Saturday, March 30, 2013

Unity in Diversity

The Shepherd's Heart Family - back row, from left: Pastor Samson Mumbya and wife Joy, with their youngest, Susan; Robert and Immaculate Wafula; Julius and Ruth Twali with their oldest son Andrew; Andrew and Karina Smith with sons David and Johnathan; front row, from left, Pastor Bob and Michelle Peterson (missing are their four great children - Janae, Joshua, Jon and Josiah); Auntie Jennifer Abenayko; Papa and Mama O (Okoro and Olive) with their youngest daughter Grace, and Oryagi Geoffrey and his wife Immaculate. This photo was taken at SHIM's annual staff retreat in January in Hoima, western Uganda.

At times I am amazed at the diversity in the SHIM family.

Of the Ugandans on our team, nine different tribes are represented and probably 15 different languages are spoken. They come from different villages on mainland Uganda and have served in the islands for as long as 15+ years and as "short" as five.

Among us are pastors, teachers, nurses and accountants, as well as a building contractor, an economist, an engineer, a boat pilot, an agriculturalist, a cook and a journalist - all individually called to the islands for a specific mission - to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although all of the Americans hail from the great state of Oregon, we come from different parts of that state and for some we didn't know the others until coming to Africa.

Some of us have been with SHIM since the beginning - back in 2007, while others are "newer" to the family.

This morning as I read 1 Corinthians 12, I was reminded that God intended there to be diversity in His one body. No one member is more important than the other and we all need each other.

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ." - I Corinthians 12:12

I thank God for the strengths, passions, gifts and talents that He has given each member of the ministry.

Pastor Samson has a real heart for organizing evangelistic crusades and seminars near and far away, while as base leader, Papa O's charm and humor make any visitor feel right at home. Auntie Jennifer is an amazing cook, with an infectious laugh, while Mama O's amazing wisdom and discernment are so needful in counseling island women, couples and families in diverse and difficult situations. Oraygi is the best pilot in these parts and has safely transported numerous passengers through sun, storms, waves, and thick darkness.

Andy's administrative and leadership abilities keep us all on track, while Karina's care for the islanders' physical and spiritual health opens many doors to impact many lives. Julius' amazing abilities to grow nearly anything has kept the SHIM family fed with a balanced diet and provided a replicable farming model for the observing islanders.

Nurses Annet, Alex and Margaret faithfully run the Namiti Health Center (another 3 hours into the lake from Lingira Island) which is a haven for the people of the upper islands, in providing vital health care and a needed spiritual influence.

Pastor Bob has the ability to convey God's Word in a profound, yet very understandable and applicable way, while his wife Michelle has the patience of Job as she works tirelessly with SHIM's financial records and is a wonderful hostess for our regular "family" gatherings.

Though he holds bachelor and master's degrees, Robert's unassuming ways make him a highly-respected leader at SHIM, our island school, in the island churches and on mainland, too. It's not everyone who can tolerate working with numbers all day (I certainly can't), but Robert's wife Immaculate has pursued training in accounts and faithfully works to keep up SHIM's books and help meet other needs that arise at our mainland office.

A seminary student, Justus spends his school breaks at the SHIM base, helping in compound maintenance, farming, caring for our dairy goats, translating for pastors' training and more.

Short-term visitor Malia Mullins has spent numerous hours teaching phonics and Bible lessons to many island students, and has trained a group of young women to carry out a thriving Sunday School ministry.

Shanna with the completed mural, featured prominently in SHIM's dining room.

Shanna, who made her second trip to the islands this year, shared her artistic abilities in completing an amazing mural based on Psalm 91:2, which she began three years ago.

Pastors Andy, Samson, and Robert, as well as Papa O comprise our ministry's board of directors and invest tireless hours in making decisions and faithfully leading the ministry as God directs them.

These notes are just the tip of the iceberg for what each person does and is involved in here. I truly can't imagine any one person missing from our SHIM family. Each one is vital and we rely upon one another in our individual callings and ministries. We so value each others' care, support, wisdom, prayers and encouragement.

When one hurts, we all hurt. When one rejoices, we all rejoice.When one has a need, we rally to be the answer to that need.

Though we are quite diverse, we have a strong bond of unity, rooted and established in Christ and in the fact that He called each of us to this missionfield of the islands of Uganda.

I praise God for calling, equipping and uniting the Shepherd's Heart family!

SHIM Family Collage: Top row, clockwise from left, Robert demonstrating his balancing skills; Oraygi piloting on the lake; Robert and Immaculate at their "Introduction"; Nurse Alex attends to a patient; Papa and Mama O providing a blessing at a wedding; Karina holding a premature baby girl; the Peterson family; the Water and Sanitation team of Oryagi, Julius and Pastor Samson; Malia teaching a Bible lesson to island children; Julius with a baby goat; Ruthie transporting computers and a generator to the island secondary school; Julius and Ruth with sons Andrew and Joseph at their home; the Smith family; the Smith family worshiping in the island church; Pastor Samson preaches in an island church; center; SHIM cooks Jennifer and Beetu with young Mary.

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone." - I Corinthians 12:4-6

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