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Strong Foundations

To begin this blog I think I need to start with the training center in Garubunda. We began construction on this training center last year in July of 2017. We were told that this would be a three-month project and it would cost us only about $10,000 US dollars. Fast forward to now. A year and 2 months later and the building is still not finished and we’ve spent about $20,000 on it. Talk about frustrating..amiright? The glass for the windows needs to be installed, the stones need to be laid into the wall and there are so many small detail things here and there that need to be done. One of the main reason that this building has not been finished is because it lacks strong foundations….actually it completely lacks foundations on the HEAVIEST part of the building. Uh-mazing.

As the building began to settle into the soil it began to crack. We first noticed small cracks on the side of the building, so we would fix them. First by building iron rods into the walls of the building to try and make it stronger. Then small patches here and there with cement. The building was looking good minus these few “cosmetic” issues…so we thought. We took some time without going to the building. Teams come and we get busy. The building is about 15 kilometers away and the roads are not the best so we rarely go out there.  Anyway, in May we went there for a center day with our sponsor children and their families. Upon arrival We came to find that there was a MASSIVE crack in the side of the building. WHAT IS HAPPENING??

            We had a few contractors go out to the property and inspect the building. One said that we would have to tear down the building and restart because it was not safe. The foundations for the columns were not built right, the basement lacked hardcore (foundation) and the building was pulling itself a part. Talk about discouraging. Collin and I both wanted to throw in the towel…..not really but this was really disappointing. The next two contractors gave us the good news! We could repair the building without having to tear it down, it would just add another $3,800 that we did not plan for. That money doesn’t even finish the building it just repairs the foundation and the other issues the building has. The good news is that even though the foundation was not built correctly, the building can still stand, it’s just going to need a little TLC to get it up to par.

            Having strong foundations is important, in fact just plain having foundations is important. Our lives can be a reflection of this building and that is what this blog is about. This was a strong beautiful building, like honestly when you see it you’re almost taken aback with how big it is. The windows and doors are strong, painted black and gold. The iron sheets are rich in their maroon brown color, nailed to the tresses with perfection.  The bricks are laid in uniform stacked on top of each other, building the walls of this building one by one. However, over time the beauty has lost its glory. Now when I look at the building I see its cracks. The imperfections that mask the beauty of this building. There are cracks in the walls, cracks on the floor and people broke in and damaged and stole our electrical sockets. This building was majestic, and now it’s just a reminder that you shouldn’t have someone be a contractor unless you’re absolutely sure they know what there are doing.

Strong foundations, how does this relate to you and me? In Acts we learn about the early church. Acts 2:42-47 tells us what the church looked like with the apostles.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (vs. 42). Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (vs. 46-47a)

Every day they would meet together, remembering Christ and his sacrifice on the cross and it changed them. “Every day the Lord added to their numbers those who were being saved (vs 47b).” They were building on the foundations of the church and they had Christ as the cornerstone. Now why is that significant, what’s a cornerstone anyway? Well, a cornerstone is defined as a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls. Christ is the stone that keeps the whole building together, he keeps it from collapsing. In a real sense he is the one who joins us together as the body, we need him and we are nothing without him.

            In Ephesians we learn all about a cornerstone and what that means to have Christ as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-22 we read, “So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the CORNERSTONE. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.”  

            In Christ we are NO LONGER foreigners or strangers we become a family and together we grow in Christ. We are building blocks for each other, bearing each other’s burdens, holding each other accountable, building each other up in love. Why is this community, this family so important? In John 17 we see a strong concern for unity in Christ. Verses 22-23 read “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” We are one in Christ and to be strong we need to have him as a foundation our cornerstone. I honestly think that most of us parade around like this building. We are strong and beautiful on the outside maybe have some cosmetics issues here and there but when you take a look inside you see the mess that only Jesus can fix. The truth is that men are flawed and we need Jesus to help make that right. As members of the church, as bricks in a building we belong and we belong as a family.   

As you come to him, a living stone—rejected by people but chosen and honored by God— you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and honored cornerstone,
and the one who believes in him
will never be put to shame.

So honor will come to you who believe; but for the unbelieving,

The stone that the builders rejected—
this one has become the cornerstone,

and

A stone to stumble over,
and a rock to trip over.

They stumble because they disobey the word; they were destined for this.

-       1 Peter 2:4-8 

We are called to be living stones to build a spiritual house for all to come and experience the Glory of God. His powerful love, his abounding grace and his overwhelming mercy. When we try to become our own cornerstones, we make the whole building collapse. It starts as small cracks here and there and slowly becomes like water that freezes between the bricks, slowly ripping each other a part. I pray that we would no longer be stumbling blocks for each other but that we would believe that we are a part of a family a strong, magnificent family built upon the foundation of Christ. Y’all we are Unified together when we are on mission in Christ. We are Unified in Mission and that all starts by having strong foundations, built on Christ, our cornerstone.

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Brian

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.  

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