Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Hands and Feet of Jesus


I often used to wonder what it was like to be a missionary.  In my mind, I would work through all of the scenarios.  All of the scenarios in my mind were laden with sacrifice and suffering.  I would picture myself wearing dusty clothes, eating beans and rice while fighting off malaria filled mosquitoes.  Who would ever want that type of life?  Where is the incentive?  Are the souls of others really relying on my presence in a foreign nation and quite frankly, did I value you them like Jesus does?  I rarely answered my own question and by not answering it, I answered it.  
BUT GOD.......I love that statement because apart from Jesus Christ, I am hard headed and hard-hearted and incapable of true change.  I have learned in my life time that only Jesus can substantiate a change such as He has done within me.  Where before, I wanted total independence, I know thrive on the provision of God.  Over the past 6 weeks, we have seen many of you come to our aid and provide us with a home for a year, furnishings, bedding, a TV, clothes....oh my goodness clothes, a vehicle, NEW SUPPORT, prayer, speaking opportunities, moving help, food, a roof over our head until we moved into our home, etc.  I submit to you that as wonderful as it was for me to know independence, I love so much more watching God provide for family needs that would otherwise go unmet.  As I look around our home, I am constantly reminded that God does provide even down to the smallest detail. Praise Him, nothing escapes His attention.  To know that we are loved by God and loved by our brothers and sisters in Christ, makes me feel like the richest man in the world.  I love that so many of you are in the trenches with us in Uganda, and so many of you have reached out to love on our family as we rest, reconnect and support raise during our year here. I've seen the body of Christ function so well over the past 6 weeks, and it is a continuing testimony of God's faithfulness.  He is true to His word, He NEVER FAILS and to know that is worth more than anything that I could ever own.  Thank You Jesus for all that You do and thank You for these amazing people that we are so privileged to partner with.  It is the greatest honor that I've ever known.

So here is just a quick update.  We are moved into our home in Bargersville, IN.  We are in the middle of a very busy season of speaking and support raising for our next term.  We are aiming to return to Uganda in May of 2018.  As of today, we are currently at 78%, that is up 8% in just 5 weeks and we have 22% recurring funding to go.  God is really moving in this area and we pray that He will continue to keep this momentum going.  If you are interested in partnering with us at any amount monthly, please visit here:  www.wgm.org/williams  We are watching God move here and would LOVE to have you on our team. 
Our speaking schedule for the next three Sundays is below and we'd invite you to join us during that time.  We'd love to meet you and talk to you about what God is doing in and through our family in Uganda.  Also below are some of our ministry links.  Please feel free to explore and ask questions about anything and everything.  Thank you so much, we love you and look forward to meeting you or reconnecting with you soon.

Justin, Debby, Micah, Lexi, Levi Williams

August 13--Southpointe Church  website:  www.southpointe-church.org

August 20--Little Flock Church   Address:  927 N Traub Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46222

August 27--Lifepoint Church  website:  www.lifepointindy.com

OUR SITES


Our WGM Site:  www.wgm.org/williams

  



Monday, June 5, 2017

Bottomless Refills


I haven't heard or been a part of that phrase since we left the U.S.  It this concept that you could drink ten ice teas and there will always be another one available.  Yet the concept of bottomless refills has been resurrected over the past 2 weeks.
As most of you know, we are wrapping up here our first term of two years.  It has been wildly successful in many many ways.  This year our senior class chose to take us as their chaperones on their senior trip to Mombasa.  They worked all year and they paid for us to go.  Talk about feeling special.  There were 18 of them and the time we had was simply amazing.  I enjoyed the venue, but I loved the time with the class.  What a tremendous bunch of students, I honestly can't put into words how incredible they were and are.
We arrived back on Tuesday evening late.  Thursday was the last day of school and Friday was graduation.  Again, I was humbled to be asked to do the commencement address.  It was absolutely incredible.  I got to speak on the issue of being "qualified in Christ".  I spent a long time writing it and incorporating everyone's personality into it and it went very well.
Then we had to begin saying goodbyes.  These goodbyes were remarkably painful.  I can't remember a time where I ached more as I said goodbye to student after student.  Our family has put our everything into this ministry and God has blessed it beyond measure.  Some people begged us to come back, the rest simply threatened to come after us if we didn't come back.  LOL.  The thought of not being here next year is so difficult for us.  We are dreaming about being back here and what this next term will look like.
In all of the things that we have been doing, Debby and I have become physically sick from exhaustion.  It has been a rough few days for us.  Yet today came one of the greatest thanks ever.  I said goodbye to a senior and his brother today.  He came to school to say goodbye and then stopped by to say goodbye to our kids.  He left a letter for us.  I will not share the contents of the letter, but as Debby and I read it, we both just wept.  As I put the two page letter down, I looked at Debby and said, "that is the reason that we came to Uganda".  What an unimaginable reward this is to us.
For two years, our family did it right.  Everyone in this community would agree, we started well, we ran well and we've ended very very well.  I do not say that to be arrogant.  When I first arrived, I was terrified.  But God, had plans for us that I never saw coming.  They unfolded and morphed everyday. They were challenging, very challenging at times and yet this is the job that we were created for. These students have given us permission and privilege to speak truth into their lives.  I'm already ready to come back and keep going.
Finally, this is the picture of where it all began.  Today this is where it all ended for this term.  We walked in here in August of 2015 and we left here today June of 2017.  We fought here, we laughed here, we cried here, we loved here and God won here.  This picture is a reminder to me that even when the cloud from the battle is circling, our God has already won.  We have seen thousands and thousands of victories here.  This is where God took the ground in so many lives and He allowed us to have a huge part in that.  It has been a ministry of bottomless refills.  Please be praying as we return to the US, that our funding would come in quickly.  BTW we are already gaining ground in this area and we are praying hard for a May 2018 return date.  Please pray with us.  We will see many of you in just a few short weeks.  We love and appreciate you so much.  Thank you.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Please Be Praying, We Could Use Your Help!


Busy Schedule.  I don't know of anyone who doesn't have that adjective attached to them.  We are no different here in Uganda.  Currently Debby and I are teaching and discipling in so many different capacities through the school.  We have also taken on a new role of teaching role at our church where we are teaching the integration of Faith and Reason to the church teens.  Within a couple of weeks, we will be going to Nakivale Refugee Settlement to deliver some life changing things to refugees. On top of all of this we are looking at our return to the U.S. for a year, packing, selling some things, determining what to leave here and what to take back and the pain of giving our dog away.  For some reason we are tired.  LOL.
Here are some things that we'd like to ask you to be praying and praising for:

  • We are still looking for a home on the Southside of Indianapolis.
  • We are also in need of a vehicle for the year that we are in the U.S.
  • The vote for our return is official and our budget has come in and gone up considerably.  We are in need of new partners.  (Praise--within 20 minutes of announcing this we picked up 3 new monthly partners!!!!!  GOD PROVIDES!!!)
  • Pray that our time in the U.S. would enable us to raise the new support as well as rest and enjoy our family, friends and faithful supporter.
How can you help:
We will be returning in mid-June and will be back in Indianapolis by mid to late July.  In addition to visiting new churches, I'd love to speak at any church, small group, individual families, etc.  Even if there is only one person, I'd love to share all that God has done, is doing and will continue to do through our family.  Please help us by getting our names out there so that we can secure our funding and return to Uganda by late May 2018.  God has made His vision for our family very clear and it is His work here in Uganda.  Please help us by sharing our vision with everyone that you can speak with.  If you are able and willing to help us financially, I ask you to prayerfully consider partnering with us as God uses our family to change the world.  You will never regret it as we have never regretted selling all and giving all here in Uganda.  Even today, if God is stirring within you, please respond to His call so that we can accomplish this budget and get back to Uganda in May 2018.  

We love you and we praise God for you. Thank you for serving all of these students and their families.  We look forward to many more years with them. 

Serving like a candle lit at two ends and LOVING IT!
Justin, Debby, Micah, Lexi and Levi Williams




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Last Turn

I remember (WAY BACK IN THE DAY) when I was in high school and I used to run a lot.  I actually ran the 800 meter race.  It was perhaps the most grueling race that I can remember because you couldn't exactly jog and you certainly couldn't sprint full out for half a mile.  Lately I have been reminded of the feeling that encompassed me as I came around that last turn or also affectionately known as dead man's turn because that is how you felt when you got there.  At that turn I remember feeling the full body drain both physically and mentally.  It was absolute exhaustion......and yet my legs continued to carry me.  I still saw forward progress even though that last 100 meters seemed like a mile.  Against every fiber of my being, I would sprint the last 100 meters and finish strong.  For me it came down to excellent resistance training, perseverance through pain and an eye fixed on finishing well.
In the past few months, we have been rounding the final corner and we are just beginning to see the end of our first term.  Right now, the wind is blowing hard into our faces and the track seems longer and longer.  We are certain of this; the enemy hates us and what God has, is and will continue to accomplish through us here.  We have been through things over the past few months that have stretched our faith and caused both great joy and great pain.  There are days when we laugh together out of sheer excitement and elation at what God is doing.  There are days that we sit, shell shocked wondering where the next flaming arrow will come from.  Yet in all of this, we see God's hand around us and we watch His victories continue to mount even in areas where that would seem to be almost completely defeated.  On days where we are predicting an outcome, He chuckle to Himself and think, "you dream to small".
As we begin to round this last corner, it is gratitude towards Him that allows my lungs to fill and my body to press forward.  Below is just a sampling of how God is moving in such an amazing way.

 Our Act Like Men and Act Like Women Bible Studies started off with 4 students each.  Last week the young men were 38 strong and our young women are 25-30 strong. These students voluntarily come on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to work through what it looks like to be men and women of God.  Soon we will promote 15 of them to leadership status and have them begin leading.  This ministry has exploded and we praise God for that.

 Out of seats on this particular day which is a great problem to have.  Looking forward to transitioning the leadership of this to young men and young women who have determined to be God glorifying leaders.  God is moving mightily in this place.
 Act Like Women Thursday mornings, 7:30.  God is moving powerfully in this place.

 God's spirit has been working powerfully during our worship times.  To watch His hand move across the hearts of hundreds of students leaves us speechless. This is what it's about here, bringing glory to God and connecting youth with Jesus.
 This is one of our student youth leaders who has had such an amazing heart transformation over the past year.  It brings me sheer joy to watch as he and the rest of our youth leaders start their day like this. I'm so proud of what God is doing in all of our young people.
What do you do when you have a class that struggles to get along?  You eat lunch together as a family.  Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all of our grade 7s eat lunch together as a family. During this time, we dialogue, we love and serve each other and gasp.....we learn how to do conflict correctly.  In just 4 weeks, I've already seen a difference in the way that they treat each other.  God is moving in this place.
Here are some ways that you can be praying:


  • We are pretty exhausted as we are doing A LOT right now.  Please pray that we'd finish this semester and next semester strong.
  • We are looking at returning to the States in June for a year to support raise for our second term. Pray that we can find a place to live preferably in Greenwood, IN and all the logistics that come with that.
  • Pray that God would continue to work powerfully in and through us at the school, in the community and within our organization.
  • Pray that we would continue to make time to communicate with you, our partners back home. We have worked hard on this because you are important to us.  Without you, none of the above would be happening.
Thanks again for loving us so well.  God is on the move!

brother Justin (Ssemakula) Williams


Friday, October 7, 2016

I Couldn't Thank God Enough For This Gift


This is my friend Mohammad.  You might remember him from a blog post that I did several months ago.  I haven't seen Mohammad since last December.  I was unexpectedly reunited with him this evening.  I met Mohammad during a time when I was going through a lot of transition and learning to work within a new culture.  He has a relaxed and pleasant demeanor that enables you to feel very welcome in his presence.  I think at the very core of who Mohammad is, Jesus resides in that most secret of places.  In a quiet way and loving way, Mohammad's life emanates Jesus in every possible way.  Even if he says nothing at all, he makes me want to have a closer walk with Christ.  I wish more than anything, that you could meet him because you'd simply praise God that this brother is in the family of God.
Tonight Mohammad told me a story that really gripped me.  The information of the story was gripping, but also the emotion that came from my friend was intense.  I wasn't used to seeing him getting emotional and at first he was embarrassed.  I reassured him that I was happy to walk with him through what he was describing. This quickly put him at ease and he told me the following story.

When I was little boy in 1994 at the end of the Rwandan Genocide, I fled the country to Uganda.  My sister and I were split up and I missed her very much.  I didn't know if she was alive or if she had made it, we had no way of communicating with one another.  It was a terrible time because so may had been killed and I couldn't bear the thought of her dying also.  After several years and no communication, I had just resigned myself to the fact that she had died along with my parents.  About a year ago, I made contact with my aunt in Rwanda who I agreed to come and visit.  When I asked about my sister, she confirmed to me that she was alive and living in Rwanda also.  I saved my money and begged to be let off of work to go and see her.  I prayed so hard that God would allow me to go and see her again..  My bosses reluctantly let me off.  I boarded a bus at 3 AM and rode until 12 PM that day. When I arrived, my aunt greeted me and immediately called my sister.  I couldn't believe that just in a few moments I would see her again after 22 years.  After what seemed like an eternity, there as a knock on the door.  I stood up, still not believing that it could her.  When the door opened, I lost it.  It was her and she came in and hugged me.  We were a mess, crying and not even able to speak for so long.  I spent the next week with her by my side.  We traveled to places together.  It was so wonderful to be with her.  With all the tears and words, I couldn't thank God enough for this lavish gift of seeing my sister again.
Wow, just wow!  And I got to hear that and celebrate with this brother.  It was perhaps the sweetest gift that I've been given this week.  As I left, Mohammad thanked me for the encouragement.  In reality, I was the one greatly encouraged.  Pray for Mohammad that he would continue to be salt and light to his community.  Celebrate Jesus with Mohammad that he found his sister and that she is alive and well.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our Wonderfully Busy Summer

During the school year there was a part of me that was really looking forward to the rest that would come during the summer.  In keeping with tradition, however, the summer has been so full of participation in ministry activity and our rest is periodic.  What we are doing is to make sure that when we rest, we are engaged in a full Sabbath rest which we believe is wise.  So let's walk through what has been happening this summer.
Language Training 
This summer, Debby and I engaged in Luganda lessons. Three times a week for three hours a day, our language teacher Florence would come to our home and we would work through learning as much Luganda as we could.  The amazing thing about this is that in addition to learning more of the language, we were able to go deeper into understanding this culture.  We love our time with Mrs. Florence.  We have seen great success in our ability to hear, process and respond to people in Luganda.  It is a real door opening opportunity when you speak this language.  Walls come down and relationships are formed by our willingness to speak Luganda.  What a blessing Mrs. Florence has been to us.

Fellowship Investment
This summer Debby and I have been working hard to connect with and invest in our High School students.  God has really moved my heart this direction as I really love and appreciate each on of these students.  As I look at each of them, I can see the fingerpriints of God on them.  I can see the uniqueness with which God has made them and I am most excited to be able to walk with them throughout this next year and (God willing) the years to come.  This is such a neat group of students and they have allowed me access to their lives.  It is such an honor to get to love them where they are, to speak truth into them and to get to do life together with them.  They are amazing.  This summer we have been inviting them into our home to fellowship with us and one another.  It has been awesome getting to spend time getting to know them better.  We are praying that the Holy Spirit will sweep through this campus this year and radically change hearts and lives.  I believe He can and I am trusting that He will in whatever way glorifies Him the most.

Walking Ministry
This summer, I extended walking ministry to some new areas in order to develop new relationships with new people.  I have been careful not to overextend and yet at the same time, allow God to have a maximum impact through us.  This ministry is so much fun especially when you get to see the same people time after time and you get to engage in deeper conversations.  I see God's hand in many different conversations and opportunities as I walk and talk with different Ugandan men and women.This ministry takes a willingness to step out, be uncomfortable and even become exhausted. By the end of my walking time, my brain is zapped from engaging each and every person and my energy is spent as I walk sometimes 9 to 10 miles.  All of this is worth it, as God's presence is being announced with every smile and greeting that is extended.

Guard Bible Study
This summer, I took over the oversight of our WGM Guard Bible Study.  Before going on furlough, Nathan Metz worked to make this a Ugandan specific study with a specific bent towards Ugandans leading the study and seeking to start a new discipleship program in which they would invest in 2 or 3 others.  This study has been fascinating to be a part of as I only speak when there may be a misunderstanding or a clarification is needed on a theological issue.  My greatest joy is that it is completely initiated and run by Ugandans.  It is a true joy to be with them and participate in watching them work through God's Word, sharpening each other and helping one another to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Teaching/Bible Study
This summer I got to participate in leading a Bible based discussion on Hebrews 11 and 12.  This was definitely a good thing because I am used to teaching youth and I needed this opportunity.  I am grateful for the patience and participation of this wonderfully encouraging group of expats who loved me and did such a great job working through the discussion.  If time allows, I will be leading another discussion through Galatians in the coming weeks.

My First Team
This past two weeks, Debby and I hosted our first team of friends from the U.S.  In nine days, we participated in some amazing ministries.  One of my favorite was our time at Nakivale Refugee Settlement near the border of Congo.  Our time there with these men and women was absolutely priceless.  We were able to go and meet with families, hear some unbelievable stories, give aid and pray over so many.  One of the best things that we were able to bring was Bibles.  One of the first questions that many would ask was for money or food, it was for Bibles.  Wow!  Praise God for these men who were willing to come and serve alongside us and for the willingness to embrace a new culture for the cause of Christ.

Our First Baptism
"I really want to be baptized, but I can't leave the property, can you help me?"  That was the question that this man Deo was asking.  He wanted desperately to be baptized, but couldn't go far from his compound.  So we thought and planned and after not being able to find an inflatable pool, I went and borrowed a bathtub.  I can't describe to you how awesome it was to be involved with this.  Deo's one request was that he be mentored and trained properly in God's Word.  Thanks to Nathan Metz who wrote a great discipleship curriculum, we are going to be able to concentrate heavily on that.  Deo has been welcomed into our Guards Bible Study and will be assigned a Ugandan mentor so that no matter if the missionary is here or not, the discipleship will go on. HOW AWESOME!

Things to be praying for:
School begins in three weeks.  Pray that God will dramatically and irreversibly impact the hearts and minds of our students.  I am preaching on Aug. 7, leading Bible discussions over the next several weeks, teaching and preparing to speak at our High School retreat.  Pray that I am simply God's mouth piece.  Pray that God says what He wants to say and that I am trusting in Him for the message. Pray for us as we have started a new fundraising campaign for our next term here in Uganda.  Pray for the new teachers and staff that are coming to Uganda over the next several weeks that we may be able to help them feel at home.  Praise God for all of you who are partnering with us, who are constantly praying for us and are all the time sending us warm wishes and great encouragement from the states.  God will never forget your kindnesses to our family and as a result, our entire International family.

Blessings to all of you and thank you for walking with us in this amazing ministry.



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nobody Ever Visits Me Out Here


Sometimes I struggle with the reality of helping you understand what normal life looks like here in Uganda.  For us it looks different than for the average Ugandan.  Over the past few days, I have taken four separate groups of students/disciples on specific mission trips.  The purpose of these trips was to take the things that we've been teaching all year and allow them (albeit sometimes awkwardly) to integrate into practical application.  In other words, we put into action the very things that we studied. I did this will Middle School and some High School over the past 3 or 4 days.  We did a lot of home visits of HIV infected mothers.  For our young people, it was a priceless lesson in how to overcome awkwardness and engage intentionally in loving and serving others.  It was exhausting, yet the things that I saw were absolutely stunning and so over many blogs I'm going to share those things with you now through pictures.  Today is about Betty.




 The lady here we will call Betty.  Betty has four children and lives in the swamp.  She is HIV positive and (for reasons that you will see in a minute) she never has guests.  When it rains, she is very afraid because the water comes up to half of her door way.  When the swamp surges, it washes the garbage over that small wall you see above onto her property and into her home.  This place is a breeding ground for disease and infection.  There is always standing water in her home.  "I can't believe that you came out here to see me......no one ever comes to see me!", said Betty with a look of shock on her face.  She asked, "why have you come here?"  "Oli Wa Mugaso Ngo.", I replied without hesitation.....translation:  you are very important.  I had 7 students with me and the house wouldn't hold all of us, but she demanded that we come in feel welcomed.  As we did, any awkwardness from our students began to melt away.  Our students went around and introduced themselves and told Betty how welcome they felt in her home.  They then sang songs to her, talked to her about her stories and countless struggles and concluded by praying over her and giving her rice, posho, beans, etc.  6th graders led this and I watched as their passion to love and serve came alive.  It was very hard to get there.  The pictures below show the 100 meters that we crossed on rocks due to the flood waters.  They did it and they did it with smiles on their faces.  To see these young men and women in action, serving God when it wasn't easy, was beautiful.

We carried a heavy tote full of goods to Betty's house through 100 meters of this.  Betty had to put down rocks in her house so that we could step in to her home.  It was humbling to see this woman who is clearly not well, working so hard to get us a place in her very small home.
Betty lives where she lives because she has nothing.  When I say nothing, she literally has the things that we gave her to eat the day we arrived.  She cried as she told us a painful story. When HIV enters the picture often times the women are left to take care of themselves and their children.  Apart from Christ, it is a bleak situation.  Not this day, however.  There was rejoicing in this house over a simple 30 minute visit that Betty declared was a God ordained appointment.  I've never seen anything so difficult and glorious all at one time.  I'm so grateful to have been able to watch these students be intentional and go the distance.  My prayer is that God will allow me to watch them continue to grow in their relationship with Him and watch it impact the globe for His glory.
The following are our 6th graders blessing this home and those that were in it.  One of my favorite parts was that there were younger children outside watching.  When our kids started praying, they covered their faces and prayed along with us out loud. Thank You Jesus for taking hold of all of these hearts and for allowing me to be a part of this.  YOU ARE SO GOOD!