Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stay at the Source

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I live on the Source.

Yes, Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world is the source of the Nile River, the world's longest river. Wow. And I live on that lake and just a few miles from the Nile. Sometimes I think I should pinch myself because I too often take for granted these amazing facts and the significance of where I live.

In the distance can be seen where Lake Victoria empties into the Nile River. The river is in the foreground.

And I often need to pinch myself spiritually - to remind myself to stay at the Source - with Jesus, my Savior and Shepherd.

I get busy. I get distracted. And before long I find I have drifted - away, too far from the Source. The One who saved me, rescued me, redeemed me, restored me, called me, and planned His good purposes for me long before I was even born.

"Through Him (Jesus) all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." - John 1:3-4

At the same time I have drifted away, I discover myself down in the dust - having tripped and fallen yet again. I let my temper fly. Spouted harsh words to a friend. Allowed impatience to cut short a potential meaningful conversation. Ignored a prime chance to show love, grace, gentleness. Found myself too busy preparing for "ministry" that I barreled over an opportunity right at my doorstep or under my nose.

This "drifting" reminds me of SHIM's two guard dogs, Jack and Simba, German Shepherd brothers. We bought them as puppies last year and they are now strong, healthy, and sometimes intimidating (which is what you want in guard dog), but they don't like staying home. They would rather be at the school, in the nearby village, or terrorizing the neighbors - exactly the opposite of where they are supposed to be, doing what they were purchased to do.

Jack and Simba taking it easy on a recent hot day.

I wonder if God looks at our "best efforts," our busyness, our crowded calendars, minds and hearts and shakes His head. "You are not where you are supposed to be. You are not doing what I designed and created you to do."

And then He gently takes us by the hand and leads us back. Back to where we belong. Back to Him.

It's foolish to think I can thrive apart from the Source. I can't even survive apart from Him - the Giver of all life.

Lately I have been teaching this song to my girls in Bible study and it seems to fit this post.

Jesus Be The Centre
Jesus, be the centre
Be my source, be my light
Jesus, be the centre
Be my hope, be my song
Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, be my vision
Be my path, be my guide
Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, be the centre
Be my source, be my light
Be my source, be my light
, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We often hear of the Great Commission.

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)

So much is packed into these three verses - far more than I used to think.

To me this means to leave one place and head to another. Go where you have not yet been. Across the street, across the city, across the country, across the world. Jesus was telling his disciples to disperse, spread out. To where? To all nations. Why? To make disciples. 

Don't complicate this. Being a missionary does not exclusively mean someone who leaves their home country for a foreign country. It means you have been given a mission and a message. Your neighbors need to know Jesus as much as people across the world and God has placed you near them for a divine purpose.

"Make Disciples..." 
Making disciples is more than about making converts. It's great that we have opportunities to lead others in meeting and coming to know our Living Savior - Jesus Christ. But, our job doesn't end there - it is really just beginning. 

Just imagine - Jesus, the perfect Son of God, spent three years of His life pouring into 12 men and we think we can walk with others, occasionally, just for a short time and we will see fruit? No, this disciple-making is a long process that takes dedication and patience.

"Of All Nations..." 
Jesus was not referring to nations as we know them today because many of our countries did not exist then. The word "nations" comes from the Greek word ethne, which refers to people groups, races or Gentiles in general. Some countries are comprised of many, many different people groups. And many of those groups have never heard of Jesus Christ. 
According to the Joshua Project ( there are 7,182 unreached people groups for a total of 2.9 billion people who have never heard of Jesus. "Unreached" is defined as "a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group."

About 43 percent of the world's population is still yet to be reached. And seventy percent of the unreached are in the 10/40 window. Daunting task? Yes.

In this verse Jesus clearly lays out the beginning steps of disciple-making. First, baptize these new disciples and then begin teaching them. Teaching them what? "Everything I have commanded you." 

Everything Jesus had poured into His disciples He was now asking them to pour into others. We do not have access to everything Jesus shared with His disciples, but I believe much of it is contained in the gospels and letters these men and other Jesus followers penned and that are now in our Bible. We could spend years and years teaching what Jesus commanded in the Bible and never thoroughly cover it all. But let us begin somewhere. 

Don't think you must be a Bible scholar or a degree holder or a "mature" Christian to disciple others. You must be a dedicated disciple yourself - a lover and follower of the Savior. Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians "Follow me as I follow Christ." In essence if this is true, the discipler and the disciplee are walking side by side, following the same person - Jesus - learning and growing together.

This process that began those many centuries ago continues today. Disciples making disciples making disciples making disciples. It has and must continue to perpetuate itself.

Why should we be involved in the Great Commission? Because Jesus, who was given all authority in heaven and on earth, commanded us to. He defeated Satan, sin and death by His sacrificial death and His glorious resurrection. He is the Reigning Savior and His kingdom must be advanced. Others must know of what He has done for them.

This commission was first given to the first-century disciples. Look how far we have come and yet look how far we have go to. Billions of people in thousands of groups around the world have yet to hear the Good News. This is an impossible task - if done in our strength and by our methods and with our limited resources. But we are not alone in this task. 

Although when these words were spoken, Jesus was leaving the earth and ascending back to heaven, He made an incredible promise - "I am with you always - to the very end of the age."  If He is with us, what more do we need?  We cannot shy away from the task if Jesus has called us, equipped us and will be with us.

One day the Great Commission will be accomplished. How do I know this? Because we have a glimpse of who will be surrounding the throne of God at the end of time as we know it. People from every tribe, and language and people and nation, who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb to be a Kingdom of priests for God.

"And they sang a new song with these words: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.'" (Revelation 5:9-10)

What does the Great Commission mean to you?
And how are you involved in fulfilling it?

Image Source: Microsoft

Friday, June 7, 2013

Challenges and Joys

Since it seems I am at a loss to write on one specific blog topic, I thought I would do a review of recent happenings with a "Joys and Challenges" post.


Sickness and the Lack of Adequate Care
A lot of people around me have been sick and at this moment I have a new friend who is headed to the capital city with what appears to be a possible emergency situation. While others' sickness do not present a direct challenge to me, I hurt for them as they struggle with strange illnesses, not having enough time to rest and recover, and struggling with what many consider an inadequate medical system here. We are blessed with several "foreigners" who are medical professionals, but there is no way they have access to the resources to provide the treatment we are accustomed to in the U.S. This can be frustrating.

S-l-o-w  C-h-a-n-g-e
I spent part of this afternoon talking with a fellow missionary about the struggles we each face in teaching new information in a new way that can be far different than the norm in this culture. Some of it is not quickly embraced or passed on. Some methods which in theory sound great, don't always work practically here. While you pour your time and energy into people - they may not always appreciate the investment or use it wisely.  But we cannot give up. Encouraging change is a slow process, but a worthwhile one.

Being Far Away
One of my reoccurring struggles here is the fact that I often feel cut off from the rest of the world, and specifically my home in the U.S. I love e-mail and Facebook and how they help me to stay more connected, but I often feel like I am watching others' lives through a window pane - observing, but unable to really be part of their lives. This becomes especially hard as friends become engaged, marry and have children. Or when there is loss (such as my uncle's funeral today) or sickness or pain in a dear one's life. I am not sure there is a real solution to this as long as I am here, so I keep trusting God to help me with this particular struggle and give me His joy and peace.


A New Term
The island school began its second term of the year last week and it was great welcoming the students back! I love seeing their smiles, hearing about their holiday breaks and embarking together on a new session of school.

A New Brother
Yesterday Mama O and Gabe, one of our visitors, spent quite a bit of time with Geoffrey of Katonga village, who just on Wednesday joined the family of God! It was exciting to hear as they later retold us of how Geoffrey previously observed Christians in his village, particularly one man, and compared their lives to the lives of those who are not walking with Christ. He saw a marked difference between the two and noted that those who were not "born again" seemed to have no hope in this life or the next. Geoffrey had a lot of questions yesterday and seems to have a real desire to grow in his new faith. He was also excited to learn how big the family of God is around the world. :)

New Friends
In the past couple of weeks, SHIM has welcomed several sets of visitors - a few who are returning, but many who are visiting our island for the first time. They hail from Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington and even Ecuador! It is such a joy to get to know these dear people and learn of their heart for Africa and Uganda. It is also good for me to see my surroundings again with fresh eyes - their eyes as they take in everything around them.

God's Faithfulness
In all of these recent challenges and joys, I am buoyed by the ever-constant reminders of God's faithfulness. He is faithful not because I am, but because that is who He is. He is gracious, not because I am deserving, but because He is incredibly loving. He is constant and sovereign, not because my surroundings are, but because this is His unchanging character.

In the ebb and flow of life, there is great comfort and peace in knowing that God remains in control in all things and He is working all for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. Hallelujah and Amen!

What recent challenges and joys have you encountered?  
How has God shown His faithfulness to you?