Oh, what a great day. ( I will post pics when I return home…the Wifi is painfully slow here.)
I awoke to one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve ever had. The weather was slightly overcast with no rain, but a cool 65 degrees. Uganda is on the Equator and everything is so very green. Palm trees pressed against mango and papaya trees. Lush hedges, green grass. You just really need to see it for yourself. Sam was running late this morning so I simply grabbed a chair and took it just outside the small cafe/kitchen of the hotel…took my coffee with me and just soaked it all in. It was a moment of refreshing and gratefulness.
Sam arrived about 40 minutes later and we went inside and had some breakfast. The way to explain the breakfast would be to simply call it a breakfast burrito. Africa has their version of flatbread…but its thinner than flatbread. Maybe it could be Africa’s version of a tortilla…but it thicker than a tortilla…its called chapati. They have the most wonderful egg omelets….they cook them very thin. Then they take the omelet and lay it on the chapati and roll it like an awesome breakfast burrito. Africa is known for tea so there is plenty of it to drink. It was nearly a perfect morning. The only thing missing was you!
When breakfast was finished we gathered up our daily items of water bottles and bags, mosquito repellent. (BTW…there are hardly any mosquitos this trip…it’s the rainy season and there seem to be very few.), a few snacks and we were off to the 15 minute drive to Sam’s School called, “Wings of Grace.”
The children at the school were ready. When I got out of the car you could hear the shrills of excitement and you could see the children waving their welcomes! Today was a day of presentations and celebrations. Dancing, singing, laughing, playing. Pure Joy! I was treated like a guest of honor. So many children introducing themselves in front of the whole school. Singing with great passion, loudness, rhythm, and spectacular African dancing. These children know how to dance. It is obvious that they feel the music when they dance! You must come witness it with me.
The presentation went on for an hour or two. The teachers of the school acted out a play that made all my smile muscles ache. The children were given gifts from some left over Samaritan’s purse Christmas boxes and this really created a buzz of joy. When the celebration was over, I was hugged and thanked for helping them have better lives. It is quite an emotional experience. The people of Bugiri Uganda are so grateful and they express it with purity back to God and anybody who has blessed their lives.
I climbed back into the car and it was time to go and visit some fresh water wells that we have been able to provide. These visits are exciting to me. It requires that we travel deeper into the African bush. We get out of town and head into the equator of the earth. It is beautiful. So much untouched natural creation. You see it like God created it and it is breathtaking. And then you arrive to meet God’s favorite of all creation…his people. Many of these people, out in the African bush, have not seen white people. I scared many children! LOL. It is quite an experience to be the only white person for miles and miles. Even if they have seen a white person, it is rare and fascinating to them. It is a strange experience. These people of God’s creation are beautiful and expressive…and in great desperation of the very things we in America take for granted. Clean water. There is much food in Uganda. My trip this time brought me right into the middle of mango season. They are EVERYWHERE. The ground is littered with mangos. It is a time of joy for the kids. As we drive down the roads…more like cattle trails instead of roads…you can see little village mud huts and outside are children climbing the mango trees or a group of them standing under a mango tree with a long stick trying to knock off the fresh mango fruit about to fall. When you greet the children this time of year and shake their hands…they are very sticky from the sugar of mangos. Its not gross…its funny. Nothing a little wash of the hands from the new fresh water borehole won’t take care of!
The boreholes…aka…fresh water wells that are hand pumped…provide the cleanest freshest water you’ve seen. We visited one in a village called Sanika that was drilled in the shade of some huge trees…some of them mango trees. It seemed the water came out ice cold and as clear as I’ve ever seen it. Prior to receiving this borehole the people would have to walk about 2 miles, one direction, to carry water back from a diseased water hole. This water hole is at the low point of the area, so all the rainwater running off the land and picking up animal feces and dead animal carcass disease with it. Then the people have no choice but to drink it. It is their only option. Until you came into the picture. Thank you for teaming with me and Return Hope. We are providing fresh water wells to people who have never had fresh water in their lives.
When the well begins to pump…and the people begin to drink the fresh water. I am convinced you can witness them getting healthier already. Fresh water wells changes the life of someone immediately. Their kidneys and liver begin to function properly because they are loaded down with water born diseased and bacteria. Skin diseases go away. Nobody should have to drink dirty water in the 21 century. Thank you.
We are in process of actually drilling 7 fresh water holes as you are reading this. Each borehole can easily serve 10,000 people. That is a lot of changed lives. That is a lot of thankfulness. You can imagine my day as we traveled and visited these fresh water wells. The people knew we were coming and they were excited. The came bearing gifts of nuts, mangos, chickens. We had to accept their gifts. Our trunk of the car was full. We simply take the gifts back to the school children in town. It is a win/win for everybody. We were in some very poor villages or we would have probably had several goats given to us as well.
One of the wells we drilled recently…had a problem and dried up. We don’t know why. But, we promise the people that Return Hope will never leave something that goes wrong undone. You and I both know that things can go wrong. So…it was exciting for me to show up and tell the people who’s well had gone dry that the drilling rigs would be following behind the new water surveyors and that a new well would be drilled within the next 14 days. It feels good to prove our integrity. I’m almost grateful for the well drying up, because it gave me a chance to prove I’m a man of my word. The people were so grateful. Imagine how concerned they must have felt after having fresh water for 6 months and then seeing the well literally go dry. I imagine the people felt deep desperation thinking they would have to return to the diseased water source. Again…it didn’t take long for us to solve the problem. We found out the drilling company we were using…didn’t actually survey that specific water well location. The locals told us they never brought out a surveyor like they usually do, or what is professionally called a geophysical surveyor equipment that identifies where great underwater sources are. So…we fired that company and interviewed a new one and we are convinced this one will not try to cheat us. Time tells all things! We are able to fix any problems with the wells without any extra costs to the donor who gave the money for the well to be drilled. God is good….he provides, if you trust Him!
Return Hope charges 7000.00 US dollars for a fresh water borehole. You can’t beat that price…and I promise you we do it with the best materials for drilling and pumping. The water wells and the land are given as a gift to the community. Nobody but God owns that water well and the people respect it and desperately need it. I’ll post pictures when I return.
That is what we did the rest of the day. It began to get dark and the rain clouds were looking pretty dark and were approaching. As the sun was setting I got to ride in the car back out of the African bush and into town. Again…Uganda isn’t nicknamed “The Pearl of Africa” for no reason. You must see it with your own eyes.
I’m considering a short trip in October. I think I can get us all back here for about 5 days on the ground for a very good price. Do you think you could scramble raising some funds and join me? October is one of the cheapest times to fly to Africa. That is the biggest expense. I don’t bring people to Africa to make money. I do all I can to break even on the costs. I promise you we will do a quick mission trip at the cheapest price I can get you. You must come with me. You’ll never be the same.
I’m preparing to leave Africa today. I have a 3 hour drive back into the city of 5 million. Kampala Africa. My plane doesn’t leave until 11:30 pm. I think I have just finally adjusted to the 10 hour time change…but with only 3 days on the ground…it’s time to be thrown off my time clock again. It can be a pretty brutal flight. I won’t lie to you. But it’s worth it.
I love you and I’m grateful you have read along this journey with me. Thank you for investing in Return Hope, financially. If you are not doing so, would you please consider it?
Jesus did so much for each of us. We must return the love in anyway we can. I can’t think of a better place or a better people, or a better need than those of Uganda.
If you have questions please just contact me.
The emails come directly to me. I will personally answer them quickly.
See you back on USA soil soon.
Travel with me to Africa soil soon!
Those of you who know me, know that my wife and I have started a Christian 501c3 organization called, “ReturnHope International.”
Anyway….I say that to say…
Some of ReturnHope’s work is being done in Africa. I have a deep love for the people of Africa. Specifically the people of Uganda. When I was in Uganda recently, I spoke with a couple locals who were asking me about what American’s think of Ugandans…or Africans, in General.
One of the Ugandan people got more specific with me. This person told me they received a letter from an American describing how two Christians were fighting in America over work that needed to be done in Africa. The letter was warning the Africans to stay out of the conflict to avoid getting hurt.
They told me that the writer of the letter used an African Proverb to try to make a point to them. “What African Proverb was used,” I asked. They responded by quoting the proverb…
“WHEN TWO ELEPHANTS ARE FIGHTING, IT IS THE GRASS THAT GETS TRAMPLED.”
The African told me that the letter was warning them about how they are the only ones who would get trampled by these fighting Americans and they needed to make sure they stayed out of the way of the Elephants that were fighting. Then the African asked me a question, with obvious hurt and frustration on his face…
“Do American’s think themselves as elephants, and Africans as grass?”
I very sincerely replied, “I can only speak for myself…I cannot begin to tell you what the writer of that letter thinks, but I am deeply sorry if you have been hurt by this person’s letter. It does seem the writer believes themselves to be an Elephant….and you Africans as the grass, that gets hurt when they fight.” I then told them that most American’s do not think this way.
I also said, “since we are talking about proverbs, have you heard the proverb… “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” Then I said, “let me just say that very few Americans would actually think in such an arrogant and ungodly way…please do not let this one American, who wrote the letter, ruin it for the rest of us Americans.”
I also asked the recipient of the letter, to give the writer of the letter, the benefit of the doubt by hoping the writer just displayed their own ignorance by trying to use an African proverb in an attempt to sound smarter than they actually are.
What I thought was just a friendly conversation between some people getting to know each other, was actually…I believe…the voice of God warning me and other American Christians about how we treat the very people we serve…”in the name of Jesus.”
If you are a Christian who is also American…and you do good work for the less fortunate, locally and/or in foreign places…I have some questions for you.
1. Do you think you are actually taking God to the foreigner? If you do…you are ignorant of the real God and ignorant of how active and alive He is all around the world…and how patient God is with your ignorance. God is at work everywhere…and we as followers of Jesus must choose to obey His commands to serve the less fortunate….but…God is already there and working…we aren’t so special that we are actually taking God to them.
2. Do you think you are an Elephant and the less fortunate are just Grass? The American writer of the letter that used this African proverb, is all the evidence the Africans needed to think all American’s are arrogant. The damage has been done and it will take many-many Americans going to Africa with humble attitudes and humble servants hearts to prove, through our actions, that 99.9% of Americans do not think that Africans are grass under our American elephant feet. Good Grief! I am so frustrated by this letter that was written and caused serious mental damage.
Only God is THE Elephant…the rest of us are but grass!
3. With the work you do in 3rd world countries or to the less fortunate in the USA…are you actually serving the recipient to a point where they are growing into self sufficiency(Being ‘grass’ with them)…or are you causing them to become dependent upon your giving? Think long and hard on this one…How many years have well intentioned Christians been in Africa trying to do good, yet African self sufficiency is no closer to a reality? Think of it this way… If you disappeared from the foreign fields you have been doing good in…would the people of that foreign field be able to succeed without you and your gifts / aid? Is the good you are doing for the least of these, leading them into working towards self sufficiency, or toward dependency on you?
Never forget what Jesus said as He was talking about His 2nd return…
“The Grass shall be the Elephant and the Elephant shall be the grass.”
Or…more biblically correct…
The last shall be first! The first shall be last! (Its all about motive/attitude) Hey letter writer…Do you still think you are an elephant and the Africans are just grass?
One last sentence in my rant towards the bully elephant’…
Jesus…is THE Elephant. When He came to earth and incarnated Himself from an Elephant to just a piece of grass…He washed our feet. He let us abuse Him. He served us. He let us kill Him. “For even the Son of Man came not to be an elephant but to be grass, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Please read Mark 10:45 for the exact version.
The Bull Elephant served the grass that in return mowed Him down.
Oh writer of this letter to the Africans… For God’s sake…for Africa’s sake…for your very own eternal destination’s sake…Do NOT think any longer that you are an Elephant and that Africans are but grass…you owe the Africans an apology. You owe it to Americans to redeem our reputation.
To all servants of the most High God…may the recipients of our service see our love and humility and may we demonstrate our equality amongst them.
If you still think you are an Elephant…you have your animals confused…you are mistaking an elephant for a donkey.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
For the Record…..
I, Trent A. Renner, am a piece of grass.
The greatest injustice of all, would be having a world full of well fed men, women, and children with no disease, fresh water to drink, a rich supply of clean clothes, every orphan and widow provided for, yet all of these cared for people, still facing a reality in Hell because we didn’t give them Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.
That is the ultimate injustice. That would be the greatest trick of the devil. To have all this good work take place, but none of it matter eternally for those who were cared for.
ReturnHope wants to do something about this “greatest injustice.” However, this injustice can only be conquered by using a specific strategy that will impact not only women and children eternally…but men too.
It seems to me that there is a lot of ministry taking place around the world. Good ministry work. It seems most of this good ministry work is focused on the care of the women and children. I haven’t met anybody who is okay with watching women and children suffering. But if we want to solve the problems of the world…it is going to have to be through the changing of the lives of men all around the world too. Let’s admit it. Men cause war. Men have testosterone. Men are the muscle of the world. World problems are caused on a majority basis…by men. Change the men…change the world! Change the men…and women and children will be blessed too.
Injustices can only be fully conquered when the man is impacted along with the entire family for Jesus Christ as Lord.
ReturnHope wants to take on the impossible task of being used by God to change the hearts and minds of the men of our world and turn those hearts and mind towards the Lord Jesus. In this endeavor, think of how blessed the women and children of the world would be too!
In the American Church…there is a comparable man problem that relates to my point. If your Church reaches the mom of the family, the mom and kids will become the church, but the man of the family, more than likely, will stay home and not become the church and miss out on the growth opportunities that being the church creates. If the kids are reached, then mom will likely join the church too, but dad will end up staying home. What this creates is a frustrated mom and child(ren) because the heavy influence of unchurched dad outweighs the influence of the church on the mom and kids. (One hour of Church added with another 2 hours of small group influence for the mom and kids cannot compete with the other 168 hours of the week controlled by unchurched dad’s influence.) So, a church that aims to reach the man for Christ, can be confident that mom and the kids are highly likely to come too. It’s a whole family philosophy of how to design a strategy of the church…and the same should be for a world mission’s strategy!
The last 15 years of my life I have been privileged to travel to places like Peru South America, Uganda Africa, Jerusalem Israel and other amazing places. In these locations, I’ve encountered injustices that are ruling that culture. The same cause is evident in all these locations. The cause is… men aren’t leading or being impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ. Men are not being partnered with, or challenged to become responsible to their God given purpose to work, provide and steward the family that He gave them. Men seem to have been given up on, and I think, that is a perpetuator of injustices.
So much good work is being done around the world towards the injustices of lack of clean water, nakedness, lack of shelter, disease, orphan and widow-hood. A majority of this good work is being focused on the women and children. Now, understandably, it is a very good thing to help the women and children. ReturnHope International is going to do a lot of ministry for women and children everywhere…But…I beg of all people involved in the family of ReturnHope to be focused on being used by God to change the lives of the men of the villages around the world too. As we do all our work, I beg of the ReturnHope family to always be thinking about how our work is being perceived by the man of the family, or the men of the village we are impacting. If we are not careful we can easily create welfare situations where women and children become dependent on the American difference maker. Please Lord, don’t allow ReturnHope difference makers to mistakenly fill the position of the man of the family in the foreign culture! We want the native man to step up into his God designed role for him to be the provider and care taker of the family that God asked him to steward. As we do our work for women and children, let’s never stop thinking about the man and how our work might be affecting his heart, mind and self esteem. Let’s involve the man by walking alongside him as we do good work together for women and children!
We must go after the grown men too.
This is an impossible task. This is a task where we must begin by only praying and planning and then moving forward with what will be trial by fire. Chuck Swindoll said that when there is an impossible task that needs to be tackled, He will find an impossible person…crush them…and then use them to take on the impossible task. I’ve been told by quite a few that, “I’m impossible!” 🙂 The last 3 years, God has been crushing me and allowing me to be crushed by others. (I wrote about this on this blog site if you’d like to read it…click the following links…its two part and its called “The Crushing part 1” and then “The Crushing part 2”) I believe God has allowed this crushing to bring me to the point of right here..right now. He is asking me to take on the leadership of ReturnHope and team with you to use our talents to begin this impossible ministry. I imagine that when this life is over…our efforts will have been fully worth it…whether we failed or succeeded. Let’s spend the rest of our lives in this pursuit and then we’ll do high fives together about it all in eternity together…red, yellow, black, brown and white….male and female!!
Please start praying with me about our first encounter with a group of village men in Uganda. These men will be sitting in a big circle most of the day in a distant village. In the middle of the circle will be a large bowl of home made alcohol. Each man in the circle will have a long straw that reaches from the bowl to his mouth. This drinking begins in the morning and goes all day. At night…well…this is when evil reigns. These men in their drunken state rape their wives and abuse their daughters, beat their kids and fuel injustices towards total hopelessness….does this cause you to hate them? If so, then I ask you to pray for them and change your heart towards them. The men in this picture are only doing what they have been taught by their fathers, who were taught by their fathers… Pray that ReturnHope will break this vicious cycle by also reaching the men sitting in these circles. What is exciting for me is to explain to you what you cannot see in this picture. All around this picture are groups of other men who are not drinking and being responsible, groups of women singing and playing with their children and/or cooking lunch or dinner. Children are playing soccer or climbing in the trees and they all want to know you, and spend time with you. On every trip ReturnHope goes on, you will be able to choose which group you want to get involved with and interact with. It is truly an amazing adventure and trip that will change your life.
ReturnHope has a man on the ground in Uganda right now who is scouting out our very first village. We will enter this village by providing a fresh water well (Money is already raised for this well!) and beginning a relationship with the village leaders…the men, and also the women and children! The date isn’t set yet, but we are getting ready to go! I personally am going to be working on the men of the village. ReturnHope will need people who want to do good in the villages for the other people all around the village too. My gut tells me that this first trip might be more spontaneous that most of you are prepared for, but that is just a hard reality of the first trip ReturnHope takes. Once the first trip is complete, we will be able to plan ahead a bit more!
In the mean time I am asking you to pray specifically for the men we will encounter in this first village. Please pray frequently, so that when we arrive and meet these men, they will have been prayed for by hundreds of you…Hopefully thousands of you. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will help us pick God’s first circle of men that He wants us to influence. Pray that these men’s hearts will be prepared for our encounter. Pray for a man in the village who is a pastor who ReturnHope will equip with material and training to be even more impactful in his ministry work for the Lord. Pray that as we encounter these men, they will give their lives to Jesus and accept the challenge to work alongside us to conquer the injustices they face in their own villages and country! We as Americans cannot do the work ourselves, we must walk alongside the foreigner and team with them. We must be learners alongside them as we teach each other.
This will not be a one time encounter. When we enter a village, we enter into a life long covenant and relationship with the people of the village. We will return on occasion to continue with these villagers as our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who someday will live lives that are not controlled by injustices. The relationships that we build with these men, women, and children will last an eternity. We will all impact one another in a mighty way. It really is a beautiful picture of returning hope to one another. I believe it is what God intended for the Body of Christ to be…aka…The Church.
Every time you eat…I’m asking that you would pause and pray for this endeavor. When you read your Bibles, pray again. When you meet for your Bible study, ask the group to pray specifically for our success in impacting this first village of men, women and children that we encounter.
Again, we (you & me — ReturnHope) are beginning in Uganda Africa. As soon as we pick our first village…I will inform you of its name and location and when we are planning on leading a group over! Our trips will consist of impacting Men, Women and Children. I will give updates all along the way. I pray that you will share this post with the people in your life who are looking for a purpose to get involved in that lasts eternally!
Will you pray everyday about all of this? Will you go with us over there?
It has begun.
Let’s ReturnHope to places that are imprisoned by hopelessness…and then ask them to pay it forward by returning hope to others too!
What a cool and challenging adventure!
I received correspondence today, from a man who had his heart and mind changed by the death of a child his wife sponsored through Hope4Kids. I wanted to simply add part of the email I received from him and I pray it will inspire you, warn you, and prepare you to be somebody who uses your time, talent and treasure to promote the purpose of others…especially the work that Jesus Christ has commanded us to do for the least of these.
Here is part of the letter from a very good man who has spent most of his life serving you and me and protecting our freedoms in America through military service.
Between 1998 and 2001 I went to school and also spent my summers working our teen groups, teen camps, and spending time with Bob Jone’s Universities “War of the Special Forces” when they came. I really enjoyed it and sought to expand our local children’s ministry bringing on Awana’s, growing the junior church, and loving every moment. I promised God prior to getting out of the Army, the first time, and going to college, if He helped get me into college, and helped my family transition I would use my education for something!! (One of those God you do this and I will do that type promises) So, given my love for kids–desire to help them achieve their uttermost–my new found education–love of education…I always thought, do 20 years, and teach at a local Christian school…my military retirement would help off-set the low teacher salary and I could be a blessing. It was also during those times I divorced, fell away from God, and spent some time in another land…returning in 2007 and seeking God’s direction in my life. Recently, my wife, was moved by Hope4Kids International and sought to adopt a child…her name is “Topista”; additionally, she went on a trip to Uganda to see her. To be honest…I was okay with all that and not very moved, but very proud, and just did not think it was for me. Upon her return, her excitement was beyond words, and she always talked about Topista, all of Uganda, the orphanage called Smile Africa, etc., however, I still was not moved greatly. Then, we received a phone call, and that call impacted me greatly!! In August 2012 my wife was informed of Topista’s death and then, something hit me, I cried, Topista was human, she had dreams, family, and a silent voice began to speak to me, a urging…to put it into words, this silent voice: “you have made a promise to Me, to use your education for Me, you have been indifferent towards this child, you are like the rest of America, and now…now I want you to see, to learn, and then do something.” This led me to read, study, and understand…to see poverty for what it is, to understand these are people, we can help, and we must do something!! My eyes have truly been opened and I really think we can do something. God has allowed me to get education, two Master degrees (MBA and MPA) and I use them for our Government…but now it is time to use them for God’s kingdom.
I know you are willing to be used by God. You are willing to use your time, talent and treasure for Jesus Christ. I also know how easy it is to get busy and get distracted. Think about this…however many days you have left in your life, is the only amount of time you actually have to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give water to the thirsty, take care of orphans and widows, and bring the salvation message of Jesus Christ to those who haven’t heart it before or have walked away from Him. THERE WILL BE NONE OF THAT IN HEAVEN. So, if you want to be a part of such significant life work…you have to do it now!
I am asking you to go to Hope4Kids International’s website and sponsor a child, start a fund to raise money to drill a fresh water well, build a medical clinic, provide food for starving kids, sign up for a life changing missions trip, or anything else you can do. Just click any of the lighter colored print below and get started…
Don’t forget…there are people right outside from where you are reading this who need your love and encouragement too. Make sure you reach out to them as well. It’s good to be a Christian, but I find the world needs more good Christians.
Keep one eye on Jesus and the other eye on His kids.
If I can serve you through the ministry of Hope4Kids call me or email me. I’ll do my best. Ask me to come and speak at your Church or plan with you what more you can do to be a strong Christ follower. Don’t wait for something tragic to happen to motivate you, be internally motivated to do something now.