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.

Mission Accomplished

When you take a short term missions trip the goal is to come along side local churches in different nations to resource, strengthen, and help in whatever way you have ability to help.

What usually happens however is as much as you want to make a difference, the greatest difference made is in you.

You are inspired, gain perspective and most importantly build some life changing relationships.

We did what we came to do. Helped orphans, street kids, several local churches and trained pastors and leaders.

God did what he sent us to do. Used us to make a difference in the lives of many while awakening each of us to higher heights and deeper depths spiritually. 

Mission accomplished.

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

So good to be with friends

image

Rindiro is a good friend to me and our global reach team, he has been hard at work preparing for us to arrive and facilitating opportunities. We are all here and believing God to do the great things. We may be getting a late start but God will more than make up for it. All the team is doing well ready for sleep in a bed and to get started in ministry. Its a great day. We have great friends here and are looking forward to seeing them all and helping all we can.

Leadership Training it’s imperative all over the world

Wow! What a day! It’s 7:30 pm and I am leaving kampong Cham and going Phnom Penh. It’s been an eventful day.

It started early this morning in prayer and study looking over the Me kong river. Went from that to breakfast with Pastor Meng Hong. A good man and pastor with a huge heart. After breakfast we went to the hall where the pastors conference was already in progress. There were 54 pastors in attendance. It was a great day of interaction. I taught two leadership development sessions and then we had lunch and when we returned I taught on marriage and ministry. I found that the same relational issues exist everywhere in the world. It was quite funny.

While I was teaching, the team was working at the Hope center. They worked on such projects as painting the gates, creating a new walk way, and two different landscaping projects. Some of the team went to the market to prepare for the party tonight. Buying the clothes, backpacks, school supplies and toiletries. This is not an easy job. Buying for 31 orphans is definitely a major task. A big thanks goes out to signature dental who provided toothbrushes, and toothpaste for all the kids.

So the team and I all met back at the hotel and rushed to get ready for the party. This requires, getting all the elements organized all the gift bags filled all the roles disseminated. Big Props to autumn and Taylor and our Cambodian coordinator Kimmy.

We went to the hall we rented for the party, got the music going, blew up balloons hung up the decorations, set out the stations-coloring, nails/hair/make up for the girls to make them feel special. A balloon station where team members make balloon animals for the kids, a twister station, a painting station, a scarf making session. Just the biggest party you’ve ever seen.

They love it. Every year they just get so excited. It’s like Christmas. We party, dance and then have the big gift give away.

This year I was only able to stay for the very first part so I left to go to phnom penh. I have an early morning meeting with the staff at new life and then a lunch meeting with the expat teams at new life. Looking forward to all of those.

God is so good. All the time! I miss my girls but love what God is doing. At least I have one of my girls with me. The team will finish the party tonight then have a soccer clinic tomorrow with the hope center children.

Then we are almost finished. It’s gone fast. I can’t say enough about this team. Each one of them have been superb in every way. Everything you want in a team.

Team:

Autumn Ellis -harvest Okc Campus
Taylor Gadberry – Harvest Edmond Campus
Louie Hamilton – harvest Okc campus
Micah Nimmo – harvest Okc Campus
Chandler Boyce- harvest Okc campus
Lauren Lee – harvest edmond Campus
Mariah Johnson – Your Place Church Pryor, Ok
Rachel Strange- Your Place church Pryor, ok
Angela Tracy – harvest Stillwater campus
Jordan Hodgden. – harvest Norman Campus
Chad Raunborg – harvest Okc campus
Ashley Newey – St Luke’s Okc
Adrienne Jefferis – harvest Okc campus.

You should be proud of these committed people who have given their time and treasure to this cause and they have made a difference.

We love you all who have made this possible. Thanks

True Religion

James 1:27

Every year when we drive up to the hope center the kids are in the front porch clapping and cheering smiling and so happy to see us, and we are equally as happy to see them.

This year there was a noticeable difference. Many of the older kids have grown significantly in the last year. They are so beautiful and respectful and treat us like family.

Every year as they greet us and sing songs and introduce themselves, I think to myself where would they be if they didn’t have the hope center. Would some of them be dead. Died of disease or malnutrition, or lack of food? Would some of them be forever stuck in the cycle of poverty, having no education, or decent clothing or medical attention, and never be able to break out. Continuing the cycle into the next generation.

Would some be the victims of a heartless trafficker who thinks children are a commodity to be bought and sold for work or sexual perversion?

The truth is now they are safe, they are covered. They may not have parents who are alive but they have family in this hope center.

Thank God for Pastor Meng Hong and Vat dei for having the courage and strength to do this. It is our pleasure to help support them. It is our honor to come each year and have a party for the kids and distribute 3 new sets of clothes for each of them, to get them all of their school supplies, to bring them new toiletries. To get them bicycles to ride to school, to do upkeep and new projects around the home, and so much more like a washer and dryer, the installation of indoor bathrooms, an overhang so the kids can play in the shade, painting and reprinting the home, landscaping, sewing machine, to make clothes and to teach the kids.

Over these years we have supported them in a significant way by all of this and much more including money to help with ongoing expenses throughout the year.

The most fun thing though is what will happen tonight. Tonight we will throw our annual party for them. Something they don’t normally get. We eat together, we dance, we play games, we give them all their new stuff as presents. It’s truly like Christmas to them, and it’s such a joy to us.

Thank you! From the bottom of my heart Thank You! If you have supported a missionary if you have given towards projects if you have prayed for us. If you have sent a family member to come. Thank you.

We could not do this without you.

This is true religion, this is the heart of God. This is pleasing to the father.

The most important thing is that if these kids were not able to be placed in this home they would probably not know Jesus or have heard of him in any clear way.

This is great if it was just changing the life of one child but the truth is it is changing the life of generations.

This is true religion!