Lisa Carr emailed Isaac the following story of how God has led her to advance the Gospel of Christ right where she works:
With the single ministry’s desire to pursue the mission God has given us, I’ve really felt God telling me that my mission field is local and with the people I work with. There are 3 people specifically that he’s drawn me towards:
One girl I worked with at my previous job. Over the course of working with her we had discussed spiritual things. After having left the job, I can see God drawing her out and she’s been searching for the truth of who He is. I’ve been able to witness to her, she’s come to church a few times, she’s come to my women’s discipleship group—which was really exciting—and she’s now actively looking to find a church to learn more about Him. I can really see God working in her heart. Pray that she would trust in Christ and that she would be able to come to the Introducing God series.
Another is a girl that I currently work with who is Muslim. She’s very open to discussing faith on a philosophical and historical level. Over Christmas she came to the service and was moved by the production. She said she was touched by the portrayal of Mary holding Jesus after he died. It brought up the opportunity to talk about Jesus and who he was. She was really excited to get one of the books for guests to read more and I also gave her The Case for Christ, which she is currently reading. Her family is strong in their beliefs and you can see the pull in her heart to please her family. Please pray that she will be open to the truth of Jesus.
The third girl is someone that I’ve just started working with. She’s told other people at work that she is an atheist. With our similar interests and schedules, I’ve been working closely with her lately. I know that God is putting me in her path to plant seeds. So far we’ve been getting to know each other but I know God’s got opportunities waiting for me to share Jesus with her. Pray that I’ll recogni ze them and jump in with both feet.
We recently received this email from Pastor Moses in Uganda where we have sent people on short-term missions trips:
Pray with us. This is how far we have gone and we need God to do something. Currently, we are stopping here because we do not have more money, but our trust is in the Lord.
Send our prayer request to those who would like to stand with us both in prayer support and financial support as we build together the worship centre. The church members have done all they could. This week we are hosting a women’s seminar and crusade in the centre every evening Friday through Sunday.
Please pass this on to friends and family who might be led to pray and give.
Have you ever been around someone who just does things rather than just talking about doing things? My buddy, Seth Remsnyder, is one of those people. Instead of just talking about how horrible abortion is, he is seeking to do something about it. He and others in our ministry and church (Janet Remsnyder, Ryan and Jenny James, Andree and Becca Kless, Matt Wahl, and Kyle Martineau) have started a blog, We The Posterity, to play their part in changing our nation’s conscience on abortion. Check out their blog if you want to have your conscience informed on abortion and check out the two local pregnancy centers and contact them about how you can just do it:
It was sunny with a high of 25. Perfect weather for handing out piping hot cups of coffee! A few weeks back, various students from OneU at Maryland spent the morning giving away coffee to all the unfortunate students who signed up for 8am Monday classes this semester. We think they were quite grateful. “Thank you” and “Would you please stand outside my building every morning” were common refrains through many-a-chattering teeth. Our students woke up very early to make this happen and served with with lots of joy, despite early alarm clocks and freezing temps! I left the event with Jesus’ words ringing in my ears:
If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all. Mark 9:35
The result? Though our intent was simply to serve students and not necessarily invite them out to any OneU event, several students asked about OneU and expressed interest in joining a Bible study discussion group. One girl even reconnected with some friends back at Covenant Life who had shared the gospel with her in the past! We serve such an awesome God!
That’s what my barber told me last week when I was getting my haircut. He is a professing Buddhist from Vietnam, father of 3, and has been cutting hair for years.
“So Mark (not his real name) do you have any spiritual belief?”
“I’m a Buddhist.”
He stopped cutting my hair and looked at me in the mirror. I could see that he seemed excited to tell me about his faith. I was glad since he was standing over me with a pair of scissors in his hand.
“You know, I don’t know much about Buddhism. Can you tell me more about what you believe?”
“We just try and be good, you know. Good deeds.”
His English is fine, but broken at times.
“That’s great Mark, doing good is important. What good things do you try and do?”
“Take care of my family, don’t do anything really bad, I wish I could give out free haircuts, but I can’t, you know?”
His facial expression began to reveal an internal struggle.
“If you ever want to do a good deed like that, call me up. I’ll take a free haircut anytime. That’s great you do those things Mark. How do you determine what is good and what is bad?”
“You just don’t do anything really bad…”
He went back to cutting my hair.
“What’s really bad? Stuff like murder, rape. Would you say those things are bad?” I asked.
“What do you believe happens to people who are bad?”
“They go to hell,” he said.
He stopped cutting my hair and seemed more interested in the conversation.
“So you believe in a hell. Do you believe in heaven?”
“Yes,” he said
“What happens in hell when you get there?”
“Well, everyone goes there. When you get there, they beat you because of all the bad deeds you have done in your life.”
He started cutting my hair again.
“Whoa. REALLY?!? EVERYONE goes to hell, Mark? What do you mean?”
“Yes, everyone. Everyone goes to pay for the bad stuff they did in their life.”
“Who goes to heaven then, Mark?”
“After you spend time in hell and pay for your bad deeds you go to heaven.”
“Okay. Who decides when you can go to heaven?” I asked.
“How does he decide who goes and when they go?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you afraid of going to hell, Mark?”
“Yes, I’m very scared.”
“If you could go right to heaven would you want to do that?”
He stopped cutting my hair again.
“Has anyone ever told you about the gospel and what Christians believe?” I asked.
“Can I tell you?”
He went back to cutting my hair and seemed less interested in the conversation.
I proceeded to tell him “we’re all bad and do bad things. None of us can get to heaven by our good works, because our bad works deserve to be punished. We all deserve to go to hell. We need someone to save us and live the life we can’t live. This is why Jesus came. He came to live our life and die our death because of our sin. And now, he calls us to place our faith in him as God. When we do this, God accepts us and declares us—the guilty party—not guilty because Jesus took our punishment on the cross. You see, heaven isn’t going to be filled with good people, but bad people who have been saved by Jesus and his work for us—not our work for him.”
“I see,” he said.
Mark finished cutting my hair. I paid him (and gave him a good tip), and told him how much I enjoyed hearing about Buddhism.
I am praying that God would save Mark. In the meantime, I am reading up on Buddhism so that I can continue the conversation with him next month.
Please pray for Mark and for me “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel…” (Eph 6:19)
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he…
He what? What did he do? He was provoked by their idols so he went on an idol-destroying rampage rebuking all the pagans…He bought some land far away because he was disgusted with their idol-worship…He kept his mouth shut and prayed, minding his own business…
Nope. Here’s the rest of the verse:
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there…18…he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
Paul was provoked over the idol worship and proclaimed Christ. Later in verse 30 Paul told the Athenians that God commands everyone to repent. We don’t know exactly how he was provoked. Did he have righteous indignation because of the wicked? Was he grieved for these people created in God’s image who were completely lost in worship of false Gods? Perhaps both.
What we do know is his response: In light of the sins of the people around him, he reasoned with people and proclaimed repentance and faith in Jesus Christ—his death and his resurrection.
Let’s be like Paul when we encounter false worship today. Let’s reason with people and proclaim Christ.
We sleepily assembled in the main room of the beautiful hotel while Drew and Isaac checked us out, and we climbed onto the last bus ride of the trip (or so we thought). An hour and a half later, we were checked through security at Entebbe airport, wandering through duty-free shops or trying to catch catnaps in the uncomfortable gate chairs. At last, we boarded our flight, but the plane didn’t leave until an hour after its scheduled departure time. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if our transfer in London hadn’t been so tight.
Unfortunately, it was a tight transfer, and as we got closer and closer to London, the captain started making announcements about transfer information. You know it’s never a good sign when your captain starts saying things like: “I realize there are about 22 people trying to catch a flight to Washington today…we’re going to try and get you there in time…”
When we landed, we rushed off the plane and ran through the airport like the family in Home Alone. But when we got to the first checkpoint, we found out that our plane had departed about a half hour beforehand.
Right after we prayed, God gave Isaac some unanticipated favor with British Airways, and he was able to secure a hotel for the evening and the first flight out in the morning for the entire team. Before going to the hotel, we stopped at Krispy Kreme for some much-needed sugar and caffeine. Then, Hye Joon passed out. The three nurses on the team gathered around her, and a medical team arrived to take her to the hospital. It turned out that she had the same cold as many of us, was exhausted and dehydrated, but, fortunately, not in any serious danger. The rest of us, led by Drew, took the shuttle to the hotel. We ate a hot, cafeteria-style meal in the lobby, then most of us headed off to bed. Around midnight, Isaac and Hye Joon returned. The next morning we caught the shuttle, poured through Heathrow security, and boarded the flight that would take us home.
Although each of us took away different experiences and saw God work in unique ways, what may have been the most meaningful part of the trip was the fact that God used us to bring people to salvation, and God used the people of Uganda to draw us closer to himself. We are so humbled to have been able to be a part of this trip, and continue to pray for the churches in Kiburara, Kakinga, and Renewawa, even as they pray for us. We look forward to the day when we will see our brothers and sisters in Uganda again, and they can’t wait to meet you, whether it be on the next e-team or in heaven, when we’re united around the One who gave all of us salvation.
I can’t help but sing those first few verses of Psalm 40 in my head as I read this Psalm. Sounds real spiritual, right? Actually it’s because of U2’s song 40 from Under a Blood Red Sky (1983). Only the version of the Bible he was working with is different than my ESV so it doesn’t flow very well in my head…
As I was reading the introduction to this Psalm in my ESV study Bible, the following observation jumped out at me:
...an individual’s experience of God’s mercy can lead to others rejoicing in God (vv 3, 9-10, 16).
We have hundreds of stories of God’s mercy in the pages of Scripture to help us rejoice in God: The deliverance of Noah through the ark. The deliverance of Isaac from the altar through a ram caught by its horns. The deliverance of David countless times from his enemies in amazing ways. The deliverance of Peter from prison through an angel.
But it also got me thinking about our stories of salvation. Our stories of deliverance. Retell your story of salvation to a brother or sister to help them rejoice in God. Or ask them to retell theirs. Retell your story with a friend who doesn’t know Christ—perhaps through it they will come to rejoice in God.
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
We were up, packed, and on the bus by around 6:30 AM. The ride was bumpy for about two hours, but we got to see the sunrise over the African jungle – and baboons! You would have thought we were a bus full of first graders on a field trip to the zoo the way we were all hanging out of the windows and throwing pieces of protein bars at them.
We arrived in Kampala in the early afternoon, only to find that the 5-star hotel we were supposed to stay at had given our rooms to other people. God displayed His goodness and sovereignty once again, however, in that we got lunch, and dinner at the hotel they were moving us to, all free of charge. Drew tried to get them to give us hotel robes and slippers too, but they weren’t too keen on that idea.
The hotel we got sent to was a “boutique hotel and spa” – and we all unanimously agreed that it was ten times better than the other hotel. In the words of one of the team members (who will remain anonymous): “I feel like I’m on my honeymoon, just without a wife.”
Anyway, the view was beautiful, the showers were hot and very spa-ish, and some of us even enjoyed massages and the pool. The food was also amazing, and we had fun introducing Moses (who was traveling to Kampala with us) to things like pizza, steak, and ice cream. God was so kind to bless us with a relaxing evening in a beautiful place!
We slept in. This was a wonderful and new experience for many of us. We didn’t have to be in Kiburara until after lunch, so we had a chance to catch up on some sleep, have extended times with the Lord, and play a two-table, no-holds-barred game of Scum. We broke out our sunglasses and relaxed; playing cards, talking, joking, teasing Kati Black about her future Ugandan husband, and just generally enjoying being with one another. It was especially great to have Eric McAllister joining in the fun – he was back on his feet and singing benedictions over everything once more (a practice he had taken up after Evensong at Westminster Abbey).
After lunch, we drove down to Kiburara for a community dinner, since it was our last day. A number of the girls walked down the street to Moses’ house to help the ladies in the church prepare a massive meal, while a number of the guys went behind the offices to watch in amazement as the people prepared a cow for the feast.
And by “preparing a cow,” we mean the whole cow.
Which started out mooing.
But we’ll spare you the details.
Once dinner was ready, they asked the “Team from America” to serve themselves first. And sit up on the stage as guests of honor. As we, the team from Tororo, local school and government officials, as well as some other prominent members of the community loaded up our plates, the church served heaping platefuls to the rest of the townspeople. Everyone sat around eating and talking and laughing. Some of the local officials, as well as Pastor Moses, made brief speeches, thanking us for investing in the wells and encouraging us for the work we were doing.
Then it was time to say goodbye. Each team member picked his or her way through the crowd, looking for the most familiar faces from our time there. Endless pictures were taken and hands were shaken, and then the kids followed us up to the bus, with some of them shouting, “tomorrow,” as they always did, expecting we’d be back the next day.
We hugged them and thanked them and gave them high-fives. The older kids asked us to pray for them, and we promised we would. We waved and yelled goodbye and grasped little hands out of the windows until we had to leave.