Lockdown, Take 2

2020 Lockdown

We can all agree that 2020 was a crazy year, and for us personally, 2021 wasn’t looking any better with my dad’s death, an unexpected ice storm that affected my travel, getting back to life in Uganda amidst the pandemic, A LOT of house repairs needed, and ministry struggles. But things seemed to be settling down…

Just in time for another lockdown. While the U.S. and Europe has a large population of people who are vaccinated, there are many countries around the world that don’t have vaccines. In Uganda, we were watching as Kenya and other surrounding countries were struggling with the new Covid variant from India, but Uganda seemed to be okay. Uganda has been okay throughout the Covid situation with no real explanation.

But of course, this stronger variant inevitably arrived in an unvaccinated country and now is hitting Uganda pretty hard. With the hopes to reduce the impact on already full hospitals and very limited oxygen supplies, the President mandated another lockdown. No movement, except for cargo to transport food and supplies.

2021 Lockdown

So, we are back to walking everywhere. The simple luxury of driving our own vehicle has been restricted. And this time it has hit me a bit harder. The freedom of being able to go pick up groceries, visit a friend, or go to the swimming pool now has become more complicated. Ministry has been put on hold because no one can move to see each other. And phone calls are just not the same. I thought surely, a year later, we would be in a better situation with Covid. And while other countries seem to be getting back to normal, there are many countries who are still dealing with this pandemic. Thus, I am struggling a bit more with this lockdown. I know many others are struggling as well, but not just because they can’t drive a car, but because the schools have been shut down for more than a year, people can’t take care of their families because they are unable to work, the transport of food is limited, sick people can’t easily get to town for the hospital so they are dying. It’s hard!

So please continue to pray for others. Please continue to watch the world to see how others are doing in this situation and pray for their leaders. Pray for vaccines to make it around the world. Pray that there aren’t any more unnecessary deaths because of the lack of medical supplies. Pray for a way out of this pandemic…for everyone.

2020 In Review – A Year Unlike Any Other

Discipleship Groups – Before the lockdown, we were continuing to meet with our discipleship groups and seeing personal growth in many of them. They have been testifying that their marriages have improved, their role in discipling their children has increased, and the work of the churches they serve has deepened through discipleship groups. During the lockdown, we began hearing feedback from church leaders about ministry going on in their areas. We were encouraged to hear that Relational Discipleship and Discovery Bible Study groups were flourishing even during lockdown.

Discovery Bible Study Trainings – After hearing from church leaders about the impact that Relational Discipleship and Discovery Bible Study groups were having during lockdown, the Mission Leadership Team decided that the best way to continue equipping churches for ministry was to train more local churches and church leaders on how to use DBS to impact their local congregation and community. Between July and October, we brought a total of 40 leaders representing 5 churches in different areas here in Eastern Uganda to train them on how to have DBS groups in their village. We will be following up with them shortly to encourage and ensure that the ministry is having an impact.

Long-Distance Church Visits – Before the lockdown, the Mission Leadership Team was able to visit churches in areas far away (Kyankwansi, Kitgum, and Lira). We encouraged the churches in those areas, but also had in-depth conversations with church leaders about the future of the work in their areas. The focus must shift to training leaders that can stand faithful in those areas. Because of these visits and discussions, we are bringing leaders from these areas to MTI for training and discipleship.

Messiah Theological Institute – In January and February, we met with 57 students for Messiah Theological Institute. With in-depth theological training AND relational discipleship focused on life-change, we had high hopes for another great year. Sadly, we had to close MTI from March through December due to the Covid-19 pandemic and government restrictions. We have plans to re-open MTI in March to continue what we started in 2020.

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Happy Birthday Adalyn!

Adalyn has turned 8 years old. This is her first birthday in the U.S. since we left for Uganda when she had just turned 3 years old. We had the crazy realization that we traveled across the world with a toddler who was barely 3 years old! Wow! It has been a blessing to watch her grow and mature into the feisty, strong, caring and adventurous little girl. As another year has passed, here is another round of questions to see where she is this year…

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Other Parts of the World…

It has been a struggle to watch this pandemic sweep across the world. It has been hard to watch my fellow Americans panic and become upset with one another for the different ways people are reacting to the lockdowns, isolation, and social distancing.

But it has been most difficult to balance the reality that the world is so much bigger than what’s posted on social media. Here in Uganda, we are less concerned with the virus itself (although the government has put some serious restrictions on movement and businesses to prevent rapid spread), and more concerned about the ramifications of all the closures and lack of movement. There is a good chance that in developing countries there will be more people effected by starvation than COVID-19. Continue reading

Where Roads Don’t Reach…

Earlier in March, the Mission Team set out on a journey to visit some of our most remote churches and leaders. Because of the distance and difficulty getting there, it had been almost 4 years since we had visited this region. The anticipation and expectations were high! The churches in Northern Uganda (Lira, Kitgum, and Lamwo districts) are not only far away from Mbale, but also great distances from one another. But there we went…with a mission and a purpose: to visit, encourage, and love our brothers and sisters. Continue reading

Teaching the Holy Spirit

In September, I spent a week teaching about what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit to 23 students at Messiah Theological Institute (MTI). MTI is a training program that we run to help village church leaders (and members) have a solid foundation in theological matters and practical church leadership. One of the most confused doctrines here in Uganda (and I would argue around the world) is what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit. So it was fun and interesting to spend time examining deeply what the Word of God says about the Spirit of God, and then sharing what I found with these students. Continue reading

Spiritual Warfare is Real

I must confess: I am a skeptic when it comes to the unseen world and spiritual warfare. I have doubts and cynicism when I hear about about miracles or dreams. Don’t get me wrong: I know the spiritual battle is real. Scripture talks about it, and I have heard amazing experiences from people I know and trust. But my life experiences and “American-Christian Brain” cause me to still find it hard to wrap my mind around. Continue reading

Humbly Serving

I think that all of us struggle with pride and humility. Or at least, that’s what I’m going to tell myself to feel better about it. But I feel the inner pull, the tension to seek after my own benefits and well-being before others. I struggle with it in my family, relationships, ministry, and pretty much everywhere. On most days, I submit to God and “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). But I confess…I struggle with pride. Continue reading

Hospitality is a Gift

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:34-40

True hospitality, true service, true love…whatever you want to call it. I have enjoyed getting to know my Ugandan friends and how they view hospitality. Some Ugandans are beautiful examples of hosting others in their homes and they see the true meaning of treating people as if Jesus himself is visiting them. The “could be entertaining angels” is a very real perspective here. The true feeling of hospitality is when we don’t groan at daily interruptions of visitors, when we are willing to help someone in need, and when we open our homes and our lives to other people. Continue reading