Friday, March 20, 2009

So I had an amazing day in Gulu today, which averaging out with most days here, is a pretty big deal. Usually you get about 2 out of the 10 things that you wanted to get done in a day and most often not with the result you intended. So I have to share God's amazingness while its fresh and before tomorrow takes away some of my enthusiasm :)

Amazing feat by God Number 1:

Stella, one of our girls here who is incredible, has two kids that were still with her ex-husband and he had refused for the last 2 years for her to even see them. I told Stella that we needed to pray for justice and that God would help us get her kids back (yeah, I was stepping out in faith, gulp) So Stella went to child welfare who was largely unhelpful and made her sign a document saying she would go back to live with her "husband" for the good of the children, even though he has since remarried and the stepmom is the one who has been abusing the children. (Can you believe these people?) I went back with her and the meeting was crushing--they said that the agreement was final and she had no choice even though she didn't want to go back to live with him. So we prayed.

Today Stella and I went to go meet with her ex to see if we could persuade him to change his mind. It was as though God changed his heart overnight. He was drunk at the time, but he started telling me how he wants me to pray for him that he could be come a mulokoli (a born-again christian) and that he has decided Stella can have the children. I must have sat there open-mouthed I was so shocked. I said we could pray right there, but he declined (but his name is Richard and we need to pray for him) We signed an agreement saying he would release the children on Monday to stella and we agreed we would help pay their school fees. We are helping Stella with a transition plan. She has a job and has opened a savings account to save money so we can help her find an apartment in a few months.
As we were leaving, Stella was so happy she told me, "I prayed so hard. God has answered my prayers. Last night I had a dream that he would give me my children and today it has happened." It was so amazing. The impossible became possible. And it was truly only God.

Amazing feat Number 2:

So for the last few months I have been trying to get 5 of my girls into a vocational school for skills training but the school has been delayed time and time again and I was struggling to find other options for them. I told the girls to keep praying and I would try to get to the bottom of things. I met with the administrator of the school and was able to register all 5 of the girls and school starts Monday and lasts thru September. When they leave they will be given start-up materials to help them with a business. The girls are so excited! I realized that when I stopped striving and started just bringing all my worries to God in prayer, He has moved so much faster and with so much more goodness than I ever expected--its just a testimony to walking in my new "sonship" in God.

Amazing feat Number 3:

Becoming an NGO here is a ton of work. At the end you would just rather pay off a bunch of people than have to go through the long process (in the end you do have to pay off some people) but my friend Walter and I have been chipping away at it for the last few months. Today he texted me and told me he took the last of the letters from the local government officials to the office and that we received our certificate! I'm sort of holding my breath thinking its too good to be true, but its so amazing that God has done it so fast these last few days.

Amazing feat Number 4:

I visited our Congolese girls today who are really thriving. They are doing so well that they have started a Swahili service at their church and are now the ones leading the worship team. It's truly incredible how much they have changed in such a short time. One of our girls, Bebe, who has been a prostitute for years, had an amazing testimony. She was given a ring by a woman several years back but there is so much weird witchcraft here that the ring had been dedicated to demons. A few nights ago Bebe had a dream that a man was trying to attack her and have sex with her again, but she said no, she was for Jesus now. When she woke up, the ring was off of her finger and she realized that a lot of the spiritual oppression she had been under was due to the ring, so she took it to Miriam and they burned it. Since then, Miriam says Bebe has changed so much--she is such a leader in the house and is encouraging her other friends to leave prostitution and come to our house to start a new life. It's pretty amazing.

I just had to share these stories with you and thank you for all your prayers. Your prayers work and they matter so much. God is moving here in Gulu and you are a HUGE part of that. Please continue to intercede with us and for us. If you would like to become a more regular intercessor and do prayer calls with my prayer coordinator, please email "Michele Keen" at

We want to see our intercessors group expand.

So happy to be serving alongside of you all,
with love,

Friday, March 06, 2009

I have felt a change coming for a long time now. I knew I could not keep up the frenzied pace I was running at, nor did I want to. I would read the words of Jesus that said “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” but every night I was falling into bed exhausted and emotionally drained. I have cried more tears of disappointment in the last 8 months than I have in years. This is not what it was supposed to be like. This is not what I was promised. I had come here to Uganda to love people and start a ministry to these girls who need healing, but every day was breaking me apart bit by bit.

Times like this it is easy to blame God for our unhappiness, our disappointments, our dreams that now fulfilled, are taking the life from us. The dissatisfaction kept growing in me. I know there is more. I know I don't want to live my life “working for God” but feeling far from him.

We can only give what we have received. And I was empty.

I write this as a fellow traveler on a journey. I write this because my life is changed now and I cannot imagine going back to the way I was living.

I know from the outside people look at all the things I've done and think that it must be amazing being me. But very few people know the pain I have been going through.
Somewhere along the way I got lost. And I have to ask your forgiveness for that.

For the last 5 days I have been in Jinja, Uganda at Mto Moyoni retreat center, a place that has been a refuge for me for the last 3 years. Here, along the Nile river, there is peace. But most of us still don't understand that peace is a state of our heart, not a place.

We as people try our whole lives to prove ourselves. We use our ministries, our positions, our possessions, how well we can perform at something, the people in our lives, the places we run to, and the power we are always trying to exert over others to control what we feel is our rapidly unraveling life. And all the while, the nagging feeling that if we stop, if we are just to be, and let God love us, that everything might fall apart. We believe that if we work, just a little bit harder, at our jobs, at making people love us, that we can make “it” happen.

We try to love people as Jesus loved, but we don't stop to do what Jesus did: Which was ONLY what the Father said. Whether we are in America or Gulu, Uganda everybody we meet is extremely “busy.” The pastors here are some of the busiest people I have ever met.
But do any of us know God? Are any of us at peace? Are any of us listening?

When I came to Uganda, I knew that God loved me. I had come to bring that love to others. But I quickly fell into the trap of trying to “do” more so that God and the people back home would be happy with me. I was operating under what everyone else here was caught under—what I now know is an “orphan spirit.” It is an ingrained mindset within most of us where we struggle and strive to make things happen for the approval of others and we manipulate and use people around us so we can accomplish our “passion,” or our “calling,” or our “mission.” And we do it all in the name of doing something “good,” or something “for God.” We believe we have to fight for everything we get and we are easily angered when those around us don't give us what we feel we deserve. Because our societies are so performance based it is extremely easy to fall into this way of behaving.

I read two books in two days called, Experiencing the Father's Embrace and From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship, both by Jack Frost. Both were about moving from this “orphan” mindset to knowing that we are sons (and daughters) loved by God and resting in that to the point that we no longer have to strive and seek to control our lives and other people. We can rest. But more importantly, we can spend time being in God's presence, talking to Him, listening to Him, and that actually is the best thing in the world we can do.

In ministry it has become so easy to stop spending time with God, for the sake of all the things we feel are “doing” for Him. We put the Great Commission before the Great Commandment and quickly begin to lose our center. The more we do, the more we feel we have to get done. Meanwhile, we neglect our Father who just wants to spend time with us. And it becomes more difficult for us to truly love the people around us.

God speaking this message to my heart, has changed my life. And I know it will change the future for Zion Project too. I am still about healing these girls' hearts, but I can't take on trying to solve every single problem and need that comes to me. And while this work/this ministry is important to me, it cannot be the most important thing. All the pressure I was putting on myself to try and make it better or to grow it bigger so we could “help” more girls is gone now. So if you are tired, or you find you want to run to another place, or another job, or another person because you think it will make you happier—ask yourself if what you really need is a touch of God's love. He is there with open arms waiting for you.

Note: There is no need to be alarmed :) I'm still responsible for the lives of these girls I have taken in and am loving them, but will be seeking God in the next few weeks/months about the future of Zion Project and what God wants it to be. That may continue to look a little different than we thought at first. But the most important thing is seeking more healing so that we might bring more true healing to others. We cannot give what we ourselves do not have. And I know God wants to bring emotional healing to these girls.
I am very excited about the future.

Note: I am working on visa issues so may have to travel out of the country for a few days. You many not be able to reach me by email or phone, so I apologize for the delay and will get back to you as soon as possible.