Every Bible Counts

Today I had a great conversation with a new friend from Tenesse who I met here in Uganda. A humble guy, who came to work on a painting project for Watoto. 

As he was planning to come he felt that God impressed him to bring some bibles. He took the bibles wrote the plan of salvation in the front and high lighted the scriptures in each bible. 

One of the days he was working he felt impressed to take the bibles to the work site and when he got there there was a Watoto teacher. He told her about the bibles and she teared up and said if he would give her the bibles she we distribute them. 

THE NEXT DAY she came back to him and told him that she took the bibles to the village and a man gave his life to Jesus after receiving one of them. 

He was so happy, that he heard God, obeyed and a life was changed. Glory to God!  

Every action of obedience makes an eternal difference. Even if it seems small to you it’s big to God, and to whomevers life is changed. 

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30th birthday

Was like. 

Last night, what I would guess was around 20,000 people gathered to celebrate 30 years of Watoto church ministry. 

To try to describe this would sound at best like sheer exaggeration, and at worst inarticulate, however I will try to let you in in one of the greatest experiences of my life. 

A night filled with beautiful, passionate voices, and skilled traditional, as well as modern dance weaving a story throughout the night of the burden, vision, and fulfillment of a dream given to Gary and Marylin Skinner who, when receiving it must have been overwhelmed by it, while not being able to see in full what has actually become of it.   A dream that has fought cultural, spiritual, and economic battles to exist, and might I say has come through in victory on the other side. A dream that is consistantly and continually giving a hand up spiritually, economically and culturally to an amazing city of Kampala and Nation of Uganda. 

Everything about the beginnings of this, it’s place in history, the nationality of its leaders, the dream itself screams “this wil never work!”  Yet 30 years later to call it a success would be to underestimate it on every level. 

The stories as told through music, media, readings, narration and the fact that the story tellers are not acting out the life if another, rather were telling their very own story. The sincerity and authenticity of that left me in tears most of the night. 

Stories of the most graphic unspeakable horrors that can be perpetrated on one human being to another. They didn’t stop there but went on to finish the stories with the hope and forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can bring in any circumstance. 

I want to give specific examples but it would be impossible because one would lead to another and another and another. Stories of devastation followed by hope and forgiveness. I guess you should have been there. 

All this was capped off with Israel Houghton leading one of the best worship sets I’ve ever heard and what must have been 20,000 people singing, dancing, rejoicing in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ in a unity I have rarely felt anywhere, ever and the energy level was off the charts. To tell the truth the rapture of the church would having been fitting at the end of that night. Just another level. It was all culminated in a song befitting these victorious Ugandans and their understanding of the testimony God has given them. “I am not forgotten”

I am not forgotten 
God knows my name 
He knows my name

And I will praise Him for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Light in the darkness
The father to the fatherless 
Strength in my weakness
He knows my Name

At the very end the combined Watoto children’s choir and the Watoto church choir which must have been 250-300 people strong. Sang a song about rising from the ashes, and as they sang hundreds of floating lanterns rose from the back of the stage and filled the night sky, leaving us with a visual affirmation of a people who have and are rising from the darkness carrying a great light. THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

We left their last night lifted, strengthened, refreshed, convicted, and empowered. 

Let me just say this, without being presumptuous, for the sake of the spiritual hunger in your church, for an opportunity to make a difference in the world, for perspective and hope, do yourself a favor and get connected to Gary and Marylin Skinner and Watoto church. So many ways to get involved, so much benefit to your church in eternal, purposeful ways. 

I love the church, and Watoto church like all of us is not perfect, but are what I believe Is one of the best examples of what God intends for the church to be. 

The idea that #wecandosomething is the way they live every single day. 

http://www.watoto.com
http://www.watotochurch.com

Uganda

Today was our first full day in Uganda, and it was an excellent time. We woke this morning and had breakfast with some of the team here and just talked about what God was doing in our lives.

We then had the good fortune of being able to visit the bulrushes the ministry to rescued babies by Watoto church. One of the most unique ministries I’ve seen in the world.

A ministry that truly rescues babies from trash heaps, public toilets, some who’ve been buried alive and others who were picked out for sacrifice to whatever god would demand such a thing.

Babies who were unloved and unwanted, for whatever reason. There is hope for such children in Uganda because of a special place called Watoto. Watoto this year is celebrating some significant landmarks. 40 year marriage anniversary of the senior Pastors Gary and Marylin Skinner, there 30th year as a church, and the 20th year committed to child care ministries.

Watoto is one of the great churches in the world! We are so excited as a church and as Global reach for Justice to be partnering with such an amazing church and vision.

The team of this great church are compelled and compelling people. I am stirred with passion every time I get around them. Their culture of compassion exudes from their very pours. They love God and love people, and I believe they are one of the great innovators of our day.

I could go on and on with stories of at risk women who’ve been helped and orphans who’ve been taken in and lifted to places and opportunities unavailable to them otherwise, or churches that have been planted and lives changed. The truth is Watoto church is an incredible extension of the hand of God in a beautiful nation, and what’s more they are a huge inspiration to the church at large. If you think your facing an impossible task read the history and bio of Watoto church and realize if God says to do it NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

I’m inspired to reach my community, region, nation for Jesus. I’m inspired to love people, beyond their problems and weaknesses. I’m inspired to give people and hand up and not insult their dignity by giving them a hand out. I am inspired to do what we can to effect positive change.

Tonight I go to bed happy to have held and fed little Ruth, who will live a fruitful life, fed, clothed, educated, cared for and most importantly loved. It was my honor and privilege to pray for her and declare the word of God over her life and I have no doubt God rescued her for great purpose. Now lets go about the business of rescuing all those around us who desperately need it.

Global Reach for Justice Africa 2014

I have the same anticipation that I get every year, when we begin our Journey to the Great Continent. As usual we will make stops in Uganda and Rwanda. Two places that God has truly put in our heart.

Global Reach for Justice is a local church ministry partnering with local churches around the world to effect positive change.

It is our goal on this trip to help the marginalized and to train leaders to continue to do so. To do our part in the over all scheme of Gods will in this nations.

Really I we want is to know that we have made a difference in one way or another.

This year I am doing something I have never done before. A mentoring trip. Two young men who see missions as a part of the dream of their life, a purpose for their life are going with me for the purpose of making a present difference, but more importantly to learn and develop thoughts, strategies and plans for their future in being global leaders. People who see the world as their home and fearlessly pursue the will of God to Go into all the world and carry this message.

My goal on this trip is to train, develop and poor into their lives the minimal knowledge and understanding that someone else gave me, so that together now and in the future, we can continue to help people around the world.

Leaders we can’t fear new leaders growing and developing we must empower them to do so. So we can see everything God wants us to do come to pass. Instead of fearing that they will be different, or that they will do it better we better hope that they do, or the dream will die.

Make sure what you are doing is not just providing for the present but that it is looking into the future and preparing to make a difference in the world has yet to come.

What is your AFRICA? Who are you taking with you?

#wecandosomething

#wecantdoeverything

Sitting in a hotel in Phnom Penh Cambodia, it’s 11 pm and I’m talking to my wife Janae back home in Oklahoma. I had visited the genocide museum that day. I saw poverty like I’d never seen or even knew existed. Overwhelmed I begin to weep. I wept for the children, the hungry, sick, orphaned, and impoverished. I wept for the trafficked, and those walking for miles for clean water. Although I was moved with compassion I felt completely frustrated. I knew God was calling me to this, but had no clue how I could possibly do anything about all this injustice. I remember asking God what do you want me to do? Who am I? How can I help? This is to much.

#wecandosomething

God begin to reveal to me that, NO, I couldn’t do everything, but I could do something, and just because I couldn’t do everything I shouldn’t avoid doing the something that I could do.

So for the last 8 or 9 years now we’ve been doing what we can. Raising money, leading teams, medical clinics, crusades, Pastors and leaders trainings, feeding the hungry, building classrooms, and homes for orphans, water projects, partnered with local churches in Asia and Africa.

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I list these things and show these pictures not to say look what we’ve done but rather look What God can do over the years if we allow Him to use us. We truly can do something. One of the most rewarding things about living this life trying to fight injustice is to see how many people out there are doing the something they can do and it is truly making a difference.

#werefusetodonothing

Once we realized that we didn’t have to do everything, and that we couldn’t anyway we made a decision. We’ve seen the poverty, we’ve seen what HIV/aides is doing in the world. We’ve seen the corruption and the results. We’ve seen the girls and boys who’ve been ravaged by human trafficking. We’ve seen the multiplied millions of orphans around the world, and we refuse to turn our head and act as if it’s not happening. We refuse to wait for someone else to do something. We will do what we can, period. Justice is righting wrongs. We have taken it as our calling to look injustice in the face and bring solutions to right the wrongs that we can.

Most importantly we want to share the love of Jesus with our words and actions and make a difference in our world.

We can always use your help. How? 1. Pray. I mean this sincerely. We need all the prayer we can get for our trips, projects, team members and local churches we work with around the world. 2. Give obviously building classrooms, hope centers, feeding the hungry, housing orphans etc costs money, and a lot of it. God has blessed us to be a blessing. So, if you feel compelled to help us financially, we would truly appreciate your help. 3. Be on Team. you could apply to join one of our short term missions teams.

If you want to help you can go to http://www.globalreachforjustice.com

I Thank God for the privilege of serving Him in this way, and I would count it an honor to partner with you. #wecandosomething

Oh Father Where art Thou?

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I am inspired today by the sheer influence a dad has in the life of his children. A power, when used for good, that can bring out the best in them.

We recently hosted a Daddy/Daughter dance at our church. It was a night filled with fun, laughter, and true connection.

At first I was concerned that the night would be incredibly awkward, due to the fact that the relationship between dads and kids resembles a clumsy person trying to walk across a frozen pond. Legs and arms flailing in all different directions towards an ultimate end of landing hard on your backside bruised and cold.

I have to admit at first it felt a little awkward, but all it took was a little food, good music and talking and before long the place was buzzing with life.

When the dance floor opened, to my amazement, it was packed with dads and daughters kicking up their heals to the Cupid shuffle which is an educational experience for all the dads or a little two stepping to Amarillo by morning, and some moving and grooving to “treasure” by Bruno Mars.

It was a sight to see. Dad’s uninhibited for the purpose of showing their daughters a good time.

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To my great pleasure there was more than a good time going on. As I was dancing with my own daughters, I looked around. I saw dads laughing uncontrollably with their daughters and daughters basking in the glory of their dads glorious uninhibited display of affection, being there just for them. I saw dads teaching daughters how to two step and daughters teaching dads how to not look completely ridiculous while on the dance floor. Not sure we learned that lesson.

More than that I saw dads showing their daughters how they should be treated by a man. The right kind of touch, the right kind of words. The literal display of how truly valuable a girl is. In a world where the objectification of women is at an all time high these dads were showing their daughters that they are not a mere object but they are a valuable, loved, revered individual who is so valued by her father she can not be trivialized by the whims of a lust driven society.

The power of an approving father far surpasses the influence of a culture of confusion if the father can be found. No I don’t mean is the father in the house? No I don’t mean does the father show up for performances? I mean is the father intentionally valuing the daughter in such a way that she will not question her value when faced with the unscrupulous agenda of modernity?

Oh father where art thou when she needs a shoulder to cry on? Oh father where art thou when she needs an “at a girl” to keep going. Oh father where art thou when she needs the confidence to stand in the face of highly pressurized times that demands she devalue herself for societal approval?

Fathers let us be found in an enthralling dance with the treasures of our legacy. The precious jewels in our keeping. Dancing the dance of love, driven with a need to know that our girls will be strong, decisive, assured and confident. They can face the world without trivializing themselves.

Dads talk to your girls, inspire, and challenge them but above all love them. Yes at the expense of your own comfort. Yes at the inconvenience of your time. Yes at the risk of revealing how awkward you really are. Say it, show it, be it.

This power has been given to you use it wisely.

Drama

I think leaders, ministry leaders especially, are constantly dealing with drama.

Trying to figure out the balance between caring for people and managing the seemingly constant bombardment of drama that some people cary with them.

At times we think that if we dismiss someone’s incessant drama we will be perceived as someone who doesn’t care.

We don’t want to neglect those with legitimate need. What I have found to be true over 25 years of ministry is if we allow ourselves to be controlled or caught up by those who continually stir up, participate in and talk about negative things all the time we will neglect those who are in desperate need of our help.

Let’s face it, we want to help everyone and we want to be seen as pastoral so we tolerate those who live and breathe drama.

I learned long ago that there are those who want and need constant attention, and even if there is not a problem they will create one so they feel normal. Their normal is chaos and what makes them feel good is not coming out of the chaos but bringing others into the chaos. They have an issue with wanting emotional control.

The only way to break free from emotional control is to say no.

No

I will not let you dominate my time.
I will not let you project your drama on to me.
I will not let you suck the life out of me

Have you ever thought that freedom for that person lies within the parameters that others set for them. If there is no demand there will be no supply.

Meaning, if they run out of places to take their drama, the drama will subside.

So when dealing with those who thrive on drama, don’t worry about the accusations of you not caring or loving etc. If we entertain that type of thinking we fuel the fire of drama.

You care most when you clearly understand the situation and act appropriately, and sometimes the appropriate response is no.

It’s this simple don’t let their bondage become your prison. Give them the key to unlock themselves.