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

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The BEST Moment in the Training

Last month, I wrote a blog about the Simply theStory training that I got to attend. And in it I talked a little about being in a “tribe” or small group to learn how to learn a story. We learned the Bible story but then we also worked on learning how to ask good questions of the story to learn the truths that are there. As a tribe, we would learn the story then one volunteer would, “take the story to another tribe.”

The best moment in the training was when I got to be a tribe leader. I got to lead my friends through preparing the story, then I got to “go to another tribe” and help one of my tribe mates lead a Bible story. His name is Emmanuel. At the beginning of the training, he was shy and reserved. He seemed almost to not understand. But I quickly saw that he was like so many of the high school students I had taught. He knew all the material, just lacked the confidence to answer.

As a group we encouraged him, and watched him grow. He was the last one to “go to another tribe” and share a story. It took a lot for him. It pushed him outside of his comfort zone. But he did great! I went with him to “coach” him if he got stuck, but really, the only place he got stuck was wanting to tell more and not sticking to the time limit!

Emmanuel telling his story to another tribe
As I worked with Emmanuel, I was so proud. I was filled with joy. God whispered in my heart, “this is how I have gifted you.” I love working with women. I know that God has called me to this ministry, but I also love high school age kids and love seeing them grow. As I am handing the women's bible studies I have been doing, over to Regina and Josephine, I hope to start a weekly time with two high school girls (below). They attended the training, but they are excited to use it to reach others for Christ. 

I don’t know what God will do with this new new ministry, but I am excited to see where it goes. I am thankful that God is continuing to open doors for us here in Kasese, Uganda.