MISSION: Uganda Blog Update 02-02-2017

Greetings! And welcome to 2017! Our year is progressing well. We had a break from the road to be with family and our church, but now we are about to commence the last push before we head back to Uganda. I am still attempting to raise our support levels. As I have communicated before, one of my primary goals this furlough was to address the serious underfunding that plagued our ministry last term.

Over the course of the next couple months, we are taking trips to the southwest and the northwest. However, I am still in need of meetings on March 19, 26, April 2, 9 and 23. It would be great if those were reasonably close to St. Louis. Any suggestions would be welcome and helpful. Pray for our health and our safety as we travel.

Please keep praying for our 4 churches in Uganda. An extended absence such as this puts a considerable strain on them, but they are doing well. Pray for my men as they lead the works. Pray I will be successful in raising the support we need so we can get back to the work God has for us in Uganda.

Another issue you might pray about, is that we may FINALLY be able to sell our home in St. Louis! The housing market in our area is finally recovering from when the housing bubble burst in 2008. We were forced to become landlords while living overseas because we could not sell our house. We have listed it with a realtor. Please pray it will sell in the next couple months. It would be a great help if we no longer had that to worry about.

Thank you for praying!

MISSION: Uganda Blog Update 11-30-2016

Greetings, once again! I trust everybody had a great Thanksgiving. We sure did. We are loving the novelty of being able to simply go to a store and buy ready made turkeys, clean and pristine and ready to cook. In Uganda the process is a bit more involved and begins with live turkeys.

Our time in America has been both restful and productive. It is a great pleasure visiting with family and friends, our supporting churches, and seeing new churches in our travels. We took advantage of our geographical locations this Fall to revisit some of our favorite historical locales and museums, like the Smithsonian.

God has blessed us greatly. He has raised about half of the money I was planning on for various projects in Uganda. Thank you to everyone who has sacrificially given to help the people of Nakivale.

Starvation in the camp has been a problem lately. Not only has the camp administration been cutting rations, but this past dry season was very bad and food is scarce. We sent money to buy food last month, but I am sure this won’t be the last time. The churches are struggling while we are away. I don’t like to be gone from my people, but desperately need to raise money for our ministries.

We have thus far gained three new supporters. As I have communicated in the past, I am trying to raise fresh support. Most of you are familiar I am sure with the quote from William Carey “There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?” “I will venture to go down,” said Carey, “but remember that you must hold the ropes.” It has has been a theme in numerous missions conferences we have visited over the years. In our last term, 15 churches let go of the ropes and watched us fall into the mine. I need 13 more churches to pick up those ropes. Please pray about this.

In addition to praying, there are some things that also need to be done. 1) If you are a supporting church, and you are able, please consider raising our support. Every time this happens, it reduces the number of churches I need to visit trying to increase our support, as well as reducing the high costs incurred for a family of 8 to travel raising support. Thank you to those of you who already have! 2) Recommend us to churches that have both the budget for new missionaries and are willing to allow me the privilege of presenting our ministry in their church.

Several people have already responded with solid leads that generated several meetings this Fall, which either have or will very soon yield the support I was talking about. Thank you very much! I still need meetings in January, March, and April, and possibly May and June if I still don’t have the support we need by then. Our work is too important, and was badly underfunded last term. I am desperate to get back to my people, but I can’t return to Uganda without the support we need.

God bless you all!

Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

MISSION: Uganda Blog Update 09-12-2016

Greetings! We are doing very well. We survived the trip back to the States. It was, without a doubt, one of the most physically exhausting and harrowing trips I have ever made.

Because it was cheaper to fly to Cairo first, and from there to Chicago, we spent a few days in Egypt in order to see the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Cairo Museum. We were staying a “fur piece” from the airport, but I had hired a taxi to come get us and deliver us to the airport. The guy didn’t arrive on time. I was frantically trying to get in communication with the owner, and had started trying to find a new taxi when he at last arrived, two hours later than planned. I later learned our regular taxi driver had passed out from fasting (it was Ramadan) on the way to get us, and had been taken to a local hospital.

I have often wished that Uganda would improve their roads. Now I wonder if maybe bad roads are a good thing. When you have bad drivers and excellent roads, the result is a taxi driver who does a consistent 120-150 kmh and misses multiple other vehicles by INCHES at high speed. He did everything he could to get us to the airport in time. It wasn’t enough. The Cairo Airport was on high alert due to the recent terrorist attacks involving Egypt Air, so there was simply no way to get through security fast enough to make the flight. The taxi business owner put us up in a hotel for the night, and the next morning we went to the airport so I could work on getting the flight rescheduled.

We finally got a flight, and were at last underway to the United States. Bear in mind, I don’t know any Arabic, and very few Egyptians know English. Getting a new ticket was a challenge, but Qatar Air had their representative with me the whole time to help make it right.

Due to the changes in scheduling, our train trip from Chicago to St. Louis was now in jeopardy. Although the flight from Egypt was excellent (Qatar is the best airline in the world), we sat on the tarmac at O’Hare for an hour waiting for a gate. I had already managed to re-schedule the train trip once. Now I was going to miss THAT train. I did not have a cell phone. The Concierge desk at the airport let me use their phone, and I was able to re-schedule our train yet again. We literally got on the last train from Chicago for that day. By this time, we hadn’t slept more than 12 hours in the last 72. But we still had miles to go before we slept.

Only one luggage train goes from Chicago to St. Louis per day. The train we missed was that train. So, we had to get adequate clothing moved into our carry on luggage, and the rest was checked to come the next day. We didn’t get our luggage until Sunday evening. Somehow or other, I forgot to grab my dress shoes. Remembered everything else – forgot those.

We arrived in St. Louis at 11:30PM that night, and didn’t reach bed until nearly 1AM Sunday morning. I had a meeting in Union, MO later that day. Thanks to my brother-in-law driving, we got to the meeting, dressed somewhat for church, and presented our ministry coherently. They voted to financially support us beginning that day, a major encouragement. And we wanted adventure. 🙂

Furlough is going well. It is wonderful getting to be with family, drive on safe roads, go to baseball games, visit our churches, and so forth. I have had us in several churches close to St. Louis over the summer. Now we are entering the fall, and with that an increase in our travels. Pray for us and our vehicle as we travel the country.

Pray I will be successful in raising new support. I have us booked (except for September 18) through the end of the year. I am still in need of meetings in January, February, and March. If anybody has some leads on churches we could visit that might like to support a missionary to Uganda, please let me know. My American cell number is 314-498-7842 if anyone needs to reach me. (I am enjoying the novelty of being able to call people anytime I please due to us both being in the same hemisphere).

God bless you!

MISSION: Uganda Blog Update 05-16-2016

Greetings! We are getting down to the wire on returning to America for a visit. We are busily working on cleaning, organizing, and packing.

Since the last letter, there have been some awesome developments. Are you ready for this: THE NGO HAS BEEN APPROVED! That’s right, after 14 months of navigating a labyrinthian maze of tangled bureaucracy, we have birthed Grace Baptist Missions of Uganda into the world. Now that we have our NGO, as General Director, I can do whatever is needed to maintain and advance our ministry. We have legal authority from the government of Uganda to operate within the country. The Ugandan Parliament has tightened the requirements for NGOs considerably, so getting to this point was a monumental effort involving many different people. Thank you for praying.

I have spent the past several weeks reviewing the church constitution at each of the preaching points. I wanted to make sure everything was very clear, and that everyone had ample time to study the copies I provided in Swahili and think and pray about joining. Finally, we had our organizational services where the people had opportunity to sign the Constitution and formally join the church. Next week, I’m having the final service before we leave, and baptizing all those who need to be baptized so they can join the church also. This has the effect of making very sure that no one is clinging to false religions, while attending the Baptist church.

My goals for this furlough are twofold:

  1. Raise more support. We lost 30% of our support this term. I have to replace that, or we cannot continue in this work. Pray that each of the churches we visit will be able to join our team to continue the work of the Gospel in the Nakivale Refugee Camp.
  2. Raise funds for the refugee camp. We have many outstanding projects and needs that require funding. Pray I will succeed in securing the funds I need to fully support this vital work.

Pray for us as we wrap things up here, and prepare for our exhausting and arduous journey to America. Pray for our safety and health as we travel. Pray for the churches in our absence, and the men who have shouldered the responsibility of leadership.

IBC of Ngarama

Independent Baptist Church of Ngarama

IBC of Isanja

Independent Baptist Church of Isanja

IBC of Kabazana

Independent Baptist Church of Kabazana

IBC of Sangano

Independent Baptist Church of Sangano

MISSION: Uganda Blog Update 03-09-2016

Good morning! We are doing well in Uganda. We are down to 10 weeks remaining before furlough, so it’s beginning to feel like being pressed into a funnel. Coming home on furlough is a massive undertaking, and requires a lot of organization and work to pull off. In a few weeks, we have to go to Kampala to renew Brennah’s passport. We also have loads of cleaning, organizing, packing, and some yard sales to do. Pray we can get it all done.

Brennah gets baptized!

Brennah gets baptized!

A few weeks back we had another wedding/baptism service. About once a quarter, I try to bring all the churches together for a joint service, whereupon we baptize all the folks what need baptizing, and also do any weddings that are needed. We baptized 20 this time, including a certain cutie pie mzungu I know, and I married two couples.

I have tried to encourage marriage wherever possible. Due to the nature of traditional weddings here, and the high cost of bride prices, couples very often flee from the village and simply live together. They live together long enough to have children, and to qualify for common law in the States. Also, a lot of times, you’ll have lawfully married people who have no documentation because they were married in the village, or they had to flee their home countries and all the records were lost. In some cases, the village where they were wed no longer exists due to war. So, I try to provide an inexpensive church wedding to whomever wants one, and the accompanying documentation to go with it. Many times we’ll have couples who are married, but they want to be married again in the church because they have been saved since then, or because they want a marriage certificate from us. I think we ought to do whatever we can to encourage people to marry, and to make the whole process as simple and as painless as possible.

Marriage is honorable.

Marriage is honorable.

The very next week, because we are gluttons for punishment, we did another Marathon VBS. As our regular readers know, we have VBS at each of the 4 preaching points, one after the other, for three days. As per usual, by the final day, we had over 600 children in attendance. We baptized a lot of children this time, and every time, and our ministry to children is the reason why.

Uganda had another “election”, during the VBS as it turned out. I know some of you worry, but you don’t need to. As predicted, it was not a problem. There were some shenanigans, as is typical of elections here, but no violence, apart from some clashes between supporters of the various political factions. At no time were we in danger. Pray for the government of Uganda, and the continued peace of the nation so we may continue to minister for Jesus Christ here.

My preaching through Galatians is nearly finished. I am going to start on the Church Constitution afterwards, and begin moving to get all the churches organized under a Constitution before we leave on furlough. Pray for the churches, and the church leadership.

After a year, I still do not have our NGO set up. The latest delay that the bureaucrats have crafted for our benefit is I have to make some changes to the Constitution and some of the other documents. Our local government in Mbarara delayed us so long, that the some of the laws have changed, and some of the organizational documents I made a year ago are no longer valid. Pray I’ll be able to get this all finalized before we leave in 10 weeks.

Thank you to everyone who has assisted me with leads for churches to contact and schedule meetings while in America. I am making good progress with the scheduling. I still have some gaps in the schedule to fill, so pray I’ll be able to get in touch with the right churches, and succeed in raising the support we need so we can remain on the field and keep doing God’s work here.

I am also making good progress towards our Savings goals for furlough. Thank you to everyone who has sent money to help with our travel expenses. We still have a ways to go, and I believe my church is still raising money for our Vehicle Fund. If anyone still wants to get involved with meeting these needs, you still have time.

God bless you all, and thank you for praying!