YOU SEE

 

Monday was a public holiday in Uganda, which means that I had a little more time to myself that normal. I was listening to a song called, “You See” by Jonathan David Helser, and it seemed good for me to write the lyrics in my journal. The whole song is about how I, or we humans, usually see things differently than the way God sees them. It compares what we see, to what God sees.

It took me back to a night when I was praying at Pastor Tim’s house (some of you know him). God told me that he was opening doors for people that night. Then I saw a vision of a door opening in front of me (God speaks to me a lot through visions). When I went through the door, I saw two levels. The upper level, where the door opened, was a wasteland. It was arid and desolate – except for a few dead trees and shrubs. But the lower level, down a flight of stairs, was a lush garden, full of life and lit up with vibrant colors. Then I understood that it was exactly the same place, the two levels merely represented two ways of looking at my surroundings. The top level is how the world sees things, the bottom level is how God sees things. God was opening this door to me and inviting me to see things the way He sees them, which usually means going lower, stepping off the high-horse of my understanding, like Jesus did when he stepped out of heaven and came to earth.

I want to see things the way God sees them. I want to see not only the potential He sees, but also the finished work He sees. Christians often say the victory over sin and death is already won because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and rightly so, it says the same in the Bible. But how often do we see the victory when we’re in the middle of a battle? Do we see what Jesus sees, or do we see what the devil wants us to see?

The past month or so has been really challenging for me. Things at Doors Ministries are great, I’m seeing each part of the ministry growing deeper and the staff pressing more and more toward Jesus, so it’s not the ministry that is pulling me down. What I’ve realized is that the devil was showing me a lot of lies about myself, about Doors, about my future, and I was seeing those instead of the truth that Jesus is presenting to me. Sure there are some factors that have added to this: it’s felt like more of a chore to abide in Jesus, which is the place we see things like He does; and I’ve felt pretty isolated from the people who typically encourage me to see things rightly when I don’t. So yes, it’s been really hard, but the fruit I have now is a desperation to be near Jesus, to see things as he sees them, to know Him. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

I hope this song encourages you too 🙂

 


(the video itself is a little weird, mainly listen)

 

You See
Jonathan David Helser

 I see a mountain, you see a miracle.
I see a wasteland, you see a garden.
I see dry bones, you see an army.
I see impossible, you see everything.

I see a seed, you see a harvest.
I see the water, you see the wine.
I see the broken, you see your body.
I see my enemy, you see a footstool.

You are I AM, But I’ve been so blind all this time.
My God, touch me, I want to see the way you see.

I see my sins, you see your blood.
I see a baby, you see a Savior.
I see my failures, you see redemption.
I see a beggar, you see a son.

 I see my Father, you see your son.
I see my shepherd, you see your lamb.
I see my Savior, you see your joy.
I see your eyes, they’re staring back at mine.

Jars of Clay


Let me start with something I read this morning,
We can’t love God’s way without being filled with Him. If we try it on our own, we end up exhausted and burned out. I’ve done it; it doesn’t work. Only when we let His love pour into us and let is spill out from deep within us will His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  – Heidi Baker. Reckless Devotion.​

I have been in Uganda for six months now, well minus three weeks I was back in the States for my brother’s wedding and to visit someone special ;), and let me just say that I could have written this quote myself. I came here ready to love, ready to pour myself out for the hungry, desperate, and lost. Before long I was trying to love with God’s love without letting Him fill me each day. For a couple weeks I seemed to manage fine, but as time went on my love was not adequate and I felt “exhausted and burned out.” By the time I went to the States I already felt like I needed a break!

I’ve been back in Uganda for about two weeks now. Is it any different? Well, I think that’s why the words Heidi wrote stood out to me today, I still feel the same. The good thing is that it is in the light now, and my eyes are open to see how absolutely dependent I am on God and His Spirit. All I can do, and all I need to do, is to draw near to Him, and He will draw near to me. It is impossible for me to accomplish anything here unless I die to my “ability” and find my life in Him. I’m only a jar of clay, it’s what’s in me that matters.

Term One…

A month ago Term One of school finished for the nation of Uganda. The Ugandan school calendar is divided into three terms per year.

Here are some of my observations from my first term:

  1. Children are children wherever you are in the world!
  • They find joy in the smallest activities and then they share that joy with you.
  • They prefer lunch and recess to being in class (the majority, anyway.)
  • They want to know that you love them and that they are safe.
  • They love to worship Jesus!
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Joy in the little things 🙂

  1. People who are given hope are given life.
  • I see the students in our schools with huge smiles, determination to learn and hope for the future.
  • I see staff who pour energy and vision into their work because of the hope they carry and the hope they share.
  • I see students, staff, and friends (and myself) who love well because of the hope they have in the love of Jesus.
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The amazing teachers at DOORS Primary School who went above the call of duty during Term One.

3. People want to know they are important and loved.

  • I hear the hearts of staff every day with both pressing issues and desires for the future, who just want to know they are important.
  • I see the longing in little girls to know that they are beautiful.
  • I see the hunger in little boys to know they have what it takes to be a man.
  • I hear the voices of young men who just want to know they belong and can be as close to God as they imagine.
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Teacher Kato’s University Graduation

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Two of our beautiful young ladies

  1. I really have to be intentional!
  • I have to listen and respond to Jesus to know the right way to lead.
  • I have to bring everything to Jesus in order not to carry burdens unnecessarily.
  • It is far better to respond than to react to any person or situation.
  • It is better to spend time knowing people than to get one more thing done.
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Time with Jesus!

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Visiting old friends in Owino market with my dad

Term One was great in many ways! I’m thankful to be back in Uganda, both serving, and serving with the people I have come to love so much. I was pressed into situations (ex. leading Bible study) that I wasn’t expecting but were clearly orchestrated by God. I have made many new friends. I learned to rejoice and abide in Christ a little more every day.

In other ways, Term One was incredible hard! I came into a very challenging season at DOORS and was immediately stretched. I learned to be the bearer of both good and bad news. I was lifted out of one culture and placed in another, which I love, but still required a lot of transition! And I’m dying a little more to myself every day, which is fantastically freeing in Christ, but still feels like literally dying in my soul (mind, will, and emotions.)

I’m thankful for the support so many people have shown me in this season, it’s amazing how we are able to participate together and encourage each other, no matter the distance that separates. The holiday was great and now we’re in the first weeks of Term Two!

Nakalanda

Let me tell you about my friends/adopted parents, Steve and Stephanie Bredesen. They run the Nakalanda Project, which is across the lake and a boda ride from where I stay in Kampala. When they moved to Uganda five years ago they were already nearing retirement age, but knew they were coming for a long time … Stephanie has said fifteen years! After working with a ministry for one year, it was clear that was not where God had brought them to serve.  So here they were, around the world where they were sure God called them, without work. Until 12 hours later when a friend “randomly” called and asked if they would move across the lake to serve at Nakalanda.

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Boda boda (motorcycle) ride

That is where I met them. Once a month they run a clinic to dig jiggers (small insects that burrow into feet) from people’s feet. The boys and girls from DOORS come almost every month to volunteer at the clinic. In fact, they know what they are doing so well, that they are the ones who teach new volunteers what to do! Last summer, my brother David and I came with the DOORS team for the clinic. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, David told them that he attended Asbury, and Stephanie freaked out! Steve studied at Asbury Seminary, so we talked about all the places around town that we both know.

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Digging jiggers

When I moved here, I got it touch with them right away. They live in a really peaceful area and have given an open invite to come over. This has become one of my resting places. I come over once or twice a month to spend time away from the city for a night, eat incredible food, and to provide company for them (that’s all I’m normally allowed to contribute … and sometimes bread). Well, the first time I came over, Stephanie told me before hand that they would be moving to their newly finished house, but that I could relax. As soon as I arrived, Stephanie exclaimed, “God knew we were moving today and sent help!” Needless to say, that time I helped move!

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Moving Day!

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Steve and Stephanie’s Dream House

Steve and Stephanie give selflessly. They love to love. They opened their lives to God, and He sent them across the world to a place with no family, or even friends for a while. But in the midst of adversity, they have a vibrant circle of friends, and a growing number of “adopted” children who come over to “Mom and Dad’s” to relax and eat their food. My prayer for them is that their latter years will be more blessed than the former, and that they will grow in intimacy with Jesus every day.

 

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Steve and Stephanie

Visit them at http://www.bredesensinuganda.com

 

Unexpected bible study

A few weeks ago I went to DOORS Primary School to observe a teachers meeting. Before the meeting started, I was told that volunteer who was scheduled to lead Bible study for the students was not coming. Since all the teachers would be in the meeting, I was asked to help the guitar instructor, Ronald, lead Bible study. It was really clear to me that God was giving me this opportunity to work with the students, so I agreed, and immediately the story of Daniel in the lions’ den came to mind!

Ronald led worship, including teaching the students to sing on key 🙂 Then I shared about Daniel, the way he continued to worship God when it was outlawed, and then continued to trust God when he was thrown into the lions’ den. We brought the lessons from this story around to be relevant for the students where they are and the situations they might face. We finished with a time of prayer in which we all prayed for the ability to remain faithful to God under trials, and then prayed for people in other countries who are facing these trials.

It was a really awesome time and completely unexpected! That opened the door for me to continue leading the weekly bible study. Let’s always be open to minister to the people God puts in front of us, especially when we’re not looking for it. 🙂

 

Meet Jja Jja

Today marks three weeks since I arrived in Uganda. While there has been a lot of transition in the settling in process, one person in particular has been a huge encouragement. I call her Jja Jja (grandma), others call her Mama Candi.  
Jja Jja was there at the beginning of DOORS Ministries. When the first boys moved in, she came over and said, “You are all my grandchildren now.” As it turns out, there are countless people who either call her Jja Jja or Mama Candi. She has an incredibly generous heart. Her home has been open for years to people who need a place to go for a while, need to come to the city for school, or need someone who will love them. I have met many people whose lives have been shaped by the love she showed them. As member of DOORS, I was automatically adopted, but I am also one of those staying in her house until I find a more permanent location. Since returning, I’ve had the opportunity to sit with her over tea, share stories and talk about God’s faithfulness in our lives. When my Papa passed a couple weeks ago, it was her who gave me a hug and prayed for me and my family. She is really special!

 Dinner at Jja Jja’s 

I want to share this one story with you. The second day I was here was a Saturday. That morning I had tea with Jja Jja, and then she introduced me to her friend and “adopted sons” who had come to take her to visit one of her “daughters”. She invited me to come along. I had a really great time being included in the family, and from the start she introduced me as her son. The other two “sons” operate a home for special needs children who would otherwise be neglected or abandoned. It was encouraging to see their hearts and sacrifice to love these kids. While we were there, a young couple stopped by asking for money to help with the treatment of their child with hydrocephalous. One of the brothers had a contact for a hospital that specializes in this condition and I got to pray for the boy and the whole family. We sent them on their way recognizing that God had arranged that meeting. Of all the times for them to come by and to be let in the compound, it was the day people were there who could help them. We praise the Lord for way He brings us together as His body!

 Jja Jja, her friend, and 3 adopted sons 🙂 

Back to Africa

What do you say in your first blog post in 3 years?! Well, as I write this I’m 37,000ft (11,277m) over Egypt, so let me tell you how I got here.

At the beginning of 2012, I was talking with Jesus (I think that’s what prayer should look like), and He spoke inside my heart and told me to apply for an internship position with Engineering Ministries International in Uganda. When I stepped off a plane in Uganda few months later, I was amazed and praising God for the fulfillment of my desire to take my training as a structural engineer to the world as a tool to preach the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.
After living in Uganda for nearly a year, I was asking God if I could stay and work with the people of Doors Ministries whom I had come to love and who counted me as family. I spent many evenings and weekends at Doors building relationships with the boys who used to live on the streets with little hope, but had come to know they are incredibly special and loved…and have a really good dad named God! As I prayed, He told me that I needed to return to Kentucky. The next summer I returned to Uganda to work with Doors for 5 weeks, and again I was asking God if I could stay. And again He told me that I need to return to Kentucky, this time to get my Master’s in Civil Engineering. Last summer I was back with Doors, but I was no longer asking God whether I could stay…I was sure I would back in Kentucky. But God likes to awaken desires, especially when we least expect it. In July He told me that I would be back…not with a loud voice, but with a whisper, and He stirred up faith in me to believe. So now I’m on my way to Uganda stepping into another dream…

To be continued.

  Doors man trip to Rwenzori Mountains.

The summer construction crew.  

Attaching a backboard.  

Visiting friends.
Who does Doors work with?

Men, women, boys, and girls. We desire to love each person we see. Many of them live in the slums, or roam the streets. Many of them had no hope but now have incredible hope and joy in Jesus.

What does Doors do?

We introduce people to Jesus so He can heal and transform their hearts. We provide food and education to lots of kids and families. We provide a safe place for boys and girls who lived on the streets to know the love of a family.

What will I do?

I will work with the leadership to empower and disciple the staff and administration to walk in their callings. I will continue discipling the young men in the ministry. And I will seek the Lord with the other leaders to know the heart of God for Doors and for the people He places in front of us. And I’ll probably cook occasionally 🙂

  Cooking with Monica.
Check out the new website:

Doorsministries.org