Come to me, that your soul may live...

Trying to organize your thoughts and emotions from a week of living in the village into a single message simply cannot capture the reality of time passed in Uganda.  If you can imagine it, it has happened.  Starting with every Bible we have helped distribute, catching and releasing Francis the Rat from the boys hut, meals shared with our neighbors, to the ants which attacked our home last evening and the apocalypse immediately following, the excitement, emotions, and lessons learned are simply too great for words to truly suffice in explaining our emotions, the surprise, and the faithfulness of God in all things.  Yet as I think of the last week, though overwhelming, it is evident that in everything, God is reminding me of his heart for those in need and that he sees and knows every problem we will face and that he alone can make beautiful even the most desperate situations.  He longs to take broken things and make them beautiful, to deal justly to all who practice injustice, and to use all the hurt and pain the world could ever see to be a platform for hope and for his glory. 

Though he is in close pursuit of everyone, God has only affirmed he longs for all his people to participate in his redemption plan. God has made it clear to me that our heart, and our role, should be to do justice, and to be the hands and feet of the life giving love that has so changed us.  He has also reminded me that in my insufficiencies, he is sufficient.  In my imperfection, he is the good and perfect shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.  In my misunderstanding, he will make himself known.  And in the midst of false religion, oppression, neglect, and injustice, he is truth, he is freedom, and he is just (Ezekiel 34).

My last update was sent the day before visiting a nearby orphanage, Father’s House, where we played, sang with the kids, enjoyed their dances and demonstrations, but also heard from the hearts of the humble servants who run and operate this incredible house of love (Read more of Nicole’s thoughts in our blog post from last week).  Training with the Bayern Young Stars Football Club has continued.  Denis, our translator and the most recent addition to our team, is quite the footballer and has been a huge support for the team and for helping increase the depths of our friendships.  Every day comes with new surprises and changed plans, music festivals, dinners with friends, or some unexpected wildlife looking to consume your home. And finally, we have spent most of our time distributing Bibles in the community, and watching as those who long to have their own Bible come find us directly at our homestead. 

Never have I seen such a deep hunger for God’s written Word.  Time and time again my heart has been convicted as we watched others receive their family’s first Bible.  On Tuesday when the farmers came to work the community garden, the farmers sang, danced, and knelt down in the dirt as you could see the gratitude in their entire being. Communities have given us lists of those in their homesteads and church communities who are without a Bible and have agreed to take us to deliver the gift of God’s word in their own language.  With each home visit comes another story as we are granted an opportunity to see into the difficult realties many families face.  Often, families’ salaries are withheld simply because the money is not there, and nearly always it is their children who suffer because there is no money to pay their school fees.  Limited access to medical treatment and a judicial system which arrests those on mere accusation are a few other stories we hear as we listen to our new friends.  In the midst of all their struggles, many of which are not consequences of their own decisions but rather a broken humanity, I continue to see a hope and a trust in the Lord I do not believe I have ever been blessed to see with my own eyes.  Daily I saw a hope and a hunger for God that I long to know within my own heart.

In addition to visiting others at their home, there are also those who seek us out at our home.  Everyone comes, the illiterate young boy, the drunken old man, the desperate family, and the teenage girl who longs for God to be known through her life.  With each new visitor I saw our prayers, and yours, for Isaiah 55 come to life. 
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat...  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David (Isa 55:1,3). 

The only thing God requires from us is that we would come to him, or that we would recognize him as he comes to us.  God’s love and his word, is for all who hunger and thirst.  His word bids us to come as we are.  Come and eat, delight in rich food.  Come.  Drink.  Drink deep from the wells of living water and never thirst again.  Recognize your need for food and water that will satisfy and simply come as you are.  You don’t have to fix your problems or correct your theology first, just come to Jesus and live.  

This has been quite the challenge as I reflect on my own life, and as I share conversation with my team members.  So many times we want to right the wrong in our hearts and in our actions before trusting Jesus will have us.  But without Jesus, without accepting the invitation to participate in his story, we’ll always be settling for “less”.  I forget all the evidence in my own life which shows Jesus has been chasing me, and I become so easily distracted for things that do not satisfy.  I want to long for Jesus as my friends in Africa do, even if they have yet to read from the pages of scripture.  I want to believe so strongly in God’s promises for me because his word is truth, and thus his promises are also true, that my tiny anxieties compared to this culture do not distract me from the work God is doing.  I don’t want to settle for less, even if that means discomfort.  I want Jesus to be the first place I look the moment my life is interrupted or inconvenienced and I want to believe with all that I am he will do all that he says he will.

Even now I feel as though I could write pages more about each story.  But to keep this as “short” as I can, I invite you to continue praying for us and with us for the needs and the people of this community. 
Continue to pray for the Bibles that will be distributed.  Please join us in praying Isaiah 55 over God’s word.  That his steadfast, sure love for David would be placed deep within the hearts of those reading, that young leaders would cling to the life giving words found in scripture and that they would trust God with all their uncertainties and insufficiencies.  Pray that these words would fall on the hearts of men as rain and snow which do not return until accomplishing all God has purposed it.

Pray for kids and young men who frequently find their way onto our homestead.  Moskey, Cesar, Sam and Francis are a few of those who spend time playing with us and joining us for evening prayer though they do not understand most of what we say in English. 

Pray for Walter, our director.  His health has improved greatly, but he remains busy and his wife very pregnant.  Pray for them, for rest and for health as they wait for their newest addition to the family.

Please continue to pray for us, pray for an increased trust and confidence in who he is.  As we meet many needs, pray God deepens our trust in his provision and his faithfulness especially as our organization grows as well as the needs associated with it.  And please, pray he continues to draw us close to him, showing us more of how much he loves us and revealing to us more of his love for the people in our communities.  Pray we would see them as God sees them.

Thank you all, thank you for your support and your prayers.  Though we are so often “off the grid”, it is a blessing to sit down and recall the goodness of the Lord and share our joy with you.

Grace and love to you all, always.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.  I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy, I will feed them in justice. 
Ezekiel 34:15-16