As in the previous 2 posts…the WiFi is still bad in Africa…so please know that I will post pictures when I return to the USA.
My time clock is all messed up. I keep waking up at 5 am. But, it gives me time to type out my blog post of the experiences I am having on this short venture. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I pray it inspires you to grow deeper and more committed to Jesus and all that He asks us to do.
As I rolled off of the thin foam mattress bed with a mosquito net hanging over it…it was time to do one of the hardest things for me to do on this trip. It causes me great pain. I had to take a shower and the electricity has been off for several hours. The water is freezing! I’m sure the other rooms could hear the gasps and laughs as I tortured myself with a cold shower. (Suffering for Jesus, right?! LOL) But at least I smell good again!
I didn’t bring dress clothes for Church services on this trip. I have a pair of jeans and a Joy Christian School polo shirt that I sometimes teach my Bible classes in. Wow…the people of Africa love to dress up for Church. The colors of the rainbow are nothing compared to the women of Africa in their cultural dresses. The men get on their very best suits and ties that they have. I am astonished every time I see the bright white dress shirts on the dark skinned men coming out of the mud hut homes. I don’t know how they keep so clean…they are very impressive and handsome.
I think the Ugandan people are some of the most beautiful people on the planet. They have the darkest skin I’ve seen and contrast their super white smiles and it is magical. Another thing that I notice is how straight the teeth are of the natives here. On a past trip, I was able to travel with a dentist and she told me that the African people from childhood eat a very hard food plan. Corn, very tough meat, the children are constantly chewing on sugar cane. The dentist told me, that hard foods force the teeth into alignment. Seeing is believing on this one. I’m jealous of how white and how straight the teeth are for the African man and woman. Maybe I’ll get Sam to open his mouth and I’ll take a picture so you can witness it for yourself. (that will make him laugh his contagious and unique high pitched laugh!) Better yet, come with me someday and see for yourself!
The drive to church was only 20 minutes. Sam, our director has started a Church out of his school facility of mud and sticks. There were about 100 people in attendance…the men, women and children all sitting/standing together. The children are very patient through the very long service. They sing passionate music. this church group can’t afford instruments yet…but one can’t tell as the voices of the people are so passionate and many melodies are sung, stomping and dancing to the rhythm they create together. An occasional African woman will send out her high pitched shrill of joy…“lalalalalalalalalalalalal!”
They asked me to speak. I told them that the older I get, I’m becoming a man of fewer words. They actually enjoy much preaching. A typical Ugandan Church service can last for 4 or more hours. I’m thankful today’s service was only 3 hours. So…I didn’t preach for long. I spoke for maybe 15 minutes. I told the African people that after living in America I have determined that talk is cheap. I asked them to witness how much I love them by my actions and how much Return Hope International is doing on behalf of Jesus to love and serve them. Sam preached and then another pastor, named Reno preached as well.
There are many elderly who haven’t learned english, so there is always a translator. But, know, most Ugandans speak english. They did more music, then preached some more. People came forward to pray and confess their sins and many did. I was privileged to lay my hands on those who came forward to pray for them and help them understand how much their repentance causes Jesus to forgive them. There were times the service just broke out in prayer…the whole room lifting their voices to God in prayer. A man in wheelchair who is struggling with his health came forward and asked the whole church to pray for him. We laid hands on him and he cried as we prayed for him. The children watched and engaged the whole time. More music, more preaching. 3 hours of love, learning, celebration, and so much more. I enjoyed it tremendously. I was touched.
After the service we stood around and shook hands and gave hugs. I grabbed my camera and used the opportunity to take some pictures. I will post them when I return to America on Wednesday. I haven’t shaved in weeks and the children were fascinated with my beard and hairy arms. It is so thrilling to be amongst a group of people who are so loving and kind and curious. I am curious about them too. We learned about each other, from each other.
It was approaching 2:30 and my stomach was growling, I asked Sam if we could head back to the hotel to grab some lunch. He agreed. Lunch was rice and beans, a chicken leg boiled in some fantastic broth, a mix of g-nut paste…(kind of like purple peanut butter), a great banana type mix that has the texture of mashed potatoes and the African staple called porsha…a corn mix…also in the texture of mashed potatoes. To drink I had an ice cold glass bottle of coca-cola! Who doesn’t love that?! 🙂
The rest of the day was dealing with the necessary evil I call business meetings. Nothing to really post about. When Sam and the RHI Ugandan team live 10 hours worth of time zones away from me…even with the internet…it is a must that we have clarifying meetings. We compared our account sheets, budgets, estimates. Not fun…but vitally important. I vow to use every dollar that you invest in Return Hope with deep integrity and transparency. If you would like to know any details of the Return Hope budget, I will gladly share them with you. That meeting started at about 3:30 and went until dark. It was a good meeting. I am overwhelmed with all the work we are doing. I am so inspired by the quality of the facility we are building and how we will use it to train around 1000 students at a time…year after year, and I can’t wait to get home and get back to the work of asking for followers of Jesus to sacrifice and invest this crazy paper thing called money. When you and I consider how blessed we are, we will be incredible givers. Are you an incredible giver?
It’s Sunday. It was a good day. I only have a day and half left before I must climb aboard another airliner and fly at 31,000 feet back home.
I am blessed. Supremely blessed…and at the same time I am haunted. Haunted by the conditions that this sin cursed world has created for such wonderful people like Ugandans…and sometimes even the people in our neighborhoods in the USA. Poverty is not always a money thing. Return Hope International is not just about Uganda Africa. I teach the Bible in the US. I am a Bible teacher at a Christian School and would be grateful to fill the pulpit of your pastor if he/she needs a break. Return Hope makes this all possible. God is good. Let’s continue to conquer the entrapment of poverty all around the world.
Is there anything in your life that separating you from God and causing poverty in your life. Poverty of marriage? Poverty of physical fitness? Poverty of friendships? Poverty of spirituality? Poverty of finances? Poverty of parenting? Poverty of emotional health?
Only Jesus is the answer. He won’t miraculously make you rich in those areas of life. It will require you to become a fully devoted follower of Him. He has asked much from you and me…but not before giving His all for us.
We can do more for Him. Your obedience matters. Narrow is the road that leads to heaven. I love you too much to just make you feel good, if you are walking down the road to hell. Please don’t be separated from God for eternity. I think it would be cool to spend eternity with you.
I pray you will use the tool of Return Hope to grow in your relationship with Jesus and become more like Him. Return Hope is the work of Jesus and the Church.
It was a good Sunday. I pray someday you will experience a Sunday with me…here in Africa!
I have only one full day left in Africa before I return. We are preparing to drill 6 fresh water wells for people in the African bush who have never had clean water to drink. Each well will provide fresh water for approx 10,000 people. Talk about making a difference in the lives of people! Many of the locals have been told that there just isn’t any water underground. Wait until we show them what Jesus can do!! He can do anything! I am going to visit some of the locations and people, and take some pictures. I will post about it tomorrow. A couple of the well locations are deep enough in the African bush that some of the people will have never seen a white man.
Our motives matter to God.
He’s sees right through our disguises.
For instance, as a Christian it would be very easy to disguise my selfishness and fear as a desire to be in a small, intimate Church. We could hide behind the Bible verse that says “God is love” and excuse our desire for a small church as all about love and knowing everyone, just like God knows everyone.
And, it would be easy to disguise my competitive spirit, greed, & pride, as evangelism and church growth. It would be easy to have the ends justify the means. We could say, look how big my church is, God must be so proud of how many people attend my church. We could excuse our sin by disguising it as evangelism.
It doesn’t matter what people believe our motives to be, only what God already knows our motives are.
I’m a “Why Guy”. When was the last time you really did a self-aware check? When was the last time you got in a closet with God and spoke to him about your motives?
Why do you do what you do? God knows, but do you?
We cannot be fake with God. Someday we will all stand before Him…
intellectually naked — emotionally exposed — physically insufficient.
Don’t fear it….be ready for it.
Remember that nothing can separate you from the love of God.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38
And Jesus said,
“If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15
Do not forget that Hell is full of people whom God loves. God didn’t send them to Hell, he only honored their choice to not obey Him. He honored their motives. Our motives matter to God. Are your motives about humbly serving, loving, and obeying Jesus?
Let’s triple check our motives. If you are ashamed of what you find, then never forget that…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If Jesus is who He says He is…then He is returning someday…with passion…to settle the score once and for all.
Don’t screw around with Him and your eternity simply because of the shallowness of the temporary.
Know your motives.
God will not control your motives.
He left that up to your own stewardship and care.
God will honor your choices that are born out of your motives.
Your motives will lead to your choices, and your choices will be extended by God into eternity.
Heaven and Hell are in the balance. Eternity is at stake. For your eternity’s sake, check your motives.
For those of you who have been following the post about the World Vision controversy…finally…here is post 3 of 3. If you haven’t read posts 1 and 2, I would encourage you to do so first by clicking their links right here.
Continuing with Post 3 of 3…
I have been trying to figure out how to blog on this without it being an entire book. So…I spoke at a Church called “Just Church” in Surprise AZ recently. My message is my blog post 3 of 3. I wish the message was video, but it’s only audio. As you are listening…I have 3 “stations” on stage. Hot…Lukewarm…Cold. You’ll hear me go back and forth to each location as I walk us through what the Bible means when it says there are different kinds of sins.
To be clear…
The Bible does NOT say that “no sin is greater than any other sin.” In fact…the Bible is clear…there are, for sure, 2 different levels of sin. My message spells this fact out.
To help you envision what is happening on the stage…the only visual I had on stage was a Jewish Prayer Shawl called a Tallit. See Pic at right, so as you listen to the message you can imagine what it looks like when I am wearing the Tallit as I stand on the “Hot” station of the stage.
The Lukewarm station is in the middle of the stage and the Cold Station is the far right of the stage. (To be clear…the Tallit can only be worn when I’m standing in the Hot Station on stage. To have the Tallit on my head is to represent Jesus living in me. It is impossible to have Jesus living in me while I am practicing sin (Lukewarm) or when I haven’t accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior yet. (Cold))
If you have questions after listening to the message, please just ask. This message has a lot of controversy potential in it…but it was spoken in love…and it is Biblical Truth.
Too many people are calling themselves Christian and at the same time are living in direct disobedience to how the Bible says they are to live. This kind of life is living Lukewarm. Please listen to the message for clarity on this.
Here you go…Just click the link below and listen…The first words you’ll hear me speak are “Disgusting huh?” I say that because the Church just showed a video clip of somebody throwing up…to prepare for the message called SPEW! LOL … Please listen by clicking the link below…
I love ya…and I’d do anything for you to help you follow Jesus more fervently.
The next time you are at your next learning conference/meeting remember this.
The danger with listening to the successful guy/lady on stage at your next BIG CONFERENCE, or in your next big meeting, is that they are speaking about their experience in retrospect. ‘After the fact’ can be spoken about with great 20/20 hindsight. ‘After the fact’ removes the fear/pain they experienced and makes it all sound like child’s play that can fit on 9 powerpoint slides. These 9 slides have a tendency to give you a prescription of success if you simply mix the same potion.
Don’t forget that the successful story you are being presented is THEIR STORY. Their unique gifts. Their unique circumstances. Their unique spouse/teammate/family. Their unique town. Their unique use by God.
Your gifts and talents are unique and exceptional to you.
Be a learner as you listen to the speaker and acknowledge that he/she does not have the formula to YOUR success.
Listen to Him.
Do what He says.
If there is ever a guarantee of success…doing what the Holy Spirit tells you is the best shot you got.