“How precious is your steadfast love, O God!” Ps. 36:7a
It’s too bad that for those of us who were conscious during the ‘80s that the word “precious” recalls little pastel porcelain kids with big heads and blankets. Somehow I don’t think King David the bear-killer had this in mind.
precious |ˈpre sh əs| : Adjective: Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly; greatly loved or treasured by someone.
I like that part of the definition that it’s not to be wasted. Like a few ounces of water in a canteen in the desert. Don’t waste that. Like your last $10 with five more days before you get paid. Don’t waste that.
The steadfast love of the Lord. Don’t waste that.
But how? How do we not waste it? By understanding it. By remembering it. And by living in light of it.
Study your Bible so you know what this steadfast love is really like. Don’t have vague notions of his steadfast love—this is like a gear with worn down teeth that slips often in the machinery. Attach concrete events in the history of God’s dealing with men to your understanding of steadfast love. Find them in Scripture—they will be like new teeth in a gear that will drive all the other moving parts of the machinery.
Remember these. Memorize them. Replay them in your mind. They will be there when trouble comes and your adversary tempts you to think of God in terms of your circumstances rather than in terms of his revelation of himself.
Then live as if it were true. Because it is true. Live confidently knowing that Almighty God has set his steadfast love upon you. Live joyfully because though the entire world hate you, the steadfast love of the Creator of the entire world has come to you. Live in awe that this steadfast love is so deep that he gave something—rather someone—who is himself far more precious than anything else to make you his child: he gave his one and only Son to make a wretch his treasure.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The next morning, when we reached Pastor Moses’ house, our team divided into three groups of 5-6 people for door-to-door evangelism. The first team stayed in Kiburara, the second went to the hillside village of Renewawa, and the third went to the neighboring town of Kakinga, where Kiburara had recently planted a third church. Each group was escorted and led by the local pastor and a translator.
The pastor always went ahead first into each house, to let the people know that there was “A Team from America” in the town, and to ask if it would be all right for us to come in and speak to them. Most people were overjoyed to invite us into their homes, greeting us with warm smiles and enthusiastic welcomes. After thanking them for allowing us to come in, one member of the group, with the help of the translator, would ask if we could tell them about Jesus and pray for any needs they might have. Each family humbly listened as we related the gospel. At the end, when we asked if we could pray for them, they surprised us by telling the translator, “We are ready to accept Jesus.”
That humble openness typified our time among the people of Uganda – they were always ready to listen, curious as to what we had to say, and quick to respond to the gospel. Matt Wahl said it best when paraphrasing Jesus in John 4:35, “The fields are just white for harvest here.” This was even more amazing in light of the fact that the people we were praying for had desperate needs: AIDS, malaria, dying children, failing businesses.
We all met back at Moses’ house for lunch, and then the youth conference started. We gathered at the Covenant Mercies Offices, where tarps had been erected on wooden poles to create a tent, which served as shade throughout the conference. We weren’t the only team who had traveled to be there – young men and women had walked and driven from neighboring towns and districts to attend. We were, however, the only mzungus, and the staring continued. They kicked things off with worship, asking different teams from the different churches to take turns leading the attendees in praise songs. After about a half hour of singing, they asked our team to come, and we sang one or two songs, after which each of us came forward and introduced ourselves. The translator had a little trouble with some of our names (Courtney became “Corny,” Brandon was “Plantain,” and they thought Chelsea’s name was funny because of the Chelsea Football Club), but each of us was able to communicate our excitement about being there to share in the grace of God with them.
By the time we were ready to start the crusade that evening, a huge crowd had formed. A few team members shared their testimonies, and then Drew Garfield proclaimed the gospel with skill, persuasion, and passion, calling the unbelievers in the crowd to repentance and trust in Jesus. As he finished and invited people to come forward, a large group of children flocked to the bottom of the stage, along with a number of adults. Drew led them in prayer, and then the crowd cheered as we all rejoiced in their salvation. A number of us were brought to tears, overwhelmed by the power of God and praising him for what we had just seen.
Moses, his wife, Sarah, and his two children, Grace and Seth, came back to the guest house for dinner, and Moses told us about how he and Sarah had met and how he had worked for a year to make 6,000 bricks in order to raise enough money to pay her dowry. Moses and Sarah are both so humble, and their lives clearly show that their life’s goal is to share the gospel and build the church of Jesus Christ.
Breakfast, team meeting, and back on the bus was how our first day of ministry started. Our home for the next ten days was a guest house (think youth hostel meets African bed and breakfast) in Kamwenge, a town about 30 minutes away from Moses’ church. We drove to Kiburara, waving to the people in the tiny cinder-block houses and to the kids running alongside the bus in ragged fourth- or fifth-hand clothing, shouting “mzungu!” Kiburara in the daytime looked identical to innumerable other Ugandan villages we had passed. We piled out of the bus, waving awkwardly at the local people, who started to gather at a safe distance. The kids crowded around and we all tried our best to introduce ourselves. Most of them just kind of stared at us until one of the guys on the team stooped down and started drawing a tic-tac-toe game in the dirt. Instantly, a circle of kids swarmed around him as they crowded in to see what he was doing. From there on out, being with the kids was easy. They loved to play any game, and caught on quickly to tic-tac-toe, thumb wars, and Simon Says, laughing at the game and at each other, but mostly at us.
Moses took us down the street to the Covenant Mercies offices, where the youth conference we were helping with was to be held. He then showed us the well that had been placed right outside the offices – one of three that Covenant Life had raised money to dig. What a humbling experience. We listened intently, praising God as Moses told us how the accessible, clean water had changed the local peoples’ lives.
We then walked to Kiburara Gospel Center’s first church plant, which was about a mile away in a more rural area called Renewawa. The second well had been dug just down the hill from the church’s meeting site, and we watched, amazed at God’s goodness, as small children with yellow jugs came down to the well for water. A year ago, when the first team had come to Uganda, the place where the well now stood had been a filthy, diseased waterhole. What a privilege it was for us to actually get to pump clean water for those kids and then spend some time thanking God for what he had done. What a merciful God we serve!
Stephen, the pastor of the Renewawa church plant, led us up the hill to the bare, stick structure that was the church “building.” The members of the church had gathered around, and as we laid hands on them and prayed for God to prosper the church, heal the sick, and bring many to salvation, we saw firsthand that a church is not a building – it’s God’s people.
That evening, we held the first crusade, and more than 150 people gathered around a rickety wooden stage in a field. A number of African worship teams from visiting churches (they were in Kiburara for the youth conference) lead the people in singing and dancing. And then, we heard Pastor Moses say, “And now, we would like to welcome the team from America…to come and lead us…in two songs…and a skit…and testimonies…and then our brother will bring the word.” We clambered up the makeshift ladder onto the stage and began to sing, with Danny Mays and Eric McAllister leading the way. After a few worship songs, during which the people simply stared, we performed a simple skit demonstrating the gospel. The skit ended with Jesus bringing a sinner back to life – and the believers in the crowd cheered and shouted “Makema Asiimwe” (praise God). We were struck by how very real and necessary the gospel is to them – they take every opportunity to loudly praise God for saving them.
Back at the guest house that night, we talked over dinner, checked in on Dan Calderone who had gone home halfway through the day with a fever, and headed to bed fairly early.
Well, I guess “my” is a misnomer…It’s actually the ESV study plan found at the back of the ESV Study Bible. I’m only two months into it, but I’m enjoying the idea behind the plan.
Like most plans it has you reading in four places at a time:
–Psalms and Wisdom Literature
–Pentateuch and History of Israel
–Chronicles and Prophets
–Gospels and Epistles
The Pentateuch and History of Israel begins with the five books of Moses and then moves on to the rest of the history of Israel in chronological order.
The Chronicles and Prophets begins with 1 & 2 Chronicles (Kings and Samuel are in the History reading) and then moves on to the prophets chronologically. Opening with the Chronicles gives you much of the historical context out of which the prophets were writing.
The Gospels and Epistles are grouped by author:
–Luke & Acts
–Hebrews (which could be Paul!)
–Mark & Peter (b/c Mark used Peter as his primary source)
–John & the Epistles of John & Revelation (with Jude slipped in there)
This is a fresh take on a standard read-in-four-places-at-a-time-Bible-in-a-year-plan.
Let me know if you decide to join me.
We landed in Entebbe, Uganda, around 9 AM Africa time. Moses was there to meet us, along with our bus drivers, Said and Sonday, who we grew rather fond of by the end of the trip. The beginning of our 10-hour bus trip took us through downtown Kampala, where we got water and gasoline. We stopped for lunch about 3 hours in, at a little place on the Ugandan equator. As we relaxed in the shade, we asked Moses different questions about his life and the church, drank our first Ugandan sodas, and played with a few of the local children.
We slept on and off for the rest of the bus trip – until we hit the 2-hour long stretch of dirt road that leads to Kiburara…anyone who was sleeping at that point began flying out of their seat every couple of seconds as we hit every ditch and hole. Hilarious.
Reaching Kiburara brought a mixture of excitement and nervousness, at least for us first timers. As we drove up to Moses’ house, we were surrounded by a crowd of people, all jumping and waving and yelling “mzungu!” (which, for the uninitiated is their affectionate term for white people). As we each climbed down the bus stairs, we were engulfed in a sea of wide-eyed African kids greeting us, and laughing, and staring, and asking questions. The enthusiasm and excitement of the kids, the shy but joy-filled greetings of the adults, and the simple way the elderly clasped our hands and smiled all communicated their love for us, and we immediately began experiencing the fellowship and brotherhood that can only come as a result of the gospel.
After our first goat and rice dinner, we waded through the sea of little hands and faces back to the bus, promising in halting English that we’d be back tomorrow.
Showering and sleeping in a real bed for the first time in two days felt amazing.
Everyone managed to sleep a little on the plane, but we were definitely feeling the jet lag as we attempted to navigate our way around Heathrow. While Drew stood in line to buy day passes for the tube, the rest of the team stood around saying things like, “the loo” and “jolly good” in our amazing British accents. Because our layover in London was fairly long, we were able to have lunch at a pub in downtown London and sit in on a service at Westminster Abbey. We learned a lot about traveling as a team… and realized it would probably be best if we began counting off, to ensure that the entire team was present.
Even these first couple days—though we hadn’t yet arrived at our “mission field”—provided opportunities to care for each other (Matt and a few others weren’t feeling well at this point), pray for each other, and anticipate together what God was going to do when we were in Africa.
Another website. Another blog. Another calendar. Blech.
Well yes, and we don’t have anything that really sets us apart. Except for the fact that this is your website. The chronicle of what you as the redeemed people of God are doing to advance His kingdom on the earth.
We’re going to tell you about ways you can be declaring and demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our community.
We’re going to talk about ways you can be growing in your love for God.
We’re going to write about what your community is doing together.
We’re going to tell stories about the kingdom work after it happens.
This website is meant to connect you—the redeemed people of God—with the good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Namely, seeking the redemption of other people through declaring and demonstrating the Gospel of Christ.
Use it to stay connected. Use it to pray more specifically. Use it find out how you want to serve. Use it to fill up your calendar with stuff that is worthwhile.
We love serving God with you and can’t wait to see all that He does as we earnestly desire his kingdom to advance together.
The team arrived at the church around 6 PM—bags full of old clothes, mosquito repellent, and toilet paper. Well, most of us had toilet paper. Isaac, despite his numerous warnings and exhortations forgot this most precious of items. He grabbed a few rolls from the church bathroom (thanks, Covenant Life, for supporting us in even the most practical of ways). We prayed, said our goodbyes, loaded the luggage, and set off for Reagan National Airport to catch our first flight to Heathrow…until we got a call from the church saying we had left Hye Joon behind.
We did eventually make it to the airport – all 22 of us – and onto our flight, arriving in London without further issues.
Steve Boisvert and Bryce Hoover have been helping a man in the community with MS. He is in need of men to assist him to perform daily tasks. This is a great opportunity to serve someone in the surrounding community (Flower Hill).
Days and Times-Monday/Thursday/Saturday from 6:30-9:30 (flexible)
Frequency-Once a week/every other week/once a month
Location-His apartment is across the street from the Flower Hill Giant
Training-Steve Boisvert, a guy in the singles ministry who helps this man, will help train you