. I especially didn’t know if this was a no no but I went for it. He said yes, and I prayed in the name of Jesus that he would be sent dreams and visions and that he would know that Jesus is the only true savior and that he would someday soon follow him too.
It was an awesome experience for me and I really feel like the Lord used it to help me tu understand that even though the people we are working with now practice a tribal religion there is coming a time soon when we will be having many opportunities with Muslims, be ready. I think I learned a valuable lesson. I don’t want to be ignorant but arguing religion will be a dead end street. Our best bet is to GIVE THEM JESUS!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thank you for your gifts!!!!


Our new solar panels
Inverter and Charge controllers

Just last month we have received two large gifts from Southern Baptist Churches to help us do what we do. I wanted to share with you. As most of you know, we live out in the bush, the boonies, the wilderness, AKA Kaabong, Uganda. Since, there is no electricity here you have to look into alternate power sources. Well, we tried hooking Memphis up to a large hamster wheel, but it was costing me too much in groceries. So our supporters among the Southern Baptist Churches approved money to be used for setting us up with a Solar Power Array. This will allow us to stay in contact with our leaders and keep appraised of any emergencies in the rest of the country. But it will also allow us to be able to have a place of Rest here in Kaabong. This will be a refuge for us and other missionaries in the area or passing through. A place where we can recoup and feel normal for a couple of days before we head back out into the bush. 
The other gift was a 2005 Land Cruiser. It is super rugged and made for living, working, driving, and 4-wheeling in the most difficult places on earth. They are practically indestructible. This was given because almost no other vehicle is able to handle the terrain we travel on daily.
The IMB has a commitment to take the gospel to the edges of lostness. These are the more difficult places, places most normal people are not going to and have no plans to go to. Well, there are a couple of reasons there are so few of us out here. 
First, Places like these they stink, the climate can be extreme, you are far from loved ones, there is little communication with your home culture, The languages seem near impossible, it is okay to go there for a few weeks but to think of raising a family in these environments and most normal people begin looking elswehere, saying surely there is some more normal place for us to serve. 
However, some do end up making it out here to the nasty rugged places. And after a few months or years of lonliness and lack of physical/emotional/spiritual support they either transfer or go back home. I want to say that I am proud that our company (IMB) has not only sent us here, but for us they have provided all of the support we need and then some. 
I will be honest with you though, getting the money to do some of these things on the edge is not easy. It took us almost 5 months to get the solar system approved and installed. So, I want to encourage those of you who know us and pray for us and join with us in this ministry, PLEASE give sacrificially to this cause. Help us to get deeper and deeper into the dark and ugly places, enemy territory where people truly NEED to know about the hope we have in Jesus. The Lottie Moon Christmas offering and the Cooperative program are good places to start, but don’t stop there find somewhere you can plug in and be a blessing. 
Thanks again Southern Baptist for the awesome gifts!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Goin' global

Ok I was looking at the stats for this blog and we are having a lot of hits from several different countries. I recognize many of them, like Bolivia, Ecuador & Peru (xtreme team), Kenya & Uganda (local friends), but I am curious about several of the people who are checking us out from other places around the globe. So, if you are viewing our blog from Russia, Morroco, Germany, France, Jordan, Burkina Faso or some other strange place SPEAK UP! Let us know who you are I would love to make this blog a place where we can encourage one another and connect with what God is doing around the world!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Update on JB & Joyce


UPDATEWe have maintained a good relationship with JB and Joyce. We have begun some smaller conversations into spiritual things. The sense I get from JB is that he knows about Jesus and Christianity and that he even understands. He lives a moral life. But the defining factor for me is that he is not YET in love with Jesus. The reason for his moral life is because of right and wrong, not because it is an outpouring of his love for Jesus. So continue to pray for JB that we can show him what it means to love Jesus and follow him and pray that he too will follow him with all of his strength and of course then lead his wife down that path as well.


JB is a young man who was exposed to the gospel to some degree when a prior missionary family was here, the Schmidts. He attended Mrs. Schmidt’s sunday school class. It is clear that this time instilled in JB a sense of morality. However we are not sure exactly where he stands with the Lord. We are working on getting to know him better and get an idea for he is spiritually. JB has been married to Joyce for three years. They have no children. JB helps us with translation and language. Joyce helps Maridith in their home with chores.
Robert came to me to tell me that Joyce was asking for a day off. Since she is not able to have children she was wanting to have a ritual performed to give her the capacity to have children. They have the belief that since a younger sister got married before the older sister (Joyce) there is now a curse that will not allow Joyce to have children. The only way this curse can be lifted is if there is a goat sacrificed by the husband of the younger sister who was married first. This is supposed to appease the spirits or ancestors (not sure which yet). Robert and I spoke about what to do.
We were really in no position to tell her she could not have the day off, or to tell her she could not participate in the ritual sacrifice. However, we determined to pray against the ritual so that it does not work. It is our hope that after this ritual does not result in a child we will be able to share with JB and Joyce about how our God is the giver of life. Many stories come to mind that can be told about God providing children to the barren. I was excited to hear from Robert today that he and Maridith had the opportunity tonight to share the story of Abraham and Sarah. Please pray for this couple. Pray that they would come to understand and follow our God with their whole hearts and give him praise for all the good things he brings into our lives.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This church needs a pediatrist


photo by elaine johnson


But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
Since my spinal cord injury in 2003 my feet are a constant source of concern. I have almost no feeling in my feet and i cant move my toes at all. Since I have no feeling I have been known to step on a piece of glass and not even know it until Susan, asks what all this blood on the floor is. Not pretty at least by human standards. However, according to Romans 10 (above) My feet are beautiful simply because they carry out the function of taking me to places that need some good news, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is good to know that even though my feet are not the most presentable of my body parts, God finds them to be beautiful. Why does he find them beautiful? One reason, Obedience to his command to take the gospel to all nations.
How about your feet? I will tell you that though we disciples of Jesus were given a very simple command (see Matt 28:18-20), there are very few beautiful feet to be found among us. We go about our daily lives keeping Jesus to ourselves. If we were truly to believe the good news about Jesus, we would be compelled to tell people about Him. But I am convinced that our churches are either filled with unbelievers or ugly feeted disobedient cowards. For if they had truly been changed by this good news, if their lives had been turned inside out because of the grace supplied by Jesus Christ, they could do nothing else but rearrange their priorities and do whatever it takes to make His name known in every corner of the earth. It is not a special calling for a select few but a natural reaction to Amazing grace!
So you can go to your church on Sunday morning and see all of the fancy shoes worn by people who profess to be disciples of Jesus. But underneath the facsade of beauty you will find quite a collection of ugly feet. It is like a modern day version of the Whitewashed tombs of the Pharisees. But it doesn’t have to be that way, If you truly believe that Jesus is who he said he was, If he truly changed your life just tell people about it. At your workplace, in your home, write an email, tell a stranger, or maybe you could even go to a strange land that hasn’t heard any good news in a long time. That is the prescription for ugly feet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rebel Music: Matt Papa This Changes everything


You may want to read the first post if you haven't already to know where I am coming from with this series. Here it is: Rebel Music


So as we came back to the states we (like most missionaries) were clueless about any new music. Because we are out of the loop for years at a time we usually have no clue where to look for good music. When we do hear stuff it all sounds like the same old stuff. So, I will try to ask people I trust for some recommendations. Sometimes this works...but only sometimes. In interviewing a new couple to join the team I asked them about what music they like to listen to. After I made fun of them for listening to...whatever they liked, Loggins and Messina or some nonsense. They told me I should check out an artist named Matt Papa. They told me about some of his songs and I was interested in checking it out. So I downloaded the album “This changes everything” and i left it on itunes for several weeks. I was going to listen to it for the first time on the plane to Uganda. I couldn’t have chosen a better album to listen to. It has now become our theme Album while driving through the African countryside. I truly think I will associate these first experiences in Africa with this album.
Here is my take on some of my favorite songs on the album:
One Thing:  We all make choices, but our choices are usually driven by something. Our goals, our children, Our own pleasure. But for the Christian our lives should be driven and guided by one thing and one thing alone, our relationship with Jesus. The natural reaction to this close intimate relationship is that we will be compelled to proclaim his name wherever we go. We will manifest Christ in our lives, with our words and our deeds.
Favorite line: We all get one life, one chance to live for what’s gonna last in the end. Fame, power, pleasure, gold You gain the world but you lose your soul. We all live for something, Jesus or nothing. So what’s it gonna be? What’s your one thing?
This changes everything: It is sad how UNchanged Christians are. We say things like “We serve a Risen Savior” but all the outrageousness is gone from the statement. Jesus life and message has been so watered down that we also live diluted versions of the Christian life. BUT if all the things we read in the Bible are true, we should be the most driven and active people in the world. If we lived like all these things were actually true, the world would stand up and take notice. We would be telling people about our Amazing Jesus, We would be affecting poverty, violence, sickness, and injustice for the glory of his name. Sadly, that is often not how we live. This song was/is a real challenge to my personal walk and testimony.
Favorite line: “Did I miss something? or have I begun to lie? Do I really live like Jesus is alive?! ‘Cause if this is true, this changes everything! If this is real I’ve got to tell the world. If He is God, then I have a choice to make. If I believe then I must follow Him.
What are we waiting for?: It is a common belief that the work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ is set aside for a select few Christians. Unfortunately the Bible does back up this theory. However this excuse allows us to continue to follow our own dreams and goals while ignoring the command from our Lord, to go. I would love to see more believers take this call seriously and reevaluate their lives and their commitment to  this calling. Not every individual is supposed to live in a strange land and learn a new language, etc. But we are all supposed to organize our lives and priorities around our call to take the Gospel to the world. Maybe you pray daily for some of those who left everything to go. Maybe, you give sacrificially to the work. Maybe you take the gospel to the dark areas of your city or county? Or Maybe, you pack your bags and leave your hopes and dreams behind and adopt His hopes and dreams as your own. 
Favorite Line: “He says go, take the news to all the nations. We say no, you know we just don’t feel called. But oh, the Lord of all the universe has called us all, to go. So, What are we waiting for? A message in the sky? A miracle? A sign from up above? Is not his word enough?!
Stay away from Jesus:  This is another prophetic song dealing with the tendency of this generation of Christians to take the name of Jesus, though they are not willing to live like true Christians. The basic, idea is that if you are not willing to die to yourself and give everything up just to follow him, you might as well stay away from him. Because this is what he demands of us, everything. This does not mean that we have to give everything away and live in poverty, but rather that we are willing to do just that if he told us to. Christianity is not about what we get from God, but rather taking advantage of having the privilege of following him in whatever he asks of us.
Favorite Line: He says, be either hot or cold, you can’t serve God and gold. You know indifference is the road that leads to hell. So, if you are happy in your stuff and if 10 percent is enough, stay away from Jesus!
The Lord is a warrior:  Since we live now in a culture surrounded by warriors, this song has special meaning for me. Jesus is not some pansy, milk-toast, limp wristed teacher, but rather someone who was willing to fight evil and sin itself and do it all for me. And the fact that even death could not conquer him means he alone is worthy to be praised and I will speak of him until the day I die.
Favorite Line:  “See the lamb on his cross, once exalted now despised, It is finished and he dies. Silence falls, days go past, my God did the darkness win?!  But this is not the end, no. Feel the shaking ground, oh see the stone is rolling back now!!! The Lord is a warrior, The Lord is a warrior, The Lord is his name!
Overview: 
I absolutely love this album. I am listening to it start to finish several times a week. The things I love about it and that make it rare in Christian music today are two things, It’s focus on obedience, this is a forgotten discipline in Christian circles today. Yet, It was absolutely essential for the early Christian. We had a motto on our last team, Obedience is life. This album exemplifies this very concept to me. The other reason I am loving this album is that there is such a heavy focus on our calling to take the good news to the nations. I appreciate an artist that is willing to say the hard things and be an advocate for Christ’s teachings and commands in a world (church) that simply likes to have their ears tickled. If Matt Papa ever reads this review Let me say thank you for expressing our hearts.
Other albums: I have only listened to this album from Matt Papa. I have not had access to any others...yet. But I look forward to listening to some of his other songs.