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

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.

God has not Forgotten You

In Mark 5 there are two intersecting accounts that equally reveal the power of God and the action that moves Him. Faith.

One is the story of a woman struggling for years.  Having lost all of her resources, left to accept her fate and die. She hears about Jesus and acts on her faith. She decides that if she touches Jesus he whole situation would change and she was right. She pressed through the crowd touched him and was made well.

When she touched Jesus he was on his way to Jairus house.

Jairus, a great leader in the community had a desperate situation,  his daughter was gravely ill. He was so distraught, his status meant nothing, his influence meant nothing, his wealth meant nothing.  When he saw Jesus he fell to the ground in front of him and asked, “will you heal my daughter?” Jesus said yes I will.

On his way there he was interrupted by the faith of the woman. After his encounter with the woman, Jairus servant arrived on the scene and told his master, “no need to bother the master further, your daughter is dead.”

The words were final, cold, and must have caught Jairus off guard as the truth of them settled on his heart.  “Dead”, that word is so harsh. Have you ever thought about what Jairus must have thought in that moment. His answer was on its way but seemingly too late. If only Jesus had not been interrupted, if he had not stopped, maybe his daughter would have lived. Why does the women get healed and his daughter die?  Did Jesus forget?  Did He not care? 

In that moment despair, grief, fear, anger, sadness and regret must have landed on him like a ton of bricks. Should he have just stayed with his daughter, was this foolish to run after Jesus hoping he could cure her, had his desperation drove him insane?  Why? Why? Why? 

He believed just like the lady, he humbled himself, he asked for help. What more could he have done? 

He felt alone, abandoned, shocked, and his whole world seemed to be unraveling right before his eyes.

Jesus must have seen the sheer terror on his face.  He arrested his thoughts and said with an uncanny confidence. “Jairus, don’t be afraid, only believe!” Only believe, as if to say it’s time to stop all the torrent of thoughts racing through his mind. Don’t doubt, don’t fear, don’t grieve, don’t be distracted, only believe.

Today if you feel alone, forgotten, isolated, disappointed, stop listening to the wrong voices, bring the crazy thoughts of doubt, fear, and discouragement to a screeching halt and Only believe. No matter how final things feel to you, nothing is final to God.

Help is on the way, He’s not late, He’s not forgotten you. It doesn’t matter how things feel or look, ONLY BELIEVE.

Just like Jesus rescued the daughter of Jairus he can and will rescue you.

From kidnapper to Christ follower

What a great guy as you can see in this photo. He has a true pastors heart, and is building the church in Cambodia. He Pastors one of the New Life campuses in Kampong Thom Province. His story is amazing.

image

In 1999 new life started reaching into this area. They sent one of their pastors to the province to connect with people and have a bible study. As the Pastor, Mara Kong would teach and share, it was effecting the community, and there were a contingent of men who decided they would stop it. So they sent a man in to case the movements of Pastor Mara. The objective was to watch him and at the opportune time kidnap him and put a stop to this Jesus business.

So they sent this man to infiltrate the group and seize the opportunity to grab Mara. Week after week he sat in the bible study to pretend he was interested. What happened next proves the power of God. The word began to penetrate the hard heart of this hate filled man and as he sat in the studies instead of kidnapping Mara, God kidnapped his heart. He received the word of God, gave his life to Jesus and Jesus radically regenerated his life.

That, would be kidnapper, is now the Pastor of that church. Doing great things for God and reaching people for the cause of the local church.

When you hear these types of stories it makes it all worth it. You know that the time spent, effort given, money invested is all worth it. Lives are being changed.

Everyone Doing their Part

Today is an excellent day in Cambodia. The team did a work day at the hope center in Kampong Thom and Janae and I attended the new life staff retreat. We heard some great teaching and had the honor of teaching and praying over the staff.

This afternoon and evening the team are having a game time and ministry time with the orphans and attending and helping with an English class.

We will continue the retreat tonight. Believing God to truly use us to make a difference. Helps us to encourage and strengthen the church here in Cambodia.

Please continue to pray for the team. Thanks for the part you played in sending us.

The Church World Wide

I’ve said this many times but it rings as true today as much as ever. The church of Jesus Christ is alive and well and on the rise around the World.

As I told a room full of leaders and pastors in a village in Kampong Thom this morning it’s powerful to think that we have brothers and sisters all over this world because of our relationship with our father God through His Son Jesus.

The church is truly the expression of the love of Jesus. In all cultures, languages, and nations the church brings hope to the world.

I love Cambodia. The people here are so endearing, and full of faith, even in harsh circumstances.

Global Reach for Justice is doing what we can to make a difference in the world. James 1:27