Hey muzungu, give me money.  

Give me money.

Money.  (This makes me think of Jerry McGuire, SHOW ME THE MONEY! LOL)

These are commands that we receive every day in Uganda, and to be honest most days it is exhausting. I want to be able to give, I want to be able just to constantly give out the money I have. But for many different reasons, I can’t. I can’t give to someone and create a dependence on foreigners to sustain their life style. I can’t give and enable the mentality that we are here to give handouts. I just can’t. I know that I have struggled with this more than once. It weighs on me and sometimes I don’t know what to do with it.

I want to share a story with you about a man named Brian. Brian has been coming to my house for about two years now. When he first came to my house he asked me for money. He was in a bus accident where he lost half of his right leg, from the knee down. He had crutches, was worn and exhausted. I told him that I did not have money to give him. I try to be a good steward of the money that is given to us through UIM and I felt that just giving him money would hurt him more than help him. If I gave him money he would just become dependent on me to fund his lifestyle and that’s not what I want. I asked him to go and if I had a job I would call him.

The next time he came he told me that he had a baby that was 2 years old and, in a way, he was exploiting his child to get money. He began asking me for money for school fees. I manage the child sponsorship part of our ministry and I know for a fact that two years olds don’t go to school. So, I told him no again. I struggle with this people. I still have so much compassion for people and I want to be giving but I still did not feel like he was the man I should be giving money to. I sometimes feel that as a Christian I should give when someone asks. But this happens all the time, so how do I weigh where I should and should not give my money? I was reading my Bible and the verse 2 Corinthians 9:7 it says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This helps me gage how I should give. I wasn’t cheerful about giving to Brian, something in my heart kept telling me no. Brian left and I said I would call if I had a job.

Sometime later Brian came again. By this point I am exhausted. He did not speak the best English and I still, after three years of being in Uganda….hardly know any Runyakole. He came to my house and I had a stern conversation with him. I reiterated that I would not be giving him money, but what I would give him is a Bible. I had a Bible that one of the world racers left so I gave him that. I told him that I do not have money to give you but I will give you this Bible and if you have any questions with it, or needs help, let me know and I would be glad to help..that is what I can offer you. He didn’t seem too pleased with me. This culture loves instant gratification and when you get a Bible when you’re expecting money it doesn’t exactly make you excited about what you have received. I also told him that he needs to be a man and provide for his family. Just because you lost a leg doesn’t mean you have to go around and beg. You are a man with a strong mind and you can do more than you think. He heard what I said and left with his Bible.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was making food for the week, spaghetti and chili (YUM) and Collin walked in the kitchen and said hey there is a guy here named Brian? He has a fake leg and he’s asking about you. I’ll be honest with you all, I was not happy. My first thought was noooooo are you kidding me?….Collin was confused and I just said this guy comes all the time and just asks me for money. I almost didn’t talk to him but then I swallowed my frustration and went to talk to him. You guys….Brian was so different this time. There was a light in his eyes and a huge smile on his face. He came to my house not to ask me for money but to share the good news about all the wonderful things that had been happening in his life.

He had a prosthetic leg that he got through a canon at the church and he said the Bible I gave him gave him that leg. THE WORD BROUGHT THIS MAN A NEW LIFE!!! Not just spiritually but physically as well. He was beaming with joy and he told me how he had started a sweet potatoes business and he walks around selling his crops to pay for more crops! He also has a watermelon crop too. He told Collin and I how this Mama (Me) told him to be a man and it challenged him to step up and provide for his family. God brought him out of the pit of despair he was living in and gave him confidence and a strength he didn’t know was there.

He told me about how his baby had grown and how he had brought him like 2 weeks ago but I wasn’t there. He promised he would bring his child the next time he comes so that I could see him. His life was changed and not because I gave him money but because I gave him the word of the Lord. There is power in scripture and too often we down play how powerful the word of God is. The Bible has the power to speak life into people and I witnessed it with Brian.

Brian brought his sweet potatoes to show us so Collin and I could buy some and you know we did! We were able to purchase some from Brian and also give some to our neighbor behind us. If I would have just given money he would be a different man. It was through prayerful thought and consideration that God provided a way for Brian, one that would keep on giving.

I feel that my calling in life is to be a seed planter. To be honest I feel like that’s one of the worst roles because you never see the fruits of your labor, but God let me see that through Brian. Seeing the man that Brian is now was so encouraging because I got to see the fruits of the seeds that I had a part in planting. I have been trying to write this blog for 2 weeks now and I think God waited til this moment so that I could share Brian’s story with you.

I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven that meets us where we are at and who uses us according to his purpose. I pray that as we continue to walk this journey together that we would walk in obedience with Christ. That we would be in the word daily, that we would pray throughout the day, and be in open communication with God. We are his vessels and he will use us for his divine purpose if we allow him to. I pray for more relationships like the one with Brian. I pray that lives would continue to be transformed and I that we would all be able to see the Glory of God revealed through his children.  



He Stands at the Door and Knocks

      Throughout history we have seen great, anointed men be attacked by Satan both mythically and in reality. When I was in high school I went through this phase of being kind of obsessed with Greek mythology. I found it so attracting and appealing. There was so much creativity behind it all. I remember thinking; “man this must have taken a long time to come up with all this specific information about each god, not to mention all the demigods…” The reason I bring this up is because like in the Bible we see these anointed men, who have a destiny for their lives that’s often much bigger than they are. In Greek mythology we have the story of Achilles. He was an anointed man by the Greek god’s, his destiny was to become the greatest hero of the Trojan War. His mother knew of this prophecy, but she also knew that he would die at war so she bathed him in the river Styx to burn out his humanity. She dipped him in the river by his left heel when he was an infant. Because she was holding his left heel, it left that small spot on his body mortal. His mother acted of her own will, trying to combat the gods will for Achilles and that action had consequences. Consequences so severe that it would lead to Achilles’ death. Paris shot an arrow into his heel and it ended up killing him because of his “Achilles heel” (his weakness). So here we have a great man with a calling who was disobedient and suffered the consequences of his actions.

     In the Bible we have Samson, this great strong powerful man that was under a Nazarite vow. This vow meant that he was “set apart to God from birth”. He also had a call and a destiny for his life. But like most great men, he had an Achilles heel and for Samson, it was women. He was known to be a womanizer and a man full of sin. He is a prime example of how temptation leads to sin, and sin always has a consequence. However, God also uses Samson’s life to show us that God can still use a sinful man to fulfill his will. Samson’s weakness was women and we see that with his marriage to a Philistine woman. He deliberately walked into temptation disregarding his vow all for a woman. We can read about it in Judges and Numbers.

        God created Samson to “begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). Samson did fulfill this will for his life eventually but it came at a price. Samson understood that his strength came from the Lord, but he didn’t quite fully grasp his calling. Since the Lord was with Samson he kept sinning, not experiencing the consequences. Samson’s acts were rooted in selfishness and vengeance but they also were the things that gave him the confidence to fight the Philistines. God would turn those acts of selfishness to reveal his Glory through Samson. When Delilah removed his hair from his head that was the last straw. In doing so he broke that last part of his vow and God left him. This is when the Philistines took Samson captive and removed his eyes. A strong man, broken by disobedience.

     “Then Samson prayed to the LORD, ‘O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes’" (Judges 16:28). The Lord returned to Samson in that moment and he was able to tear down the building over them and kill more Philistines than when he was alive. These men both suffered terrible pain and affliction in their deaths as consequences for sin. They accomplished the task that was before them but the end result was losing their lives.

     The reason I talked about Achilles and Samson is to give you two representations of the lives we can choose. A life where we follow God, or a life where we follow the gods we have created. Achilles followed a false god and in the end he was abandoned by them and left to die. Samson chose to call upon the Lord, and even though he sinned and fell away, God came back to him and revealed his Glory through Samson. He was given purpose in his death and God was with him. I believe that much of us are anointed. That God did create us with purpose. For some of us it takes a long time to realize that purpose and act on it. Selfishness keeps our eyes focused on our desires and it blinds us to God’s will. For Samson it wasn’t until he lost his eyes that he could truly see, and for Achilles it was the death of his close friend Patroclus. Now, I know that Achilles was not a real man, but neither are the gods that we create and choose to put before the one true God. This god looks different for each of us but this type of idol worship all has the same end point.

     Samson knowingly acted out of his vow and put himself into situations to be tempted. We also put ourselves in situations that tempt us to sin against God. We think that in our own strength we can withstand the temptations but the truth is we can’t, we need Him. The one thing we can do when we are put in a tempting situation is to actively choose God and not our own desires. Giving God the control of our lives is easier said than done, but ultimately it is with that true surrender that his Glory is revealed through us. Just like Samson, God gives each of us the opportunity to choose him, he is a gentleman and he stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20). Two questions we need to ask ourselves are “do we want to accept that anointing and step into the call God has placed on our lives?” Or “do we want to live a life of idol worship, our own personal glory living selfishly eventually being abandoned and left for dead?”

     Satan likes to have us believe that we can keep on sinning and not experience the consequence of our sin. One of his greatest tactics is that he encourages us to sin and when we do, he holds us on the edge of consequence. He keeps us there in this sort of limbo where we don’t receive punishment, so what do we do? We keep on sinning. In Uganda the boda drives asked me if God’s grace for them would run out. I said no it won’t, but that doesn’t mean you can keep on sinning. He has endless amounts of grace but that is not for us to abuse. Samson abused that grace, God allowed him to keep seeking his selfishness but in the end he turned it all around. I guess my encouragement for you in this blog is that no matter the choices we make or the bad things we’ve done, it’s never too late to choose Christ. We are all called to righteousness and we are given a new life in Christ. He will never force himself upon us; he gives us the choice to make the decisions we choose. In the end he is always there to lavish us with his love and to invite us all back home. Let us choose life, and life abundant through Christ.