Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beauty in the Slum

I awake to a bright dawn in Mbale (ok maybe not as early as dawn :) and then I spend a few lovely hours being with God reading and journaling. I am incredibly spoiled. I am loving this brief time of rest after the intensity of Mozambique and before the craziness of Gulu. I wonder how often we allow ourselves the pleasure of being a minister to God versus a minister to the world or how often we just settle into a feeling of complete acceptance without having to DO anything.

"A friend of God enjoys the favor and acceptance they already have and uses it to spend time with Him." -Bill Johnson-

As much as we might think this is laziness...waiting on God is an active thing, it is a choice and it is one that costs us something—mostly the approving gaze of the world. How much do we operate out of the fear of man and what man thinks vs caring what God thinks. What is HE after in our souls? Does He want our offerings of all that we “do for Him” or does He just want us. All of us.

I woke up yesterday and opened to this verse: "But the King (David) replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it (the threshing floor to build an altar to God) for I will not sacrifice to the Lord God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and he built an altar to the Lord there. Then, the Lord answered prayer in behalf of the land and the plague on Israel stopped." (2 Samuel 24:24)

There is a slum here called Namatala.

Like most slums, the poorest of the poor live here. They have little access to education for their children, to medicine, to clean hope. Many will live and die in this place and will leave their children to do the same. A few years ago JENGA started coming in and offering basic necessities for life along with the love of God, but gradually it has grown into a spiritual spring in the desert. Last night I went to a humble worship service on a Wednesday night where the voices of young children are heard leading songs to God. Their voices are strong and brave against the thick darkness of a night without stars or power. They lead the few adults there into a clearing of joy. They are honored, to have us, the mzungus, come to their service, but I am more moved to be there because I can actually feel the touch of God when they dance.

And I realized that it costs something. It costs to have joy in the face of no school fees for school, a parent in the hospital, a future that often looks bleak. It costs to have faith amidst despair. Belief in the middle of deep personal needs unmet. In their voices, the offering. In their rejoicing, a laying down of their life. In their dance, a whirlwind of hope...and God’s pleasure. Because they get it. They get that this is what brings a smile to His face.

This place has been prophecied to bring revival to the whole of Uganda. This tiny village of cracked walls and torn clothing. This place where God will use the weak things of the world to shame the wise.

I go back home and wonder what have I given God lately that cost me something?

How much do I give to him that which actually requires no change on my part. How many pieces of my life will I lay down only to cling to the part most precious to me.

This is where the real faith begins...

This is the setting for the extraordinary...

This is the beginning of answered prayer.

My whole offering.

A season of springs.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Answered Prayer

I just want to attest to the amazing goodness of God as He answers prayer and how much He cares about each of His children.

I was writing emails to contact some of my friends about the current dire situation of the orphans I care for here in Uganda (see most recent blog)
and I just received an email from a dear friend and prayer partner who has agreed to pay off the debt on the home so they won't be evicted...which is nearing $900.00. I just want to say thank you to God and to those of you who listen to His voice and respond with such love and generosity. It truly is beautiful.

If you would like to give in some way towards their school fees for education or send a note to them you can send to Zion Project ("orphans" in memo)
P.O. Box 321
Quinque, VA 22965

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me....I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these of mine, you did for me." -Jesus, Mt. 25:35-

My Babes

(me and mary)

2006 was a year that changed my life. Among those changes was falling in love with a group of 7 orphans in Kampala, Uganda. There are thousands of kids who need love in Uganda, but you cannot really choose whom you love or understand why God brings c
ertain ones to you. When I met them, they were basically a child headed household. Seven orphans as a result of war in Kenya years ago. An American missionary found them all as babies, many of them she nursed back to health, and most of them were close to dying when she took them in. When she moved to kampala she brought them with her, so now they live in a small house but they have no family or friends here. The woman is nearing 70 and she works 3 jobs in the states to support them and put them through school. She does the best she can, but there are always more needs. The greatest is that they need someone to love and mother them on a consistent basis. Since I've known them they've gone through 5 caretakers and none of them loves them like a mother would. Every time I am back in Uganda I bring clothes and things for them and stay with them and love on them, but it isn't enough. They really are special children---they love Jesus and are so smart and I just feel there is a real purpose and call on their lives, that I need to nurture.

This last time I found them in the house and they had completely run out of food and were about to be evicted from their home on the 15th of this month. God's timing really is perfect. I had to pay and speak with the landlord because it was a desperate situation. Because of the fact that they are Kenyan, most Ugandans here will not help them so they would most likely be on the streets. They really only have each other. I have written about them here on my blog in the past and posted pictures, especially of little Mary, who is the baby, and is really attached to me. She says she doesn't care if she has to switch schools as long as she can be with me. She says she'll move to Gulu. Of course it just breaks my heart because I would so love to have them all with me.

I know my calling is the north and to the child mothers up there, but I also know that God brought these little ones into my path for a reason. And this last time, I felt something click---I had the kids spending the night with me...slumber party :) And I was making them food and we were eating together and laughing, and I literally felt---this is what i was made to do--to mother and love them. They are my babies. If I could, I would completely adopt them all...I just don't know if its possible....but I want it so badly. Or at least to have them close to me and find someone trustworthy to be a mother to them and really mentor them. I know having 7 kids would be a pretty crazy life, but then again, I've never really been normal :)

Mary drew me a picture of her and I holding hands and she wrote: "I dreamt when you came you told me to pack my bags because I was going to America with you to be a singer. I was so surprised and happy but when I woke up I got sad because it was just a dream. But I know some dreams can come true. So I trust God and I be waiting for you."

I am dreaming too.

Heidi Baker always says be the good news--whatever that is to someone...for Mary, being the good news is being with me. For all of them, its being with me and just being loved. That's all they want. So I'm praying about how I can be the good news to them.

I am going to be looking for sponsors to sponsor them monthly....since they are war affected kids and are vulnerable (especially the girls---they could be so violated if they ended up on the streets and I can't let that happen)

So pray for ways that we might be able to support them. Their housing alone is over $150 a month and that's not including school fees. And they were almost evicted because they are 1.3 million shillings in debt...which is around $900. We need to pay that off so they can stay at that house....even if I move them, it must be paid or the police will come after them. So pray for God's provision.
If you would like to make a donation you can send to:
Zion Project
P.O. Box 321
Quinque, VA 22965
(write "orphans" in the memo)
or make a donation online at
("orphans" in the notes)

I also did a special project with my elementary school where I was teaching where the kids all wrote letters and sent some special items over to the kids, and the kids just loved it and wrote them back. It was really precious. So any special notes or drawings you'd like to send can be sent to the same address above. Their names are Samuel, Timothy, Samson, Grace, Rachel, Sara and Mary. Be praying for us.

With lots of love from Uganda,

Monday, August 04, 2008

It is raining here in Uganda. I did not know how much I missed that fresh summer storm smell dripping from the banana leaves, bringing with it the promise of new life. I did not know that is, until I smelled it again, or smelled the chapatti Harriet was making in the kitchen. And I realized how much I belong to this place and how until I saw Lake Victoria’s mist rising up from the African dust, that the joy of all I am and all I long to be, rose up in me. I actually felt something shift in myself. And while the beauty of Mozambique’s beaches might beckon a weary traveler, for me, it is in the green of Uganda’s graceful arms where I find my joy. My resting place. I am home. I cannot explain how a place can actually make you who you are, but it does. When I ran off the plane, I felt underneath my footsteps, the authority I carry in this place because of my calling. Uganda, she revolves around me and I around her.

Three months in Mozambique it seems passed by in a flicker. I thought it would be longer or that I would be more ready or feel more grown up. But I know I am different from the girl who left Uganda with a burden, with something that would not let go. I know she is still in there somewhere wanting to do everything her own way, on her own. But she has changed too. There is a surrender here. A relenting. There is a reliance, but not on anything here on earth. It is different than giving up. It is a release into God’s hands. Nothing is forced here. I am most myself. I am most in my element. And the future is simply something to step into with gladness.

The things I felt, the things I experienced in Mozambique, the lives I saw transformed with a touch of tenderness—these things build on each other within me and make me who I am. The drunk man who wept at a hug and the simple words that God loves him. Gaining the understanding that it is worth it to stop for each individual person and love them the way they need to be loved. But mostly coming into the sweet reality that despite all our efforts, despite all our do-gooding and our missions projects, despite all our tramping around the globe and giving up hot showers, in the end, it is about resting in the secret place with God; the place where He speaks to us and we listen, the place where we love Him not with our works but with our whole bodies, with our whole souls. When I first started Zion Project, I had such a burden, such an intensity, that I worked long hours and stressed about the details, and got consumed with the dream and consumed with making it happen. If I learned nothing else in Pemba, its that God does not give us dreams so that we labor without resting or labor without being filled up with love again so we have something to give. God gives us dreams and then lets us come to the end of ourselves. Because some of us are stubborn and learn the hard way. :)

But there is no glory in helping people without love. And without God, everyone becomes a cynic. Because people are not here to bend to our will. And we have to love them anyway. In spite of. Without love, our best intentions are simply the road to a place we never wanted to go.

So I am home. And as usual, I do not have big plans or big strategies. I am just a follower of God and often that means the way to get to the place promised, is unknown. I was supposed to go to Sudan with IRIS, but God had other plans, so I’ll be up in Gulu by the first week of September meeting up with Todd Bentley’s team there.
I’ve had the privilege the last week of moving with Stacey Campbell’s team to mobilize for The CALL to prayer which will happen in Kenya this year on December 6th. I am amazed how God is bringing together the body of Christ across all walks of life to prepare for revival. He is speaking the same words only to different people. It is so funny how as people from the West we think we have great ideas, only to discover that Africans have been doing those same things for a long time. We met with an Intercessors for Uganda team and the words God has given them for this country are the same words we have had for her future and they have been praying for years--even through the Idia Amin regime and it was their prayers that moved him out of power.

God is raising up leaders in Uganda who have integrity and He is going to make Africa into a giving continent. Not one that is dependent on receiving aid, but a continent that gives not only in resources, but in spiritual wealth. God is marrying together the streams of prayer intercession and missions so that one cannot move without the other. And we are a part of preparing Uganda for the great change that is coming. I truly believe Uganda will be transformed and that testimony will motivate even the church in America to be changed. But revival cannot come if we are not ready. I believe I’ll be a part of coming alongside our Ugandan brothers and sisters to build up houses of prayer intercession and discipleship that will not only birth revival but will receive those who need to be loved and mentored. Prayer is the engine room for all the amazing transformation I long to see in the lives of young women in northern Uganda. I am excited to get back up to Gulu to see the girls and begin strategizing for the future. But I really feel it is no longer my plans. I have learned so much from watching Heidi Baker in Mozambique, that it is really about hearing the voice of God and doing that thing and seeing what is good news to that one person---what do they want and need? How can I be Jesus to them?

I will be using that lens as I go back to see my girls. I’ve heard things have changed a lot in the year and a half since I’ve been in the States preparing, so I am anxious to jump in and start loving one person at a time. The need for counseling and true relationships with Ugandans in the North is still very great and I’m excited to continue with partnerships in the US to bring girls economic empowerment opportunities. More updates soon. For now, I’m just happy to be back and incredibly stoked about the future. I’m beginning to see all the prophecies that have been spoken, all the promises over my life and the ministry I will have, coming into fulfillment. It’s been a long time in coming, but the journey has been worth it. I feel I really have something to bring now, something to impart, and that was well worth what it took to get back home.