Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Battle is the Lord's!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” 

Sometimes we need to experience the heat of the battle to be reminded of the ongoing war. Last weekend I had the privilege to witness and participate in an intense battle for the souls of my students.

Starting Sept. 10, two days after the school began its third term, female students began suffering demonic attacks. At first, it was one girl, but then the attacks increased in number and intensity. Six would be attacked in one night, and seven another morning, until up to 20 total, boys and girls, were affected.

Last Thursday I went to teach a class and found students running out of the classroom – some in confusion, others unsure of how to respond to what was happening around them. Spirits of oppression, fear and confusion had descended on the campus.

Wisely, Headmaster Sam Okello, a strong Christian man, called for three nights and three days of fasting and prayer – to seek for God’s intervention. We began Thursday night and continued until Sunday evening. 

He recalled the stories of King Jehoshaphat with the imminent threat of enemy attack in 2 Chronicles 15, and of Queen Esther, with her people fated for annihilation. In each case, three intense days of prayer and fasting were called for first, before any action was taken. We understood we were not fighting alone, but the battle was the Lord’s, and we needed only to stand firm and witness His overcoming power.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” 

Honestly, I was scared, reluctant and unsure of how to respond. Yes, I have heard numerous stories of demonic activity in my time here, and occasionally, but at a distance, been exposed to it before, but not to this extent and intensity. Up to six or seven girls at a time were being attacked. They would become like entirely different people – wild-eyed, uncontrollable, needing to be physically restrained, screaming, fighting back, uttering strange things, making odd animal-like movements, and sometimes becoming totally unresponsive.

It broke my heart to see these beautiful young women, created in the image of God, being used and abused as tools of Satan. In this, my eyes were opened wider to Satan’s sadistic aim of exploitation and destruction of all souls.

Students, pastors and teachers would gather around, holding the victims, praying with great fervency until the students returned to their senses. For a particular group of 11 girls, they were being repeatedly attacked, and we did not know why.

Praying for the group of 11 girls.

Friday and Saturday were days of intense warfare, including many hours of fervent prayer. The day would begin with praise and worship and then move into prayer, especially as students would again fall under attack. Our pleas to our Awesome God were a threat to the demons, and they were very reluctant to go.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

On Saturday afternoon, Pastor Robert Wafula led us in a session of reading and repeating aloud the truths of God’s Word from Isaiah, from the Psalms, from the Gospel of John. It was emphasized throughout the weekend that the school, and specifically the students, must arm themselves with God’s Word – filling their hearts and minds with truth, to replace Satan’s lies and deceptions.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Throughout the weekend, God revealed truth to different ones – helping us to pinpoint the source of the “flaming arrows.” One of the school’s closest neighbors was a Muslim man and his large family. Since the inception of the school in 2006, he had threatened it, vowing to bring it down. Recently, he had taken a different posture, actually appearing to befriend the administration and the teachers, and even sending his own children to study there. But, God’s Spirit revealed the entire pretense was just a way of gaining access to the school and students – not for good, but for destruction.

The 11 girls who were being repeatedly attacked had recently drunk water offered by this man. This “holy water” contained words of the Koran written on a piece of paper. They had both tasted it and been “sprinkled” by it.

On Saturday evening, we divided into “battalions” and conducted a prayer walk around the entire school compound, praying over buildings, land, trees, gates, etc. We prayed in Christ’s name and by the power of His blood for the breaking of all demonic powers and covenants, and reclaimed the school campus for God’s glory and purposes.

Again, by His spirit, elements of witch craft were discovered throughout the campus – hidden in various places, like in trees and along pathways. That night, two male students had visions of a fellow student, a Muslim, mocking them as they tried to sleep. His properties were searched and witch craft charms were discovered, which he had been using against his fellow students. He was ousted from the school that night.

While we identified our Muslim neighbors as perpetrators of this evil, we understood they were only tools in the hand of Satan. And so we also prayed for this man and his family. We asked God to please remove them from the island, but especially that they would repent of their sins and confess Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Each day began tentatively as we were unsure how events would unfold. Sunday morning’s service was subdued, but reverential and still full of thanksgiving for the deliverance we had already experienced. In each of the previous nights’ sessions, students had come forward for salvation, many re-dedicated their lives, and others sought prayer for other issues.

Pastor Fred, who helped lead in the weekend’s battle, preached on “The Conflicting Kingdoms,” reminding us we are in an ongoing battle and we must “stand guard” over our minds, where the battlefield rages.

Four more male students, plus the wife of a staff member, came forward for salvation during the service. All, if not most, were Muslims. We also prayed especially for the 11 girls, asking for God’s protection of them in the coming days.

Joy filled our hearts as we headed to the nearby shore for the scheduled baptism on Sunday afternoon. Knowing many were to be baptized that day, two sets of pastors, plus helpers, stationed themselves and for the next hour or more baptized a total of 92 people! They would begin to conclude, thinking they had done all, when others would come to the shore – from the school and from the nearby villages. Some confessed Christ right at the shore, and were then baptized!!

What a joyous afternoon of celebrating 92 baptisms!

God had taken away our fear and given us His victory! He had turned our mourning into dancing and our weeping into rejoicing! Our potential destruction had become our deliverance!

That night we broke our fast and enjoyed a time of celebration – praising, dancing, and thanking Jesus for His power, His deliverance, His grace, and His amazing love which He had poured out on us over the weekend. We had seen Him powerfully act on our behalf and we were in awe. What Satan and man had meant for harm, God turned for our good – for the saving of souls, for revealing of evil plots, and for renewing the spiritual fervency of the school and community.

Though the weekend was long and intense, I felt compelled to be a part of it in every aspect. It was physically, emotionally and spiritually demanding, but I was undergirded by God’s spirit. I knew I wanted to share in the victory, and thus I had to join the battle. And, indeed the victory was sweet!

As of Tuesday evening, all demonic attacks had ceased and students were again sleeping peacefully at night and back in their classrooms undisturbed during the day. The Muslim man and his immediate family took their possessions and left the island over the weekend. A dog that he had been using as part of his witch craft rituals was caught by the students, killed, and burned, along with the dog house.

Almost the entire school has been rising at 3 a.m. for an hour of prayer. There is now a great need for discipleship and we praise God for He has already called up His servants for this important work. We believe the revival of Lingira Island and the surrounding islands has just begun.

There will be more battles, but we are on the winning side.

“He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.” – 2 Chronicles 20:15

My absolute favorite photo of the weekend - the baptism of Ngobi Swaibu, with his fellow students rejoicing with him. Ngobi, a former Muslim, is a brother-in-law of the school's Muslim neighbor. He boldly confessed Christ and chose to be baptized.

Scriptures in bold and without references are from Ephesians 6:10-17.

Armor image from

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swimming Upstream

I remember as a girl when my mom would take my sister and I to a local creek to watch the salmon in their annual run upstream.

It was amazing to see these relatively small fish swim, jump and fight their way against the tide, over rocks and other obstacles, with a dogged determination. Only until reaching the same place where they were hatched from, would they cease their driven journey.

I believe salmon are unique in this way and it is God’s amazing design. Maybe because of salmon we have the phrase to “swim upstream.”

This life of “going against the flow” should also be that of a Christian’s. The Bible tells us to not be conformed (Rom. 12:2), to throw off the old, sinful ways (Eph. 4:22), to strip off the old nature and put on the new one (Col. 3:9-10), to imitate God and no longer follow the world (Eph. 5:1), and so many other commands about turning away from the old, making a complete 180, and beginning to walk as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

However, do you know what that really means? We will be going against the flow of society, of culture, of media, of the world, and very likely against our neighbors, our friends, and possibly our family.

This past weekend, young men and women from Catholic, Muslim and other religious backgrounds, confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, cutting and leaving behind those strong religious ties. It is highly likely they will not be embraced as they once were by their families and communities. They may be rejected, disowned, or thrown out. Their father or mother may refuse to pay for their education or to give them food. They have begun the swim upstream.

Baptizing one of our female students, a former Muslim, on Sunday.

Jesus especially did and said things that went against the norm, against the accepted, even by the respected religious leaders. He used mud to heal a blind man? Crazy! He healed on the Sabbath? Insane! He associated with prostitutes, thieves, and drunkards? Had he lost his mind?!

No. God’s ways are not at all like the world’s ways, in fact, they are completely contrary and entirely opposite.

My fellow Christians, this is the life we are called to. Not to blend in, not to adapt, not to conform, not to adhere. It means there will be a struggle – a daily one, a life-long one. It is a battle. It requires perseverance, focus, dedication.

But, the crown is promised only to those who remain faithful (Rev. 2:10). Heaven’s fruits and manna are promised only to the victorious (Rev. 2:7, 17). Inclusion in the Book of Life is only for those who persevere in faith (Rev. 3:5).

Those who wish to share in Jesus’ victory must also join His battle.

So, my friend, which direction are you swimming? With or against the world’s tide?

“But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:12b-14

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Me on top of Lingira "mountain" - the hill that runs along the middle of my home island.

(Please note: The following contains raw honesty and though it may not look all pretty or what a "missionary" should be feeling or thinking, it is what I am passing through right now. So, bear with me. ;) )

When we are young, the future possibilities stretch out before us as far and as wide as the many years that lie ahead. Our young dreams focus on what we might be or achieve one day, whom we might one day call our own, where we will settle, and what we will name our children. As I was growing, I, too, had expectations and hopes in each of these areas.

However, expectations are wishes cast upon an unforeseen future. Some come to fruition, while others are "lost at sea." My expectations versus God's expectations - they can be drastically different from each other.

I expected to be married by now.

I expected to have had children - by now.

I expected to be "settled" in the life every young girl dreams of - with a family and living in a cute house, right next door to my beloved sister and her family.

I expected to still be close in proximity and relationship with each of the dear friends with whom I grew up.

I expected to be right there - seeing and actively participating in each new season of my friends' lives - dating, marriage, family, children.

I expected to be a close and doting "auntie" to the aforementioned little ones.

I didn't expect to live in a foreign country.

I didn't expect to be so far from much-loved family and friends for extended periods of time.

I didn't expect to not live in or be near my beloved hometown with its amazing quirks and qualities and lovely, friendly people.

I didn't expect to become accustomed to cold showers, scurrying rats and other critters, the endless battle with dirt, and the ongoing struggle with always feeling a bit "out of place."

I didn't expect the ongoing, daily struggle with my weaknesses, my humanity, my besetting sins and habits for days, weeks and years.

I expected to be more mature by now.

I didn't expect that God would take me away to a little remote island far away from all I held close so I could know Him more deeply and intimately.

I didn't expect to experience grace in so many diverse and indescribable ways.

I didn't expect He would take me away from my "comfort zone," so I might better learn forgiveness, freedom, and trust.

I didn't expect to be a witness to God's incredible and active work in a different corner of the world.

I didn't expect to meet and build precious friendships with so many people of different nationalities and backgrounds.

I didn't expect to encounter, learn from and come to value diverse cultures and different "ways of doing things."

I didn't expect to see such incredible, awe-inducing beauty, amazing places, and obvious evidences of God's creativity, power and majesty.

I didn't expect to be actively serving in areas I am so passionate about - youth, discipleship, teaching the Word of God, and communication.

I didn't expect the immense joy of walking alongside another as they discover and embrace God's incredible love and His marvelous plans for them.

I didn't expect to be forced to face and fight the dark, deceptive and enslaving ways of Satan.

I didn't expect to see the practice and results of witchcraft in such tangible ways.

I didn't expect to see God's light shine so brilliantly and pervasively in a darkened part of Uganda.

I didn't expect to see lives radically transformed, families miraculously restored, students given new hope, and people set on fire and on mission with God.

I didn't expect that I would thrill to see and be a part of God's ages-long, world-wide, love-sustained campaign to bring long-lost, "walking dead" rebels back to Himself - from every tongue and tribe and nation.

I didn't expect that I would not want to live any other life, serving any other God, choosing His expectations over my own, laying aside my childhood dreams for something much, much better.

I didn't expect that Gods plans and expectations would yes, be so different than mine, but above and beyond what I could think or even imagine.

"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." - Psalm 62:5

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21