Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finding passion in Uganda

We have been asked, many times over the past year, “What made you decide to go to Uganda for such a long period of time?”  The obvious answer would be that God lead us in that direction.  We were blessed to be able to share about our call and experience in foreign missions at Cashion First Baptist this past Sunday.  Their pastor, Greg Davis, asked us questions and we were able to share some of our passion for the people of Uganda.  You may know this already, but working in Africa has always been something that I have been passionate about.  No seriously, hear me out.  Growing in up in FBC Duncan, we would (especially in December) hear from missionaries that were home on furlough.  They would tell us of the dire conditions that they were living in, the foods that they were eating, and the trials of learning a new culture and language.  I think that they told us of how big of a blessing the people were, but I never listened that long.  I was still stuck on the first list of negatives.  I was PASSIONATE that I did NOT want to be a foreign missionary, especially in Africa. 


I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in my early teen years.  And to be honest, my fear of being “called” to be a missionary to Africa kept me from a deep relationship with Him for many years.  Any time that I would let my guard down and listen closely to God, I would hear Him reaffirm for me that He just wanted me to grow deeper and be more involved with His work where I was.  As I grew in my relationship and trust, this passion (against Africa) faded.


A few years ago, Jill and I felt God call us to step out of our comfortable boxes and support a friend that had done some things that most would feel should cut him off of the “support list”.  Through taking this minor risk and through a couple of books that we read, I began to see how “lukewarm” the American Church, as a whole, can be.  I also was shaken by what the bible has to say about being lukewarm. 

Revelation 3:15-17   (15) “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking.  You’re not cold, you’re not hot-far better to be either cold or hot!  (16) You’re stale.  You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.  (17) You brag, “I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless”.


Well I definitely do not want to aggravate God’s GI system.  Jill and I had read David Platt’s book Radical, and part of his prescription to be a Radical Christian, was to spend 2% of your time in a new or different context.  That is one week per year.  So I began to feel that God was leading me to use my medical training to help in an underserved area overseas.  An OLD high school friend of mine, Jerome Loughridge, had been on several mission trips, so I called him for some advice.  I did not know exactly where to plug in, or how to use my medical training to serve God in the best way.  He, “coincidentally” was going on a 1 week trip to Uganda about 2 months later.  I plugged in with his group from Henderson Hills church in Edmond.  As I was in Uganda that week, I experienced the living conditions, the food, and the cultural differences, but I felt my PASSION come back as I met the people.  But this time, that passion was strangely very positive, rather than negative, as it had been in the past.  Have you ever seen those paintings that look like one thing, but if you do some sort of mental gymnastics “relaxing your eyes”, you can see a different picture behind them?  You know, the picture looks like the Egyptian pyramids, but if you can see the other picture it is an orca in the middle of the ocean?  I have never been able to see those second pictures.  In fact, I think that they are somehow like the Emperor’s new clothes!  Anyway, as I was actually in Uganda, looking at the poverty, the lack of medical care, and the cultural differences, God began to relax my eyes.  Those things melted out of the way, and I could see my brothers and sisters in Christ, and one of the things God created and trained me for.


It was my passion for the people and being able to see clearly how I could make a difference for God’s kingdom that prompted me to GO.  Speaking of the people, do you remember Shakib?  We came across Shakib in Mukono in late May.  He had been severely burned, in a house fire, and was intermittently getting “burn care” in a guy’s garage.  He had scarring and contractures in his hips, knees and hands. 
He had to wear a dress, because anything else as too painful.  He could not walk and was in constant pain.  His mother, Teddy, was staying with Shakib’s grandmother, as their only means of support.  We felt that God was prompting us to help in the medical care of Shakib.  We offered to take Shakib, his sister, and his mother back to Kampala and provide for the family, his sister’s schooling, and get Shakib medical care/physical therapy.  Generous donors to Due Unto Others, provided the funds for all of this to happen.  Shakib’s grandmother told Teddy that if she came with us, they would not be welcomed back to her house.  Teddy came with us, taking a huge risk, to do what she felt was best for Shakib.  This is now 6 months later, but guess what I got in my email this week.


Shakib has had multiple operations and much physical therapy, but he is now WALKING!   We saw many miracles and were able to participate in the care of many people in Uganda.  Even if we had only seen Shakib, our time, money, sweat, and tears of our 5 months in Uganda would have been worth it.  I am convinced that God has special plans for Shakib.  He was born to a Muslim father, but I think that our heavenly Father has big plans for him!  I am thankful that God made Shakib “That One Person” in Mukono.


Now, I’d like to throw out a possibility for you to get a taste of foreign missions and see if it does not stir your appetite to GO even more.  Jill and I will be leading a 2 week mission team to Uganda in June of this coming year.  Here are some bullet points regarding this trip:

-          The tentative plan is for the team to leave DFW on the 13th of June and return on the 28th.

-          The team will be limited to 20 people, and older children will be considered and discussed with parents. 

-          We will make a trip down into SW Uganda and provide medical clinics in those areas.  One of the places that we will go is Kibale, an area recently in the news with a horrible ebola outbreak over the summer.    

-          We will need medical and non-medical people for this team. 

-          Accommodations will be in Jill “accepted” or approved hotels.

-          We will add on a short safari at the end of the trip.  This will be a true taste of Uganda.

-          Cost will be approximately $900 for meals, lodging, transportation, safari etc. per person.

-          Airfare could be $1,500-$2,400 per person, depending on how soon we can get the tickets reserved.


This is about 6 months away.  We will need to have some meetings between now and then to prepare, get immunizations, etc.  The 6 months will give you some time to fund raise, but not a lot, as we need to get flights booked ASAP for better prices.  Please contact me as soon as you can, if you are interested.  Many people have talked to me about wanting to go to Uganda in the future, and we are limited to 20 people.  I am excited to see what God can accomplish through and in this team.  No matter how much you sacrifice and give to bless the people that you are serving, you will be blessed even more.


Please prayerfully consider stirring your Passion for foreign missions.  Help the Due Unto team find “That One Person”!


1 in 5 children in Uganda die before their 5th birthday.  What if we could help That One Person?