As a New Year is upon us (beginning year number eight for our family in Uganda), we are off and running towards the work that the Lord has put before us. Last year was such an encouraging and challenging year, and as we look back on it we can see how God provided for many things throughout. If you haven’t read the reflection on 2022, I would encourage you to go HERE first.
Once we know where we are coming from and where we want to go, we can clearly try to plot the course for the upcoming year. We have spent the past two months clarifying some of our 2023 ministry, personal, and family goals, and I want to take a minute to share those with you here:
Messiah Theological Institute – After several years of abnormal classes and meeting schedules, we have started 2023 off with a “normal” class schedule for MTI. We have begun with 28 students some key classes and disciplemaking groups. The first week of classes was encouraging, full of energy/excitement, and a lot of good soil to plant seed. We have made plans for some great teachers to help this year, including some of our brothers from Jinja, Uganda. And we are trusting the Lord to provide everything we need for MTI in 2023.
Discipleship – At the end of 2022, Gina and I had each started new disciplemaking groups. In 2023, we will continue meeting regularly with these new groups, praying that the Lord gives growth and transformation in the lives of our new friends. We are praying that they continue to be open and teachable, humble to learn from the Word of God. We also have plan in 2023 to gather with the previous disciplemaking groups for continued connection, encouragement, discipling, and mutual growth. We hope to learn from these groups that have come before ways that we can continue growing in how we make disciples who make disciples.
Community Development – Community Development projects has been one area that we have neglected over the past several years, due to the pandemic and a lack of staffing. It is our prayer and plan that we will begin 4-5 NEW development projects in different village communities that will bless the physical well-being of church leaders and members, so that the whole community can be blessed. We have already started pinning down which communities to work with this year and which projects will work best in their areas. We sincerely ask for your prayers in this area, as it requires a lot of additional planning and follow-up.
Discovery Bible Study – We have continued to emphasis DBS groups and it has been a great blessing to many churches and communities throughout Uganda. Even during the pandemic, churches who were accustomed to DBS groups increased in their ministry, impact, and membership because they were not limited to church buildings. We still have many churches that we need to train in DBS, and others that we need to follow-up and encourage, so that is a big priority for us in the New Year. DBS is the primary way we train people on using the Bible in their lives and we distribute many Bibles to group members. Once groups have been meeting for a number of months, we follow-up with them for encouragement and to give Bibles to people who have shown a passion for studying the bible. This year, we pray that the Lord leads us to a great audio Bible resource for villages.
Church Visits and Development – With over 200 churches that we work with, our schedule is always full of churches to visit. We try to visit different churches 2-3 times each month so that we can encourage, build up, and continue teaching some important things. Most of our churches are within 1-2 hours of Mbale, but some are very far, requiring multi-day trips to see them. We are planning to go north and west for two trips this year, possibly adding a third trip even further away. These trips are quite demanding of us, but they are also very important to the ongoing development of the ministry. In addition to visiting churches, we also partner with them in their construction projects. While it’s not as much as we would like, we do our very best to help with roofing when churches are building permanent church buildings. Some of these churches have really pushed themselves to construct buildings that they can meet in for generations to come, and it’s a joy to partner with them in this.
New Staff – We have been praying for the past 4-5 years for MORE ministry staff members at the Mission, and finally we are able to make that happen. We are asking the Lord to lead us to the RIGHT people to add to the team that will work well with the current ministry staff and further the work of the Lord. We are beginning interviewing candidates this month and will prayerfully add people as the Lord leads us. We also ask for your prayers in this effort. “
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. - Luke 10:2
Conferences – We are also planning to host our second Regional Leadership Conference in July 2023. Last year we had leaders from over 75 churches come, and we are praying that we have an even greater reach this year. As always, we will be planning for our annual youth and women conferences, this year to happen in December. And we always join in with other Church of Christ churches across Uganda for a National “Family Reunion” Conference. This is a weekend of encouragement, fellowship, and sharing.
Personal / Family – As for the Sawyer Family, we are very thankful to be entering our eighth year of ministry in Uganda. We are fortunate enough to have been invited to go to Israel with a group from Central Texas and join many dear friends for the trip of a lifetime. This is something that we have been praying for and are very excited to join next month. In addition, we are looking forward to a Christmas trip to see family and friends in December 2023. We also believe that this year we shall embark on raising chickens at our house for personal use…which Adalyn is VERY excited about!
And that’s what we’re planning for 2023. We are asking God for all guidance, wisdom, and discernment in all things, that he may give us strength and perseverance to make plans happen, and grace to make plans change when needed. Thank you for joining us in this prayer!