Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Unstoppable Fire......of God

Today our family went with our WGM family to a place called Masese which is village just inside Jinja, Uganda.  This place, which is about 2 hours away from Kampala, is a familiar place that I had been to a couple times before.  I had been there on my trip in 2010 and again in 2012 when we came back and did vacation Bible School.  I love the place, the church and its congregation led by Reverend David have always been a great encouragement to me.  Every time that I get to see him and see them, I come away feeling built up and encouraged by this church poised on the edge of a slum to which it devotes itself in constant service in the name of Jesus.
Today the flavor of our visit was even sweeter than before.  Let me back track for a minute.  Three days ago a fire (which has been a problem before in this area) destroyed 25 homes.  Some of those were members of the church, all were members of the community.  I thought for a moment what it must be like to have no insurance and absolutely no money to buy back even the most basic things to sustain life.  Many of these people had children and in an instant their lives are completely upside down wondering about shelter and would they even be able to eat.  I pondered these things as we drove and I prepared myself for the solemn gathering that would take place once we arrived.
I was wrong, boy was I wrong.  As we entered the church, I heard precious singing that took my breath away.  I heard rejoicing unlike anything I'd ever heard.  How can this be?  It seemed that today their singing was louder and more powerful than I'd ever heard it before.  The solemness that I anticipated was not there.  There was only gratitude to Jesus for saved lives and family members help and neighbors who reached out and even the smallest thing, some WGM missionaries who came to bring hope, encouragement and some resources to ease the suffering.  I was so humbled by them, these Ugandan family members in Christ who understood that their treasure was in Christ.
We heard several stories of families who'd lost everything.  With tears in their eyes they thanked Jesus personally for saving their lives and they were trusting Him for what would come next.
Because of the quick mobilization of God's hand on our team, we were able to rapidly raise a little over $1700 for rebuilding efforts which goes a loooooonnnnnnng way to rebuilding.  Even more precious than this is what I saw in my family.  When we found out what happened, my wife and I brought the kids and told them what had happened.  Our kids got up, went into their rooms and began picking out toys and clothes and pillows, etc.  Remember, we paired down everything to 150 lbs a person to come here.  Yet, it was their joy to give these things to people in need.  Micah struggled some and I asked him about it and he said the following:  Dad, I like these things, but giving them up hurts less because I know that they've lost everything.  It's o.k., I can let go of this stuff, they need it." That line of thought prevailed throughout our whole family and throughout our missionary families. It's easier to give things away when you love the people they are going to.
This job is so great and so tragic.  We listened today as the superintended of the village told us that on the night of the fire, some were considering throwing themselves into the lake to end it all.  They were afraid and full of despair.  Yet, in the midst of tragedy, Jesus did what He does best, He builds beauty from ashes.  Today I saw a peace restored, I saw a hope grasped, I saw the Gospel establish itself and satisfy the needs of 25 families.  I saw smiles and heard laughter and shrieks of praise for the faithfulness of a God who never fails.  I watched Jesus declare victory in place and circumstance that demanded defeat.  Simply put, Jesus reigns.  Thank you to all of you who have prayed and given to God's ministry here in Uganda.  Today, you clothed the naked, fed the hungry and sheltered the homeless.  God will never forget this.

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