Monday, December 12, 2016

Some Unexpected News

Dear Friends,

We are so grateful to God for the many ways you have stood with us and supported us over the years. God has used your prayers, encouragement, sacrifices, and giving to make a difference in the transformation of lives in Africa. It has not always been easy, you know that, but our family has been blessed to serve alongside you.

Over the past months, we sensed the door to Congo was remaining closed and we shifted our family to Kampala to take on some other roles. During that transition we came to the realization that there is some deep brokenness in our family that has its roots in the tragic accident that took place in December 2012. We cannot get into all the details of what that looks like or how it happened in a letter like this, but our move to Kampala brought a lot of this to the surface.

We realized that we are not at a healthy place mentally and emotionally to be in ministry at this point in our journey. As a result of this reality, and in consultation with our WGM leadership, we have resigned from our appointment with World Gospel Mission and returned to the U.S.A. to pursue healing and restoration.

World Gospel Mission has been incredibly gracious in their love and support of our hearts and our family as we have wrestled with these difficult realities. They, along with our pastor in New Jersey, have committed to walking this path with us and making sure that we get the help, healing, and restoration that is needed.

We still love Uganda and Congo, as well as World Gospel Mission and the work they continue to do there. It is our deep prayer that God would continue to use and bless World Gospel Mission to be an agent of blessing and transformation in Uganda and beyond. We would be honored if you would continue to pray for and support the ministries and missionaries there.

We do not know what the next steps are for our family in the long-term plan. We are choosing to look to the short-term, focusing our priority on healing, and fighting for our family. For now, we will be living with Scott's parents in New Jersey. We are grateful for the ways you have stood with us in the past and ask that you continue to stand with us in prayer through this process.
Again, we are so grateful for you and for the opportunity to have served with you for the sake of the Kingdom.

Looking forward in hope,
-Scott and Meg, Timothy, Benjamin, Josiah, and Elijah

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Moving and Feeling Jesus’ Love Through Friends

This month we moved from Kasese in Western Uganda to the capitol city of Kampala. Our friends from the US have sent us many encouraging emails and messages asking us how we are doing. The answer has changed each day. What started out as “miserable, I hate it here” became, “God is helping us” and now, “we are beginning to feel settled.” The move was harder than I (Meg) expected. I knew it would be hard, and some things I expected, but it was harder than I knew it would be. It was hard to move further away from Congo instead of closer. It was hard to leave the culture of a town, for the city. It was hard to leave relationships, just to start all over again. It was hard to learn new roads and places. It was just plain harder than I could have imagined.

As we were getting ready to leave Kasese, we were intentional to spend time with the friends we were leaving. It was such a humbling experience. We gave gifts, expecting nothing in return. But we were showered with love. Some gifts were small but intentional, like the bananas given for the car ride, specifically for the boys. Some gifts were extravagant, like a hand carved sign by a dear friend. Some gifts were of service, like the friend who hosted us for dinner two nights before we left so we could pack up the kitchen a day earlier. Some gifts were spiritual, like the prayer time we had with the pastors we had invested in. Some gifts were practical, like the missionary family who let us stay with them our last night so the truck could be loaded the afternoon before and we could travel as a family. All gifts meant so much to us. We felt our friends being the hands and feet of Jesus. He was getting us ready for what was to come.

Our last church service in Kasese
The days that came next were hard, but Jesus had already loved on us. I don’t know how I would have gotten through without it. Knowing that He cared enough about us to give us great friends and ministry partners in Kasese, gave me the strength to trust that He would take care of us in the crazy different world of Kampala. And now we are stilling living in that place of trust, for each and every day.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Who is Your Neighbor?

This was the main question I(Meg) asked the women I shared with on Friday at the Kasese Baptist Women's Conference. It was such a blessing to get to share with them and to be a part of the whole conference. There were around 150 women there when I got to share. I heard that even more were able to come the next day!

I shared the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. We got to talk about the one who was a true neighbor. He saw a problem he was able to help with, and he did help. Then we looked at how he did three different things for the man. First he used what he had (oil and bandages) to meet an immediate need. Then he used his physical strength to put the man on his donkey and bring him to the next town. Finally, we see him use his financial resources to take care of a man who could not yet take care of himself. I challenged the women to look around over the next week and to do the same. Some of these women were very poor, and only had enough to feed their families. But I reminded them that money was only one way the Good Samaritan helped. They all have things they can use to help others, and they all have strengths that God has given them. They can and should be good neighbors and love people as Jesus tells us to.

My favorite part of the discussion though was part way through. One woman said, "I don't have money to help my neighbor." That is true. They don't have spare change, let alone extra income to use as they wish.

I then asked them, "What would have happened if the Good Samaritan had tossed money to the man on the side of the street, even a whole year's wages, and kept walking? Would that have helped the man?" They laughed and a couple women said, "No, it would just get him robbed and beaten more." It was in those moments that I was able to help some of these women see that while money is needed sometimes, it is not THE answer. The answer is to see the needs around us that we can meet, and choose to meet those needs.

So at the beginning of the story, the expert of the law asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" The story shows us what a neighbor is, and then Jesus tells the man to "go and do likewise." What about us? Who is your neighbor? Are you willing to see those in need around you that you are able to help? Ask Jesus to give you His eyes to see where He wants to use you, and the strength to obey.
One of the choirs who performed a song

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Is Africa Blessed or Cursed?

Image result for africa outlineWhen I first heard this question at the Disciple the NationsAlliance  training, I looked around to see how others would respond. Our group was a mix of American missionaries, Kenyans and Ugandans in full time ministry, local pastors and a few lay members of the church. The answers given were a range of answers, and showed us glimpses of each other.

What do you think? Is Africa Blessed or Cursed?

Africa is BLESSED:
  • ·      Natural resources

o   Rivers and lakes
§  The Nile is the longest river in the world
§  The Congo River runs through most of central Africa
§  Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the World
§  Lake Victoria is the second larges fresh water lake in the world
o   Minerals
§  Precious metals such as: gold, diamonds, copper, manganese, nickel, platinum, cobalt, radium, germanium, lithium, titanium
§  Others: iron ore, tin, zinc, lead, zirconium, salt, graphite, limestone, mica
§  Largest radium supply in the world is in D. R. Congo.
§  90% of the world’s known cobalt is in D. R. Congo
o   Energy
§  Petroleum, gas, coal, solar and serious hydro potential
  • ·      Culture

o   Strong families
o   Strong sense of community
o   Loyalty to their tribe, and yet welcoming to the visitor

Africa seems CURSED:
  • ·      Poverty
  • ·      Bad governance
  • ·      Hunger / lack of proper nutrition
  • ·      Tribal clashes
  • ·      Corruption
  • ·      Diseases
  • ·      Political instability
  • ·      Lack of jobs

After sharing this the facilitator looked at us and said, “WHY?! Africa has so much potential, and yet struggles.” This lead to an interesting conversation. Some of our pastors shared that the struggles were too big and too hard. That they had no way to get out of them. Another American said it was because sin has come into the world. Things are no longer operating the way God intended and people are also now sinful. One African leader said that the people don’t trust God. We certainly didn’t have the answers that many scholars have tried to find over the years, but it was a great conversation.

Our facilitator ended our time with the following story.

Image result for national bird of uganda crested crane
The crested crane is the national bird of Uganda. It is protected. You may not kill it, and they are worth a lot. Their picture is everywhere, on the flag, on the money, on official documents. If the crane went to the government, it could ask for anything. It could say, “I want you to give me food and shelter and a life of luxury.” It has a very high value. And yet we find it digging in the dirt for worms. It doesn’t know its value. It doesn’t know where to look for resources.

She told us that Africa is very similar. They are used to doing what they have always done. (If we are honest, there are many things us Americans do because it is the way it is done too) Our African friends don’t see the potential all around them. But the truth is that Africa has been so blessed by God.

What about us? Where has God blessed us that we are missing? What do we see as “normal” or maybe even a burden, that God designed as a blessing? For me I knew right away. My boys. Some days feel more like a burden, or at best just normal. But the TRUTH is that each life is a blessing from God. Daily I have the same choice as my African friends. Am I going to take this blessing and nourish it and use it to bless others, or am I going to ignore the blessing. So I ask again, where are you blessed? Where is the potential that you are missing? And how can you take the blessings God has given you to further His kingdom?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What I Like Best About Bible Story Telling

After the Simply the Story training, Scott asked me, "What do you like best about Bible storying?" And I just started talking and getting passionate. I wanted to share some of the reasons I love oral Bible story telling. 

Anyone can join in

I have been in groups where some of the women don't read, or have had very little education. If I came with a worksheet, or even a study guide for a chapter in the Bible, they would feel excluded. These women would feel inadequate and inferior. But the truth is, God's word is not just for those who can read and write, but for all of God's children! 

Anyone can lead

Yes, we have a training to help people learn how to tell and prepare a Bible story well. And the training is so valuable, but what I love about this model, is that you don't need to have any education or degree or status to be able to tell Bible stories. And honestly, more people can be reached. If only the educated could be the ones sharing stories, many people could never be reached. There are socioeconomic realities. People are more comfortable with people who are more similar to them in lifestyle. Anyone can learn to lead these stories. It it not only the seminary graduate who pass the Bible stories on, but also the part time pastor, or the woman who works in the market, or the man who works in the fields, or the mother who is at home with kids. And each of these people has a different community to reach out to. They each have an audience that they can reach better than others. I LOVE that Bible stories can be lead by anyone and therefore reach more groups.

Once you know a story, you can pull it out easily

Unlike sermons I have prepared, which I spent hours preparing and have lots of notes, a story can be told anytime and anywhere. We say, "I have that story in my heart pocket." It's a way of saying that I really know that Bible story and it doesn't take much to be able to share it again and again. On more than one occasion, I have been with a group and someone referred to a Bible story. I was able to tell the story on the spot and could even remember the questions I would use to help listeners find truths. 

You don't need anything

I love that you don't need your Bible with you, (although it is good to have so that people know that your story really is the Word of God). You don't need your study guide or your sermon notes. You don't need a table, chairs and pens and paper. You don't even need an hour. You can tell a story and ask a few key questions in 5 minutes, or you can sit at a cafe and spend 20 minutes discussing a story, or you can spend 2 hours digging into a story in depth. 

Our group shot after getting our certificates
Really, I just love sharing the Word of God and this is a great way to do it. I have been blessed when others have shared a Bible story with me. I have been blessed as I have shared Bible stories with others. And I LOVE the transformation that comes when people engage the Word of God. If you want to know more, or get connected to Simply the Story, click here