Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Week of Transformation

An upper island sunrise

  "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2

 This was the theme verse for a youth conference I was a part of last week, Aug. 16-23, on the upper island of Kirewe. I didn't know what to expect as I prepared to go and for some reason had some real misgivings before we set off last Monday morning, Aug. 16. But, God certainly exceeded any expectations I had. The conference went very well, as well as the three days of crusades and the "overnight" that wound up the week.

Riding the boat to Kirewe

  I was part of an amazing team of older young people who conducted the conference, organized by YouthLink, which is based here in Uganda. We traveled about four hours on Lake Victoria from Jinja to the island of Namiti, where we stayed. Each day we took the 15-minute trip to nearby Kirewe where the conference was held at Kirewe Elim Pentecostal Church.

Kirewe Elim Pentecostal Church

  I know I was personally blessed and challenged by the week. Each morning and evening our team gathered for a time of praise and prayer in the compound of the YWAM base where we stayed. I was so refreshed and encouraged during those times as I communed with my Heavenly Father, sharing my heart with Him and hearing His. I believe it was these times that paved the way for a great week of life-changing transformation and receiving of God's mind-renewing truth.

Pastor Robert and translator Annet

 We had various speakers share on topics related to the theme, enjoyed times of praise, prayer and worship and conducted three evening crusades in the open air. The conference ended with an "overnight," which ran from 10 p.m. Friday night until 6 a.m. Saturday morning. More prayer, praise, teaching and even some dance competition filled these hours. This was the first time in my life that I stayed up the entire night and into the morning, breaking a 3 a.m. record. : )

Open-air crusade on Kirewe

The red sun that greeted us the morning the "overnight" ended. (Unfortunately, the camera couldn't really capture how red it really was.)

 We praise the Lord for the three lives that received salvation and the one person who recommitted his life to Christ. Fatuma, one young woman who confessed Christ, had from her birth been dedicated to the practice of witchcraft, had married into demonic bondage and even lived and served in a shrine near the church. We trust that God will continue to do great things in her life and we were happy to hear He had already blessed her with a job.

Fatuma receives a Bible from Pastor Samson

 I know God did a great work in those who attended the conference and other events. However, to be honest, I am most grateful for what He did in my life - to refresh  and restore me, draw me unto Himself and reignite my passion and purpose.

 Isaac, the leader of the team, is a student and lover of poetry and I promised him that before the week ended that I would write a poem about our time there. I have written very little poetry in my life, but I hope the following reflects something of a poem. Anyway, I also hope it gives you a glimpse of what God did last week on the islands of Kirewe and Namiti.

 A Week of Transformation

Hesitancy and misgivings

Unsure of the unknown

Being an individual

Early morning start?

Delay, then hurry, delay

Start, return, resume

Long journey on lake

Fellowship – fellows in ship

Arrival on Namiti isle

Receive warm welcome

Encounter new experiences

Arise early and shake off sleep

Seek God and feel His presence

Enjoy “table ministry”

Share jokes, stories over rice and fish

Joy and laughter all around

Boat to Kirewe Island

Kirewe Elim Pentecostal Church

Praise and worship, dance and singing

Giving of God’s Word

Sharing of His truth

Do not conform, be transformed

Being a teacher and a student

Knowing refreshment and renewal

Quenching of thirst with Living Water

Enjoying unity in teamwork

Finding encouragement in fellowship

Guard the doors of your heart

Imitate only Jesus

Turn from the past and bear good fruit

Think only on good and true

You must die to really live

Crusade in open air

Souls rescued and returned to God

Overnight under moonlight

Rain comes quickly, hurry inside

Darkness and confusion result in delays

Light is found and praise begins

Prayer and introspection

Faith and obedience go hand in hand

Rejoicing in trials

In ups and downs, Jesus won’t leave

Putting on God’s entire armor

Temptation shapes character

Slip into sleep, be shaken awake

Long night replaced by dawning light

Doubts have been shattered

Misgivings have been overshadowed

There is joy in renewal

Finding peace in recommittal

Zeal has been re-ignited

Discovering a passion in purpose

Expressing gratefulness to God

Being thankful for Father’s family

An incredible week, an unforgettable time

Praise and glory be to our God!

One of the cuties on Kirewe Island

Note: I am hoping to post a lot more photos from this trip on my Facebook profile.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Enjoying My "Challenges"

  Each day I have been facing challenges. ButI am happy to say I have been enjoying them - quite thoroughly. As each day passes, my interest in them only grows and deepens.

 Okay, let me explain. Before our island secondary students left recently for their school holiday, we at Shepherd's Heart gave them a couple of "challenges" for them to work on while they are away from school. One challenge, presented to the entire student body, was to study through the book of Proverbs. As they read each chapter, they are to answer various questions, with the aim of causing the students to dig and search for wisdom - God's wisdom.

 The second "challenge" was given to girls who have attended the Morning Star Ladies' Study. Amanda and I asked them to read and study through the book of John, also answering questions along the way, as well as memorize John 15:1-17.

 I have heard from a couple of students that they have taken up at least one of the challenges. I have no doubt that they will be stirred and blessed, because I believe that any time spent in God's Word is definitely time well spent.

  I myself have been so blessed (and challenged) as I have taken the time to read and think about God's Word. I too often catch myself reading my selected chapters, but not really meditating on what I have read. It is amazing how much more you glean from Scripture when you take the time to study and think about it.

 So, needless to say, I am enjoying my "challenges." May you also be challenged as you spend time in God's Word!