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.

Home Sweet Home

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I absolutely love traveling. Especially for mission efforts. Global reach is a real passion for me.

This latest trip was fantastic. Our plans were accomplished, and God showed up in so many ways.

Africa is a beautiful continent and Rwanda and Uganda have a special place in my heart.

As I sit here in the JFK airport I feel like Dorothy, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. As a matter of fact I could use some red shoes right now if clicking them together would get me home quicker.

Once I get in the states I’m ready to be with my girls so this last few ours are a real bother to me. Patience, I need it bad.

One thought I share with all short term missionaries on our teams is the idea of coming home with a mission. I think it’s worthy to share with you here.

The thing that makes a global reach effort so powerful for those on the team is that every day has a mission. You are not distracted by all the “stuff” of the day and every day has a specific purpose. I always ask the teams, how would this play out in our every day lives if we took that home.

I want to encourage you and myself, let’s begin to live every day like a mission. Living life for a purpose. What if we didn’t let the busyness distract us and decided each morning that we will have a mission for the day.

If we were to really do that, we could reach so many people, and change so many lives, and make the name of Jesus famous. So it’s good to be home but I’m home on a mission.

What will your mission be this week?

Enjoy Life

I think when you’ve worked hard as a team you should play hard as a team. Having fun at the end of a trip like this really finishes things off well.

As Christians it’s important we enjoy life and let others see the joy we have in life. Let’s not be so busy doing that we do that we forget how to enjoy God, His creation, and our families and friends.

The bible says men will know we follow Jesus if we love each other. When you love each other you enjoy each other.

So, work hard and play hard. In the last two days we’ve had a soccer game that drew a crowd and was so much fun. We road four wheelers through the African countryside and we had lunch at a nice resteraunt overlooking the Nile river.

While working hard together builds character and community, playing hard together does so equally.

It’s been a great trip. Good rest tonight, some light shopping in markets in the morning, church tomorrow night then homeward bound.

I’m ready to see my girls as I know the rest of the team is ready to see their families.

My favorite part of every trip is when I come down the escalator in the Okc airport and see my girls standing at the baggage claim. Reunited. 2 more days

The Fountain of Youth

We were wrapping up our project today so it was moving kind of slow. The pace gave us the chance to talk a little more.

I was conversing with the operations manager, my friend Isaac, about our ages. He told me he was 37. He said, “I’m and old man.” I said Isaac your a young man. I’m six years older than you.

He said, “pastor, you must understand the average life expectancy for a Ugandan man is 45 years old.” so in his nation among his people he is old. He is a healthy guy so I’m believing him to live far into his later years.

In talking to another worker he was noticing the grey in my hair. He said it is a blessing to have grey hair, it means God has blessed you with many years. He said some people don’t want to be as old as they are but should instead praise God for their age because some people die early.

After having these two conversations I thought about how much time and money we spend trying to avoid our age, not praising God for the longevity of our lives, and for the Benefit of all the wonderful experiences we’ve had.

We put so much emphasis on making this life a blessing for ourselves we forget this life is a mere dressing room for eternity.

It’s kind of like when I’ve taken my girls to a theme park. When they were little they would keep asking every few minutes, “its not time to leave yet is it?” I would have to tell them. You are worried so much about leaving you can’t enjoy our time here.

Sometimes we fight getting older so hard we can’t enjoy the moment.

Let’s give thanks that we’ve lived this long and that God has given us life, and let’s use it for His great cause!

There is a fountain of youth, it’s called eternity. So let’s live this brief life to the fullest using our vast experience to help those coming after us.

A Heart and Mind to work

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I’m sore today. We have worked 3 full days building for Watoto and it has been worth every minute.

So we built the wall, and all [of it] was joined together to half its height, for the people had a heart and mind to work. (Nehemiah 4:6 AMP)

When all we do is work it means very little, even if we accomplish a lot. What makes our work mean something and our lives have significance is the greater cause to which we are tied.

The children of Israel weren’t just building some walls, they were rebuilding the fallen city. It was a mandate of God establishing his kingdom here on earth. It had a physical component but a spiritual connection

This team has truly embraced that thinking. Therefore, this build has taken on true significance for all of us. All the soreness and weariness has been worth it knowing we are being used by God to prepare a future for widows and orphans.

I encourage you have a heart and a mind to work. Not for selfish ambition, but for the greater cause of Gods kingdom purpose. Then you will find fulfillment and satisfaction in this life.

Let’s build!

Thunder Up!

So sorry for the loss, and I know statistically what needs to be done has never been done, but I believe the Thunder will do it.

Our whole season people have counted us out, that’s fine. We’ve dug ourself a bit of a whole but now we will climb out of it. Please don’t be stupid and ridicule Westbrook for a mistake made that was easy to make. His game was unbelievable!

Just my thoughts from here in africa.

We are on the bus headed out to the work site, a little tired from getting up so early but worth it to support the team.

Kampala Uganda is like the city that never sleeps, hustle and bustle all Around. We love the people here, and believe that working with Watoto is really making a difference.

Team is doing well. We are in the end, should finish work today. Dedicate the building tomorrow. Will have pics. Then for lots of fun last few days. Looking forward to an ATV safari.

Have missed my girls last few days. Hug em for me if you see them.

Have a great day!

Chameleon

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While we were eating with some
Watoto families, and having the best time, one of the kids wanted to show me a chameleon he found. The lizard became a pet for the afternoon. He climbed all over everyone and changed colors.

A lot of the time we use chameleons in a negative sense. However if you think about it, if we are going to be effective in cross cultural ministry we must be able to blend to a degree. Not changing who we are or compromising on the important things but to be able to worship in any culture and feel comfortable.

So learn to be yourself but gel with those you are ministering to. It takes a big person and mature person to accomplish this.

Learn to love beyond yourself

Team is One

I love the thunders philosophy “team is one.” it’s a a true statement if we truly understand team.

Unfortunately in our day our thinking could be more aptly described “the one is the team.”

So many people take the approach that “this is my world, you all just get to live in it.” Which is the antithesis to the Gospel message and to the way the body of Christ should work.

I’m truly burdened by the spirit of celebrity in the church today and I really believe we are setting ourselves up for a lose/lose scenario if we continue to give men the glory that belongs to God.

I truly believe in honoring our leaders and know that there is favor when we honor everyone around us but when we move to an unhealthy place of celebrity worship, even in the church we miss the point entirely. Let’s honor, but let’s realize we are all a part of the same team and the team is one.

This trip, each member has played their role without worrying about the roles of others. All pulling together, honoring one another. We’ve earned a lot and God has used us to impact lives. It’s so powerful when you realize in the kingdom the team is one and it is world wide.

Transformers

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If I had to describe Watoto in one word it would be transformers.

We went to church at the 8 am service this morning. It was absolutely packed and overflows were filled, and they still had 3 more services to go. The entire church runs 20,000 people strong over 1700 call groups.

They constantly reach out. They live James 1:27 in a real sense.

They have been doing their missions miracle offering. Where they are raising money to support a new plant in southern Sudan and outreaches in Israel. They reached 800,000 us dollars in one weekend. An amazing accomplishment. You could believe how excited they were about it!

We heard the single best message on generosity I’ve ever heard from Pastor Julious.

We ate lunch in the Watoto village and had such a great afternoon. We were able to really connect with some great children and young adults. After hanging out with them and just talking we see that everyone of them have an
Incredible transformation story.

The combination of vision, enthusiasm, and leadership culminate in an unbelievable nation changing church.

The team have done well, and the trip is awesome.

Is Kony THE problem or A Problem

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Let me say again, I have no problem with “invisible children”. I love what they do and what they are doing. Bringing awareness to real atrocities that people tend to ignore so as not to have to deal with them. Thank God for an organization passionately putting their time, talent, and treasure where their mouth is. I’m all for the campaign to bring Kony to justice, truth is it should have been done long ago.

My question today is a simple one. What happens when He’s brought to justice? It is my understanding that Kony and the LRA, while still posing a threat have little influence or even presence in Uganda and are mostly hiding. He and they should be brought to justice!

I would like to take the opportunity while this buzz and awareness is humming to say we need to deal with the issues, the plight of the Ugandan people, that give way to the Kony’s of the world.

A nation savagely torn by HIV/AIDS. where, as bad as that is, more people will die from Malaria. A nation who as a result of war, and disease, and even poverty has an over 2.5 million orphan population.

Yes let’s flood American streets with the message to bring Kony to justice, but then let’s take those same feet that will “cover the night” with a message and “cover a nation” with the methods of restoration, regeneration, and renewal.

I know a group who is providing plastic surgery for victims of Kony’s tortuous maiming and dehumanizing act of cutting people’s faces to make them ashamed to be seen in public.

It’s one thing to say I care, someone should do something its another to actually raise funds and coordinate efforts to bring hope and dignity back to people who were mutilated by a maniac and his kidnapped, forced army of children.

I know people who have looked the HIV/AIDS issue in the face and
starred it down by providing medicines and solutions to the results of the travesties caused by this horrible pestilence on society.

There are people who have heard the voice of God to do something about the orphan issue and have provided villages built specifically for joining orphans to a home, parents, medical care, education and a message of hope that will change their life forever.

Rescuing babies from trash heaps, toilets and even buried alive. Taking them in and taking responsibility for the rest of their life. Raising them to take responsibility for themselves and their hurting nation.

They are helping marginalized women who will not make it without help.

The organization I speak of is our friends Gary and Marilyn Skinner at Watoto.com.

Watoto Documentary from Watoto on Vimeo.

So let’s cry out for justice and for awareness but there is something beyond awareness called action. Let’s take a step of action and help the people of Uganda.

How? Go there with a mission.
How? Partner with someone who is and has been doing something.
How? Give

We will be building again this year in partnership with Watoto if you would like to help please email us at globalreach@harvestokc.com

If you want to help Watoto directly go to http://www.watoto.com

Let your awareness fuel your action. Do something more than talk.

Then maybe we can keep another Joseph Kony or the like, from rising to power. It’s love and compassion that causes us to help.

Let it rise in you!